It is still only the second day since Victoria Winters arrived at Collinwood as the governess to nine-year-old David Collins, but a lot has happened in such a short span. Burke Devlin, who arrived in Collinsport on the same train as Vicki, has everyone at Collinwood on edge. Roger testified as a witness at Burke’s manslaughter trial ten years earlier and at the time Devlin made threats against the family, vowing to one day return and destroy them all. Just a short while after Burke is found by Vicki in the family garage standing by Roger’s car holding a wrench, Roger has a near fatal car accident driving down the hill from Collinwood into town. The viewer knows that it was David who tampered with the brakes on his father’s car, but Roger doesn’t know this and in fact no one suspects David, at least not yet. For the moment Roger thinks it was Burke, settling his old vendetta against the Collins family, and he is dragging Vicki into the middle of it, bringing her to Burke’s hotel room in the middle of the night as a witness who can back up that he was seen in the garage with just the sort of tool that could be used to remove the missing brake valve from his car. Roger is hell-bent on destroying Burke before Devlin gets another chance to destroy him. It’s an exciting episode with an explosive conflict erupting head to head.
There is also a volatile situation flaring up behind the scenes in the television studio, in a soap within a soap called The Perils of Mark Allen…
The first thing to spring to mind about this episode concerns the location footage at the beginning. The town of Collinsport comprises not only the detailed and elaborate sets of a Manhattan television studio, but also the footage from such New England locations as Essex, Connecticut, and Newport, Rhode Island, filmed just before the series began its weekly taping schedule. Having this footage dropped into various episodes helps the show to come alive, giving the impression of an actual real town as the backdrop to the storylines being played out on the studio sets.
As the opening narration concludes, there is footage from the Griswold Inn, which represents the exterior of Collinsport Inn, in Essex, Connecticut. In episode 18, Roger convinced Vicki to ride with him into town to visit Burke’s room at the hotel, where Roger would confront him about the missing brake valve that caused his car to run off the road. In episode 19, Carolyn discovered that Roger was not in the house and so Elizabeth had Joe Haskell check the garage to see if the convertible was still there. It wasn’t, and now in episode 20 we see Roger and Vicki pulling up outside the hotel in the convertible from the Collinwood garage: a Plymouth Fury.
The Collins family have been the leading economic force of the town they founded and built for nearly three hundred years; half the people living in Collinsport work in some capacity for the Collins family, who live in a mansion of forty rooms. And Roger is driving into town in a Plymouth Fury, a two-door convertible that most middle- and working-class folk could afford at the time. Likewise, the sporty-looking car that he just recently crashed in was a Ford Mustang. You would have expected him to have crashed in a Jaguar. After all, the Collins family live in a house so big, it has its very own postal street address. You would have expected the spare convertible Roger pulls out of the family garage to have been a Mercedes at least.
The reason for this comes down to the low budget ceiling of daytime programming. To even rent such automobiles if only for a days’ location shoot would have stretched the show’s budget beyond its limited means. Instead, it seems likely that they “borrowed” the cars attributed to the Collins family, most likely from the show’s crew members. In the interview David Henesy gave for the 35th anniversary of Dark Shadows, he recalls that “…on location, I rode with [Dark Shadows producer] Bob Costello in the back of a Carol Shelby modified Ford.” (35th Anniversary Dark Shadows Memories, A Conversation with David Henesy, p. 84) The Carol Shelby modified Ford sounds like the Ford Mustang used to represent Roger’s car leading up to the accident. The Plymouth Fury convertible used for this episode will return in episode 40, which Carolyn uses to drive into town to meet with Burke Devlin in the restaurant of Collinsport Inn. Further along (episode 82), Roger will replace his Ford Mustang with a Pontiac GTO.
In real life, the Collins family most certainly would have owned the sort of automobiles more befitting the prestige of their living situation, but instead they drive around in the same sort of practical cars that anyone else in town would own. If anything, it makes the Collins’ of Collinsport seem more down to earth.
Dark Shadows director Lela Swift can be heard talking through the control room microphone as Roger and Vicki in the location footage move toward the door intended to represent the entrance to the restaurant:
Lela Swift: Well let’s see how good Mark Allen is today without any rehearsal time for his scenes. Louis’s bringing Alex’s script into the scene. [cueing actors] Okay, come on in!
