Episode 1: “Next Stop, Collinsport!”

Dark Shadows_From the Beginning_opening

 

From the beginning, Dark Shadows lives up to its name. Full of mysterious characters with secrets to be kept, the debut episode, and the three that follow, is set during the nighttime, when a sense of foreboding pervades the deepest, when the ghosts of yesterday seem the most threatening, piercing the looming shades of darkness like the light of an oncoming train.

 

And this is how Dark Shadows begins, a few minutes before nine o’clock at night aboard a high-speed railway train somewhere Down East as the protagonist, Victoria Winters, staring ahead with a look of dreamy optimism, introduces herself via thinks monologue and tells us about the purpose and destination of her journey as she speculates on what she may find there in that “strange and dark place, to the edge of the sea, high atop Widow’s Hill, a house called Collinwood…” Everyone she meets along the way will attempt to tear apart the hope she has centered on this determined quest, beginning with the nosy woman seated beside her, Mrs. Mitchell, who engages Miss Winters in conversation.

 

Mrs. Mitchell is everyone’s fellow traveler nightmare, a busybody old lady with a hornet’s nest for a hat whose voice is so monotonally pronounced and overbearing she makes even single-syllable words sound eternally drawn out and intolerably migraine inducing. But her poking into Miss Winters’ business is a necessary bit of exposition, because episode writer Art Wallace wants the viewer to know what kind of a place the town of Collinsport is — the sort of place where even the most seasoned of traveler stays clear of. Which is odd, because in the Collinsport travel brochure that Wallace also wrote up (aka the “series bible” Shadows on the Wall), he describes the town as a popular tourist attraction in summer as well as a haven for bohemian artists. But, whatever, we have to create some tension for the protagonist to walk into, because this is detergent land television, Gothic novel style.

 

Incidentally, while Mrs. Mitchell is rambling on, a curious thing happens. You hear what sounds like a railway crossing that the train is apparently passing through, because there is the sound effect of a clanging bell whose report bends as if it were being passed at high speed. Right away, we encounter something that sets Dark Shadows apart from the more typical detergent land drama programs. It’s as if there’s a real and full-dimensional world just outside the impressively true to life sets the show is taping its scenes from. When you think of a typical soap from the time, you might think of plain cheap sets housing perpetually troubled souls brooding or stressing their way through deeply personal dialogue, with that dreary, clichéd ballpark organ music meandering about, a bit like those parodies you would see on The Carol Burnett Show in the seventies, like As The Stomach Turns. Because from the moment Victoria Winters steps off the train, it will feel more like she is walking into some kind of film noir, with its very own decidedly spooky soundtrack as an atmospheric backdrop.

 

But she hasn’t reached that point just yet. And thankfully for the viewer as the incessant goat-like voice of Mrs. Mitchell rattles on like a sheet metal factory an hour before lunch break, she slips into reverie where she recalls discussing with Mrs. Hopewell, her supervisor at the foundling home where she grew up and more recently has been working, the letter offering her the job of tutoring a small boy. In this flashback, something significant is mentioned.

 

Mrs. Hopewell: Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, Collinsport, Maine. No, I’m sorry, Victoria, that name doesn’t mean anything to me. When did you get this letter?

 

Victoria: This morning. Mrs. Hopewell, I don’t know why she should offer me the position. I’ve never heard of the woman.

 

Mrs. Hopewell: Well obviously she’s heard of you.

 

That’s something that may be worth recalling at a later date, that obviously Mrs. Stoddard has heard of Victoria Winters. But, how so? We also discover from this exchange that Collinsport is only fifty miles from Bangor, and that when Mrs. Hopewell asks Victoria if she thinks there’s any connection, it means that there is indeed something linking her past with this general area of the state of Maine. So this is the basis for her journey, to see if being a companion and governess to the son of Elizabeth Stoddard’s brother will clarify for her what connection there may be, if any.

