How can Jonas Carter cut the mustard as the sheriff of Collinsport, when he doesn’t even like mustard on ham?
Over the last few episodes, Collinsport’s leading law enforcement figure has been undergoing a gradual identity makeover. The character of Jonas Carter was first mentioned in episode 21 as the constable, and again in episode 22. Carter made his first appearance in episode 23, again as the constable. But in episode 24, he wore a patch on his uniform that said sheriff, though everyone still referred to him as the constable. Then in episode 25 people started referring to him as the sheriff, and here in episode 26 he even refers to himself as the sheriff. Only the end credits remain to be changed, which still have him listed as Constable Jonas Carter.
Jonas Carter starts out as a constable because that’s how the character was first described by Art Wallace in his outline that became the series bible, Shadows on the Wall. Maybe it was decided that the office of sheriff would be more familiar to U.S. viewers than constable.
There’s a scene in an episode from the fourth season of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone called “Mute” in which a visiting German couple (Karl Werner and Frau Werner played by Oscar Beregi Jr. and Éva Szörényi) arrive in a Pennsylvania town looking for the police department. When they step off the bus, they see a man in front of a building near the bus stop, so Karl Werner asks the man for directions.
“The man” (played by William Challee) conjures an archetypal image of Americana, the old-timer seated on the front porch of the general store whittling on a piece of wood, a sarcastic sage who sits there spitting out common sense like tobacco juice.
Karl Werner: Please, uh, where could we find, authority?
Man [chuckles]: Authority? [laughs]
Karl Werner: Yes, uh, how do you say it, uh, the constable? The…
Karl Werner: Oh yes, yes! The sheriff.
Man: Turn around.
Karl Werner: Bitte (German for “please”)?
Man: Turn around.
[Couple turns around to look across the street]
Man: That building.
Karl Werner: Oh. Danke! [tips hat] Uh, thank you.
As the couple make their way across the street, the man looks after them and has a good derisive laugh over the mention of constable.
But if that were true, why the sudden change several weeks into the series when they had months in advance to think such things through? Introducing Jonas Carter as the constable one week and then referring to him as the sheriff the next week is a bit like saying the name Julius Hoffman on the air one week and then introducing the character of Julia Hoffman the next. Why make the change so obvious and blooper generatingly gradual?
The answer for this change may lie in the scripted dialogue for episode 26, where Roger storms into the sheriff’s office demanding answers for why the sheriff didn’t arrest Burke Devlin for attempted murder in regard to the missing brake valve that caused Roger’s car to go off the road.
Roger takes a seat and delivers a stern lecture about the history and influence of the Collins family in the town they built and essentially run: “When we elect a man for sheriff, we expect him to be able to do a little more than fix traffic lights.” And: “Now don’t sit back there and tell me about evidence. Find some way to get Devlin behind bars or… the next time you’re up for re-election, the town may think that you’ve been around long enough to deserve a rest.”
And that’s the crucial difference between a sheriff and a constable. A sheriff is elected, a constable is appointed. With an appointed official, Roger wouldn’t be able to remind a constable of the influence the Collins family might hold in an election – which Roger uses to his advantage in pressuring the sheriff to generate a search warrant to go through Burke Devlin’s room and which will prove to be a significant power play in the story of the missing brake valve. So in order to do this, they had to make the constable a sheriff instead.
This is where the mustard comes in. Carter interrupts Roger’s tirade to get on the phone to his deputy to order out for a sandwich. While Roger sits there fuming, the sheriff returns with his bag of takeout.
Roger: I always thought you were pretty good at your job, Mr. Carter.
Carter: Well, I, I do my best.
Roger: But you took no action against Burke Devlin!
Carter: Well, sometimes a man has to use his own judgment. [unwraps his sandwich] I forget to tell ‘em no mustard. Oh well.
Roger: Do you think you can forget your stomach for one minute?
