In less than twenty-four hours, the return to Collinsport of a driven and vengeful man has had its intended provocative effect on those tied in with the Collins estate and business interests. Fishing fleet and cannery plant manager Bill Malloy is actively concerned, Collins family matriarch Elizabeth Stoddard is stoically unfazed, while restless and venturesome daughter Carolyn Stoddard is recklessly intrigued. It’s a combination that can only hold potentially life-altering consequences for all those involved.
Today’s episode is mainly about Burke Devlin, even though the character doesn’t appear onscreen. It’s about the effect he is having on different characters associated with Collinwood, as epitomized by the teaser and tag. Fans of later episodes of Dark Shadows will recognize the teaser as the opening scene before the waves intro that recaps the final moments of the previous episode. At this point in the series the teaser does not repeat the closing scene of the preceding episode, but instead provides a glimpse of what’s to come in the present episode. The tag is something unique to only the first seven weeks of episodes, a brief snippet to indicate what’s to come in the following episode.
The ninth episode presents perhaps the most clever use of teaser and tag, resulting in the episode being bookended by shades of Burke Devlin, with both scenes taking place in the Collinsport Inn lobby involving two different characters, each calling on the house phone to Burke Devlin’s room hoping to be invited up…
…the first of which Burke simply hangs up on…
…while the second caller gets through…
Having chatted briefly with Burke Devlin the previous night at the Blue Whale, Bill Malloy knows better than anyone at Collinwood what Devlin’s nefarious intentions are for everything and everyone that involves the family business and estate. With Devlin unwilling to invite him up to his hotel room to talk further, Bill instead hurries up to Collinwood under the pretext of having Elizabeth sign off on a five-cent rise in price per one hundred cans of sardines. But the urgency in Bill’s general demeanor tells Elizabeth that he didn’t just come up to the house to have her do something that could be done at any other time. She guesses that he’s there because of Burke Devlin, as it was only earlier in the day that she’d found out from Joe Haskell that Burke had offered him money for information on the Collins family, a request that even included the new governess Victoria Winters – just hearing that Burke was asking about why she’d hired Miss Winters made her even more uneasy than the fact that he was looking for information about the family.
Liz: It’s about Burke Devlin, isn’t it?
Liz: What’s he up to?
Bill: I saw Burke last night. Did you know that?
Liz: Did you talk to him?
Liz: Why didn’t you tell me when you called this morning?
Bill: Well, I wanted to think about it, Liz. Some of the things he said.
While Bill is telling Liz how Burke wouldn’t invite him up for a talk when he called at the hotel, Carolyn walks in.
Carolyn: Tell me, Bill. What is this enemy of ours like?
Bill: Well, you ought to know, princess. You met him.
Bill: Mm hm. At the Blue Whale, last night. He told me he broke up a fight and sent you home.
Carolyn: That was the man? I had no idea!
Liz: That was the man. Now, Carolyn, please!
Carolyn: Oh, sure. You know, it’s a funny thing. I’ve been hearing nothing but Burke Devlin’s name around here for the past two days, until it’s up to here. But with all of it there’s one thing no one ever mentioned.
Bill: Ah, what’s that, princess?
Carolyn: How good looking he is!
Bill: Out! Like your mother says.
Carolyn: Aye, aye, sir.
Bill then warns Liz to try and get Carolyn to leave Collinwood before things get unsettled. But in the short time since Joe Haskell sprung the news on her about Burke Devlin’s curiosity about all the people living at Collinwood, she has had time to compose herself and puts on a brave face, insisting that Burke can do Carolyn no harm.
Bill: Maybe not, Liz, maybe not. But when a man’s sat in prison as long as he did and is filled with as much hate…
Liz: Burke went to prison because he committed a crime.
Bill: Did he?
Bill: Are you sayin’ you’re not afraid of him?
