Episode 14: The Fifth Wheel

Fifth wheel_ep14 GIF


To close out his visit at Collinwood, Burke has asked Roger to drive into town to meet him at the Blue Whale to discuss a business matter. A short time later, Burke is found by Vicki in the garage standing next to Roger’s car with a wrench in his hand. Meanwhile David, who has been up in his room reading a magazine on do-it-yourself mechanics, takes from his dresser a small cylindrical metal object which he then attempts to stash in Vicki’s room, but flies into hysterics after she walks in and catches him in the act. Joe stops by to pick up Carolyn for a date. They are planning on a movie, but when Carolyn finds out from Vicki that Burke will be at the Blue Whale to meet Roger, she talks Joe into taking her there instead, which is where he started a fight just the night before over Carolyn’s eager interest in the other men there. To top it off, Dark Shadows is featuring its very first in a long line of dry thunderstorms.



The really clever thing about episode 10, a Friday episode, was that it dropped not one, but two week-ending cliffhangers. The obvious one of course was Burke walking in through the front doors of Collinwood, the conquering hero having evaded the palace guard thanks to an escort by the fairy princess. But the one just before that was more subtle, largely because there was no buildup to the moment and so because of the lack of expectation it could be easily overlooked.


Recall that Elizabeth has been dozing in the drawing room and David wanders in. It’s dark and Elizabeth awakens groggily and thinks she is seeing a ghost from her dreams – in fact, during that moment when the camera goes from ghostly blurry back to sharp clarity you automatically pay more attention to David, because of the spooky camera work, and you notice that he’s dirty, has patches of black filth all over him, and you keep focusing on this as Elizabeth asks him how he came to be so dirty and he explains it was from playing outside…


David asks Elizabeth where the ghosts are_ep10


…only you consider that those smudge marks all over his face and shirt don’t look quite like dirt, because they’re too dark… too greasy.


He also has something in his hand, which he keeps hidden from view within a clenched fist. When Elizabeth asks him what it is, he says it’s just a seashell; and when she asks to see it, he just runs out of the room.


David says it's only a seashell_ep10


Then at the end of episode 13, after Burke has finished with his visit in Collinwood, Vicki finds him in the garage standing beside Roger’s car with a wrench in his hand, which he explains he found on the front seat. The episode concludes with Vicki in the foyer warily asking Elizabeth whether Roger would be using his car that night, because she’s thinking the same thing the viewer is; Burke, Roger, revenge, wrench, car, secret.


So this is what the viewer has in mind going into episode 14, the one before the big Friday cliffhanger; Burke, Roger, revenge, wrench, car, secret… except that this episode begins with David in his room reading a magazine called Mechano, a magazine, as David explains to Vicki during the episode, about building and fixing things – and it has an illustration of a car on the front cover.


Then David goes to his dresser and takes from it a small object, which he holds out before him so the camera can get a good, long close-up; it looks as though it might be an engine part from a car.


David with valve_ep14 (2)


For some reason, David seems anxious to find a hiding place other than his room for the strange object. So after making sure the coast is clear in the hallway, he sneaks into Vicki’s room, routing through her dresser drawers for the best place to stash it but is caught in the act as Vicki walks in. At first she merely wonders what he’s doing there, but when she sees that he’s hiding something in his hand she suspects that he’s taken something.


David_valve_ep14 GIF


They have a minor scuffle as David makes a break for it, running at full tilt through the hallway and back into the safety of his room, his face awash with the look of guilt and desperation. And as the waves intro begins and the Yamaha synthesizer signals the opening theme, you’re now thinking Burke, Roger, revenge, wrench, car, secret, David


With the twist of a wrench, so begins the story of daytime television’s first patricidal psychopath, a nine-year-old boy named David. This also marks the first time that Dark Shadows makes a departure from the series bible. In Shadows on the Wall, Art Wallace writes that David “is a frightened….and often frightening….child” (p. 36). The series bible was what they used to pitch the show to the networks, so it’s somewhat surprising that Dark Shadows even have made it onto the air with such disturbing content, when after all it’s playing in a time slot where advertisers are selling One A Day Plus Iron for teenagers, Colgate Dental Creme for children, and Snowy Bleach for housewives. But in the series bible, Art Wallace devotes barely more than a single page to the incident involving the brakes on Roger’s car, whereas on the show this will be the focus of the better part of five weeks.


How interesting it is that Dark Shadows wants the viewer to know right off who’s been tampering with Roger’s car. In episode 10, David overheard his father talking with his aunt about sending him away to an institution, and reacted by symbolically shooting his father with his toy robot.


