Months before becoming known as the vampire soap opera, Dark Shadows was a show about ghosts and goblins, or at least the frequent mention thereof. But on the Friday of the second week, the show produced a monster, one that proved especially unnerving because it was so real and true to life and therefore possible – a nine-year-old boy named David.
To be fair, David Collins up to this point isn’t really a little monster, despite having been labeled as such from day one. When the episode begins, he is sneaking back into Collinwood, having just broken a tea cup and pulling the prank of knocking on the front door and running off. But the phone rings, and when Elizabeth starts downstairs to answer it David hides behind a chair. On her way down the stairs Elizabeth sees him and after hanging up the phone she calls him out from his hiding place. David is worried Elizabeth will tell his father about the tea cup, and when she asks him why he did it he claims he didn’t, that it was the ghosts. Only on Dark Shadows and in a place like Collinwood can a kid blame an incident of mischief on random ghosts and make it sound like an actual, credible excuse.
So at this point David is just a troublesome kid seeking attention, nothing more. It’s what transpires in the middle of this episode, and how he retaliates, that will push him over the brink into something genuinely disturbing, so that “little monster” will be a more apt description of his present psychological state.
It’s kind of amusing, then, that “monster” is an operative word in this episode, because that’s just the sort of thing that has brought Carolyn Stoddard to the Collinsport Inn to visit Burke Devlin, the perceived enemy of the family that has the people at Collinwood, her mother and uncle Roger in particular, so on edge of late. While opening the door to his hotel room to let Carolyn in Burke remarks, “Miss Stoddard, please come in. How else can you tell what the monster is like? That’s what you came for, isn’t it?”
Even more amusing is the preparations made by Burke in anticipation of Carolyn’s visit. Before she comes up, he phones down to the switchboard saying that he wants to be called in half an hour, explaining that he has an important business meeting and that he doesn’t want to forget to leave. Then he takes from his briefcase a letter pertaining to a prospective business deal that would call for him to be out of the country in a couple of days, which he drops in a strategic but obvious location on the sofa. After letting Carolyn in, he offers her a drink and makes sure that she sits on the sofa right beside the letter, then stands watching from the kitchenette grinning with delight as she picks up the letter to read. How did Burke know that he could get away with such an obvious act of deception on someone connected with Collinwood? Because, unlike Joe Haskell or Victoria Winters, he didn’t have to seek out Carolyn Stoddard – she came to him.
Following a bit of small talk over the view of main street from the hotel window and Burke roaming beaches looking for bottles to redeem for small change when he was a kid, Carolyn begins quoting specific details from the letter she found on the sofa. When Burke makes a show of taking exception to her having read his mail, Carolyn says that it only proves that he was telling the truth, that he is only in town for an indefinite short stay and not back to settle down and cause trouble for her uncle Roger.
Burke reinforces his comical act of chicanery when the phone call from downstairs comes through and he pretends that it’s a business associate calling long distance from Venezuela, all the while blocking Carolyn’s view as he holds his finger down on the switchhook. For effect, Burke says, “You’ll have to talk louder Jose, I can hardly hear you.” The look on her face as Burke is talking to himself during his phony phone call, the overly trusting smile. The character of Victoria Winters is generally perceived among Dark Shadows fans to be not too bright and that this is the reason why so many things happen to her. But this particular scene in the tenth episode proves that in the beginning of Dark Shadows, the truly dim one is Carolyn Stoddard.
Sensing this perhaps, Burke decides to toy with Carolyn a bit, teasing her with the truth and then making her feel awkward about her initial suspicions.
Carolyn: Then it’s really true. About the deal, I mean.
Burke: Of course it is. You saw the letter, didn’t you?
Carolyn: Yes. But then I began to think about it.
Burke: I see. And you figured I’d put the letter there so that you would see it. Now why would I do that?
Carolyn: So I’d think you were only here for a few days, so I’d be sure you were just visiting and not just…
Carolyn: You know.
Burke. Uh, you mean plotting against your family? Well you’ve got quite an imagination, Miss Stoddard.
Carolyn: It’s just that I heard so much about you.
Burke: Well maybe it’s all true. How can you be sure? Maybe I, uh, maybe I am trying to trick you into thinking that I’m the local boy visiting the old hometown, while all the time I’m plotting deep, dark deeds of revenge against all the people that you love.
Carolyn: You don’t have to rub it in.
Burke: No, really. How did you know I didn’t put that letter there, for you to see? How do you know I didn’t arrange that phone call? Look, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. Why don’t you call the switchboard and ask them?
Carolyn: Don’t be silly.
Burke: No, I insist. If you think that’s the kind of stunt I would pull.
Carolyn: Mr. Devlin. You’re embarrassing me. Please.
Burke: Well, I just want you to be sure that I’m being honest with you.
Carolyn: I am sure.
Burke: No doubts?
Carolyn: No doubts.
Burke: Then I think it’s time we got better acquainted.
So it turns out there is a business deal cooking for Burke after all – only it’s Carolyn who is being sold. While she raises her glass in Burke’s room to toast “the death of the monster,” in the drawing room of Collinwood another monster is being created.
