For Dark Shadows fans who view the series beginning with episode 210, Sam Evans is likely perceived as a sympathetic character. At the very least, he seems innocuous, and for the most part you feel for him because his daughter Maggie, a character who is universally well liked, is soon to be kidnapped and you understand the tortured anguish of a loving father who only wants for his daughter to be returned home safely. Even Roger Collins at one point manages to almost express a measure of sympathy for Sam’s plight – almost, that is.
But taking the series from the beginning, it’s a different story – and not just because the first actor who plays him, Mark Allen, doesn’t seem to find as much favor with Dark Shadows fans the way his successor to the role does, David Ford. Perhaps it’s the company he keeps.
Recall that in episode 2 when Roger Collins heard that Burke Devlin was back in town he went tearing off into the night, which led him at the beginning of episode 3 to bang furiously on the front door of the Evans cottage at a late hour, not caring if he even had to wake Sam up out of bed to talk to him. Now in episode 7, still only the day after both Vicki Winters and Burke Devlin arrived in Collinsport, Roger isn’t content with knocking on Sam’s door and having to turn away in fury and anguish. When Sam Evans walks in through the front door of his cottage and steps over to the liquor table behind the sofa to pour himself a drink, he is taken by surprise when a hand reaches forth to grab him by the arm – Roger has let himself in to wait until Sam gets back. Worse yet, Roger even takes Sam’s bottle of whiskey away and orders him to sit down so they can talk.
[As Sam gets ready to pour a drink]
Roger: I don’t think you ought to have that now.
Sam: Have you taken to breaking into people’s homes?
Roger: The door was unlocked. I waited. I wanted to talk with you. But without this. [Grabs the bottle from Sam]
Sam: Look, if I’m supposed to talk to you… [Grabs the bottle back] that’s when I’ll need this the most!
So that pretty much defines Sam’s relationship with Roger Collins. He needs a glass, at least, of whiskey to endure talking with him. One couldn’t say they were exactly friends, especially the way they address each other by surname, but at least he will talk with this unwanted intruder. Yet if an old friend comes calling, as one will in this episode, one who drops in to say hello after ten years, a man who is even someone Sam once liked and had many times as a guest in his house, he is not welcoming at all. He’ll just send the visitor away abruptly after a minute or two of evasive talk and hastily thought-up excuses.
With the Sam Evans of Dark Shadows beginnings, it seems to be a question of values. He loves his daughter Maggie and wants to protect her from any harm, so he’s got that first, innermost level of core values down. But it’s what comes after that, one’s friends, that Sam seems to struggle with, and everything else after that just seems to be a blank.
One thing about the Evans cottage you notice in this episode is that when Sam walks in the door you can see houses across the street, a setting that would suggest a quiet, cozy cul-de-sac near the waterfront. Sam has neighbors, but none ever come calling. One gets the impression that Sam is troubled about something and just wants to be left alone, but time and again unwanted trespassers will just keep barging in, like this nervous, frightened man who lives in a mansion on the hill who busts in to order him around and warn him to keep certain information secret that might be damaging to the both of them. There will at one point be a cannery plant manager who just walks in without knocking while he and Roger are arguing about Burke Devlin, the plant manager telling Sam that if he wants privacy he should keep his door locked. But even that wouldn’t work, because as time goes on the trespassers will only become more aggressive: a fire goddess who, by staring into a blazing fireplace miles away, can make Sam fall asleep on the sofa with a lit cigarette to ignite a nearby newspaper so that he burns his hands badly enough that he can no longer paint; a newly risen vampire who sneaks in through the French windows to make a blood bank of his daughter; a Frankenstein monster who lets himself in for food and shelter and who knows where the cutlery is kept; a werewolf that doesn’t even bother with locked doors and just crashes in through the nearby window. The Evans cottage is a hub of activity for invasive beings with criminal intent.
But now, in the relatively sane and quiet summer of sixty-six, all Sam Evans has to do for a little peace of mind is assure his unwanted patrician visitor that he will not do or say nothing to jeopardize the agreement the two apparently made that ties them together like conspirators – because that’s what they represent to the viewer, two people who keep information away from others, information the viewer at this point is also not fully privy to.
But the one salvation for Sam Evans is that, unlike Roger Collins, he does seem to have some remnant of a conscience about whatever unsavory information ties these two unlikely co-conspirators together, and therefore a soul that may be worth saving.
As Roger stands by impatiently waiting, Sam pours himself a drink to make a series of sardonic toasts on the current state of his soul.
