Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 28


Taped on this day in 1970: Episode 1071

Quentin has his doubts when Barnabas lures him to a closet with the assurance that there’s a playroom inside. Barnabas: Jonathan Frid. (Repeat; 30 min.) 

Barnabas and Julia arrive from the future -- and the opposite end of the house -- to a delighted Quentin, Liz, and their new guest, Carrie Stokes, the professor’s niece. Carrie remains suspicious of the two, perhaps because there’s only so much bacon at bruch, and until recently, she had it all to herself since David read Maggie’s Casteneda book and went vegetarian. Barnabas and Julia set about trying to identify Daphne and Gerard. When Barnabas tries to show Quentin the playroom, he simply fubles around in the linen closet and shrugs. 

If there is one Dark Shadows episode that lurks in my memory as the model for all of the very best, it’s this one. It’s genuine speculative action. There’s mystery, suspense, a supernatural threat, lies, kindness, warmth, kinship, and an optimistic sense of adventure. Collinwood is treated as it should be; it’s a home that’s held with affection. This bastion is a fortress to be protected, not feared. And it’s first and last son, Barnabas, has such a sense of can-do problem-solving, he should be dressed as Athos and demanding that they stop the machinations of Richelieu and M’Lady at once, lest France fall to the Pope once and for all. I get that image from the way Barnabas bounds into the drawing room with Julia, to proudly announce they’ve arrived back from both Parallel Time and the Future. It’s the kind of delivery you’d see Errol Flynn give to Basil Rathbone… as balloons fell from the ceiling. 

And honestly, after arriving back from such exotic destinations, how else is a man to enter? They’ve even captured Kathy Cody trying to break into the ensemble, and she’s locked in Paul Stoddard’s trunk. What is Eliot doing trying to pawn her off at Collinwood, anyway? This man hosted Adam, for god’s sake. What is Carrie Stokes doing to the upholstery that he dumps her with Liz? She’s just warming up for an intensely uncomfortable evening visit to Quentin’s bedroom. Seriously, they remark about the strange feelings she’s been having. It’s the scene where Quentin barely restrains himself from sprinting out of the room and calling his lawyer.

Other than that, Collinwood has found a strange equilibrium. Carolyn’s in mourning, which has basically sedated her. Liz is in a decent mood, largely because she’s had David Selby all to her herself. Quentin has ditched the turtleneck for a suit, and seems blandly at peace, comfortable to stand around and look handsome. David and Carrie are busy ignoring the fact that they are almost out of puberty’s oven. It’s best we don’t know what they’ve found snooping in Quentin’s sock drawer, but I doubt it’s I Ching wands and a mummified hand. Life is good. It’s that weird calm that soap operas slip into between storylines. It’s important to see the house at such ease. Gordon Russell creates an excellent Pax Collinsus from which it’s all going to hell. These are the moments that will make us nostalgic in the times to come.

For a man charged with preventing a localized apocalypse, Barnabas is in an excellent mood. As well he should be. From his heroic high in 1897, he plunges in the Leviathan storyline, only having to work it off in Parallel Time and 1995. There’s an interesting detail to 1995, because it presupposes the absence of Barnabas and Julia. Why are they absent? Presumably because they are in Parallel Time. What were they doing in Parallel Time? At that hour? In those outfits? Barnabas, cursed with vampirism, was hoping he’d be different there. And why was he cursed with vampirism? Yet another deal for Josette with another sinister force. Had he recognized his power and thought more expansively, Barnabas might have used the situation rather than being used by it. He wasn’t in a position to do that, then. He is, now. And he has an ethical mandate to do it -- arguably, had he been at Collinwood, he might have prevented Gerard’s ascent.

At least, that’s what he thinks. Collinwood’s full of time travelers. They all have ample evidence that their actions can and will change the future. Barnabas has a road map to it. It’s incorrect. Doom will result. But now, Barnabas is ready. 

This episode hit the airwaves on Aug. 3, 1970.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...