Episode 18 is an exercise in minimalism. The first year of Dark Shadows is known for episodes with a full cast, lots of extras, and exterior filming. But this episode has none of those things: apart from the usual glimpse from the back lawn of the “Collinwood” mansion at the beginning, no location footage, no extras, and only three actors. In fact, this is only one of a handful of episodes in the entire series to feature just three actors. And it’s all within the confines of Collinwood itself: Vicki’s room, the upstairs hallway, David’s room, and the downstairs foyer and drawing room are all we see in these twenty-two plus minutes.
It’s still the night of Roger’s car accident, but he can’t sleep at this late hour. After discovering that someone most definitely tampered with the brakes on his car, he figures it must have been Burke Devlin, who David’s governess Victoria Winters found standing in the garage by Roger’s car with a wrench in his hand, after having invited him into town for a meeting to discuss a business deal.
This is only Vicki’s second night at Collinwood, and for the second time in as many nights she is dragged out of bed to face yet another drawing room interrogation from Roger about Burke Devlin. Before heading out to Burke’s hotel room at the Collinsport Inn, Roger needs to get a witness who saw him there in the garage near the car and find out what Miss Winters knows and what it was exactly that she saw, so that he can then confront Devlin in person and throw the whole thing right in his face.
So that’s why other cast members wouldn’t be needed. This late at night, Elizabeth and Carolyn would be sleeping. It’s only the people directly involved with Roger’s accident, those who either experienced or witnessed something, who would be awake at this time of night.
Which leaves David. He can’t sleep either. In fact, in the previous episode he woke up several times in the night with bad dreams, screaming to his aunt Elizabeth that he didn’t mean to kill “him.” In this episode, he’s in his room, in pajamas and bathrobe, crushing one of his model cars with his foot and then tossing it out the window. Soon after, he confesses to his governess, “I wrecked a car.” That should be a tip-off, to Vicki at least, that there is a special reason for David being up this late. A nine-year-old boy doesn’t stay up until around midnight just to stomp on a toy car, and then hint that he just did something that might give his governess reason to call the police and have him arrested.
Episode 18, at least the studio taping, is also an exercise in attrition. For the past two episodes, director Lela Swift has been using the control room microphone to complain about supporting actors she can’t stand and wants off the show. In episode 16 it was George Mitchell, the first actor to play Collinwood caretaker Matthew Morgan, who she successfully shamed into leaving the show; in episode 17 it was Fred Stewart, who made his debut as Collins family physician Dr. Reeves. Now for the taping of episode 18 it will once again be Mark Allen, originator of the Sam Evans role, who isn’t even in the episode, but who will join cast and crew for the dry rehearsal of episode 19, which is scheduled to commence right after the taping wraps up for episode 18.
In previous posts the sound of voices heard other than those of actors in their scenes has been referred to as “bleeding audio” or “hidden audio,” that is, discussions that seem to be taking place somewhere off stage but still within the confines of the television studio. The boom mic, for instance, will pick up on noises coming from the production area just beyond where a scene is being taped – a crew member coughing, footsteps treading across the studio floor, the grinding sound of cameras moving about, a piece of equipment being dropped in the studio – and for these it most often doesn’t require headphones to be clearly heard. It’s that most peripheral of sound the boom mic picks up, like a conversation being conducted over the microphone of the control room, that is lowest in the mix but is heard more easily in certain instances, like when director Lela Swift is particularly incensed about this, that, and whatever.
During taping, Lela directs the episode from the control room, where she can more clearly observe the action from the banks of video screens and take in all the audio as captured by the boom mic. She will speak through the microphone to cue actors in their scenes, such as when to make an entrance into a set, when to move about during nonspeaking moments of a scene, and so on. Her voice through the control room microphone can be clearly heard throughout the whole studio by cast and crew alike. So if she has an ax to grind with someone, as she frequently seems to when it comes to the male, middle-aged members of the supporting cast, then everyone who is in the studio in that given moment will hear about it.
As tape begins rolling for episode 18, even before the prerecorded opening narration is concluded, Lela wastes no time in voicing her concerns to executive producer Dan Curtis about yet another supporting cast member, one she has complained about before…
Opening narration: My name is Victoria Winters. My past is still a mystery to me. But my future is still bound to the great house on Widow’s Hill…
Lela Swift: Dan, I have to discuss a serious issue going on with Mark Allen.
Dan Curtis: Oh, Lela! You complained all through the taping of the last two episodes. You’re not going to complain through a whole episode of taping again, are you?
Opening narration: To a boy whose eyes brim with fear and torment…
Lela: Dan, Alexandra Moltke has a serious complaint against Mark Allen.