There’s another episode of The Perils of Mark Allen set to kick off, in which Lela Swift is hoping to obstruct Mark Allen’s improving performances in the part of Sam Evans. With the intent of keeping Mark Allen away from actresses who have complained about him, Lela has seen to it that they don’t have to read for scenes with him. Unable to get the scene in Act I between Sam Evans and Vicki Winters cut from the script for today’s episode, Lela has instead arranged for Alexandra Moltke’s script to be brought in before the start of the scene, and here’s the proof:
After making his entrance into the restaurant, you can see the script folded in Louis Edmonds’ right hand, not quite concealed by his overcoat. At first you think he’s bringing in a newspaper, but Roger has come to the hotel to read Burke the riot act, not the Collinsport weekly news.
Roger has been running scared ever since he found out that Burke Devlin had returned to Collinsport. Reluctant to face him when he discovered that Burke was waiting for him behind closed doors in the drawing room at Collinwood. Roger hesitated and very nearly slunk away out the front door before deciding to at least face him. Now, emboldened by the near death experience of an automobile accident, and a glass or two of brandy in the drawing room, Roger is all bite and no fear as he confronts Burke in his hotel room, coyly leading up to the accusation that he was responsible for Roger’s car going off the road.
It’s always fun in these early episodes when Louis Edmonds and Mitchell Ryan are facing off in scenes together. In episode 13, there was the superficially polite game of one-upmanship being played out in the Collinwood drawing room, but here in episode 20 it’s the roaring of lions and tigers tussling over territorial rights. These are two of the most theatrically adept actors on the show at the moment, and nobody does confrontational drama better than Edmonds and Ryan. Stage voice booming on the left, stage voice booming on the right – if someone’s fist doesn’t start flying, then at the very least someone’s drink will:
But that’s today’s episode of Dark Shadows. Today’s episode of The Perils of Mark Allen, the behind the scenes soap within a soap, is also bristling with the drama of real-life confrontation.
In episodes 11 and 12, director Lela Swift was complaining up and down about Mark Allen messing up all his lines. In her mind, he wasn’t working out in the part of Sam Evans and she wasn’t the least bit pleased about it. But in episode 19, he has shown great improvement in his performance, and she isn’t the least bit pleased about it.
As the opening theme plays through the waves intro, Lela says a few words through the control room microphone, likely just a bit of psychological pressure applied so that Mark Allen will stew in his juices a bit during the following commercial break before his scene with Alexandra Moltke is due to begin:
Lela: I can’t wait to see Mark Allen fall apart in his scene with Alexandra. I’m trying to sabotage him right off the show. Okay, Mark Allen. Your days are numbered.
One of the striking things about this scene with Sam Evans and Vicki Winters is Vicki’s reaction when Sam approaches her table in the restaurant.
There’s no reason for the look of pure disdain that she gives to Sam Evans. She’s only seen him once before, earlier that day on Widow’s Hill where Sam gives her a message to relay to Roger, that Sam was looking for him. During that brief meeting, Sam fills her in on the legend of Widow’s Hill, about the people who met their death by jumping off the cliff there. Vicki’s reason for not being too pleased to see him is that “it’s not exactly pleasant to hear about people jumping off cliffs.” But that doesn’t seem reason enough. The legend of Widow’s Hill is something that Carolyn would have mentioned offhand at any time, and David most certainly would have reveled in regaling her of the more gruesome of the Collins family legends. Surely Vicki wouldn’t have subsequently flashed them angry looks like this:
It isn’t so much that Vicki Winters doesn’t like Sam Evans; it’s that Alexandra Moltke absolutely can’t stand Mark Allen, and it shows as her right eyebrow dips with an angry furrow:
She’ll have a lot more to dislike about Mark Allen before this half hour is up. Meanwhile, when the scene shifts to Burke’s room, Lela is beside herself with Mark Allen’s improvement in the role of Sam Evans.
Lela: He almost got through the whole scene without missing a line. Only one missed line, goddammit! Your improvement is only temporary, Mr. Allen. I’m sick and tired!… Improving when I’m trying to sabotage him off the show. I’ll sabotage him if it kills me.
The boom mic picks up Mark Allen, still in the nearby restaurant set and talking quietly to himself in reply to Lela’s ranting through the control room microphone:
Mark Allen: No, Lela, you won’t sabotage me. You won’t do that at all. I’ll show you. I think I’ll go to Alexandra’s dressing room, to jerk off. I like Alexandra. She’s real sexy. It ought to be real nice.