David_robot_B_ep10 GIF


The word “institution” must have struck a chord in David’s fragile young mind. His father had his mother, the one anchor of security and stability in his life, sent away to an institution, and he must have considered it a matter of survival to see that his father wouldn’t get the chance to send him away as well. So, during that same episode, he decides that a figurative show of retaliation isn’t enough. To preserve his way of life, he must instead aim for the real thing.


Meanwhile at the Blue Whale Burke is waiting for Roger to show up to discuss what Burke alluded to as a business deal. He finds Joe Haskell at the bar settling the unpaid drinks tab from the night before, so he walks over to make some friendly small talk, but Joe’s response is anything but approachable.


Burke and Joe_Blue Whale_ep14


Burke: Keeping your credit good, Haskell?

Joe [sternly]: Hello, Mr. Devlin.

Burke [amused]: Ooh, that’s a sour greeting if I ever heard one. How about having a beer with me?

Joe: Thanks, but I don’t have the time.

Burke: You’re not sore about last night, are you Joe?

Joe: Look, Mr. Devlin, with all that fuss yesterday I forgot to pay my check. I just came by to do it, now I’ve got to go.

Burke: One beer, how long will it take?

Joe: I told you last night I’m not interested in your proposition! Now if you wanna buy information about the people that live up in Collinwood, you have to go somewhere else.

Burke: I’m only offering to buy you a beer.

Joe: Thanks, but no thanks. You might as well know this, Mr. Devlin. I told the people up at Collinwood what you wanted from me.

Burke [smiling]: You did?

Joe: Yeah, I don’t know what you’re after. But as long as it involves Carolyn or any member of her family, I want you to stay away from me.

Burke: But I’m not after a thing.

Joe: You tell it to them.

Burke: I did. Just about an hour ago. I had a long chat with Roger Collins, his sister, and your little friend Carolyn. We’re all pals again. No fights, no fuss, no worries.


The interactions between Burke and Joe, just like those between Burke and Roger, are another of the pleasures to be found in these early episodes. There’s Burke, the sly and ingratiating opportunist, just trying to be genial and not the least bit put off by Joe’s obvious dislike for the man.


Being the upstanding and ambitious, hard-working young man that he is, Joe is acting out of loyalty to Carolyn’s family. What he doesn’t realize at the moment is that he’ll have another reason to be dripping with disdain over the mere thought of Burke Devlin – that in addition to representing a threat to the Collins family in general, Burke has also become a rival for the affections of Carolyn in particular.


Carolyn has made no secret that she finds Burke Devlin attractive, but the fact that he seems to be embroiled in a family drama may also appeal to her wild and rebellious nature, making her attempt as peacemaker by bringing Burke and her uncle Roger together seem more like a flimsy cover to satisfy her craving for excitement. She pursues Burke relentlessly, schemes every chance she can to be brought into his company.


But just think how unseemly that is. A seventeen-year-old girl chasing after a man of thirty-two. She meets him first in his hotel room, and then they meet again in a bar. He is after all the reason Carolyn talks Joe into taking her to the Blue Whale. They flirt by waving at each other from across the room, Burke walks over to their table to say hello, and Carolyn invites him to sit down and join them. In an initial show of etiquette, he at first demurs and explains that he doesn’t want to be a “fifth wheel” in her and Joe’s evening out, but when Carolyn insists he of course takes her up on it, never one to turn down an opportunity that just falls right into his lap. No doubt what Burke is more interested in is seeing the look on Roger’s face when he walks in to find his niece having a friendly drink with the man he fears more than anyone in the world.


So this is Dark Shadows as it begins to play out the core story elements that have been introduced over the first two weeks:  a nine-year-old boy secretly out to have his father killed while planting the evidence on his unsuspecting governess; a teenage thrill seeker romantically paired with a middle-aged opportunist. It’s amazing what they could get away with on network television in those days, literally in broad daylight, when no one – not even the network executives – was watching.


Photo Gallery:

David reading Mechano Magazine.

David reading Mechano Magazine_ep14


David attempts to plant a small metal object in Vicki’s room.

David attempts to plant valve in Vicki's room_ep14


David after fleeing from Vicki’s room.

David after fleeing from Vicki's room_ep14


David gives Vicki a seashell, explaining that this is what he wanted to leave in her room.

David gives Vicki a seashell_ep14


Burke offers to buy Joe a beer at the Blue Whale.

Burke offers to buy Joe a beer_ep14


Burke claims to have made his peace with the Collins family.

Burke claims to have made his peace with the Collins family_ep14


Vicki and Joe meet for the first time when he comes calling for Carolyn.

Vicki and Joe meet for the first time_ep14


The door at the end of the hall, that leads to the closed-off section of Collinwood, opens mysteriously.

Door at the end of the hall opens mysteriously_ep14


Vicki realizes it wasn’t David who opened and then closed the door.

Vicki realizes it wasn't David who opened and then closed the door_ep14


David gives Vicki his copy of Mechano Magazine as a present.