Dan: Then why didn’t she complain to me?
Lela: Because she thought you’d just brush it off the way you did before when Kathryn Leigh Scott complained about Mark Allen.
Opening narration: To the strange sounds and lonely echoes of a small room filled with the memory of long dead years…
Lela: Mark Allen has a scene with Alexandra in episode 20. He was rubbing up behind her in rehearsal. Rubbing, Dan, not touching.
Dan: What do you mean “rubbing”? People rub against each other every day on the train.
Lela: This isn’t ordinary rubbing, Dan. This happened during rehearsal, here in the studio. Alexandra told me that he came up behind her and started rubbing against her backside. That’s sexual molestation.
[A sound of knocking on a door is heard. Then the scene cuts to the hallway outside Vicki’s room, showing Roger still several feet from her door.]
Lela: Knocking wasn’t supposed to start yet, Ed [Blainey, the sound effects man].
Ed Blainey: I’m sorry, Lela! The conversation was distracting me. Knocking cue.
[The scene switches back to the interior of Vicki’s room, and Lela can be heard cueing for the sound effect.]
Lela [to Ed Blainey]: Knocking!
[Over the “waves” intro as the theme music is dropped in, Lela can be heard complaining to Dan.]
Lela: …I’m trying to save the show. And you’re letting Mark Allen ruin everything we’ve worked for. I’m sick and tired…
[As Act I gets underway, Lela continues to go to work on Dan with her complaining.]
Lela: Alexandra Moltke has a serious complaint, and so does Kathryn Leigh Scott. Dan, it is your obligation to protect an actress who complains about an actor misbehaving. It is your duty to protect an actress from an actor who is taking liberties he has no right to take. But instead, you want to protect a sexual predator.
Dan: Oh, Lela, come off it, will you? I have no interest in protecting a sexual predator, if that is a fact. I have to think of budgetary restrictions…
Given that’s it always easier to detect a conversation from the control room microphone when actors are not doing their dialogue, what is said next between Lela and Dan gets muddled in echoey soup during the drawing room scene between Roger and David, especially with Louis Edmonds’ distinctly dark and booming stage voice. During one lapse in dialogue, the following can be made out:
Dan: Alright. Has he raped anyone?
Lela: Well, no, he hasn’t raped anyone.
When the scene changes back to Vicki’s room and she is shown brushing her hair and silently preparing for her meeting downstairs with Roger, the discussion from the control room between Lela and Dan can be more easily heard:
Lela: Look at Alexandra, she’s so beautiful. She shouldn’t have to put up with something just because you want to protect your old boy network.
Dan: What are you talking about “old boy network”?
Lela: Well that’s what it sounds like.
Dan: There is no old boy network. If I fire Mark Allen for being a sexual predator, he’ll never work in television again. It’ll ruin his whole career. Now is that what you want me to do?
Lela: I don’t care about Mark Allen’s career. I just want to protect actresses from a sexual predator… Maybe you don’t have to fire him. We can make him leave.
Dan: That won’t work. His contract guarantees him a lot of episodes. If the money’s good, he’ll want to work.
When the scene is back in the drawing room, but just showing Roger quietly waiting for Vicki to come downstairs, more of the control room microphone discussion can be heard.
Dan: …Alright, Lela, so you want to help. Well where were you when George Mitchell needed help?
Lela: I don’t care about George Mitchell!
Dan: No, you don’t care about actors, you just care about actresses. You made me fire George Mitchell because of your complaining, calling him disgusting because he couldn’t eat those fried eggs from that greasy spoon. I’m still pissed off about that. You took a fine actor and crushed his confidence, and made him feel ashamed. And what about what you did to Fred Stewart, humiliating him in front of the whole studio for something that was only in your twisted imagination?
Lela: I don’t like actors whose trousers ride up!
Dan: Okay, so you don’t like actors whose trousers ride up. But don’t use that as a basis for humiliating someone like that.
Lela: Fred Stewart can kiss my ass, Dan!
Dan: Fred Stewart is one of the nicest guys in the business, and that’s how you talk of him? And you want me to help you with one of the actresses? Well she’s going to have to come to me directly. What do you think of that?
Lela: I told you, Dan. She doesn’t trust you to do the right thing…
There’s the scene where David crushes his model car by stomping on it, as shown in the opening GIF at the top of the post. Lela can be heard directing David’s movements through the control room microphone.
Lela [to David]: Roll the car on the table, David. That’s good. Now roll the car on the floor, David. [to Dan Curtis] Fred Stewart can kiss my ass, Dan! [to David] Now step on the car, David.