This is a revealing moment, because it gives the viewer a chance to evaluate how one feels about Burke Devlin. On first viewing, in these early episodes Devlin seems like something of a hard case. He’s aggressive, an opportunist, he only seems to be interested in the people around him if they can further his agenda; he is even insulting toward Victoria Winters at one point after inviting her for a cup of coffee. On top of it, we find that Burke went to prison for several years, so it was presumably for a serious crime, though it has not yet been revealed precisely what that crime was, only that some folks at Collinwood seem to have had a hand in sending him away, and that Burke’s old friend Sam Evans seems to have some crucial knowledge about the matter. So at this point you kind of wonder if you even like the man – but in this episode, where someone like Bill Malloy, who appears as straight and upstanding as anyone in Collinsport can be, expresses a doubt about Burke’s guilt in some apparently serious past crime, then it seems like an icebreaker, suggesting that Burke Devlin may not be all that bad, and that whatever his crime was it could be that he may have been wronged and that maybe the real villains in this story reside in the pillar of respect known as Collinwood.
Equally reinforcing is Liz’s resolutely firm “Yes” answers to both of Malloy’s questions, which are said in exactly the same tone. While they are talking, she is unnerved by a knock at the door, since she is not expecting anyone, and when she finds that no one was actually at the door but goes back inside to discover that a favorite tea cup is on the floor in the hall broken, she returns to the drawing room and admits that she was worried that it may have been Burke Devlin knocking at the front door.
Bill: What do you mean, no one? I heard someone knock.
Liz: There was no one there, Bill. And one of my favorite tea cups was shattered.
Bill: Well how’d that happen?
Liz: Poltergeist, of course. Evil, mischievous spirits. Collinwood is famous for its ghosts, you know. Except this one is nine years old, and is named David. This tea cup was broken, and no one was at the door. And I’m delighted!
Bill: Liz, you’re not makin’ any sense.
Liz: It was David, not Burke. We both thought it was Burke, didn’t we?
Bill: Well, yes.
Liz: All of your talk, Bill, about hungry men, ambitions, and all the rest of it. I suddenly realized I was terrified. When I heard that knock, for a moment I didn’t want to move.
Bill: Well you were just surprised, that’s all.
Liz: Frightened. I can’t live that way, Bill.
So she didn’t really believe herself when she said she wasn’t afraid of Burke – perhaps she doesn’t really believe that Burke committed a crime either. It is in these moments of this episode when Burke Devlin starts to look a bit like one of the good guys.
Incidentally, as the above dialogue shows, there is more talk of ghosts at Collinwood, and even the term poltergeist is thrown in along with mischievous spirits, and we’ll also hear another goblins reference – it’s hard to keep track of all the ghosts that are spoken of in these episodes but never actually seen. It’s mainly metaphorical; the goblins represent threats from the outside, like Burke Devlin; the ghosts, hidden facts from a troubled past that may come back to haunt any number of people; but the mischievous spirits, they most certainly are real. One of them, as pointed out above, is a nine-year-old boy who likes to stir things up for the heck of it. The other is a seventeen-year-old girl who is perhaps too curious for her own good.
Now with a face to associate with the name of Burke Devlin, Carolyn makes up an excuse to venture into town to meet him and even offers to mail the letter that Vicki had been writing. But Vicki, in addition to being a companion to Mrs. Stoddard and a tutor to David, also takes on the protective role of big sister to Carolyn. Seeing that Carolyn is about to walk out with the letter and who has also mentioned that she’ll just get a stamp for it in town, Vicki stops her and puts a stamp on the envelope herself, adding that now she wouldn’t have to go to the hotel for a stamp at all. Yet she does…
So it’s kind of ironic that the actions of Bill Malloy, who goes up to Collinwood as a show of support to prevent Burke Devlin from getting a foothold on the great estate and ultimate control over all those who live there, will unintentionally result in Carolyn preparing to arrive in the lion’s den. Thanks to the mischievous spirit that is Carolyn, Burke won’t need to bang on the front door to barge in and gain access to Collinwood – he may well just be invited in as the guest of someone who lives there.
Bill Malloy phones for Burke Devlin’s room.
Bill Malloy has something important to tell Liz Stoddard.
Carolyn walks in while Bill and Liz are talking about Burke Devlin.
Carolyn is surprised and delighted to discover that she met Burke Devlin at the Blue Whale.
Bill warns Liz about getting Carolyn to leave Collinwood.
Carolyn begins telling Vicki about the former governesses who have jumped from Widow’s Hill.