Lela doesn’t hear this because, simultaneously, she is grumbling about Mark Allen’s continued improvement despite her best efforts to impede his progress. She also doesn’t hear what comes next, what the boom mic is picking up from elsewhere in the studio, the two voices in one of the dressing rooms. She doesn’t hear it because she wasn’t expecting it, and either way it’s hard to pick up without repeated listenings over extended periods of time, because of the way the sonic spectrum is being filled to capacity with the booming stage voices of Louis Edmonds and Mitch Ryan engaged in a heated argument in their respective roles as Roger Collins and Burke Devlin. But it’s there alright. The boom mic hears all; it knows all, tells all:
Mark Allen: Alexandra, I need to see you for a minute.
Alexandra Moltke: What are you doing in here? Get out of here!
MA: I want to jerk off in front of you.
AM: You fucking pervert! Put that back in your pants!
MA: I want to smell your ass, while I jerk off. Can you just bend over while I do it?
AM: You want to what? Well, I’m sorry, but ass sniffing doesn’t sound like my idea of a fun time.
MA: Oh, please, Miss Moltke, just let me finish off. I jerk off to you every night.
AM: Well that’s very flattering, Mr. Allen, but I think you ought to get out of here….
Act II begins with an exterior shot of the Evans cottage. By this time Alexandra Moltke is in the control room to report to Lela what just took place in her dressing room moments ago:
Lela: Hold on a second, Alex. I want to see how Mark Allen does in this scene. He hasn’t had any rehearsal time with Kathryn, either. I’m keeping him away from the female actors.
AM: Well I wish you’d keep him away from our dressing rooms, too!
Lela: What do you mean, Alex?
AM: I mean, he came into my dressing room and started jerking off right in front of me. He said he wanted me to bend over so he could smell my ass while he was doing it. I told him to get out, but he said he wouldn’t go until he finished off, which he did! Do I have to put up with this? I just got out of acting school, and now some guy is jerking off in my dressing room. What kind of a place is this?
Lela: Alex, I didn’t foresee that he would do something like that.
AM: Well isn’t there something that can be done to stop him? Mark Allen is a serious degenerate.
Lela: I’m going to report this to Dan.
AM: Well what good will that do? You told him about how he was rubbing up against me in rehearsal, and he still isn’t fired!
Lela: Alex, this is shocking and unacceptable. When I tell Dan what Mark Allen did, he’ll be fired for certain.
AM: Well, the sooner the better!
Lela: I’ll tell Dan to come to the control room right away. Now, you just go and prepare for your next scene. I’ll make sure Mark Allen doesn’t come near your dressing room again.
AM: He has to be fired, or I won’t be satisfied.
Lela: Don’t worry, Alex, I’ll take care of it….
By the middle of Act II, Dan Curtis is in the control room to hear what Lela has to say.
Lela: Dan, I have to tell you about the most horrendous thing that Mark Allen just did to Alexandra. He just jerked off in her dressing room, right in front of her. He told her that he wanted her to bend over so he could smell her ass while he was doing it. He even finished off right in front of her.
Dan Curtis: What are you telling me, Lela? That some guy jerked off in an actress’s dressing room? Actors don’t behave like that in a television studio.
Lela: Well this pervert just did. Now what are you going to do about it?
Dan: Well why isn’t Alexandra complaining to me about it?
Lela: Because you’re a middle-aged man, Dan.
Dan: A middle-aged man? What the hell does that have to do with anything?
Lela: She’s too embarrassed to talk about it with you. You wouldn’t even do anything when I told you about how he was rubbing up against her in rehearsal.
Dan: Well if she doesn’t complain to me, I can’t do anything about it.
Lela: Well then I will. I’ll fix him good! There’s some tea he’s supposed to drink in the next scene. I’m going to see that it’s laced with rat poison.
Dan: Don’t you dare, Lela!….
After the commercial break, Act III begins with Maggie bringing in a tray with tea and cookies. After setting the tray down on the coffee table, Kathryn Leigh Scott accidentally flips one of the spoons onto the floor. A crew member can be heard commenting off stage in a low voice, “She’s nervous.”
Mark Allen at one point looks like he comes close to drinking the tea, which the script calls for Sam Evans to do…
…but instead he says a line not in the script, “I don’t want this tea!” as he slams the cup and saucer down on the table.
Then Kathryn Leigh Scott makes as if to drink the tea, but doesn’t actually:
Then right after Mark Allen says “bed” in the line “And right now I’m going to go to bed,” a crew member off stage says in a low voice, “He heard.” Then you hear the legs of a chair scraping against the studio floor.