Sam: To life, Collins. To the long, unhappy and miserable life that lies ahead for both of us. [Takes a long drink] Ah, the sustenance of my soul, provider of my courage, destroyer of my talents.
Roger: Where were you last night?
Sam: Nowhere. Everywhere. Perhaps I was here.
While Sam is in the middle of that line, he takes another gulp of whiskey, and then a hilarious thing happens. A stream of it just dribbles down his chin and onto the front of his shirt, and he just goes on talking, like it’s nothing. It could actually be a blooper in which the actor is pretending not to notice, but blooper or not, I think it deserves an animated GIF image.
Sam: Naw, I wasn’t here last night. I went for a walk along the shore. I looked out at the ocean. And I wept. For Burke and for me… even a little for you!
Roger: You don’t have to cry for him, Evans. He’s a very wealthy man now.
Sam: What good is money? It means nothing!
Roger: You didn’t always think so.
Sam: That’s true.
Roger: Well what do you plan to do now?
Roger: About Devlin! You don’t think he’s come back just to visit his hometown and see his old friends again, do you?
Sam: No, and I remember when you were one of those friends.
Pages 19 and 20 of Art Wallace’s Shadows on the Wall, for the character sketch of Burke Devlin, provides the following background information on the nature of Roger’s past association with Burke: “By the time he was twenty-two, Burke was working on one of the Collins ships. Strangely enough, he’d struck up and nurtured a friendship with Roger Collins, who was four years older than he. Roger had recognized in this wild young man the same zest for life, the same arrogant charm he had remembered admiring so much in Paul Stoddard, who had disappeared nine years before. Roger was always a follower, and he hitched his yearning for freedom from responsibility to Burke’s coattails.”
By this point we already know that Burke has spent time in prison and that he holds a grudge against the Collins family as a result. It could well be that Roger’s “yearning for freedom from responsibility” may have had something to do with this, and it seems apparent that Roger intends on maintaining his freedom in more ways than one.
Roger: Evans, I’m convinced that Burke intends to hurt me in some way.
Sam: Revenge and retribution. Yes, I would say so.
Roger: And I am going to protect myself every way I can. I can handle all the problems that come to me directly. But not those over which I have no control.
Sam: I see. So you want to know what I intend to do, huh?
Sam: Well you don’t have to be afraid of my actions. You don’t have to be afraid of any of my actions. I am what I’ve become. I’ll do nothing.
Meanwhile at the Collinsport Inn restaurant, the subject of Sam and Roger’s volatile discussion, Burke Devlin, is seated at the counter reading the newspaper as Sam’s daughter waits on him. Burke doesn’t recognize her at first, since she has grown from thirteen to twenty-three in the time he’s been away. In the first episode, we see Burke Devlin as a calculating man of mystery; in the third episode he is an opportunist who will use an honest, good-natured person like Joe Haskell as an operative to relay information, even if it means paying an exorbitant amount of money; but in this episode he is the likeable hometown boy returning as a success and who as it turns out actually values old friends.
Maggie: What’ll it be?
Burke: Uh, donuts and coffee.
Maggie: Black? Four sugars?
Burke: No, no sug… How did you know about that?
Maggie: It’s the way you used to drink it at our house, Burke.
Burke: Uh, should I know you?
Maggie: Well, ten years does a lot to a gal. I traded in my pig-tails for lipstick.
Burke: I don’t like guessing games.
Maggie: Alright, one big fat hint. You used to pose for my pop.
Burke: Maggie Evans!
Maggie: Right. And if you don’t say “How you’ve grown,” I’ll throw something at you.
Burke: How you’ve grown. Whatever happened to that portrait your pop was doin’ of me?
Maggie: Well it sort of got interrupted by the trial. Remember?
Burke: Yes, I remember.
Maggie: He never finished it. It’s still around the house somewhere.
Burke: Couldn’t he get some other character to model for him?
Maggie: Well, pop just never felt like finishing it. Oh,… I guess he hasn’t felt like finishing much of anything in the past few years. Unless it’s a hundred and ninety proof.
That Sam Evans has developed a heavy drinking habit is the only thing Burke will learn about his old friend at this point. And when Vicki Winters walks in to make change for a phone call, the viewer is reminded that Burke Devlin is still quite the opportunist when it comes to pressing others for information on the people living up at Collinwood, regarding Roger Collins in particular. When she emerges from the phone booth in the lobby, Burke is right there to swoop in and invite her into the restaurant for a cup of coffee during which he proposes that they talk about anything, “the weather, clam chowder…” Naturally he wants to talk about Collinwood and how Roger has reacted to his returning to Collinsport, but Vicki slams her coffee cup down on her saucer and says, “I thought we were going to talk about clam chowder.” She’s not as impressionable as, say, Joe Haskell, nor will she satisfy Burke’s interest in goings on up at Collinwood.
