If there’s one aspect of Dark Shadows that comes across as comedy, it’s the notion of romance. Naturally, because this is Detergent Land Drama, one shouldn’t expect to begrudge the characters with any happiness in that area, at least not for the long term, but when it comes to even finding a suitable mate the folks at Collinwood, and anyone who chances to come into even remote contact with them, are positively doomed!
When looking back from toward the end of the series, from around the point where Dark Shadows has given up completely on present day characters and has become exclusively a show about time travel, you tally up all the romantic attachments and realize that the inhabitants of Collinwood have been more ill-fated than most. Roger has married a fire goddess and a witch; Victoria has married the time-spanning astral projection of a man she met after a séance sent her on a frightening journey to the past, so that she herself could travel back to the past and be with the man she loves, resulting in the strangest, most complicated life dates of any character on Dark Shadows; Carolyn has married a soulless shape-shifter who grew to adulthood in a matter of months and whose existence began as a sound effect in a small, ornately carved wooden box.
But even without the often hellish consequences of the supernatural elements behind these pairings, you realize that even from the beginnings of Dark Shadows no character on the show ever had even a fighting chance of achieving success in that area, particularly Carolyn Stoddard, who in this episode has a thoughtful, well-grounded suitor who adores her and who is moving up in the family business so that he can at last offer her the escape from the “dungeon” of Collinwood she craves – but she is afraid to take that step, because of the twin devils of freedom and fear that alternately propel and confine her to a life of stagnation and anguish.
It seems strange that Carolyn should have such an apparent lack of options in life. Her family is the biggest thing in town, a force of local industry in the region who live in a forty-room mansion, and after nearly three hundred years of wealth and prosperity the only thing Elizabeth Stoddard can offer her daughter is to give Joe Haskell a twenty-five dollar a week raise so that in maybe a year or so Carolyn can be married off as though she were some poor farmer’s daughter. Unlike other middle and upper middle class families of the time, Elizabeth won’t even consider sending her daughter to college. It’s either become the teenage bride of a local fisherman or languish at home into middle spinsterhood.
This may be because the prototype for the story of Carolyn Stoddard dates back to the mid-1950s, when Art Wallace was having his teleplay The House broadcast live from New York as part of the half-hour anthology series The Web on August 29, 1954. In this initial version, Elizabeth Stallworth is a recluse who hasn’t left her estate in twenty-five years since her husband disappeared. Living with Elizabeth is her daughter, Louise, who is engaged to a local fisherman named Joe. Character names would be changed for a one-hour color version of The House as an episode of the Goodyear Television Playhouse on September 8, 1957, but the general story was the same and was what Art Wallace used as the framework for the series Dan Curtis wanted to put on the air in 1966, initially under the title of The House on Storm Cliff.
Viewers not familiar with the first year of Dark Shadows might find it surprising that Carolyn Stoddard and Joe Haskell were once dating – and it is odd, because they seem such an unlikely and inappropriate pairing. Carolyn who takes him for granted and will gladly drop him any moment something better comes along, Joe who is constantly getting his face slapped and yet who keeps coming back for more.
It seems fitting then that just as Art Wallace is becoming less involved in the writing of the show, one of the other writers on the team, Francis Swann, will introduce a new dynamic – that out of the blue Maggie Evans has suddenly taken a fancy to Joe Haskell after yet another of his and Carolyn’s blow-ups. Within a couple weeks of Art Wallace’s departure, the new writing team of Francis Swann and Ron Sproat will make Maggie and Joe a definite item, and subsequently Carolyn will be written as more mature and self-confident and even appreciative of those around her, with she and Joe actually becoming good friends in the long run. Carolyn will even be able to take on the responsibility of running the family business for a stretch when Elizabeth becomes incapacitated.
But here in the second week of the show, it’s business as usual for the tempestuous romance between Carolyn and Joe as he brings her flowers and she turns away when he tries to kiss her. But she is delighted when he tells her that he has been given a twenty-five dollar a week raise, having been taken off the boats to work in the fleet fishing office as a checker, and will soon be able to go into business for himself. Then he proposes marriage, and she becomes cold and evasive. Round and round it goes, a love affair destined for nowhere.