As the camera angle moves over the coffee table to close the scene with this view…
…Lela Swift can be heard instructing crew members over the control room microphone:
Lela: He didn’t drink the rat poison. Get rid of that tea! Flush it right down the drain! Don’t let him get ahold of it.
When the scene shifts back to Burke’s room, Dan Curtis is angry:
Dan: Lela, how dare you… try something like that in my television studio.
Lela: Well you wouldn’t do anything about one of your actors jerking off in an actress’s dressing room.
Dan: If the actress doesn’t complain to me, I can’t do anything about it. You just wait till the end credits. I’m going to read you the riot act.
Following Act IV, as the exterior image of Collinwood is shown to lead into the tag for the episode, which takes place in the Collinwood foyer, Lela has this to say to Dan Curtis:
Lela: I’m sick and tired of that pervert you hired! I only hope Alexandra hasn’t been traumatized. She was barely there in that scene in Burke’s room.
Indeed, she hardly was. The proof is in the images below. She looks lost, upset, her mind clearly elsewhere.
Dan: Okay, pay attention, Lela. I’m only going to say this once. If you ever try something like that in my television studio, I swear to god, Lela, I’ll turn you over to the authorities and have you put behind bars. Rat poison is a serious crime.
Lela: No one drank the rat poison, Dan.
Dan: No one drank it because you were talking about it over the control room microphone. But what if Kathryn had slipped up and drank it? Then we’d both be behind bars. Now you made me an accessory after the fact, and I’m really pissed off about that. Now I’m going to keep you in line, Lela. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to do it. Now don’t do something like that again, or I’ll send you right to prison. You understand me, Lela?
Lela: Yes, Dan. I understand….
Will cast members complain about Lela Swift putting rat poison in an actor’s tea? Will they refuse to drink tea or any other beverage on the show altogether? Will Mark Allen finally complain about the missing button on his shirt? Will cast members finally complain directly to Dan Curtis about Mark Allen? For the answers to these questions and many others, tune in to the concluding episode of… The Perils of Mark Allen.
Sam Evans seats himself at Vicki Winters’ table in the restaurant at Collinsport Inn.
“Not a ghost, Burke…”
“Forget about the business deal!”
Sam gets a call from Mr. Wells at Collinsport Inn.
Maggie is caught in a lie over having Mr. Wells call to check up on Sam.
“Maggie I told you I wasn’t going to run away, now didn’t I?”
“Burke, you’re a liar.”
“You’re out of your mind!”
Roger calls for Vicki to come up to Burke’s room.
Burke walks right into an admission of having been seen in the garage at Collinwood with a wrench in his hand.
Roger: Five dollars to that hotel clerk and you can buy any information you want. I know.
Vicki: It’s not exactly pleasant to hear about people jumping off cliffs.
Sam: I had left the hotel and I was on my way home, and then I glanced back. And I saw Roger Collins and you enter that door. That’s a bad habit of mine, glancing back. Once should always look ahead, don’t you think?
Vicki: It can’t always be done.
Sam: True. The past can sometimes be a mockery to the future.
Roger: Not a ghost, Burke. Very much alive. May I come in?
Burke: Oh yes. Of course. What the devil happened to you?
Roger: I hope you didn’t wait too long for me at the bar.
Burke: What happened?
Roger: Oh, a slight accident, that’s all.
Burke: Slight accident? It looks like you ran into a windmill.
Roger: I survived. That’s what counts.
Roger: What about that business deal?
Burke: What business deal?
Roger: What happened to that smile, Burke? I thought you and I were going to be friends again. Let bygones be bygones, isn’t that what you said?
Burke: Roger, it’s after midnight. You didn’t come up here to discuss a business deal that could very well wait until morning.
Roger: Oh, but I’m interested. Let’s have that drink. Then you tell me all about it.
Maggie: Pop, I just want it to end.
Sam: You may get your wish, Maggie. You may get your wish… tonight.
Maggie: Let’s face it. That family can afford to buy a new car.
Maggie: I’m beginning to hate that place.
Sam: Now, why should you hate Collinwood? It’s just a nice respectable house filled with nice respectable… horrors.
In the teaser, more of the location footage from the Griswold Inn in Essex, Connecticut, is used to represent the exterior of Collinsport Inn, which was part of the footage filmed on Saturday, June 11, 1966, two days before the taping of the first episode. In this footage, as Roger and Vicki pull up alongside the inn, Roger does not have the prominent white bandage above his right eye, just his left arm in a sling. Not necessarily a blooper; it could just mean that the idea for a bandage on the forehead came later, for more effect.