This scene is quite amusing for two reasons, both of which relate to Mitch Ryan. He appears to have trouble remembering his lines and leaves long gaps between phrases as he jokes with Vicki about his ruthless business maneuverings. He’s also not very adept at talking with his mouth full – which is done often and by many actors in the early days, because there’s a diner set for the Collinsport Inn and a kitchen set for Collinwood, and in the first year of Dark Shadows people are frequently eating while at the same time doing a great deal of talking. Alexandra Moltke was the first actor on Dark Shadows to talk with their mouth full, in the first episode, taking a bite from a roast beef sandwich while talking with Maggie – you couldn’t even tell she had food in her mouth as she delivered her lines. But in this episode not only does Mitch Ryan sound like he has a mouth full of food as he goes on talking after taking a bite from a donut, but he actually spits out a bit of it – at the exact moment he’s offering Vicki a donut for the second time! As with Mark Allen’s earlier drinks blooper, I think this one should as well have its own animated GIF image (it’s the comet-shaped streak seen against the top of his right lapel).
Having failed in his attempt to get Vicki to betray her loyalties to her new employer, Burke will have to be content with casting his line elsewhere. So he decides instead to pay a visit to Sam Evans, only to be turned away after a couple of minutes. Burke is puzzled that Sam isn’t particularly glad to see him, and he has a long way to go before realizing that old friends in Collinsport aren’t quite what they seem to be.
Location footage of Mark Allen in Essex, Connecticut. If you look in the boatyard there, you can see the Skipper and Gilligan’s S.S. Minnow.
Location footage of Mark Allen outside the cottage near the Essex, Connecticut waterfront used as the model for the Evans cottage.
Having let himself in while Sam was away, Roger takes him by surprise when he returns.
Roger wonders what Sam intends to do now that Burke Devlin is back in town.
Sam resigns himself to the fact that he must ally himself with Roger.
Burke doesn’t recognize Maggie Evans at first.
When Maggie mentions how Burke used to drink his coffee, he wonders if he should know her from somewhere.
Maggie reminds Burke about how she used to wear pig tails.
Burke doesn’t like guessing games.
Maggie reminds Burke that he used to pose for her pop.
Burke finally recognizes Maggie.
Burke reacts when Maggie mentions something about her father and a hundred and ninety proof.
Vicki stops in at the hotel restaurant to get change for a long distance phone call.
Maggie comments on Vicki’s bravery in working up at Collinwood.
Roger fumes when he learns that Sam has been up at Collinwood and talking to Miss Winters.
Roger learns from Carolyn that Miss Winters went into town.
Roger intends to find Miss Winters before she finds Burke Devlin.
Burke approaches Vicki in the lobby of Collinsport Inn.
Vicki is put off by Burke’s questioning.
Burke asks Maggie to go to the lobby and get him the newspaper.
Burke mentions that he used to model for Maggie’s father, an artist, and says that he’s a great guy.
Roger asks if Maggie has seen Miss Winters.
Maggie tells Roger that Vicki is having coffee… with Burke Devlin…
…so he just leaves.
Burke tells Vicki about the time he was caught roaming through Collinwood and was spanked.
Burke reacts as Maggie tells Vicki that Roger was just in the lobby looking for her.
Maggie is amused by Burke’s reaction about Roger leaving when she mentioned Burke’s name.
When Burke says that he didn’t know her father drank, Maggie tells him that lots of things have happened in ten years.
Burke shows up unannounced at the Evans cottage for a visit.
Sam asks Burke why he came to see him.
Burke asks Sam what’s wrong.
Sam sends Burke away and suggests that he drop in another time.
Sam pours a drink and then smashes the glass.
Vicki places a call to the Hammond Foundling Home.
Roger: I came here to see you last night. No one was home.
Sam: Well the fact of the matter is, Collins, that even when I’m here, nobody is home.
Maggie: Can you imagine anyone wanting to live in Collinwood?
Burke: As a matter of fact I can.
Maggie: You couldn’t pay me a hundred bucks a day to work in that spooky joint.
Burke: Nobody asked you, Maggie. But they did ask Miss Winters.
Vicki: Mr. Devlin, I must say you’re a strange man.
Burke: That’s exactly what I was going to say about you.