Vicki tells Carolyn she had coffee with Burke Devlin earlier in the day.
Bill Malloy doesn’t think Burke Devlin is a vicious man.
Liz looks about to see who was knocking at the door.
Liz discovers a tea cup has been mysteriously shattered.
Liz tells Bill about the shattered tea cup after explaining that no one was at the door.
Carolyn reveals that Burke Devlin threatened to paddle her.
Carolyn offers to mail Vicki’s letter in town for her.
Vicki is concerned about Carolyn’s enthusiastic interest in Burke Devlin.
Carolyn says she’ll get a stamp for Vicki’s letter at the hotel…
…so Vicki gets a stamp herself, so that Carolyn won’t have to go to the hotel at all…
…which she does anyway, as originally intended.
Carolyn: Hello, Bill. How are things at the fish factory?
Bill Malloy: Ah, swimmin’ along, princess, just swimmin’ along.
Liz: There are no ghosts here.
Carolyn: The way my mother came tearing up here to see you after you came back from town? Don’t tell me she didn’t fire you.
Vicki: Nope, she didn’t.
Carolyn: Even though you checked up on her story? Well! Mother’s slipping, Vicki. Unless she just intends to push you off that cliff someday.
Carolyn: Just listen to me. Ol’ cry on the shoulder Carolyn. Well,… turn me off or throw me out, will you?
Vicki: Well it’s not very easy to do either one.
Bill: Liz, I’ve been worryin’ about you for so long, it’s like a habit.
Vicki: Carolyn, why the sudden interest in Burke Devlin?
Carolyn: Why not? Mother’s interested in him. Uncle Roger certainly is. From the minute you mentioned his name around this place, it was like someone had thrown a bomb. And maybe a good bomb is what we all need.
Carolyn: Vicki, did you know that Burke Devlin threatened to paddle me last night? I didn’t even know it was him until just a minute ago. I bet he would have done it, too.
Vicki: That’s hardly a recommendation.
Carolyn: Maybe not. But a man like that certainly deserves a second look, don’t you think?
When Vicki is at her writing desk, she is still seen to be writing left-handed.
It is one hundred feet from the top of Widow’s Hill to the water.
Carolyn tells Vicki that three people have jumped to their death from Widow’s Hill: Josette Collins and two governesses. She adds that the legend goes that one day a third governess will be found at the foot of the cliff.
This episode has another one of those bits of “scene connector” dialogue. Up in Vicki’s room, when Carolyn finds out that Vicki had coffee that day with Burke Devlin, Carolyn perks right up. “You did? Well, tell me about him! What’s he really like?” Then the scene immediately shifts back to the drawing room, with Bill saying, “I don’t think he’s really vicious, Liz. I mean, not basically. But he’s a bitter man, and an angry one.” There’s another one as the scene shifts back to Vicki and Carolyn upstairs. Bill says to Liz, “I don’t want to see you trying to ignore Burke Devlin. Because, I tell you, he’s a dangerous man.” Then the scene immediately cuts to Carolyn laughing as she says to Vicki, “But he sounds marvelous!” I love those scene connectors!
After the knock at the front door, as Liz opens the drawing room double doors and walks into the foyer, a crew member can be heard cueing Frank Schofield: “Say drafty.” Which he does, but the scene has by then faded out and the remaining audio just barely catches Schofield saying “Drafty.”
When Carolyn refuses Bill Malloy’s offer of a vacation out of town with his niece Jenny, he says, “Well what do you think you’ll miss, the fireworks?” This is a reference to the Fourth of July (this episode was taped on June 23), and is the first indication that the show is following a timeline according to taping and broadcast dates rather than starting in the month of October as originally outlined in Art Wallace’s series bible, Shadows on the Wall.
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].
While Bill and Liz are in the drawing room, the camera angle reveals the top of the set in the far corner of the drawing room.
When the camera moves across as Liz is examining the shattered tea cup, through the top of one of the drawing room doors, studio lights can be seen from above the drawing room.
The Ralston Purina lamp is in its usual place in the lobby of Collinsport Inn.
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 10: Little Monster
— Marc Masse
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