If Joe Haskell can’t get answers for the future, perhaps Vicki Winters can – but she may have to answer to Elizabeth for it. It’s a windy day on the hill and Elizabeth walks into Vicki’s room while she’s away to close her window and finds some of Vicki’s papers scattered on the floor, one of which is a recent letter from the foundling home that she picks up to read when Carolyn walks in.
Carolyn: Mother, you’ve never told me why you picked on her. I mean, there she was living at that foundling home hundreds of miles away in New York, and suddenly you decide to bring her here.
Elizabeth: We needed someone to help out, you know that.
Carolyn: Sure, but there are dozens of girls in the area. You could have gone to Bangor. To Lewiston.
Elizabeth: She was recommended. Your uncle Roger knows someone in the foundling home.
The viewer already knows that Roger knowing someone in the foundling home who recommended Vicki to him is a lie, but it makes Elizabeth seem especially suspicious and perhaps cold that she would even lie to her own daughter about someone who may very well be a half-sister, when in fact such news would bring joy to Carolyn and a sense of closure for Vicki but which she won’t let them in on because for whatever reason such a disclosure might make her look bad. In addition, despite that Roger knows for certain that his sister is lying to Vicki about the recommendation from the foundling home, even he is being left in the dark by exactly how Elizabeth happened to know about Vicki to begin with. There is most definitely a personal link between Elizabeth Stoddard and Victoria Winters, but for the time being episode writer Art Wallace is playing it cagey. What is taken from this episode is that Vicki finds out for certain that what Mrs. Stoddard told her about the recommendation to Roger is false, when she places a call to Mrs. Hopewell at the foundling home.
Vicki: Miss Hopewell, when I got the letter offering me this job, you’d never heard of Elizabeth Stoddard.
Mrs. Hopewell: No, I never had.
Vicki: What about her brother, Roger Collins? Have you ever heard of him?
Mrs. Hopewell: Well, not until recently. After you left, I made inquiries. I found someone who lived near Collinsport. Bangor, as a matter of fact. She told me all about the Stoddards, and Mr. Collins. Why? Is anything wrong?
Vicki: Was it he who recommended me for the job?
Mrs. Hopewell: Not as far as I know.
Vicki: Then who was it?
Mrs. Hopewell: Well, as far as I know, no one.
Vicki: That doesn’t make any sense.
Mrs. Hopewell: Vicki, I have been just as curious as you. I’ve talked to every member of the staff.
Vicki: And it wasn’t Roger Collins?
Mrs. Hopewell: No. Vicki, that letter that you got from Collinsport was the first time anyone here had ever heard of Mrs. Stoddard, or Mr. Collins. Or anyone connected with them. I’m afraid that’s not very much help, is it?
Vicki: But you’re wrong. It’s a great deal of help.
Meanwhile, Carolyn has told her mother that Vicki may have gone into town with the intention of calling the foundling home to see if she was telling the truth about the recommendation to Roger. Carolyn finds her mother downstairs in the drawing room, brooding as she looks out the window.
Carolyn: Mother, would it really be so terrible if Vicki called the foundling home?
Elizabeth: Terrible? No, I suppose not. There’s so much more. So many years covered with dust. So many dark corners. Maybe I should never have brought her here.
Carolyn: Why not?
Elizabeth: Because she’s lost and lonely. Because she looks in shadows. We’ve never had a stranger living here, Carolyn. Perhaps it was a mistake.
Carolyn: Are you thinking of letting her go? Sending her back to New York?
Elizabeth: Would you mind?
Carolyn: Yes, very much. Mother, I like Vicki.
Elizabeth: So do I.
Carolyn: You talk about shadows. That’s all I’ve ever known, except for the times I could get away from this dungeon. But since she’s been here, I don’t know, it’s been different. I found someone I can talk to. Right here in this house. I don’t want to lose her.
Elizabeth: She’s that important to you?
Carolyn: She’s a friend.
Elizabeth: What about Joe Haskell?