Sam [pours a drink]: The trouble with you Sam Evans is… you don’t exist. You don’t exist at all. [Goes to answer telephone, which happens to be Maggie] I’m sorry but the artist is not home. [Hangs up]
Burke: Need any good models today?
Sam: What I need is a daughter that remembers to lock the door.
Burke: Hello, Sam.
Sam: I’ve been drinking, you see. I’m drunk, but not drunk enough yet.
Burke: Is that all you have to say to me after ten years?
Sam: What I have to say would split the earth apart and send me plummeting to the pit of hell.
The story Burke tells Vicki about going up to Collinwood when he was ten and being spanked after being caught prowling around in the west wing looking for ghosts is something episode writer Art Wallace lifts from his character sketch of Burke Devlin in Shadows on the Wall, except that in this episode he doesn’t name the person who spanked young Devlin. On page 19 of the series bible he writes: “…his first close contact with the Collins family came on the day he sneaked into Collins House to ‘have a look around.’ That ‘contact’ came in the form of newly-married Paul Stoddard’s brawny hand firmly applied to the seat of Burke’s pants. Burke never forgot that.”
The sound of a doorbell ringing is heard in only three Dark Shadows episodes, all at the Evans cottage and always when Burke Devlin comes calling. The first instance is in this episode, and is heard as a buzzer sound effect.
Mark Allen is the second actor on Dark Shadows to smash a drinking glass in the palm of his hand during a scene. The first was Louis Edmonds in episode 1.
List of commercials used for the second week of shows (broadcast dates July 4 to 8).
[Note: Above list of TV commercials is taken from page 252 of the book Dark Shadows: The First Year, by Nina Johnson and O. Crock (summary writers), Blue Whale Books, 2006].
The Evans cottage set is shown for the first time. Through the front window there is additional scenery showing a house across the street. After this episode the house would no longer be shown, and instead would be dressed with trees and shrubs.
At the Evans cottage, when the camera is at a certain angle, looking out the window you can see set flats propped against the main set.
In the opening slating segment, Mark Allen can be seen walking across the screen and handing his episode script to the crew member holding the slate, who then tosses it aside on the work bench holding Sam’s paints, where it remains for the entire episode and even during the closing credits.
At the Evans cottage, as Roger says the line “And I am going to protect myself every way I can,” a loud, persistent banging sound can be heard somewhere in the studio, perhaps from an adjacent set, and continues until the end of the scene.
In the Collinsport Inn restaurant when Burke is explaining to Vicki that chronologically speaking he is her oldest friend in Collinsport, he says, “Well there can’t be anything wrong with having a simple cump of coffee with your oldest friend, can there?”
During his scene in the Collinsport Inn restaurant with Alexandra Moltke, Mitch Ryan has trouble remembering his lines and leaves long pauses between several phrases.
Mark Allen can’t hold his drink.
Mitch Ryan can’t hold his donut.
In the closing scene when Vicki is loading change into the telephone for her call to the Hammond Foundling Home, she drops a total of four coins into the slot; after each coin is loaded the sound effect of a coin dropping through the slot is heard, followed by a clanging bell sound, but neither sound effect is heard for the fourth coin.
When Vicki’s call goes through, she asks to speak with Miss Hopewell. In the first episode, she was referred to as Mrs. Hopewell.
This is the third episode to feature the Collinsport Inn restaurant but only the first where it is actually equipped with a cash register, which can be seen in its usual place at the end of the counter by the outside door. The cash register will also be missing from the restaurant in episode 19.
The lettering on the coffee pot that Maggie uses reads: “CECILWARE Golden Brew”.
The Ralston Purina lamp is in the lobby of Collinsport Inn, but on the opposite end of the front desk from where it was first seen in episode 1.
In the Evans cottage is a prop that is seen in many different Collinsport locations throughout the series, a green Victorian oil lamp (left).
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
At the Evans cottage, Sam pours himself several glasses of whiskey neat, which he chases down like it’s iced tea on a sweltering summer’s day.
At Collinsport Inn restaurant, Burke takes his coffee black, no sugar. Maggie remembers that as a guest at the Evans cottage, Burke used to drink it black with four sugars.
After Vicki Winters walks into the restaurant to make change for a phone call in the lobby, Burke asks Maggie to bring his order of donuts to a nearby table. One donut is plain, the other powdered. Vicki joins him for a cup of coffee but refuses the offer of the powdered donut, while Burke eats the plain donut.
According to Burke, Maine clam chowder is the best in the world.
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!”
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.
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.
Coming next: Episode 8: Answers for the Future
— Marc Masse
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