David is there playing with a toy robot when Roger arrives home, so he hides behind a chair. David is hiding from everyone lately. When Elizabeth walks into the drawing room while Roger is having a drink, Roger asks if Miss Winters is around and when Elizabeth says that she is up in her room, he closes the double doors to talk.
Roger: Did you know that your Miss Winters was in town today?
Roger: Do you know why she was there?
Elizabeth: Yes, to make a private telephone call.
Roger: A private meeting is more like it, Liz. With our ubiquitous friend, Burke Devlin.
Elizabeth [surprised]: Burke?
Roger: That’s right. Burke and Miss Winters.
Elizabeth: Are you sure?
Roger: You mean she didn’t tell you about it? Well I’ll tell you, Liz. Burke is filled with hate, and he’s going to use every angle he can find to tear us down, including that twenty-year-old girl I warned you not to bring into this house.
Elizabeth: What makes you think that she can tell him anything that would harm us?
Roger: Are you sure she can’t? Elizabeth, what do you know about this girl? Why did you hire her?
This is merely a reiteration for the more casual viewer that Roger has no past knowledge of Victoria Winters and that Elizabeth has been lying repeatedly to Miss Winters, and even once to her own daughter Carolyn, about Roger having been given a recommendation from the foundling home.
Elizabeth: To take care of David.
Roger: Is that the real reason? The best way to take care of that boy would be to put him in an institution, and you know it.
Elizabeth: How can you talk that way about your own son?
Roger: Because it’s the truth. And you know it’s the truth.
This scene represents a defining character moment for the Roger Collins of Dark Shadows beginnings, the callous and irresponsible only son of Joseph Collins whose return to Collinwood after having been away for ten years is described by Art Wallace in his series outline Shadows on the Wall: “Roger made an unexpected visit to his sister at Collins House, pleaded the cause of his son….the ‘poor nine-year old child, with no mother to care for him’. He appealed to Elizabeth’s family pride, skillfully reminded her that David was the heir to the Collins name, faithfully promised a renewal of responsibility and sobriety.” (pp 25-26)
What Roger really wanted was an active share in the family business. Now that he’s got this, he’s willing to go back on the promise he made to his sister, which is why Elizabeth makes the comment she does when walking into the room about Roger doing too much drinking. Having his wife Laura institutionalized was step one in paving the way for his return to Collinsport and what the family business had to offer. Step two was his unannounced visit to Collinwood to plead for his return, and he had used David as the bargaining chip to achieve this. Having gotten what he wanted, the boy is now simply in his way, an imposition on his preferred state of freedom from responsibility. When anyone gets in his way, Roger simply has them put away in an institution. Roger Collins is clearly the least likable character in the beginnings of Dark Shadows.
Elizabeth: Roger, I won’t permit you to speak that way about David.
Roger: You mean you won’t let me be honest.
Elizabeth: Ten years ago, Roger, ten years ago you and I had an agreement. After the trouble with Burke, you left Collinsport. And I sent you money. Every month, for ten years. And you promised never to come back. But you are back. And this is still my house, and don’t you forget it.
It makes you wonder why Elizabeth would feel the need to banish Roger not only from the family estate, but also from Collinsport when, in fact, it was supposed to have been Burke Devlin who committed a crime. One recalls the doubt expressed by Bill Malloy from the previous episode: “Did he?” But it may actually have been the unwanted scrutiny that came from Roger’s situation with Burke, which Art Wallace recounts in his character sketch of Elizabeth Stoddard and describes as “…a scandal that almost rocked the Collins prestige to its roots…” (Shadows on the Wall, p. 14)
Elizabeth: And there’s another thing you better remember. You’re here for one reason, for one reason only. David. And I cannot allow you to attack David like this because of Burke Devlin or anyone else. Is that clear?
It’s so clear that Roger is left without anything further to say, and after his sister leaves the room he steps over to the liquor cabinet to help himself to a second drink in almost as many minutes. And then a rather startling thing happens…
At first, you might think David is being clumsy with his toy robot, accidentally setting it off – because after all he is hiding from his father. But then a thought strikes you – what he’s doing is symbolically shooting his father!
Then a violent argument ensues…
David: You’re not going to send me away!
Roger: I wish I… Alright, David. Get to your room.
David: Aunt Elizabeth would throw you out of the house if you tried, wouldn’t she?
Roger: I told you to go to your room.
David: She sent you away once. I heard it. She sent you away!
David also heard something else, years before, as described by Art Wallace in his character sketch for David Collins: “When he was six, his father received a phone call that seemed shattering…..a call that was followed, almost immediately afterwards, by the most violent battle Roger and Laura had ever had. Furniture was tossed, blows were struck….and to the little boy cowering behind a closed door, the shrieks of anger punctuated by the shouting of the name, ‘Burke Devlin’, were food for nightmares that still persist.” (Shadows on the Wall, p 24)
Emboldened when his aunt Elizabeth intervenes to protect and reassure him, David’s parting words to his father before running out of the room are that he hopes Burke Devlin gets even with him.
