“…when it comes to that family, nobody’s just curious.”
David Collins has run away from home. At least that’s how it appears to his aunt Elizabeth, after governess Victoria Winters came to her with an unbelievable story about finding in David’s room the missing brake valve that caused Roger’s car to go off the road. Vicki managed to lock the valve away in her dresser after a frantic struggle with David once she’d confronted him with the missing object. But when Vicki took Mrs. Stoddard up to her room to unlock the drawer to show her, the valve was gone and so was David. Though he’d only been out of the house for three quarters of an hour, Elizabeth placed an urgent call to her brother at work, imploring Roger to try and find his son given the agitated state that David had been in when he ran out.
So where does a nine-year-old boy in the town of Collinsport go when he’s run away from home? How about the lobby of the hotel right on Main Street.
That’s where the waitress of the hotel restaurant, Maggie Evans, finds him that afternoon.
Later on, she’ll mention this to Burke Devlin when he stops in for a bite to eat. While in Bangor on a business meeting with his financial services associate Stuart Bronson, Devlin learned while phoning the Collinsport Inn to check his mail that his room had two unexpected visitors while he was away: first the sheriff and then a little boy who got caught trying to sneak in.
Burke: Are you sure it was David Collins?
Maggie: Look, I had him in here with me for fifteen minutes before he disappeared. Of course that’s who it was.
Burke: Yeah. When they told me a kid had sneaked into my room, I never dreamed… Did they know what he was looking for?
Maggie [laughs]: Oh, you know kids. The chambermaid left the door open, and he decided to look around. Just curious, I guess.
Burke: Maggie, when it comes to that family, nobody’s just curious. Not where I’m concerned.
David isn’t the only one who’s curious. Just before Burke walked into the restaurant, Maggie had been having a chat with Roger Collins. While keeping David in the restaurant under the pretext of whipping up a free sundae for him, Maggie ducked away to the phone booth to call Mr. Collins and inform him where his son could be found. David managed to slip away just as Roger was stepping into the lobby of the inn, but while Mr. Collins was there Maggie took the opportunity to clear up questions she’d been harboring about her own father’s involvement with Burke Devlin.
Maggie: Did you know that David tried to get into Burke Devlin’s room?
Maggie: Well, I asked him why. He said he was just curious.
Roger: Curious about what?
Maggie: He didn’t say.
Roger: Well… Maggie, if you do see David, the minute you see him, get ahold of him and call me.
Maggie: Mr. Collins, I’m curious about something, too. My father.
Roger: What about your father?
Maggie: Well I wanted to talk to you about it ever since, uh… He’s been very upset lately. And I’m worried about him.
Roger: Upset about what?
Maggie: I don’t know, but I thought maybe you could tell me.
Roger: Why me?
Maggie: Well I’m not sure, but… Well ever since that night that Burke came back to town and you came in here looking for Pop, well he’s been frightened. I want to know why.
Roger: Well, how should I know?
Maggie: Because I’m sure it has something to do with you and Burke. I mean, even when Burke came to the house, Pop was so jittery I couldn’t even –
Roger: Burke… came to see your father?
Maggie: Well yes, a couple of times.
Roger: Were you there?
Roger: What did they talk about?
Maggie: Well I don’t know. Pop was just acting so strangely.
Roger: Did they talk about me?
Maggie: Then he is involved.
Roger: Well he’s involved in nothing.
Maggie: Well then why are you so worried about their conversation?
Roger: Oh, I’m not worried, Maggie. I’m just curious, like you are.
Curious seems to be the operative word guiding this episode. Sheriff Carter uses the word more than once, only in a different context, in his office when Roger shows up to find out what he learned in the search of Burke Devlin’s rooms. Burke had come storming into the sheriff’s office earlier, outraged that the sheriff would even consider searching his rooms at the hotel and asserting with fierce indignation that he had no right to do it. To Sheriff Carter, Burke Devlin was starting to sound more and more like a man with a guilty conscience. The sheriff is even more puzzled by Roger’s reaction.
Roger: He should be behind bars, not walking the streets, talking to people, digging up…
Sheriff Carter: Digging up what?
