What Elizabeth Stoddard doesn’t know is that her nephew David has just that day done something that will not only bring the police around to Collinwood, but may also destroy the good name of Collins forever. What Elizabeth Stoddard does know is that her daughter Carolyn has just now not only brought an enemy around to Collinwood, but she may also help destroy the good name of Collins forever. It’s been a long day at Collinwood, seven episodes so far, and it’s about to get a lot longer.
While Carolyn brings Burke Devlin in through the front door of Collinwood showing him off to her mother like a prom date, Sam Evans is likening Burke’s arrival at Collinwood to that of “the Trojan Horse… the smiling gift, rolled into the stronghold and waiting to spread its fear. And I will be the first victim of that fear.” In fact, what Sam Evans, and Mark Allen in particular, will be the first victim of is a Dark Shadows casting replacement.
Many Dark Shadows fans have wondered why Mark Allen was suddenly let go just when he seemed to be hitting his stride in the role of Sam Evans. In his last episode in particular he seemed to be doing pretty well, with no major gaffes or flubbed lines.
The clue is found here in episode 11, as a running subtext throughout, in the form of “bleeding audio.” Occasionally in the Dark Shadows DVDs you can hear audio of conversations coming from the studio control room. It isn’t something that would have been noticed when the shows were first broadcast, as heard through the single speaker of an analog TV set and with the viewer positioned several feet away. But with a good pair of headphones and a speaker system with the volume turned all the way up, control room bleeding audio can be heard rather clearly and in this episode proves most revealing.
It is evident that director Lela Swift took an almost instant dislike to Mark Allen, at least in so far as it related to his portrayal of Sam Evans. Most of what can be heard of the bleeding audio from the control room in this episode is the voice of Lela Swift loudly, and almost constantly, complaining about Mark Allen to the point where, toward the end of the episode, she gets on the studio phone with Dan Curtis and says, “Mark Allen is not Sam Evans!”
This all starts in the middle of Act I, when we see the location footage used for the exterior of Collinsport Inn and we hear the voice of Lela Swift bleeding in from the control room, instructing the crew to “Cue Sam Evans.” Mark Allen is playing a drunk Sam Evans today and gives a convincing portrayal, slurring his words throughout while hovering between the jovial and melancholic. Unfortunately, his sense of timing for making a smooth entrance into a scene also seems to be a bit on the drunken side, because there is a lengthy gap from where in the location footage he is seen to open the door and enter the hotel to when he is opening the door to enter the lobby during the live taping, revealing that Mark Allen is having trouble with more than just his lines today. Lela Swift notices this, too, and is heard to observe from the control room, “He came in late.”
Aside from the obvious late entrances, without the original script available it’s hard to tell really how badly Mark Allen is doing, because his interactions with Mr. Wells the hotel clerk are humorous and amusing enough, though he does rely heavily on the teleprompter as he speaks his lines. But at the beginning of Act III when he enters the hotel phone booth to make a call to Collinwood and the scene shifts to the Collinwood foyer as Elizabeth goes to answer the phone, the voice of Lela Swift barking from the control room gives some idea: “Mark Allen messed up all his lines!… He’s not working.”
It only gets worse from there. Act IV opens with an exterior glimpse of Collinsport Inn merging into the shot of the empty lobby… and nothing is happening, because Mark Allen is considerably late in entering a scene for the second time in a row. He was supposed to have made a timely entrance right after the exterior footage merged into the live tape of the interior. But he is nowhere to be seen. You hear Lela Swift frantically shouting from the control room: “Sam Evans… Sam Evans!… SAM EVANS!!!… Enter, you’re coming in now! What are we going to do?”
When Sam finally does make his entrance, you can hear another woman’s voice not from the control room, but very clearly from somewhere in the studio, just off set: “Pop!…” Then in a loud whisper: “I’m worried about him!…” That voice, the way that “Pop” is said, could only be that of Kathryn Leigh Scott who is not in today’s episode, but who could possibly have been there in the production area to observe Mark Allen at work, given that she has a very big, breakout scene with him in tomorrow’s episode, one that may well redefine the role of Maggie Evans for all time.