Carolyn: He has nothing to do with this.
Elizabeth: Oh, he has, Carolyn. You know he has.
Carolyn: I don’t see what.
Elizabeth: Darling, you know as well as I do why I brought Miss Winters here.
Carolyn: To help take care of David.
Elizabeth: Partly. But mostly because of you. You and Joe.
Carolyn: Mother, please!
Elizabeth: Carolyn, don’t you think I know how difficult it’s been for you growing up in this place? Darling you know how much you mean to me. You mean everything. And I want you to be happy. I want you to find your own life away from this house.
Carolyn: Mother I’ve told you why I — .
Elizabeth: I know, you don’t want to go away and leave me. And I’ve told you that Miss Winters is here now. To be with me. And to help care for David.
Carolyn: But you just said you wanted to get rid of her!
Elizabeth: If I don’t, it will only be for you. No one else. Only you.
That Elizabeth has a potentially damaging secret she is determined to keep from everyone else becomes self-evident when Joe Haskell informs her that Burke Devlin has offered to pay him for information on the Collins family, and she becomes particularly anxious when told that Devlin seems to know something about Miss Winters.
Joe: I walked out on him. I just thought you ought to know about it.
Elizabeth: What did he think you could tell him?
Joe: I don’t know. But he sure knew a lot about me. And you. Miss Winters, too.
Elizabeth: What about Miss Winters?
Joe: Oh, just that, that you’d hired her and, uh, where she’d come from, and all the rest of it, I guess.
Elizabeth: What do you mean all the rest of it? Just what do you mean?
Joe: Well just that she had come from the orphanage, and that you had written them a letter and hired her, that’s all.
Then Carolyn enters the room and Elizabeth excuses herself abruptly when told that Vicki is back from town and is up in her room. What follows in the drawing room is a very short snippet about how Carolyn has had another turn of mood where she regrets that every time she likes someone or needs someone she seems to do her best to drive them away, and she leans into the supportive arms of Joe — no doubt this is merely a device for Joan Bennett to hurry to the adjacent set for Vicki’s room, where Elizabeth can do a more forceful job of impression management.
Vicki: Yes I called the foundling home, and I spoke to Miss Hopewell, the director. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to tell you or not. But now it seems I don’t have any choice.
Elizabeth: Miss Winters, I’m not sure I like the idea of your checking up on me.
Vicki: How do you think I like it? But I had to, I had to know!
Elizabeth: Isn’t it enough that you’re here, that you’re being payed for your ser — ?
Vicki: Mrs. Stoddard, no one at the foundling home ever spoke to you or your brother.
Elizabeth: Are you certain of that?
Vicki: I told you. I spoke to Miss Hopewell.
Elizabeth: I know. But did it ever occur to you that she might be mistaken?
Vicki: Well, she said she checked.
Cornered, Elizabeth turns her back to Vicki so she can resort to another tactic.
Elizabeth: Miss Winters, my daughter is very fond of you, did you know that?
Elizabeth: She’s quite anxious for you to stay on. As I have been. However, I want you to know that you’re free to leave anytime you choose.
Vicki: But I don’t want to. Don’t you understand that?
Elizabeth: Even though you think I lied to you?
Vicki: Mrs. Stoddard, you make it so difficult.
Elizabeth: I don’t mean to. I merely want us to understand each other. Your being here in this house could mean a great deal to me, in many ways. For David’s sake, for Carolyn’s, for mine. But I cannot allow you to question and probe everything I say.
Vicki: But Miss Hopewell said — .
Elizabeth: Miss Hopewell was wrong! You were hired on a recommendation made to my brother and for no other reason.
If Mrs. Stoddard insists on these terms, then there’s not much else Vicki can do but suppress the lingering doubt in her mind. Mrs. Stoddard points out that there are many people connected with the foundling home, and that perhaps Mrs. Hopewell didn’t contact all of them, and Vicki is almost willing to consider that this is true. That’s Mrs. Stoddard’s fabricated story, and she’s sticking to it. But the viewer knows that she is lying, and the one question, the one that has been lingering for more than fifty years, is why?