Roger: I just think that when a man tries to commit a murder something ought to be done to him.
Carter: Something will… You know, it’s a curious thing about this whole affair. It has to do with something more than just a car going off the road.
Roger: I don’t know what you mean.
Carter: Well, you talked about Burke digging up something.
Roger: Oh, well, that’s just a phrase.
Carter: I know. But it reminded me of something I asked Burke not too long ago. I said, What do you have to hide? Tell me, is there something you don’t want him to dig up?
Roger: Carter, I did not tamper with the brakes on my own car. I merely came here to find out if you’ve learned anything more. Anything at all that would help you make an arrest.
Carter: Well, I did get a report from New York.
Roger: About Burke?
Carter: Um hm. Seems he’s clean. Runs an investment company. Buys into outfits and then sells them at a profit. All very legal except for one curious thing my friend dug up.
Roger: Oh, what’s that?
Carter: Well it seems that Devlin hired a private detective to come up here two weeks before he arrived. From what I can find out, the detective’s job was to dig up information about you and your family. So that same question I asked Burke, I hope you can answer. Do you have anything to hide?
Burke Devlin also finds it curious how upset Roger was when he left the restaurant, just after Maggie had told him about Burke having stopped in at the Evans cottage to see her father. Then he gets Maggie to sit down with him for a few minutes so he can ask a few questions about it. Maggie reveals that on the night Burke had returned to Collinsport, Roger had been anxious to find her father. Through this conversation, Burke learns that Roger and Sam hadn’t been seen with each other for the past ten years, not since the time of Burke’s trial. He doesn’t know exactly what that means, not yet.
But at least now he has something to go on, to possibly solve the mystery behind his manslaughter conviction – all because of the actions of a nine-year-old boy. If David hadn’t run off into town, Roger wouldn’t have shown up at the hotel restaurant looking for him; and Maggie wouldn’t have had the opportunity to question Mr. Collins about his father’s erratic moods in connection with Burke Devlin, timed exquisitely so that Burke himself could walk in to catch Roger in a troubled moment, and then form a possible connection to past events.
All because of the actions of a nine-year-old boy.
Just think of how ingenious a plot device that is. A dilemma connecting three men over a period of ten years, and the catalyst for the possibility of breaking the mystery wide open is put in place by a little boy who hadn’t even been born when the events tying these men together had occurred.
That’s what story creator Art Wallace brings to the art of characterization in this episode of Dark Shadows.
Now let’s look into what the ABC-TV Department of Broadcast Standards and Practices took away from Dark Shadows in this episode.
As noted above, when Maggie Evans brings David into the Collinsport Inn restaurant after finding him hanging around in the lobby, she devises a strategy to keep him there until his father can arrive to take him home by offering a free sundae. The original script for this episode called for David to have a Coke. But the Department of Broadcast Standards and Practices wouldn’t allow it, so it was changed to a sundae.
You can tell the script originally called for a soda, because while Maggie is preparing the sundae David says, “Maybe I can work the fountain sometime.” He says it like that’s what she’s doing, working the fountain to pour him a glass of soda. But instead she’s scooping ice cream into a dish, spooning chocolate syrup onto the ice cream, sprinkling nuts over it, and finally topping it off with whipped cream from a can. The fountain reference is left over from the Coke that as it turned out wasn’t allowed to be mentioned.
Before a week of Dark Shadows scripts could go into production, they first had to be reviewed by Standards and Practices. Besides profanity, the mention of brand-name products was not allowed on the air, which was termed as a gratuitous plug. It was seen as unethical to give a free plug for a product when the sponsors who supported a program were paying money to the network to advertise their products during the commercial breaks.
This is unlike what would eventually be presented in later incarnations of Dark Shadows. For instance, there’s the 2015 Big Finish audio drama Bloodlust. In episode 3, at Rhonda Tate’s house daughter Jackie calls to her, “Mom, we’re out of Lucky Charms!”
Some Dark Shadows fans may find it endearing to know that characters on the show eat the same brand-name cereal as they do, or at least something familiar. In this way, the characters may seem closer to home.