Then Sam talks with Mr. Wells about having created his own hell and living in fear of the Trojan Horse, and he seems to do alright in this; he has the emotion, the facial expressions, the vocal intonation. You would think that Mark Allen is still entertaining enough in the role of Sam Evans…
…But Lela Swift is not convinced, and from what can be heard next, she may never be. As the final scene plays out at Collinwood in the foyer, with the door on the second floor landing closing mysteriously, as if by itself or possibly a ghost, you can hear Lela’s voice bellowing away from the control room, soon to be heard in a conversation with Dan Curtis that practically turns into an argument and which continues all the way through the closing credits.
Lela Swift: Dan, I have to talk to you about Mark Allen. Mark Allen is not Sam Evans!
Dan Curtis: Alright, Lela, let’s hear what you have to talk to me about. What’s your problem? You’ve been complaining all day.
Lela: Mark Allen messed up all his lines. You’ve got to replace him.
Dan: Lela, I’m not even going to think about replacing Mark Allen. Forget it.
Lela: You’ve got to!
Dan: Lela, Mark Allen is one of the finest actors on television.
Lela: I don’t care about that. You’ve got to replace him!
Dan: First off, Lela, we needed a big man for the role. He’s the right height.
Lela: Dan, he is not Sam Evans!
Dan: Lela, come on…
More than anything, this episode makes one feel a bit like the Collinsport Fly on the wall of the Dark Shadows TV studio control room.
It would seem that Mark Allen’s job is on the line, but fortunately for him he’s got a good man in his corner in Dan Curtis – not to mention the one who makes all the final decisions when it comes to hiring and firing. Still, if your director has suddenly turned against you and doesn’t think you’re right for the part after all, then it would seem that your days are surely numbered.
Carolyn brings Burke Devlin to Collinwood.
Burke takes in the view of the Collinwood drawing room.
Elizabeth asks if it’s true that Burke is leaving town in a couple days on business.
Sam is looking for Maggie and refuses to have coffee with Mr. Wells…
…until Mr. Wells mentions that he wants to talk with Sam about Burke Devlin.
Mr. Wells: “You work in this place, you help yourself.”
Mr. Wells tells Sam about Carolyn Stoddard’s visit that day with Burke Devlin.
Carolyn tells Elizabeth what she found out about Burke’s business deal in Venezuela.
Burke listens as Carolyn and Elizabeth talk in the foyer.
Sam phones Collinwood asking for Roger but discovers that Burke is visiting.
Burke remarks that Jeremiah Collins must have been quite a man to build a house like Collinwood.
Burke wonders what it would cost Jeremiah Collins to build Collinwood in the present day.
Sam speaks cryptically about the Trojan Horse and the fear it is waiting to spread.
Burke describes the impossibility of running to get away from what you are.
Carolyn asks if her mother and Burke have gotten everything squared away between them.
A door opens on the second floor landing.
Carolyn on the phone with Joe, delighted that “the ghosts” may finally be gone.
Elizabeth asks Carolyn to find Roger and bring him to the drawing room.
The door on the second floor landing closes as mysteriously as it opened.
Elizabeth: I’d like you to wait out here.
Carolyn: Oh, no. I wouldn’t miss this for the world.
Burke: I’ve never forgotten this room.
Carolyn: Gloomy, isn’t it?
Burke: How can you say that? With all your ancestors looking down from the walls at you?
Carolyn: They’re just as gloomy.
Sam: Is my daughter on duty, Mr. Wells?
Mr. Wells: She’s takin’ a break. But if she were, Mr. Evans, I wouldn’t advise you seein’ her right now.
Sam: What’s the matter? I don’t look well? My hair’s not combed?
Mr. Wells: Your hair is fine. It’s your breath.
Sam: Ooh hoo hoo! Remind me to resent that, Mr. Wells.
Sam: A sober man, Mr. Wells, is an unhappy man. That’s the Sam Evans motto free of charge.
Mr. Wells: You ever see those coffee commercials that they have on the TV? Hm? “Straight from the bean to you!” I wonder who writes that junk.
Sam: And I wonder when you’re going to stop talking and say something.
Sam: Will you please stop following me around, Mr. Wells?
Mr. Wells: Maggie’ll be here any minute. Now don’t go gettin’ anymore to drink.
Sam: You think I’d let you fill me full of that black poison and then spoil it all with a lovely drink of whiskey? That’s not a bad idea.
Burke: What do you think it would cost Jeremiah if he decided to build this place today?