 

Speaking of Elizabeth Stoddard’s brother, Roger Collins is quite an interesting character — mainly because he seems like someone who has something to hide. When you view that opening scene in the Collinwood drawing room between Elizabeth and Roger, you might think he knows more about the soon to be arriving governess than he lets on given the way he does a dramatic palm smashing of a brandy glass to close out the scene. Or maybe it’s just that he has no control over his own life. He has lived extravagantly for the last ten years, having spent his way through his entire inheritance so that he is forced to move back home to a house that is run by his sister and likewise be a mere employee in the family business which his sister also controls. He has just emerged from an unhappy marriage, but is still carrying some baggage from those years in the form of a nine-year-old son he detests (“The little monster’s asleep, and I’m delighted”). Finally, he has no say in the educational decisions regarding his own son, and when he protests by warning his sister that she is “inviting problems…” she cuts him off abruptly with the withering statement, “The only problem I’ve invited is standing here before me at this moment.” This silences Roger’s patrician loquaciousness completely, and after watching his sister leave the drawing room to go upstairs he will end the scene with a dramatic flourish, the breaking of a brandy glass having taken the place of his voice of concern.

 

When Victoria Winters finally steps off the train, a most amusing thing happens — no one is there to meet her. As we’ve already been told, Collinwood is a secluded residence atop a lonely perch known as Widow’s Hill. In the opening scene we see Victoria’s new employer, Elizabeth Stoddard, looking out the window at the ocean, anticipating the arrival of the new governess. As we will soon discover, there are at least three cars in the garage and in addition the caretaker has a station wagon, but when she finds herself on the platform of Collinsport Train Station she has to ask a stranger if there is any taxi service in the area.

 

This does at first make the inhabitants of Collinwood, and Elizabeth Stoddard in particular, seem inconsiderate, but it’s only for the sake of exposition, so the viewer can learn that the stranger in question, Burke Devlin, has a past connection with Collinwood and that it isn’t necessarily a pleasant one, and also so that we can be introduced to more sets and characters along the way, as well as get a bit of backstory on this dark and curious man who has offered Victoria a ride to the hotel so she can get a taxi from there to her destination.

 

But when we get to the lobby of Collinsport Inn, we find that Devlin’s background is for the moment elusive, because he is playing a game called Pretend You Don’t Know Me. When he rings the bell on the front desk and the hotel clerk emerges from the restaurant, the following exchange occurs:

 

Mr. Wells: Sorry, I was just gettin’ a cup of coffee.

 

Devlin: My name’s Devlin.

 

Mr. Wells: What? Why, Burke! It’s nice to see — .

 

Devlin: Burke Devlin! I wired for three rooms.

 

Mr. Wells: Yes sir. Oh, yes, Mr. Devlin. We’re expectin’ yah. Your rooms are ready. I think I have a message for yah.

 

Devlin: And I want a taxi for this girl.

 

Mr. Wells: Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t think that’ll be possible for a while. Harry… Why, you know Harry!

 

Devlin: I don’t remember anyone!

 

So while Victoria goes into the coffee shop to wait for her taxi, let’s follow Devlin to another set. If we can’t learn more about him, at least we can find something else out. After all, we’re only getting the governess to the front door of her new employer this first episode, and in the meantime we’re just picking up all the introductory background information these first twenty-two minutes will allow.

 

And what better means of acquiring this information than through a private investigator — who will just state the facts on, for instance, Victoria Winters’ new employer Elizabeth Stoddard, a recluse who hasn’t left the grounds of her estate in eighteen years. In fact, the information will be given in so point blank a manner that the private investigator, Wilbur Strake, may just as well be reading his lines off of a piece of paper, which he practically does in the form of a report he has compiled for his client, Burke Devlin, over a beer at the local waterfront drinking and dining establishment known as the Blue Whale.

 

But Strake does it with real flair. Though his name is mentioned occasionally in some episodes ahead, Strake only appears in the first two, and that’s kind of a shame because the character of Wilbur Strake as played by Joseph Julian lends great style and presence to his scenes. He speaks in a manner once referred to as “hard-boiled.” For instance, when he mentions to Devlin that his assignment in Collinsport wasn’t a particularly easy one, he says it like this: “You know, I should charge you double the way these people clam up.” Just imagine those period mystery noir movies with the tough-talking gent in the suit, tie, overcoat, and hat who goes after all the facts. That’s Wilbur Strake alright.