Even more significant, when episodes of the original TV series were being produced, fountain Coke was an essential part of the everyday lunch counter experience.
(Drug store lunch counter from northern New Jersey, early 1950s)
I was born in 1966 and can remember diners and drug store counters with their soda fountains, a culture that persisted well into the 1970s. There was nothing like the taste of fountain Coke, more sweet and pure than anything canned or bottled, in the days before the beverage was corrupted by GMOs and other insidious chemicals.
(Drug store lunch counter with a Coke dispenser attached to the syrup rail, photo courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society)
So you can see why it would have been scripted for David Collins on Dark Shadows to have a Coke in the diner. You can work up quite a thirst running away from home. It’s not the sort of thing you’d celebrate with a big-dish sundae, let alone two.
Delicious and refreshing. It’s the real thing. Coke adds life.
Even if you’re running away from the fact that you’ve been trying to add death.
Today’s edition of The Dan and Lela Show, the in-studio audio drama that plays mainly through the control room microphone, starring executive producer Dan Curtis and director Lela Swift, is mostly about Dan complaining about things continually going wrong during the taping of episode 28.
It kicks off on a surly note right from the top of the teaser, which takes place on the set for the sheriff’s office.
The Saturday following this week of episodes, ABC would be providing live coverage of the wedding of Luci Johnson, daughter of then president of the United States Lyndon Johnson, so Dark Shadows scenic designer Sy Tomashoff has added a photo of the president to the sheriff’s office set beginning with episode 26. It isn’t in an obvious location, but further back on the wall to the left of the door to the sheriff’s office; still, when camera blocking is framing a scene for a character two-shot, the presidential photo does tend to sit in the top center of frame. This annoys Curtis, who can’t stand the sight of it:
Dan Curtis: Jesus Christ, I hate that fucking photo! Every time we’re on it, it catches every one of our lights. I’m going to have a word with Sy Tomashoff about it. He can’t put one of his topical political photos on my program. I’m going to make sure we keep the camera off it…
Over the waves intro it’s the director’s turn to complain:
Lela Swift: Dan, I don’t like this Michael Currie. I want him off Dark Shadows right this minute! Did you hear what he said about me in episode 26?
But Dan has more important things on his mind, like getting his camera man to omit the president Johnson photo whenever possible.
So in Act I when you see the camera pulling back for a character two-shot and then suddenly moving left…
…that’s why. Dan can be heard issuing the command from the control room:
Dan: Jesus Christ! Now back off! Back off that photo!… [sarcastically] We need to remind everybody Lyndon Johnson’s president. Who cares about Lyndon Johnson?
Dan’s complaints about the Johnson photo continue on even as the scene shifts to the set for the Collinsport Inn restaurant:
Dan: Lyndon Johnson is not a part of Dark Shadows!
Lela: Dan, the network wants to promote Luci Johnson’s wedding coverage.
Dan: I hate that photo! It picks up all the light reflections.
The diner set soon gives more for Dan to complain about, when Maggie is seen stepping away from the counter to make a phone call to Roger Collins:
Dan: Another thing that bugs the shit out of me about set design, the phone booth is always in a different location.
Before that, though, as Dan observes Maggie making the sundae for David, he complains about the network’s Department of Standards and Practices having forced a change to the episode script:
Dan: Jesus Christ, the ice cream’s already melting! He was supposed to have a Coke, but the network Standards and Practices wouldn’t let us do it… That’s the flattest looking sundae ever!
In the next restaurant scene, Dan spots Louis Edmonds just outside one of the doors to the set well in advance of his scheduled entrance:
Dan: What the hell is Louis Edmonds doing right outside the door of the diner set? He’s not making his entrance yet… He’s doing jumping jacks, get him off camera!… One thing after another with this episode…
Dan: Look at the friggin’ ice cream, it’s like milk now!
Dan: For Christ’s sake, what a screwed up episode!
Lela: Dan, don’t worry. No one will ever see this again.
Dan: Well I do worry. I want this show to be perfect. I want to do something groundbreaking. This show has to be perfect. And it’s not going to be perfect with everything going wrong all the time.