David gives Vicki his Mechano Magazine as a present_ep14


Burke didn’t expect to see Joe back at the Blue Whale that night.

Burke didn't expect to see Joe back at the Blue Whale that night_ep14


Burke offers to buy a round of drinks.

Burke offers to buy drinks_ep14


David finds out that his father will be using the car to get into town that night.

David finds out that his father will be using the car to get into town that night_ep14


David returns to his room, to think about what he’s done.

David returns to his room_ep14


Favorite Lines/Exchanges:

Carolyn: All settled?

Vicki: Hm?

Carolyn: I heard all that yelling and banging. Figured it was you and the little monster. What was it all about?

Vicki: I don’t know.

Carolyn [noticing the seashell Vicki is holding]: Where’d you get that?

Vicki: David gave it to me. A peace offering, I think.

Carolyn: And you believe it.

Vicki: You believe Burke Devlin, didn’t you?

Carolyn: That’s different. I mean, David’s a kook. But Burke Devlin’s a nice guy who just wants to be friends with the family.

Vicki: You hope.

[Sound of thunder is heard]

Carolyn: Oh, dear. That sounds like rain. There goes my hairdo. I’ve got a date tonight.

Vicki: Carolyn, you’re not going out with Burke Devlin, are you?

Carolyn: I wish I were.

Carolyn: You two been getting acquainted?

Vicki: Mr. Haskell’s been telling me about ghosts.

Carolyn: Mr. Haskell? Joe, Vicki. And don’t listen to him, he wouldn’t believe in a ghost if it rattled its chains under his nose. Oh, we’ve got ‘em. Ghosts and demons, and nine-year-old monsters. Am I right?

Vicki: Oh I think David and I are gonna get along.

Carolyn: Lots of luck. [turning to Joe] Shall we go?

Joe: Yeah, we’d better if we’re gonna make that movie.

Carolyn: Oh,… no movie tonight, Joe. I’d rather go to the Blue Whale.

Joe: The Blue Whale? Your mother’d shoot me if I took you back there again.

Carolyn: Well then, we won’t tell her. Right?

Vicki: Carolyn, I think you’d be better off going to a movie.

Carolyn: You manage with your monsters Vicki, and I’ll manage with mine.

David: Do you like my father?

Vicki: Why yes, I think he’s a very nice man.

David: He hates you.

David: Did you ever meet him?

Vicki: Yes, I’ve met Mr. Devlin.

David: He hates my father. Did you know that?

Vicki: David, why are you always talking about people hating other people?

David: Because they do. I bet I could be real good friends with Mr. Devlin.


Background/Production Notes:

David with an issue of Mechano Magazine_ep14


The fictional Mechano Magazine was likely inspired by the real-life Meccano Magazine published by Meccano Ltd., a toy manufacturing company based in Liverpool, England, started by Frank Hornby, inventor of the construction toy Meccano which he originally called “Mechanics Made Easy.”

Meccano Magazine, first published in the United States as a bimonthly magazine in 1916, was originally intended for builders of Meccano model toy kits, but evolved into a general hobby magazine for boys until its final issue was published in 1981.


The June 1966 cover of Meccano Magazine (UK edition).

Meccano Magazine_cover_June 1966


A page from Meccano Magazine with engine building instructions (page 42, June 1966).

Meccano Magazine_engine building instructions_page 42_June 1966


The first sound effect for thunder ever heard on Dark Shadows is when Carolyn and Vicki are talking in the upstairs hallway, during the first scene in Act II.

Dark Shadows_first sound of thunder_Act II_ep14


The first sight of lightning on Dark Shadows occurs in Vicki’s room in the final scene for Act II.

Dark Shadows_first lightning strike_Act II_Vicki's room_ep14


The first flash of lightning to be seen from the Collinwood foyer is shown at the beginning of Act III.

Dark Shadows_first lightning strike seen from Collinwood foyer_beginning of Act III_ep14


The lightning effects on Dark Shadows were made by creating a vertical arrangement of studio lights, usually a stack of three, and placing them near the windows of a set and having them light up and flicker all at once. A lightning stack in action can be seen in this blooper from episode 124, where David is rushing out the front door of the Old House.

Dark Shadows lightning effects_vertical stack of three studio lights_ep124


Upon meeting Vicki for the first time, Joe mentions that he and Carolyn have known each other since they were kids. In his character sketch for Joe Haskell, Art Wallace tells of how they came to meet. Joe’s father had died at sea seven years earlier when his fishing boat sank, so his mother took odd jobs, one of these being weekly housecleaning at Collins House:


“When he was old enough to drive, Joe bought an old car and began taking his mother up to Collins House in the morning and picking her up at night. The mystery of the house and the strange seclusion of its mistress fascinated him, as it did all the young people in town….but during that period he was even more interested in the sensitive and lovely young girl who shared the dark corridors with her troubled mother.” (Shadows on the Wall, p. 27)


Dark Shadows extras: The dark-haired female patron seen dancing at the Blue Whale is actress Pat Lysinger, in an uncredited role.