The sheriff ordered a ham on rye, but he wanted it without mustard. Numerous ham on rye sandwiches were eaten in the making of this blog post. You’ve heard of method acting? Well this is method eating. Ham on rye is good without mustard, but better with. Mustard is what makes a ham on rye, just like ketchup is what makes a French fry.
The mustard here is used for light comic relief, a refuge of pride for the sheriff to keep him from withering under the considerably influential weight of the Collins family name when Roger attempts to question his integrity.
Carter: Mr. Collins, I think you ought to calm down.
Roger: A man tries to kill me, you let him walk the streets, and then you tell me to calm down. What do you want him to do, try again? I might not be as lucky the next time.
Carter: If we picked him up now on what we’ve got, he’d be out back on the street in an hour. Take my word for it.
Roger: I don’t believe that.
Carter: Alright, what have we got? Somebody removed the bleeder valve from the master brake cylinder on your car. The car wouldn’t stop and you ran off the road, right?
Roger: Not somebody, Burke Devlin.
Carter: Well let’s look into that. Ten years ago he made threats against your life. Ten years later, your son’s tutor saw him standing by your car with a wrench in his hand. Now that’s not very much, Mr. Collins.
Roger: Especially since Burke has become very successful.
Carter [takes a sip of coffee, then looks at his sandwich]: You know something? I never liked mustard on ham.
Speaking of mustard, just look at how Roger regards the sheriff as he speaks of the influence of the Collins family name in relation to the town that elected him, how Roger widens his eyes to emphasize his point – it’s clear that in hiding behind the grandeur of the family name, Roger certainly does relish his role.
So this is the most likely reason that Dark Shadows gained a sheriff and shed a constable.
One other mystery that remains to be solved is where exactly did Dark Shadows get its food? The coffee cup the sheriff brings into his office may hold the answer. There are printed words on the container, but which Michael Currie’s fingers are mostly blocking when the camera is in for a close-up.
It looks as if the word “You” is visible, and the letters at the bottom are “ace” for “Place.” The word in the middle might be “Coffee.”
The something “You Coffee Place?…”
As Sheriff Carter is stepping out of his office, the coffee cup is on the sheriff’s desk and the lettering on the side that was covered up is visible – but in all instances the lettering cannot be clearly made out because of the continual movement of the camera angle, which renders the view of the lettering constantly blurry. On the top row it seems to say “Ka-Boom” something or other.
Dark Shadows, with its limited budget for daytime programming, had no choice but to do things on the cheap. They had a contract for clothing with Ohrbach’s department store, a mid-level and affordable source for dressing the cast, but they had no in-studio catering – otherwise there would have been a listing in the end credits. Instead, the food that’s frequently eaten on the show – the hamburgers at the Collinsport restaurant, the sandwich the sheriff brings into his office – all come from the same source: a greasy spoon around the corner from the television studio, an inexpensive diner with a standard coffee house menu.
The few times in episode 26 the sheriff’s takeout coffee container is visible when it isn’t being handled Dan Curtis can be heard to instruct for the cameras to keep off the container, because he doesn’t want for people to know where they get the food for the show. But another crew member assures him that it can’t be seen, and he was right – the movement of the cameras throughout the scenes made sure of that.
This diner, whatever it was called, no doubt no longer exists; but believe it or not, without this nearby coffee shop Dark Shadows may never have gotten one of its greatest all-time character actors, Thayer David.
Recall how in episode 13 George Mitchell struggled with the egg whites Matthew Morgan was supposed to be eating while Vicki Winters was visiting at his cottage. The egg whites came from that same greasy spoon near the studio. They made Mitchell gag as he attempted to chew them, and he could barely get the few forkfuls down without spitting some of it back out, more than once.
This disgusted director Lela Swift, so much so that she verbally tormented him all through his scenes in episode 16 so that he became so nervous as to not be able to perform to his full capacity, effectively sabotaging him off the show.
All because of those egg whites from that greasy spoon where Dark Shadows got the food used on the show. Enter Thayer David (as of episode 38), after being forced to break contract with George Mitchell.