Elizabeth: Why do you ask?
Burke: Oh, I was just wondering… what you would expect if you decided to sell. Two hundred thousand? Quarter of a million?
Elizabeth: It’s not for sale!
Burke: In my experience, Mrs. Stoddard, everything is for sale.
Carolyn [on the phone with Joe]: Don’t worry about ghosts. I think they’ve all gone.
Carolyn: Isn’t he great? Isn’t he just marvelous?
Carolyn: No, him! Aren’t you glad I brought him here?
Elizabeth: I’m not sure yet.
Carolyn: Oh, you’re just an old worrier. I bet uncle Roger would be glad.
Location footage is used of Mark Allen outside the Griswold Inn in Essex Connecticut, for Sam Evans making his entrance to the lobby of Collinsport Inn to ask Mr. Wells if his daughter Maggie is on duty. In episode 1, Burke and Vicki were seen to enter the lobby by the front door along the street, but in this episode the entrance for the lobby is represented as the far door along the side of the building. During the footage for Sam walking into the hotel, sound effects can be heard of car traffic with horns honking, despite that the main street outside the hotel is seen to be quiet and deserted, and when Sam enters the lobby to talk to Mr. Wells the clock above the front desk shows the time as 9:55 p.m.
Exterior shot of Collinsport Inn shown in the scene merge with the lobby just before Sam’s entrance after having been away at the bar is accompanied by the same traffic sounds with a car horn honking, even though the main street outside is deserted and quiet after ten p.m.
Scene connector dialogue in this episode: After likening Burke Devlin to the Trojan Horse, Sam says to Mr. Wells: “It’s too late. That’s the torment. What there was to do, it’s too late to do. Now all I can do is wait… or run!” Then the scene shifts to the Collinwood drawing room where Burke tells Mrs. Stoddard: “But you can’t go far enough, that’s the thing. As many places as you run to, you can never get away from what you are.”
In occasional early episodes, Art Wallace would write into the script for sounds of doorbells that would never be heard. While on the phone with Joe in this episode, Carolyn says, in preparation for their date that evening, “You just ring the bell and I’ll be ready.” But a doorbell is never heard to ring at Collinwood, instead everyone knocks. The only doorbell sounds heard are in three episodes (7, 22, 49), and they are all at the Evans cottage and always when Burke Devlin shows up for a visit.
In the closing scene in the Collinwood foyer, a door on the second floor landing is seen to open as if by itself and then close just as mysteriously. No explanation is given, as if to indicate that it may be a ghost. But it’s David snooping on the rest of the house again, just like in episode 3 when the door to the drawing room was pushed open and Carolyn and Vicki discovered there was no one there.
Despite that Mr. Wells is addressed by name in this episode, the end credit still reads “Hotel Clerk…”
The end credits for this episode are shown in two versions: first the standard Monday through Thursday page listings followed by extended scrolling credits, which results in two separate listings for Ohrbach’s, the second of which is misspelled as “Orhbach’s.”
When Elizabeth tells Carolyn to wait in the foyer while she goes in to talk with Burke, the camera angle exposes the top of the drawing room set.
When Burke says the line, “In my experience, Mrs. Stoddard, everything is for sale,” someone can be seen walking past in the foyer (over Burke’s left shoulder). It looks like it might be Alexandra Moltke, who is not in today’s episode, but it is most likely a crew member.
As Sam returns to the restaurant of Collinsport Inn to ask Mr. Wells if Maggie is back, the long shadow of the boom mic arm sweeps down across the right wall.
At the end of the final scene in the Collinwood foyer, a boom mic dips briefly into view, despite that the dialogue for the scene is finished and Elizabeth and Carolyn are each leaving the room.
The Ralston Purina lamp is in its usual place on the front desk of Collinsport Inn.
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
Mr. Wells gets Sam to drink three cups of black coffee in the Collinsport Inn restaurant so that he’ll be calm and sober for when Maggie gets back from her break.
Burke has a glass of brandy with ice in the Collinwood drawing room.
When Sam returns from the bar, Mr. Wells is having a cup of coffee in the hotel restaurant.
Carolyn brings in a bucket of ice to freshen the drinks.
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 12: “Who Cares?” …or, The Perils of Mark Allen
— Marc Masse
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from the Beginning. All rights reserved.
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