Lela’s harsh dismissal of Fred Stewart is heard being enlarged upon when Vicki is back up in her room, getting dressed to leave the house with Roger for Burke’s hotel room.
Lela: Fred Stewart can kiss my ass, Dan! [directing Alexandra Moltke] Miss Winters, turn to your left, David is coming to the door.
[David runs back to his room as Vicki follows.]
Dan: Fred Stewart can kiss your ass. Oh, Lela! I’ve got something to say about that.
[When David runs into his room, he at first goes to put the valve back in his bureau dresser, but corrects himself as Lela directs him through the control room microphone.]
Lela [to David]: Under the pillow, David. Good! [to Dan Curtis] Alright, Dan. Now what do you have to say to me about Fred fucking Stewart?
Dan: I just want you to know that you have no sensitivity when it comes to male middle-aged actors.
Lela: Fred Stewart had sloppy trousers!
Dan: And I have another thing to tell you, Lela. I have a good mind to bring George Mitchell back, just to spite you. Was he engaging in any harassing behavior?
Dan: But you harassed him right off the show.
Lela: Now Dan, that’s irrelevant. I’m trying to tell you about a complaint against Mark Allen, and you keep diverting the conversation. Mark Allen is a sexual predator.
Dan: You think you’ve won. But I’m going to have Fred Stewart back on this show whether you like it or not.
Lela: I have won, and Mark Allen’s next. And as far as George Mitchell and Fred Stewart are concerned, it’s two down and one to go!
Dan: As far as you’re concerned, two down and one to go. Well that’s a great attitude, Lela. How can you take that attitude toward a show you are hired to direct? But you’re destroying everything.
Lela: I can’t wait for the taping of episode 19. I’m really gonna give it to that Mark Allen character.
For the final scene, which shows David up in his room tucking the missing brake valve from his father’s car into the top drawer of his dresser bureau, Lela has some closing remarks for her executive producer.
Lela: I have just one thing to say to you, Dan, about Fred Stewart.
Dan: Oh really? What’s that, I wonder?
Lela: Fred Stewart can kiss my ass! Did you hear me, Dan?
Dan: Oh, I heard you.
Lela: Fred Stewart can kiss my ass!
Just before the final scene fades out, Lela repeats it one more time, shouting so hard into the control room microphone that the sound of her voice distorts:
Lela: Fred Stewart can kiss my ass!
There are no closing credits, at least none that show up in the final broadcast. As a piece of the closing theme plays over the only credit that appears, the copyright tag for Dan Curtis Productions, Lela can be heard exclaiming through the control room microphone:
Lela: I’m sick and tired of you, Dan Curtis!
Will Dan Curtis ever begin to take Lela Swift’s constant complaining seriously? Will Lela eventually convince Dan to replace his entire supporting cast? Will Mark Allen live up to his new label of sexual predator? Will someone finally fix the missing button on the front of his shirt? For the answers to these questions and many more, tune in next for a new episode of… The Perils of Mark Allen.
Below are the hidden cast members of today’s soap within a soap as captured by the studio boom mic, director Lela Swift and executive producer Dan Curtis.
Below, Lela Swift directs Alexandra Moltke in rehearsal on June 12, 1966, the day before the taping of episode 1.
Dan Curtis, 1960s.
“To a boy whose eyes brim with fear and torment…”
“To the strange sounds and lonely echoes of a small room…”
“…filled with the memory of long dead years.”
David returns to his hiding place in the corner below the stairs.
“Does it hurt, father?”
David is angered by his father’s sarcasm.
Roger chases David out of the drawing room.
Vicki prepares for her meeting downstairs with Roger.
Vicki tries to calm David after his father yelled at him.
“Would they put him in jail?”
Roger discusses the accident with Vicki.
Roger intends on forcing Burke Devlin to tell the truth about having caused his accident.
David after wrecking his model car.
Scene dissolve for the final Act, showing first a sketch of the missing brake valve from Roger’s car and then the valve in David’s hand.
Roger: David. What are you doing up so late?
David: I couldn’t sleep.
Roger: Worried about me I suppose.
David: Yes. I… I wanted you to know I’m sorry.
Roger: Sorry for what? That I survived?
David: What are you going to tell my father?
Vicki: About you? Not a thing.
David: What are you going to tell him about the accident?
Vicki: Well if he asks me, I’ll tell him what I know. Which, I’m afraid, is nothing. Now, go on…. David, I have no more time. Your father’s waiting for me.
David: Miss Winters? What if it wasn’t an accident?
Vicki: Well then I guess your father will have to go to the police.