From greasy spoon egg whites to Count Petofi – this is why you can never remake Dark Shadows.
With a remake, everything is calculated from beginning to end. What Dark Shadows was, what it became, could only happen once. Going from egg whites in a greasy spoon to Count Petofi is not something that can be planned – it is something that just happens.
You can plan things like light humor involving mustard; but magic is something that happens only by chance.
The Dan and Lela Show is a behind the scenes audio drama which takes place in the Dark Shadows television studio, chronicling the continuing misadventures of Lela Swift as documented by the control room microphone along with executive producer Dan Curtis’ futile attempts to control these verbal outbursts.
As the taping for the initial scene of episode 26 gets underway, Lela is struggling with the same issues that plagued her all through the taping of episode 25.
Lela Swift: Dan, I can’t control myself. Alexandra is so sexy!
Dan Curtis: Oh, Jesus, Lela, not again. I told you, Alexandra likes men. She doesn’t want to hear a middle-aged woman ogling her through the microphone of a control room.
Lela: But that thing Mark Allen did, it triggered something in me.
This discussion is going on as David Henesy enters the Collinwood hallway set, having emerged from the locked area of the house and holding Miss Winters’ letter.
Dan: Well we have a nine-year-old boy in the studio. You want to trigger something in him? You might harm him talking like that. He can’t deal with these ideas you’re throwing around.
Over the waves intro with the theme music playing, Lela tries to justify herself:
Lela: Dan, this is just something I have to do. I need to express myself. Is it wrong to have a sex drive?
Further on, following a scene with Roger Collins and Sheriff Carter in the sheriff’s office, there is an interval with no dialogue as Elizabeth Stoddard enters the Collinwood foyer, in the moments before David comes tearing down the stairs to flee from the house. From the nearby set for the sheriff’s office, you can hear Michael Currie consulting with Louis Edmonds on director Lela Swift’s behavior.
Michael Currie: Sounds like Lela’s really gone off the deep end.
Louis Edmonds: Really?
Currie: Did you hear the way she was ogling Alexandra Moltke, over the control room microphone?
Edmonds: Yes, I hear it all the time.
Then there’s the moment in the sheriff’s office where Sheriff Carter enters with the search warrant that Roger pressured him into drawing up:
Lela: Dan, I need to express myself.
Dan: While you’ve been expressing yourself, Alexandra’s made a complaint about you.
Lela: Alexandra complained about me?
Curtis then proceeds to warn Lela, but what exactly is said is hard to make out as the dialogue between Roger and the sheriff gets heated and the sheriff starts raising his voice. It’s when the sheriff steps toward the water cooler for a drink that Dan Curtis can be heard telling Lela: “I don’t want you to drive away any more actors.”
Over the end credits, Dan lays down the law:
Dan: Alright, listen up, Lela. I’m putting you on probation. One more complaint from Alexandra, I’m moving you to associate director and John Sedwick will direct Dark Shadows. This is the last time I’m going to warn you.
Until next time, this has been The Dan and Lela Show.
Vicki shows David what she found in his room.
David tries to get the valve back from Vicki before she can lock it away.
“Now you get out of here!”
“I want that valve!”
David hurries on his way out of the house.
“I was wondering where you’d gone to.”
Roger is angry that Burke Devlin wasn’t charged with attempted murder.
While Roger complains about how the sheriff is doing his job, the sheriff complains about the mustard that came with the sandwich he ordered.
“A man tries to kill me, you let him walk the streets, and then you tell me to calm down.”
“You know something? I never liked mustard on ham.”
“Well don’t forget, this is not a lost dog you’re after.”
Sheriff Carter: Hello, Mr. Collins. I’ve been waiting for you.
Roger Collins: Are you clairvoyant, Carter?
Carter: No. I just figured that after I told you I hadn’t made any arrest yet, you’d come storming in here.