In the final scene, it’s Lela’s turn to be groundbreaking, or at least rulebreaking, when Burke tells Maggie not to worry and Maggie responds by saying, “Me? I never worry”:
Lela: Kathryn Leigh Scott is so sexy! When she said “Me, I never worry,” I almost dug my ass out on that one. God! I just wanted to do what Mark Allen was talking about.
Dan: Lela, will you please stop ogling Kathryn Leigh Scott! We have a nine-year-old boy in the studio.
As the closing music cue picks up, and the scene concludes, Kathryn Leigh Scott can be heard just offstage reacting to Lela’s comments with exclamatory indignation:
KLS: What did that Lela just say, about my ass?!
Over the end credits, two separate male voices can be heard simultaneously. The first is a crew member, possibly associate director John Sedwick, laughing and then commenting to another crew member:
Crew member: Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha-ha! Lela’s gone too far… Lela’s gone too far this time. Kathryn Leigh Scott’s pissed off alright. She’s walked right off the show… Hopefully we can get her back… Imagine that Lela, talking like that?
The other male voice is not at all amused, and is reprimanding Lela directly:
Dan: Lela, I have told you about ogling the female actors over the control room microphone. I think it’s time I gave you a break.
Lela: What do you mean, give me a break?
Dan: I’m going to bring John Sedwick in to direct a few episodes.
Lela: You can’t replace me. I direct Dark Shadows!
Dan: Fine. If you want to direct, you’ve got to learn to behave yourself. Take a few days to think about it…
Until next time, this has been The Dan and Lela Show.
“You searched my room. You have no right to do that!”
“I’m investigating a crime here, and don’t you forget it. I don’t need a lesson in rights from you or anybody else.”
“I had a lot of time to make a pretty thorough search, Burke. You know, you’ve got some nice clothes up there. Where’d you buy ‘em?”
“You know, you’re lucky you weren’t picked up for vagrancy.”
“I wish all my customers were like you.”
“Oh, Mr. Collins!… I kept him here as long as I could…”
Maggie is curious about her father’s uneasy state of mind in connection with Burke Devlin’s arrival in Collinsport.
“Oh, I’m not worried, Maggie. I’m just curious, like you are.”
“What do you think of that, Roger? I’m going to be preserved in oils.”
“Oh… I’m not breaking up the great romance, am I?”
Burke fumes over Roger’s vow to send him back to prison.
“He should be behind bars, not walking the streets, talking to people, digging up…”
“Digging up what?”
Burke begins to make the connection between Roger Collins, Sam Evans, and ten years ago.
Carter: I asked you a question, Burke. What do you have to hide?
Burke: Not a thing.
Carter: Then why are you so all fired up about my searching your room?
Burke: Because you had no right to do it without a search –
Carter: Without a search warrant? But I had one, Burke. Right here in this mess on my desk if I can find it. Here. Wanna see it, Burke? All legal. Wouldn’t move without it.
Burke: What were you looking for?
Carter: Oh, this and that. You never know what you might find.
Burke: Did you find anything?
Carter: I had a lot of time to make a pretty thorough search, Burke. You know, you’ve got some nice clothes up there. Where’d you buy ‘em?
Burke: Never mind about my wardrobe. Whose idea was this, Carter?
Carter: Oh, I don’t see that it matters. It’s normal police procedure.
Burke: I can’t buy that! If you wanted to search my rooms, you’da walked in with a warrant when you came up to question me, and you know it.
Carter: Oh, I’m just a small-town sheriff, Burke. I guess I was a little slow.
Burke: I can’t buy that either. Who pushed ya, Roger Collins?
[Sheriff’s office: Burke is standing by the water cooler looking over the Most Wanted photos posted on the wall]
Carter: See anyone you know?
Burke: I graduated from that class five years ago.
Carter: Has it been that long since you got out of prison?
Burke: My sentence was reduced. I was a good boy. I still am.
Carter: I know, you keep telling me.
Maggie: He’s not in the lobby and nobody saw him go through. I don’t understand it! He just disappeared so quickly.
Roger: Spells and incantations, Maggie. If he does rematerialize, do me a favor. Don’t call me again.