 

There’s a rather funny moment in this scene when the bartender recognizes Devlin after bringing a round of beers to their table. On his way back to the bar, the bartender stops, then turns to take a long glance back, and Devlin shrinks away awkwardly, like a fugitive on the lam.

 

Burke is recognized at Blue Whale_ep1.gif

 

Following this, Strake, grinning with amusement, reassures his client: “He’s a nice fella. Thinks I’m a real estate salesman. That’s a laugh, isn’t it? He says this joint really starts jumpin’ in about a half an hour when the kids get here.” Strake is fun. It would have been nice to have had him appear in more than just two episodes.

 

So while Devlin is getting the lowdown on every member of the Collins family and everyone connected with them, let’s head back to the coffee shop of Collinsport Inn and see how Victoria Winters is doing. Not so great, as it happens. After being served a sandwich and coffee, the waitress proceeds to call her a jerk.

 

Maggie: Roast beef rare, and coffee, right?

 

Victoria: Right. I’m starved.

 

Maggie: You are also a jerk.

 

Victoria: Beg your pardon?

 

Maggie: Jerk. J-E-R-K.

 

Victoria: Well, thanks.

 

Maggie: Don’t mention it. The name’s Maggie Evans. And right now I’m the last link in a long string of gossip. Sandwich rare enough for you?

 

Victoria: Oh, it’s fine. But I still don’t understand why — .

 

Maggie: It’s like this. A chauffeur tells a desk clerk, who tells a housekeeper, who tells me, that you’re going to work up at Collinwood. That makes you a jerk.

 

This initial version of Maggie Evans the viewers are introduced to is what used to be referred to as a “brassy dame.” In his story outline Shadows on the Wall, Art Wallace describes Maggie Evans thusly: “Maggie Evans is a cynic. At the young age of twenty-three, she looks at the world through a wry screen of disbelief, protecting herself against hurt through a rich fund of humor…” and “She’s the kind of gal who is everybody’s pal…and nobody’s friend… For essentially, Maggie is a lonely person…hoping for something and expecting nothing…”

 

It’s worth mentioning that the coffee shop/diner is a favorite set among fans of episodes from the first year of Dark Shadows, and with good reason. It has those classic elements and a certain down home New England charm: walls of knotted pine, a soda fountain of enamel and chrome with three taps, a pie stand with a glass dome, and a Cecilware coffee setup.

 

The purpose of Victoria’s stopover in the coffee shop is mainly to get another building up of what sort of disquieting situation she seems to be walking into with the folks up at Collinwood, who, according to Maggie Evans, “own the biggest, darkest, gloomiest old house. And they’re kooks! Every one of ’em.” We’ve already seen Elizabeth Stoddard and Roger Collins in action, a sister and brother who call each other fools, the latter of whom will smash a brandy glass in the palm of his hand if he doesn’t get his way. But maybe Roger’s actually harmless — just don’t shake hands with him unless you have a pair of tweezers at the ready.

 

But the really significant takeaway from Victoria’s diner scene with Maggie comes when she slips into another flashback where she recalls being in her room at the foundling home packing for her journey up the coast and being questioned by a fellow foundling on why she would be leaving New York for a Maine fishing village of three thousand. Incidentally, it’s the second time in this episode where she is questioned about leaving New York for small town living, considering that this is the exact opposite of how a story of self-discovery is told: Usually, the young lady leaves her native small town to find fortune and romance in the big city, as epitomized by That Girl, which would make its debut on ABC nighttime in the fall of sixty-six.

 

But even more profound than this is what Victoria’s fellow foundling says about her: “With your looks and brains you could get a dozen jobs right here in New York.” Okay, got that? Victoria Winters is smart! That’s how she is written, and that’s how she is introduced to viewers. There is a tendency for Dark Shadows fandom to retrospectively look upon the character of Victoria Winters as dumb — but that’s only because they haven’t seen how the character was portrayed in the first year. In fact, by the end of the second year of the show, there will be in evidence something of a dumbing down characterwise across the board, female and male characters alike. But from the beginning, Victoria Winters is sharp and is no pushover. In fact, none of the regular female characters are: Elizabeth Stoddard, Victoria Winters, Carolyn Stoddard, Maggie Evans — these are unmistakably strong characters, each of whom is capable of taking charge of a situation as the need arises. When creating these characters, Art Wallace wrote them with great integrity and respect.