David: And what will they do?
Vicki: Whatever police do. Try and find the person responsible and arrest him.
David: Would they put him in jail?
Vicki: If he’s found guilty, he should be put in jail. And now you should be put in bed. Go on, David…. David, I have no more time.
David: I just want to know one thing. If you knew who did it, would you tell?
Vicki: Now that’s a silly question. Of course I would.
David: Even if it meant he’d have to go to jail?
Vicki: David, your father was almost killed. It’s a terrible thing for anyone to do.
David: He wants to send me away! Don’t you think that’s terrible?
Roger [to Vicki]: I’m afraid my son’s emotional state doesn’t concern me at the moment.
Roger: This is a sketch of a part that was removed from my car. Now, it’s called a bleeder valve. Now that doesn’t mean anything, except that Devlin lifted the hood of my car and removed this part from what they call the master brake cylinder.
Vicki: Well, I’m afraid I don’t know enough about cars –
Roger: All you have to know is that this part, without it, it would cause the brakes to not function at about two minutes. Now, about this sound that you heard. Could it have been the hood slamming down instead of the door?
Vicki: I suppose so. Mr. Collins, would you need a special instrument to get that out of the car?
Roger: Oh, a pair of pliers, that’s all. Even a child could do it.
David: I wrecked a car.
David: One of my models. I crushed it and threw it out the window.
Vicki: That was a silly thing to do.
David: Why don’t you call the police and have me arrested?
Roger: Well, is my son properly tucked in?
Vicki: I’m sorry I took so long, but I was very worried about him.
Roger: Well, spare me the details. I’m only concerned about my own problems. Are you ready?
Vicki: I should think he’d be one of your problems, too.
Roger: Not tonight. Tonight I’m only interested in what happened to that car. And it doesn’t involve David at all.
Episode 18 is the third episode where all the scenes take place within Collinwood. The first two were episodes 4 and 6.
The slating for today’s episode shows how only parts of the board are erased as needed, and that a fresh slate is not necessarily drawn up for each taping: as indicated, this slate has been used before, with eraser marks under the “8” for the episode number(s), the month (an erased “6” can be seen beneath the “7”) and day for videotape recording (VTR), and the day for the intended air date.
The teaser for today’s episode is a replay of the tag for episode 17. In episode 17, Roger is shown coming from the drawing room to ascend the foyer staircase, after which David emerges from his hiding place in the corner, looks upstairs, and glares into the camera with a look of intense fear. Today’s episode picks up with Roger ascending the stairs and David coming into view from the bottom of the stairs, but after turning to peek upstairs, rather than stopping at the newel as in yesterday’s tag, he keeps moving while glancing off to either side of the camera and instead comes to a stop by the foyer table while staring blankly ahead.
David’s model car, which he stomps flat in this episode, looks quite a lot like the white Plymouth Fury convertible Roger will be seen driving in episode 20.
This is the first episode not to show any end credits for cast and crew. Instead, there is a momentary glimpse of the copyright tag for Dan Curtis Productions, which would become more commonplace later in the series.
The “normal” schedule for a day of Dark Shadows episode taping, showing also the schedule for the first two weeks (episodes 1 through 10).
In the teaser, as the camera pans up across the foyer from David to the grandfather clock, a studio light over the drawing room set is momentarily visible.
As Roger moves along the upstairs hallway, the sound effects man drops in the knocking sound too early, when Roger is still several feet from Vicki’s door. The effect is then re-cued and is in the correct place the second time. Below is where Roger was in the hallway just after the first knocking sound is heard; at left can be seen one of the legs to the long table against the wall outside Vicki’s room.
Louis Edmonds looks down the hallway set for a crew member to cue him to knock on Vicki’s door.
After his talk with Vicki, as David is returning to his room, Alexandra Moltke can be heard making hurried footfalls to rush to the drawing room set. As the next scene begins, the camera keeps a headshot on Louis Edmonds as he speaks his first few lines while addressing an empty sofa.
After David stomps on his model car, there is a fast cut back to the drawing room. Louis Edmonds is shown looking toward the camera for his cue to resume the scene. During this instance, the sound drops out momentarily after a loud metallic clicking sound (likely involving the model car that David Henesy has just crushed underfoot) can be heard leaking in from somewhere else.
As Roger is in the upstairs hallway to knock on Vicki’s door, the Petofi box can be seen on the table along the wall.
A close, well-lit glimpse of the LOOK photo is given as David tosses the model car he crushed out the window.
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 19: An Interest in Human Nature: More of The Perils of Mark Allen
— Marc Masse
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