Maggie: Well how will he get home?
Roger: Well, he… found his own way into town, didn’t he? I’m sure he can solve that problem, too.
Roger: I know what you are! You’re nothing but an ex-convict who managed to pick up a little money. But you’ve had it, Burke. The minute the brakes on my car failed and I went off that road, you signed your way right back into prison.
Burke: I’m not there yet.
Roger: You will be.
This is the second episode to have no scenes in or around Collinwood. Only two sets are in use: the sheriff’s office and the Collinsport Inn restaurant.
As mentioned above, it was originally scripted for David to have a Coke, but because the ABC-TV Department of Broadcast Standards and Practices forbade the use of gratuitous plugs for brand-name products, Maggie treats David to a sundae instead, which created a problem because the ice cream melted too fast.
In previous episodes featuring the restaurant, “COKE” can be seen listed among the items on the menu board posted on the wall behind the counter, but was removed for this episode. However, this item would return by episode 49 (third from the bottom).
(Photo of menu board in episode 49)
A character is spoken of who never appears on the show, a friend of Sheriff Carter’s from the New York City police department named Frank Palmer, a lieutenant in the homicide division (first mentioned in episode 23). In today’s episode, Carter speaks directly to his colleague by telephone.
This episode reveals exactly what line of work Burke Devlin is in. He heads an investment firm based in New York City, which buys property to be sold at a profit. In episode 42, it will be revealed more specifically that Burke’s company is in the business of acquiring notes and mortgages.
The end credits now have Jonas Carter listed as the sheriff, completing the transformation from constable that began with episode 24.
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
From episode to episode, the phone booths at Collinsport Inn tend to change location. In this episode, the phone booth in the diner resembles the one seen in the lobby in episodes 7, 8, and 9, that is, with a door that closes for privacy; it is toward the side wall and facing the counter.
In episode 22, the phone booth was open and was facing the door to the diner.
In Act I, the glass from a photo on the wall of the sheriff’s office (top left) reflects a bank of studio lights from the production area offstage.
In one of the more unique and memorable bloopers from these early episodes, Louis Edmonds is seen on camera outside the door of the diner set priming himself for his entrance with a series of jumping jacks.
In the sheriff’s office, as Burke stands by the water cooler studying the Most Wanted photos, there is a long, sustained audio disturbance that sounds a bit like the laser gun attack of invading Martians from a 1950s sci-fi movie.
Michael Currie begins a line too early in a scene with Mitch Ryan:
Burke: …and I don’t want you hounding me…
Burke: …for something I didn’t do!
Carter: Hound you, Burke? I wouldn’t think of it.
As the camera pulls up to the counter for the entrance of Roger Collins in the hotel lobby, the camera bumps into the side of the counter, causing the frame to shudder visibly. Some may think that it’s David Henesy bumping into the camera as he dashes away off screen, but a look at the chrome reflections from the soda fountain will show that he’s still there crouching behind the counter.
In his scene with Mitch Ryan, Louis Edmonds leaves the “t” off the word “convict”: “You’re nothing but an ex-convic who managed to pick up a little money.”
In the end credits, Ohrbach’s is listed as Orhbach’s.
In this episode, on the wall behind the sheriff’s desk you see the portrait of an officer and below it a group photo.
In episode 26, these photos were seen, in the same order, on the opposite wall over the water cooler.
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
At the diner, Maggie offers David a free sundae made with ice cream, chocolate syrup, nuts, and whipped cream.
(Maggie sprinkles nuts on David’s sundae)
David with the sundae that Maggie prepared.
To keep him in the diner until his father arrives, Maggie allows David to go behind the counter and make a sundae for himself.
When Burke enters the restaurant, he asks Maggie about getting a lobster roll from the kitchen. This would be left over from the lunch special earlier that day, which Maggie mentions to Sheriff Carter in episode 24 and which comes with fried potatoes and coleslaw. Here, Burke washes it down with coffee.
Sheriff Carter gets a cup of water from the cooler as he discusses the accident with Roger Collins.
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 29: Mechanics Made Easy, Pt. 2
— Marc Masse
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