In episodes 3 and 15, Roger was seen driving a Ford Shelby Mustang G (the car was also brought into the television studio in episode 13 for the set made to represent the Collinwood garage). In this episode, for a replacement, Roger drives a second car from the Collinwood garage, a Plymouth Fury.
The town’s newspaper is The Collinsport Star, a weekly which made its first appearance in the Collinsport Inn restaurant in episode 7 as brought in by Maggie for Burke to read. In this episode, the name of the paper is shown for the first time in Burke’s room.
The opening of Act III has a location shot from near the waterfront of Essex, Connecticut, showing the house used to represent the exterior of the Evans cottage. While the exterior shot is onscreen, there is also the sound effect of crickets chirping.
In this episode Sam Evans takes a phone call from Mr. Wells, the desk clerk at the Collinsport Inn. Mr. Wells is mentioned in this episode, but not shown. Conrad Bain plays the part of Mr. Wells, having appeared in episodes 1 and 11. His next appearance will be in episode 61.
This is the fifth episode to feature Maggie Evans, but the first where Kathryn Leigh Scott plays the role without the blonde wig.
Daily studio schedule for Dark Shadows in 1966
7:00-11:00 a.m. Lighting
8:30-10:30 Morning Rehearsal
11:00-12:00 Engineering Set-Up
11:30-2:00 Camera Blocking & Run Through
2:00-2:30 Dress Rehearsal
2:30-3:00 Test Pattern
3:00-3:30 Episode Taping
3:45-4:15 Technical Meeting
4:00-6:30 Dry Rehearsal for Next Episode
4:00-7:00 Reset Studio
In the location footage for the Collinsport Inn during the teaser, the Plymouth Fury that Roger parks outside the inn has a New York state license plate under the rear bumper.
The opening location footage shows Vicki and Roger entering the hotel through a door meant to represent the door to the restaurant. In episode 11, this same door was shown in location footage of Sam Evans entering the hotel into the lobby.
In the scene at the restaurant with Sam Evans and Vicki Winters, there is an error in the script about when Sam had last spoken to her. Sam says: “…lest something I might have said the other day would have made you upset.” Though it is technically after midnight in this episode, Sam had met Vicki on Widow’s Hill during the day (in episode 5).
In Act I, while Sam questions Vicki about where Roger Collins is, a camera can be seen roaming around several times. Behind the counter of the Collinsport Inn restaurant there is a mirror, and the camera’s movements can be seen in the reflection. Lights from this moving camera can be seen below behind the right side of Sam Evans’ head.
The Collinsport Fly is pulling double duty in this episode. Upstairs in Burke’s room, it is whizzing around the front of Roger’s head as he sits down to talk with Burke. Earlier in Act I it was downstairs in the restaurant, and can be seen below along the top left corner of the napkin in the napkin holder, after having legged it across from the top right corner.
Mark Allen slips on the final line of his scene with Alexandra Moltke: “He went up to see Roger Coll – he went up to see Burke Devlin, didn’t he?”
Just before Mark Allen’s flubbed line, one of the cameramen can be heard speaking to a fellow crew member: “What shot number?”
While Sam Evans takes a phone call from Mr. Wells at the Collinsport Inn, the shadow of a boom mic crosses over the face of the actor.
During the scene where Roger calls Vicki up to Burke’s room, the camera angle picks up a studio light atop the corner of the back wall (over the back of Burke’s head).
When the set for Burke’s room at Collinsport Inn was first shown in episode 10, the door opened outward into the hallway. Now it is shown opening inward. It still doesn’t have a room number.
The green Victorian oil lamp, last seen in David’s room at Collinwood, is back in the Evans cottage.
While Sam is searching his studio for a sketch board, he comes across a drawing he did of Collinwood. In a couple of later episodes, the same drawing will be seen at Collinwood and presented as one that was done by David (episodes 46 and 48).
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
While waiting in the restaurant to be called up to Burke’s room, Vicki sits at one of the tables with a cup of coffee.
Burke asks Roger if he wants to join him in a drink…
…but Roger winds up using one of the glasses to practice his tennis backhand.
At the Evans cottage, Maggie brings in a tray of tea and cookies…
…Sam eats one of the cookies… but neither actually drink any of the tea.
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 21: The Road Not Taken
— Marc Masse
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