 

So, now that we’ve got all these introductory points in order, Victoria’s taxi is ready and it’s time to bring her to the front door of Collinwood so that the pilot episode of Dark Shadows can wrap up. But before we let the credits roll, there’s just one more thing to note. As Victoria steps into the foyer of Collinwood, the camera is positioned in a curious angle — knee high, in the process making Joan Bennett appear six feet tall. Added to that is a longshot from outside the drawing room window, to show the great length of the drawing room and foyer sets together from drawing room window to front door.

 

In later interviews Dan Curtis has spoken of how the night before the taping of the first episode he and composer Robert Cobert and their wives had been out to dinner, and that after dinner they stopped by the studio to tour the sets that would be used for the pilot, marveling at the dimensions of the Collinwood foyer and drawing room sets in particular. And the knee-high camera angle we are given as the first episode closes seems to reinforce how in awe of these innovative, spacious, and intricately detailed sets the makers of the show were, and that the viewer should share in the wonder of it, as if to say, Just look at the size of that set on your TV screen, the sheer height of it. Have you ever seen anything so grand on daytime television?

 

No, indeed we have not. And by the time the series has completed its run, daytime television will never be the same again.

 

Photo Gallery:

Elizabeth Stoddard at the drawing room window of Collinwood.

Elizabeth Stoddard_ep1

 

Victoria Winters and Burke Devlin meet on the platform of Collinwood Train Station.

Vicky and Burke_Collinsport Train Station_ep1.JPG

 

Collinsport Inn.

Collinsport Inn_ep1.JPG

 

Mr. Wells, the hotel clerk, welcomes Burke Devlin back to Collinsport.

Mr. Wells welcomes Bruke Devlin back to Collinsport_ep1.JPG

 

Wilbur Strake at the Blue Whale.

Wilbur Strake_Blue Whale_ep1.JPG

 

The bartender at the Blue Whale recognizes Burke Devlin.

Bartender recognizes Burke Devlin_ep1.JPG

 

Mr. Wells looks in on Victoria.

Mr. Wells looks in on Vicky_ep1.JPG

 

Maggie Evans warns Victoria about working at Collinwood.

Maggie warns Vicky about working at Collinwood_ep1

 

Victoria’s room back at the foundling home as she packs for her journey to Collinsport.

Vicky's room at Hammond Foundling Home_ep1.JPG

 

Victoria arrives at Collinwood.

Vicky arrives at Collinwood_ep1.JPG

 

View of Collinwood drawing room and foyer sets as seen from drawing room window.

Vicky arrives at Collinwood_drawing room and foyer longshot_ep1.JPG

 

Favorite Lines/Exchanges:

Victoria: Excuse me. I wonder if you know if they have any taxis here.

Burke: I wouldn’t know what they have here. Not anymore.

Victoria: Well how do they expect anyone to get to town?

Burke: Broomsticks and unicorns.

 

Background/Production Notes:

As Dark Shadows was being developed it was to have been titled Shadows on the Wall. In 1965, when Dan Curtis first signed with ABC-TV to produce the show, the original title was The House on Storm Cliff.

 

At the beginning of Dark Shadows, rehearsals were held in the Terrace Room of the Empire Hotel on 63rd and Broadway, New York. The first fifty-five episodes were filmed at ABC-TV2 (Studio 2) on 24 West 67th Street, New York.

 

The location footage in the first episode was filmed two days before taping on Saturday, June 11, 1966.

Instructions on location footage for the first week of episodes.

Location footage_script instructions_eps1-5.JPG

 

The location footage for Collinsport Train Station was filmed in Scarborough, New York.

Alexandra Moltke and Mitchell Ryan on location in Scarborough, New York.

Location footage for Collinsport Train Station_Scarborough New York_ep1.JPG

 

The location footage for Collinsport Inn was filmed in Essex, Connecticut, and features the Griswold Inn.

Alexandra Moltke and Mitchell Ryan on location in Essex, Connecticut.

Location footage for Collinsport Inn_Essex Connecticut_Griswold Inn_ep1.JPG

 

The Blue Whale was originally scripted to be named The Rainbow Bar.