Pat Lysinger_Blue Whale patron_ep14 (1)


When Joe is in the Blue Whale settling his drinks tab with the bartender, he says, “I guess that squares us F., I’m sorry I forgot about it yesterday.” The bartender, played by Bob O’Connell in an uncredited and recurring role, referred to himself as “Joe” in episode 2 when getting on the phone to call in to the sheriff’s office to break up the fight that Joe Haskell started on the dance floor.


Set Design:

This episode is the first to show David’s room, which has an octagonal design more in keeping with the shape of a tower. In fact, the design for David’s room will be used for the tower room at Collinwood, beginning in 1795.


Below are two views of designer Sy Tomashoff’s blueprint for David’s room, which is labeled as “Set J.” The door measures two feet six inches wide by seven feet high. Each bookcase is four feet in width, with shelf space of two feet six inches in width by twelve inches in height. The windows are stained glass topped by a half inch frame. Each window has fifteen panes, and each pane is six inches wide, for a total window width of eighteen inches. Each window is four feet high, with the sill starting at three feet six inches from floor level. The note for the columns reads: “BUILD (2) 8” SQ. COL. WILD.”


David's room_blueprint (1)_ep14


David's room_blueprint (2)_with door_ep14


Shown prominently throughout episode 14 is the set for the upstairs hallway, which designer Sy Tomashoff labeled as “Set H.” The hallway is featured in this episode’s closing credits.


Hallway_set design blueprint_ep14 (1)

Hallway_set design blueprint_ep14 (2)


Though no window is drawn as part of Sy Tomashoff’s blueprint for the upstairs hallway, what is shown in this episode would imply that a window is nearby with the way the lightning reaches this part of the house.

Lightning reaches the upstairs hallway_ep14


Bloopers/Story Continuity:

While Carolyn and Vicki stand in the hallway outside David’s room discussing Burke Devlin, the shadow of a boom mic moves about the back of Carolyn’s hair.

Boom mic shadow over Carolyn's hair_ep14 (3)


While standing at the jukebox in the Blue Whale, as Mitch Ryan says the final words of his lines in his scene with Joel Crothers, the shadow of a boom mic completely covers the front of his face.

boom mic shadow covers Mitch Ryan's face_ep14


As Carolyn stands before the full-length mirror considering making an alteration to her dress, Nancy Barrett stumbles midway through her line saying, “I think if I took off a hanf – a half inch it would look better.”


After Joe and Carolyn have left and Vicki returns to the upstairs hallway, the boom mic registers a long and audible run of feedback, first as a loud hum that rises to a long, high screech before fading.



One of the more intriguing items in David’s room is the “LOOK photo” that hangs to the right of the far window. When seen from across the room, it appears as though it might be a close-up of Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger, perhaps performing in concert at the Royal Albert Hall while wearing a camp Victorian outfit and holding a microphone in his right hand has he gestures outward with his left.


The “LOOK photo” (left) on the wall by the far window.

LOOK photo_seen from across room_ep14


But on closer inspection, it appears that it is actually a photo of David Henesy, dressed up and perhaps at a birthday party or New Year’s celebration and blowing into a noise maker party favor, with the word “LOOK” hand printed in white capital letters across the bottom of the photo.


The “LOOK photo” (right of window).

LOOK photo (1)_ep14


The Petofi box can be seen throughout the episode in its usual place on the table in the upstairs hallway.

Petofi box_Hallway_closing credits_ep14


Food & Drink in Collinsport:

Burke has a glass of whiskey at his table in the Blue Whale while waiting for Roger to show up. The other patrons all have beer at their tables.

Burke with whiskey at the Blue Whale_ep14


Recommended Reading:

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!”

Dark Passages_novel_front cover


Recommended Listening:

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.

Dark Shadows_Soundtrack Music Collection_Front cover


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.

And Red All Over_CD booklet front image


Coming next: Episode 15: Mechanics Made Easy, Pt. 1


— Marc Masse

(aka PrisoneroftheNight)


© 2017 Marc Masse and Dark Shadows

from the Beginning. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of

the content herein is a violation of the

terms and standards as set forth under

U.S. copyright law.

2 thoughts on “Episode 14: The Fifth Wheel”

  1. You may be right. I did have that TZ episode in mind initially when preparing this post. In the next episode David says the following to Vicki when summing up his father: “He lies about everything. He’s a very terrible man. And I hope he dies!”

    That’s the signpost up ahead. Your next stop, the shadow zone.

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