Elizabeth enters Vicki’s room to close the window.
Elizabeth notices Vicki’s papers scattered on the floor.
Elizabeth looks through Vicki’s papers.
Carolyn walks in as Elizabeth reads the letter Vicki received from the foundling home.
Carolyn wonders why her mother brought Vicki all the way up from New York.
Elizabeth lies to Carolyn about Vicki being recommended to Roger.
Elizabeth reacts when Carolyn tells her about Vicki’s trip into town to call the foundling home and check on her story.
Mrs. Hopewell takes Vicki’s call at the foundling home.
Elizabeth worries about what Vicki may learn from calling the foundling home.
Elizabeth thinks that perhaps it was a mistake to bring Vicki to Collinwood.
Elizabeth says she wants for Carolyn to be happy and may decide to have Vicki stay on.
Joe arrives with flowers for Carolyn and Mrs. Stoddard.
Carolyn is happy to hear about Joe’s promotion in the Collins family business.
Carolyn pulls away when Joe mentions marriage.
Joe wonders why Carolyn keeps reacting the way she does every time he talks about getting married.
Joe tells of how his job promotion came as such a sudden surprise.
Carolyn sees through Joe’s promotion as something Elizabeth worked out to make it easier for she and Joe to get married.
Carolyn makes a remark to Vicki about her mother deciding her future.
Joe tells Mrs. Stoddard that Burke offered to buy information on the Collins family.
Elizabeth reacts when Joe tells her that Burke Devlin even knows about Miss Winters.
Carolyn leans on Joe for support.
Elizabeth does not like the fact that Vicki was checking up on her story, and attempts to reinforce the lie she told initially about the recommendation to Roger from the foundling home.
Mrs. Hopewell dictates a letter to her secretary for Miss Winters about a private investigator who visited the foundling home, having been hired to find out about why she’d been chosen for the job at Collinwood and who recommended her.
Elizabeth: She’s led an unhappy life, poor child.
Carolyn: Crummy, if you ask me.
Joe: Mr. Malloy took me off the boats.
Carolyn: What do you mean?
Joe: You know, Mr. Malloy, the man that runs the fishing fleet for your mother?
Joe: Huh, no sense of humor. Absolutely no sense of humor.
Joe: Oh, honey, I love you so much.
Carolyn: I’m just an idiot, that’s all. Just a big fat idiot.
Joe: But a beautiful one. I think I’ll call her idiot.
Joe: My boat, that’s who.
Vicki: Where’s your mother?
Carolyn: In there. Deciding my future.
Joe: Every time I talk about getting married, it’s like I push the wrong button.
Elizabeth: It’s not you, Joe. She loves you, I’m sure of it.
Joe: Just so far. No further. What scares her away, Mrs. Stoddard?
Elizabeth: The ghosts, maybe. The famous ghosts of Collinwood.
For the exterior footage of Collinsport Inn, the sign in front is facing in the opposite direction from where it was seen in episodes 1, 3, and 7, so that the Inn is seen on the right rather than left of screen.
The phone booth in the lobby of the Collinsport Inn has been moved since the previous episode, where it was seen to face the wall dividing the lobby and restaurant. For this episode it faces the front desk of the lobby.
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].
Mrs. Hopewell’s secretary is played by Gwen Van Dam.
When Elizabeth opens the door for Joe Haskell, the area outside the foyer is dressed as minimally as it will ever be seen, just a plain dark canvas.
Vicki refers to Mrs. Hopewell as “Miss” Hopewell.
When dictating a letter for Vicki to her secretary, Mrs. Hopewell refers to Collinwood as Collinswood.
The Ralston Purina lamp can be seen through the windows of the phone booth as Vicki makes her call to the foundling home from the Collinsport Inn lobby. In episode 7 it was on the far edge of the front desk nearest the door, but now it is moved back to the opposite edge of the desk where it was in episode 1.
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
Elizabeth brings a tray of tea into the drawing room for Joe’s visit.
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 9: Mischievous Spirits
— Marc Masse
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