Monday, July 6, 2020

The Dark Shadows Daybook: June 6


Taped on this day in 1967: Episode 281

When a seance brings Josette to the present in Vicki’s body, to whom will Barnabas propose? Roger Collins: Louis Edmonds. (Repeat; 30 min.)

Vicki, possessed by Josette, narrates her last moments on earth until Barnabas stops her. Later, Barnabas hears Vicki speak of her love of the past, and presents her with the music box.

“What is the value of suffering if it isn’t to be enjoyed?”
-- Roger Collins, guru--

Roger Collins walks away with this one, but who is Roger? I’m not sure he ever is quite as, I don’t know, Roger as he is in this one. It’s as if a real guy were raised by Quentin’s nephew in an intensely haunted house, dodging murder raps, fire-demon ex-wives, vehicular patricide, and a hard-drinking, nymphomaniacal niece who never quite “got the memo.” The writers heard about this real guy and based a character on him. And for one episode, he got to write all of his own dialogue. Every aphorism is a gem. He’s giddy over the costume party, and equally oblivious to the terror and suffering endured by the employee forced to go there. In other words, he’s a great guy and I wish the writers had featured THAT Roger Collins more. Or that Roger Moore Collins. One or the other. But like that great thespian of the English screen might have done, Louis Edmonds dominates the episode. This is despite his minimal screen time. Roger has a marvelously fresh sense of aristocratic defiance in the drawing room scene, and the rarity of seeing a Collins enjoy himself is too much to ignore. Edmonds knows he has a killer scene, designed to make him look like a million bucks. He’s a team player, Louis. Yeah, he could out act a number of his fellow performers, but he shows Louisiana good manners by not doing so. However, in this case, the thoroughbred simply needs to gallop at full speed.

Roger aside, we’re cementing the mechanics of the seance, here. I suspect the staff is well aware that 1795 finery, seances, and Vicki in peril are their next servings of bread and butter. Although that’s months away, the long-game strategy of Team Shadows allows them to get the audience so used to it all that, when it happens, it’s so natural that I’m amazed anyone time travels without a seance. The costumes feel right on the actors because they’ve been training us. Like we were all rats in Dan Curtis’ insane maze. My god, we’ve got to get back to the ship. Don’t you understand? It’s a zoo! With a cookbook! What, which episode is this? Shit, “Hocus, Pocus, and Frisbee”? You gotta be kidding me. I need a better agent.

Back to reality, the show is also straining, barely successfully, with shoehorning Vicki in as Josette. But it can’t do it too well. Because, you know, she’s not. But with Maggie in the nuthouse and Barnabas looking for reasons not to linger in Dr. Hoffman’s bedroom when she puts on that Sergio Mendes album, opens up a Whitman Sampler, and starts daubing Campari behind her ears, someone has to be Josette. I guess it could have been Dana Elcar, but I think he’s off the show by now. Vicki is awkwardly attracted to the past, and the seance features a performance that is suggestive of something else. As Moltke rhythmically pants, moans, and says “Faster!” a lot, I expect the camera to pan over to Rob Reiner’s mom telling Willie, “I have what she’s having.”

One of the many original elements to Barnabas Collins is the terror he suffers. He may take far more than he dishes out. Not only is he a deeply tragic man out of time, he’s also haunted by two ghosts. But one appears to everyone OTHER than Barnabas, and she’s the one who’d give him solace. He’s in love with the other one, but she spends all of her time possessing people and trying to out him. In 281, he’s confronted by both. What’s Josette’s game? Perhaps Josette is the force that drags Vicki through time. Perhaps it’s the only way she can warn her about Barnabas. Unless she’s not trying to warn anyone about Barnabas. If I were Josette, I’d be warning people about Angelique. And if Barnabas would just let her finish a simple possession, maybe she would!

This episode hit the airwaves on July 24, 1967.

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