Sheriff Carter: Mr. Collins, I think you ought to calm down.
Roger Collins: A man tries to kill me, you let him walk the streets, and then you tell me to calm down.
Sheriff Carter: You know something? I never liked mustard on ham.
Roger Collins: Now don’t sit back there and tell me about evidence. Find some way to get Devlin behind bars or… the next time you’re up for re-election, the town may think that you’ve been around long enough to deserve a rest.
Sheriff Carter: There. That didn’t take long, did it?
Roger Collins: Long enough.
Carter: You’re never satisfied, are you? Here I agree to search Devlin’s room for a valve that can’t possibly be there, I get a search warrant in record time, and you’re still unhappy.
Roger: How soon are you going over?
Carter: Oh, a couple of minutes! Soon as I finish this stale sandwich. My advice to you is to go on back to your office. If I need you, I’ll get in touch with you.
Roger: I trust you intend to go through the place very thoroughly.
Carter: Just as if tomorrow was election day.
In this episode, Sheriff Carter interacts by telephone with two characters which are mentioned but who never appear on the show. He has his deputy Harry order out for a sandwich and coffee and later asks about whether he’s heard back from the New York police department about Burke Devlin. While Roger Collins is in the sheriff’s office, Carter takes a call from a Mrs. Turner who reports that her missing dog has returned home.
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
Episode 26 marks the debut of the sheriff’s office, a set that would be in use in various incarnations through 1970.
When Sheriff Carter gets on the phone with his deputy to see if the New York police department has called back yet about Burke Devlin, Carter mispronounces Devlin’s name: “…The one on Burke Devin, Devlin, what do you think I’m talking about?”
Despite that Carter wears a sheriff’s patch on his uniform beginning with episode 24 and is referred to in conversation as “the sheriff” from episode 25 on, the end credits still has the title of constable listed.
Dark Shadows has always been a world unto itself, where events and people from the times in which the show was made are never mentioned. But in episode 26 the real world intrudes in the form of a profile picture of then President Lyndon Johnson, which can be seen tucked away just inside the door to the sheriff’s office. The president’s daughter, Lucie, would be getting married the following weekend (Saturday, August 6), and ABC provided live television coverage for the event, so the appearance of the president’s photo is likely a bit of promotion on the part of the network to remind viewers to tune in. The photo can also be seen, in the same location of the set for the sheriff’s office, in episode 28.
While David is still trying to force his way into Vicki’s room after she has locked him out, a detailed glimpse is given of the Petofi box on the hallway table.
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
Sheriff Carter orders out for a ham on rye with a container of coffee. He forgot to tell them to hold the mustard.
As Roger Collins lingers in Sheriff Carter’s office, the sheriff drinks a cup of water from the cooler.
On the Flipside:
Over the end credits, ABC announcer Bob Lloyd provides the following voiceover: “A closely guarded secret. A shattering truth is finally revealed on tonight’s dramatic episode of Peyton Place, on ABC.”
Peyton Place, television’s first nighttime soap, debuted in 1964. By 1966, it was being shown three times a week (Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9:30 to 10:00).
The broadcast date for Dark Shadows episode 26, Monday, August 1, 1966, was for Peyton Place season 2, episode 137 (episode 251 overall).
There is one other Dark Shadows crossover with Peyton Place. John Lasell, who played Dr. Peter Guthrie on Dark Shadows from episodes 160 to 185 in 1967 during the Phoenix story, appeared in a 1965 episode of Peyton Place (uncredited, as “Mr. McVeigh”; season 1, episode 49; broadcast date: March 4, 1965) as an attorney…
…who was brought in to represent Betty Anderson for her marriage annulment hearing…
…during which it is revealed that Betty didn’t even know Rodney Harrington’s middle name.
Joan Bennett’s 1970 autobiography (original front and back covers).
The Bennetts: An Acting Family, the 2004 biography (front cover).
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 27: A Lesson in Finance
— Marc Masse
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