But, as it happens, David will not wait for that to happen – because rather than be sent away by his father, David has decided instead to send him away.
David sneaks back into Collinwood after the incident with the broken tea cup.
On her way downstairs to answer the telephone Elizabeth notices David hiding behind a chair.
David denies breaking the tea cup and instead blames it on the ghosts of Collinwood.
Burke drops a letter on the sofa he intends for Carolyn to read, about an out of town business deal.
Burke entertains his first guest since arriving back in Collinsport.
Burke watches as Carolyn reads the letter he planted.
Carolyn makes a toast to the “death of the monster.”
David hides from his father.
David reacts to Roger’s remark about putting him in an institution.
Carolyn watches as Burke pretends to talk on the phone long distance with a business associate from Venezuela.
Burke toys with Carolyn about the letter in his game of deception.
Burke manages to talk Carolyn out of any suspicions about him she may have had.
Roger informs Elizabeth about Miss Winters’ meeting in town that day with Burke Devlin.
Elizabeth awakens groggily from a nap of troubling dreams and thinks she sees a ghost…
…but it’s only David…
…who looks as though he may have been playing in the garage…
…and when Elizabeth asks what he has in his hand, David says it’s only a seashell…
…and when Elizabeth asks him to let her see it, David runs away…
Carolyn brings home a new “friend”…
Burke: Carolyn Stoddard, in the lion’s den.
Elizabeth: You’re doing too much of that, Roger, lately.
Roger: That’s a very proper sisterly remark. But I’m in no danger of becoming an alcoholic on the strength of one drink.
Elizabeth: This is still my house, and don’t you forget it.
Roger: You wouldn’t let me forget it.
David [to Roger]: I hope Burke Devlin comes back here. And I hope he gets even with you. I hope he gets even!
Carolyn: What really did happen between you and uncle Roger?
Burke: Now, I thought we decided that was past history. Gone and forgotten.
Carolyn: Yes, I know that’s what you said.
Burke: But you’re not sure that I’m not still trying to fool you. Is that it?
Carolyn: Something like that.
Burke: Maybe I am.
In several early episodes, David Collins is referred to as a “little monster.” In the 1945 mystery noir film The Unseen, Gail Russell plays a governess tutoring two small children in a large house in a New England village. One of the children is a boy who is neglected by his father, and in one scene when confronting the boy’s father on this the governess claims that he seems to think of his son as some kind of a little monster. The name of the governess is Elizabeth, and the father’s name is David. The Unseen is the follow-up to the 1944 supernatural mystery The Uninvited, which also co-stars Gail Russell, about a brother and sister who purchase a large house atop a cliff along the English coast of Cornwall. With its family legends and ghostly hauntings, séances, and the voice of a woman heard sobbing in the night, The Uninvited may well be the original inspiration for what eventually became the first year of Dark Shadows.
Front cover for the DVD of The Uninvited, 1944 (The Criterion Collection).
Front cover for the DVD of The Unseen, 1945 (unofficial release).
This is the first time where Alexandra Moltke does the opening narration but does not appear in an episode.
Among the magazines on the coffee table in Burke’s room in this episode is an issue of TIME, but with the actual cover obscured by a cut-out figure prop from some other magazine. The magazine on the top of the pile is rather an amusing choice, considering Burke’s plans for Collinwood – Better Homes and Gardens.
The door to Burke’s room is not as yet numbered and, in this episode only, opens on the outside hallway. Through the crack in the door, you can see the undressed area of the studio and what looks to be the white shirt of a crew member, seated.
The Collinsport Fly christens the debut of the set for Burke’s room with a landing on the sofa (above Burke’s left arm).
The telephone number for Burke’s room is Collinsport 7227, Ext 7451.
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].
This episode marks the debut of the set for Burke’s room at Collinsport Inn.
It has a main living room, a kitchenette, and a room with a bath (never shown).
Between 1966 and 1970, this will be one of the more frequently used sets for rooms in both the Collinsport Inn as well as apartments around Collinsport.
Being another Friday show, the credits, once again moving bottom to top as an extended scroll, repeats the blooper from the credits list from episode 5, where “fashions courtesy of Ohrbach’s” is misspelled as Orhbach’s.
The toy robot David has in this episode is the “Attacking Martian” made by the Horikawa Toy Co. of Japan (who used “SH” as their trademark). Introduced in the early 1960s, the robot stands 11 inches in height, is made of tin, and has clear plastic over the gun lights on the inside as well as translucent green plastic on the chest doors outside.
An ad from a Western Auto catalog from 1966 has the robot priced at $4.22.
Special thanks to commenter Count Catofi for providing the actual brand name of the robot seen in today’s episode, as I had initially described it as the “Super Space Giant” also manufactured by Horikawa, but which was larger and arrived on the market later in the 1960s.
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
Burke opens a can of ginger ale and fixes Carolyn a glass with lots of ice. He has a glass of whiskey, most likely bourbon, which in later episodes he is noted to favor.
Roger pours himself a brandy.
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 11: The Trojan Horse
— Marc Masse
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