 

In early drafts of scripts for the first fifteen episodes, the Collins family mansion was to have been called Collins House, which is the name given by Art Wallace in Shadows on the Wall. The name of the family mansion was changed to Collinwood for the final drafts of the scripts, but in an early TV promo commercial ahead of the first week of episodes the announcer says, “Dark Shadows probes the hidden mysteries of Collins House…”

Image from an early Dark Shadows TV promo commercial.

Dark Shadows_Early TV promo.JPG

 

Production document with cast list for first episode.

Production document with cast list for first episode.JPG

 

Page 1 of original script for episode 1.

Page 1 of original script for first episode.JPG

 

Page 3 of original script for episode 1.

Page 3 of original script for episode 1.JPG

 

[Note: Above images of original script pages are taken from the book Dark Shadows: The First Year, by Nina Johnson and O. Crock (summary writers), Blue Whale Books, 2006].

 

The population figure of three thousand given above for Collinsport comes from Art Wallace’s story outline Shadows on the Wall, where Collinsport is described as having been a popular resort town for the past thirty years that “has grown accustomed to seeing its population of 3000 swell by almost fifty percent during the summer months.”

 

According to Dark Shadows Almanac, the original name for the character of Victoria Winters was to have been Sheila March.

 

Dark Shadows extras: In episode 1, Alfred Hinckley is the train conductor; he will also appear in episode 868 as Dr. Ian Reade. It is he who says the line, “Next stop, Collinsport!”

Dark Shadows extras_Alfred Hinckley_train conductor in episode 1

 

The woman who starts a conversation with Victoria Winters, Mrs. Mitchell, is played by Jane Rose.

Dark Shadows extras_Jane Rose_Mrs. Mitchell in episode 1

 

Bloopers/Story Continuity:

During the opening narration, just before the camera moves in for a shot of Elizabeth Stoddard opening the drawing room window, a studio light can be seen above the windows to the right, partially covered by vine leaves.

Studio light from above the drawing room set.

Studio light (upper right)_above drawing room set_ep1.JPG

 

After Victoria asks Mr. Wells whether he knows Burke Devlin, Conrad Bain stumbles on the word “this” when he answers “Since he was th-this high.”

 

When Maggie Evans is outlining to Victoria the stature of the Collins family, Kathryn Leigh Scott trips over the word “biggest” and says “They own the bisc-biggest fishing fleet…”

 

In Victoria’s room at the foundling home, as she takes an armful of clothes from her bureau and turns to pack them, the edge of the set can be seen to the right of the mirror and a crew member in a white shirt can be seen walking past.

A crew member walks past where the edge of the set for Victoria’s room at the foundling home is seen.

Vicky's room at foundling home_Edge of set (right of screen) with crew member walking past_ep1.JPG

 

Propspotting:

The Ralston Purina lamp, so named because of its red and white checkerboard design ringing the bottom of the lamp shade, is first seen on the front desk in the lobby of Collinsport Inn, where it will be a fixture for several months of episodes.

The Ralston Purina lamp on the front desk in the lobby of Collinsport Inn.

Ralston Purina lamp at the Collinsport Inn_ep1.JPG

 

Food & Drink in Collinsport:

Roger pours himself a brandy.

Roger pours himself a brandy_ep1.JPG

 

Wilbur Strake has a beer while waiting at the Blue Whale for Burke Devlin.

Wilbur Strake awaiting Burke Devlin at the Blue Whale_ep1.JPG

 

Victoria sprinkles salt on her rare roast beef sandwich, which she has with a cup of coffee. As a side order on the house, Maggie offers a slice of apple pie as part of her “last meal” before heading up to Collinwood.

Vicky salts a roast beef sandwich_ep1.JPG

 

Recommended Reading:

From the page I created for Dark Shadows Wiki:

Dark Passages is a novel written by Kathryn Leigh Scott and published in 2011 by Pomegranate Press, Ltd.

Set in the 1960s, Meg Harrison leaves her native Minnesota for New York to pursue a career in acting while working as a Playboy Bunny in New York’s Playboy Club. After changing her name to Morgana Harriott, she soon lands the role of Margie, a restaurant waitress and daughter of a local artist, in the new daytime TV serial Dark Passages. The show will eventually feature a vampire, but the catch is that Morgana is one in real life.

The characters described on the sets of Dark Passages resemble quite vividly those on Dark Shadows and the actors who played them. The diner set where Margie works is greatly similar to that of the Collinsport Inn restaurant on Dark Shadows.

For the back cover, Jonathan Frid wrote the following blurb: “Reading DARK PASSAGES was like being back on the sets of DARK SHADOWS, except with real vampires behind the scenes!”

Dark Passages_novel_front cover.JPG

 

Recommended Listening:

In this eight-CD box set of composer Robert Cobert’s series soundtrack, every music cue used on Dark Shadows is available, including the full-length original recordings of the guitar instrumentals heard at the Blue Whale.

Dark Shadows_Soundtrack Music Collection_Front cover.JPG

 

Since 2006, UK production company Big Finish has been extending the Dark Shadows legacy with audio dramas offering new stories featuring cast members from the original TV series. My favorite is the 2015 audio drama …And Red All Over, in which Mitchell Ryan reprises his role as Burke Devlin to the backdrop of an eerily compelling backstory on how he came to acquire his wealth in business. Also starring Kathryn Leigh Scott as Maggie Evans, with original series themes and music cues composed by Robert Cobert. A must listen for any fan of the first year of Dark Shadows.

And Red All Over_CD booklet front image.JPG

 

Coming next: Episode 2: A Friend of the Family

 

— Marc Masse

(aka PrisoneroftheNight)

 

© 2017 Marc Masse and Dark Shadows

from the Beginning. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of

the content herein is a violation of the

terms and standards as set forth under

U.S. copyright law.

 

 

 

 

 

15 thoughts on “Episode 1: “Next Stop, Collinsport!””

  1. Also:

    Kathryn Leigh Scott had to wear a blonde wig because Dan Curtis was afraid viewers wouldn’t be able to tell her apart from dark-haired Alexandra Moltke. I can’t remember how many episodes Katy had to do this, but fortunately, Dan later realized his fear was unfounded and she was allowed to ditch the wig.

    The music cues were pressed onto 45 rpm records, which were played on a record player “live” in the studio during taping. This was cheaper than editing the music into the soundtrack during post-production. It also meant the actors would hear the music in the background while they were performing. (Dan Curtis mentions the music being played on records in one of his interview segments in the DVD extras.)

    That’s all I can remember for now.

    Excellent work! By the time you’re finished with this, every reader will have the equivalent of a PhD in Dark Shadows.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kathryn Leigh Scott has the blonde wig through episode 12. When she returns in episode 20, the “real” Maggie Evans emerges.

      I knew that they dropped the music cues in “live” during taping, from the Dan Curtis interview you mentioned, but I wasn’t aware the actors could hear these as well. That’s quite an additional distraction. In her autobiography The Bennett Playbill, Joan Bennett tells of the many distractions that would get in the way of an actor’s concentration “…besides the lights, miles of snaky cable, hand signals and constant movement of cameras. Crewmen stand around just out of camera range, but always within the sight-line of the actor; they stretch, yawn, walk around, scratch and mutter, and once I thought I was getting a cue to elongate a scene when a technician gave out with a splendid yawn and stretched his arms in a wide arc.” p. 327

      Yeah, you know, I almost feel like I’ve been working toward a PhD in Dark Shadows: five years of constant viewing to study the series, compiling rare and out of print source materials for research, even occasionally holding a magnifier up to the screen, like an archaeologist, to detect hidden details — and now I’m finally getting around to writing my thesis.

      I don’t think I’ll be able to manage posting five days a week, given how I intend to provide the sort of extended, deluxe treatment I feel these episodes deserve, but I will be posting at regular intervals. The next one will be up by the end of the week. Glad you’re finding it worthwhile!

      Like

  2. Animated GIFs! Bravo!

    It may be because I saw these episodes later, but I do think they wrote Maggie a little *too* brittle in this first scene, or the general charisma of KLS worked against the lines — but in a good way that led to the more nuanced Maggie we see later who’s balancing a job and alcoholic father.

    As for the wig , on the other blog there was discussion about women in the 60s freely wearing obvious wigs as fashion accessories and for different “looks” so I’ve chosen to believe that’s what’s going on in-universe with Maggie’s wig. Perhaps a few days before Victoria arrived she dropped into Brewster’s and thought, “Well, why not?” and gave it a try for a couple of weeks before deciding against it.

    Like

  3. Great first episode summary! And very thorough – definitely don’t think you need to do an entry 5 days a week. Given the level of detail you put in, I’m sure everyone here is fine waiting a few days in between entries.

    And you’re absolutely right about the strong female characters. That’s one of the things that impressed me when I first watched the show, was the fact they were all very strong-willed, independent, smart and often stubborn. Carolyn and Liz in particular would shift from sympathetic to unlikeable (in their treatment of Vicki) almost instantly, and it’s to the credit of both actresses that even while displaying some of these more abrasive qualities, they still managed to be likeable (possibly because both characters hint at a deeper sadness).

    Like

    1. Glad you’re enjoying this blog, Pedro.

      I focus on many details, because I enjoy these episodes on so many levels, so there is no way I could possibly do one post a day — not even if I have the day off. 🙂 The best I can manage is every other 3 or 4 days or so, even though I work on these most every day. There was 22 days between posts to complete episode 12 — only because of all the “hidden audio” I was trying to decipher from all the control room conversation between Dan Curtis and Lela Swift that leaked into the broadcast. But that’s the exception. Thank you for reading and commenting! 🙂

      Like

  4. To think how long it will be until we see Millay and Parker together….

    But.

    Thank you, Prisoner, because we just had the worst thunderstorm and power outage, and what better go-to than this…

    And eps Two, and Three during this time.

    I could have been at Sixes and Sevens.

    When is a great time to have a storm?

    Right now, it was.

    Thanks.

    Like

  5. And so did Nancy Barrett, I think!

    Who was, like AM, also the right amount of pretty for the role.

    While Lara needed a high power role.

    Like

  6. I think this first episode accomplished a lot in 22 minutes. The personality of each character, along with the underlying tension of a yet unrevealed story line, were developed just enough to pique one’s interest (for me, anyway) to tune in again tomorrow. And, yes, the Atmosphere! An east coast mansion situated on a place called “Widow’s Hill”, the matron of that house dressed in a black, elegant evening gown complete with diamond earrings, just emanates wealth, privilege and power.

    Marc: love the production/script notes you included with this post. Clearly, a lot of effort was put into this episode.

    Like

  7. I just found you and am glad to be revisiting these early episodes. I’ve rewatched them before, but mostly for the nostalgia value. I’m looking forward to examining them more closely. In just this episode I was amazed by how great the sets are. That shot through the drawing room window to the foyer is fabulous–I’ve never had such a sense of space from that set before.

    Like

    1. Margaret, welcome! 🙂 The visual part of these early episodes is a big part of the viewing experience for me, and the black and white and often spare use of lighting helps to create the unique atmosphere — all of which seems to enhance the elaborate sets. I wish that scenic designer Sy Tomashoff would write a book.

      Like

  8. Marc- I’ve just finished watching all the episodes from Barnabas’ arrival through the end of the series, and thought I’d give the first 200+ a try. And, Wow! It’s so much better than I expected! Fascinating to see all the characters in their early incarnations. Especially tough broad Maggie Evans. I almost didn’t recognize her, and it’s not just the blonde wig! And all the exterior filming, the unfamiliar music cues, the introduction of the Ralston Purina lamp…so great! Your blog is riveting. I’ve already learned that they did in fact play the music cues while taping, and that there is a complete soundtrack collection available, and which Big Finish audio drama I should start with… I’m very impressed with the wealth of information you have, and thrilled that you’re willing to share it so that I too can earn my advanced degree in Dark Shadows. Congrats on your site – I’m so looking forward to viewing these early episodes with you and the rest of the commenters. This is gonna be fun!

    Like

    1. Welcome, Nainzy, and thanks for the kind words! 🙂

      These early episodes are in my opinion the backbone of Dark Shadows; character development is never more complete than in these first 200+ episodes.

      Like

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