Episode 31: Breaking Point

Breaking point opening GIF_ep31


After having run away from home, David Collins has been safely returned to Collinwood, accompanied by the man David had sought to frame for the crime of attempted murder.


Burke Devlin holds the key. The missing valve from Roger’s car that David had planted in Burke’s hotel room is in his pocket. With David under fierce interrogation from his father, Burke waits for the right moment to step in and present the evidence, concocting a story intended to absolve both he and David of any suspicion of guilt.


By this point everyone at Collinwood knows that it was David, and not Burke, who was responsible for the accident that nearly killed Roger.


To an already tense and uncomfortable situation the element of confusion has been added, where both Vicki and Roger are compelled to question what they thought they already knew for certain.


But this act of interference cannot forestall the inevitable. The simmering cauldron of anger, fear, and lingering resentment is set to boil up to a breaking point, an eruption that will push to the limit the father and son relationship between Roger and David Collins.



Roger was the last at Collinwood to find out that it was David who caused his accident. Curiously enough, Roger was the easiest to convince, despite his being closest in relation to David.


The task of informing members of Collinwood about David’s guilt had fallen to Vicki, since it had been she who had found the missing valve in David’s room. After a moment of disbelief, Carolyn came around rather quickly, given her relief in no longer having to feel guilty over insisting that Burke come up to Collinwood in the first place. Mrs. Stoddard had been another matter altogether, even at one point going so far as to suggest that it might have been Vicki herself who tampered with the brakes and then tried to make it look like David had. The shock of acknowledging that David could even think of doing such a thing, coupled with the worry over his subsequent disappearance, had simply been too much for her to bear.


But now both David and the missing valve are back at Collinwood. So this episode should be about Roger and David, where David must face the consequences involving the wrath of his father, but instead it’s really more about Burke Devlin.


In the previous episode, it was Burke who brought David home; Burke Devlin, hated and feared by Roger and to some extent Elizabeth and who, even if he didn’t tamper with Roger’s brakes, is still making maneuvers to put the Collins family business interests in financial jeopardy. He shouldn’t have made it past the threshold of the front door after dropping David off, but when Roger escorts his son behind closed drawing room doors Burke becomes curious. He starts off with a joke, to make light of the matter:


Burke: Is that the Collinwood version of the woodshed?

Vicki: I don’t think so.

Burke: I remember, I ran away from home once. My old man beat me so hard, his hands were raw for two weeks.

Vicki: Mr. Devlin, we all appreciate you bringing David back, but I think you should leave now.

Burke: I don’t think so. I’ve got a hunch I’d like to know what’s going on in that room. And I’m just curious enough to want to stay and find out.


Which he does, of course. Not only that, but he even steps right into the middle of things by producing the valve from his pocket along with a phony story about how he found it on the road when he picked up David after seeing him walking in town.


Burke produces the missing valve_ep30


This causes Roger to question what Vicki has told him about finding the valve in David’s room, and behind closed doors they each have to go over things again to make sure they both believe what they thought they knew for sure.


While that’s going on, Burke is busy out in the foyer working on David, getting him to confess about planting the object in his hotel room, but also solidifying their friendship by explaining why he would lie for him when “the enemy” is moving in. After this, David feels he can trust Burke enough to show him a photograph of his mother – which he won’t so much as allow Vicki a single glance at when she asks moments later.


You have to wonder why Burke would want to befriend a disturbed child who’d just admitted having tried to kill his own father. Perhaps he is just intent on getting a foothold within the confines of Collinwood any way he can.


On top of this, he’s joking his way all through the episode. After conferring with Vicki in the drawing room, Roger then emerges to tell Burke that he’d like a word with him inside. Burke then turns to David and says: “Well, it looks like it’s my turn.”


While everyone at Collinwood is withering over the unspeakable actions of young David, Burke seems to be enjoying himself – so much so that he even sets about hitting on the governess after Roger has gone upstairs to deal with David in private. Burke has made a friend at Collinwood in the son of his main nemesis, so he may as well try and make a date with the boy’s tutor while he’s there.


In a moment of levity, Burke is at the piano playing Chopsticks when Vicki returns to the drawing room:


Burke: Would you like to join me in four hands? I’m very good at the bass.


Burke at the drawing room piano_ep31


Vicki: I don’t think so, thank you.

Burke: You’re worried about the boy, aren’t you?

Vicki: Yes.

Burke: Well, you needn’t be. He can take care of himself.

Vicki: You didn’t see the way Mr. Collins looked at him.

Burke: Oh, Roger won’t bother him. He’ll let off a little steam, tell him what he thinks of him, but he won’t hurt him. Besides… you’re the one that ought to worry.

Vicki: Me?

Burke: Yes, you, my little governess, you. David’s holding a very big grudge against you.

Vicki: Well, that doesn’t matter.

Burke: Doesn’t it, Miss Winters? Well, I’d stay away from open windows. Or better still, pack up and go home.

Vicki: Why are you so concerned about me?

Burke: Because I’m a man of impulse. Because I think I like you.


Burke admits to Miss Winters that he likes her_ep31


Burke: And I don’t want to see you sprawled out on the rocks at the foot of Widow’s Hill. Take my advice, Miss Winters. Get on a train and go back to that foundling home.

Vicki: I can’t. Not yet.

Burke: Still trying to find out some things about yourself?

Vicki: Some of us can’t afford to hire private detectives.

Burke: Oh. Oh, you heard about that. My man wasn’t very discreet, was he? But, if you’d like to see the report that he made on Victoria Winters, I’d be delighted to show it to you… if you’ll join me for dinner.

Vicki: I’m afraid I can’t think about dinner at the moment.


Burke asks Vicki to join him for dinner_ep31


Well, she didn’t exactly say no, did she? The makers of Dark Shadows could just be testing out the chemistry between Mitch Ryan and Alexandra Moltke, but as the story of David and the missing brake valve is wrapping up, it looks as though Burke Devlin may soon have another reason for making further visits to Collinwood.


David Collins_Act III_close-up_ep31



Having given regular director of Dark Shadows Lela Swift a few days off to think about her behavior in the studio during episode taping, Dan Curtis is finding that interim director John Sedwick can also be a handful, but in a different way.


Episode 29, Sedwick’s first as a Dark Shadows director, required two takes. In episode 31, Sedwick keeps pushing Curtis to allow a second take right from the teaser. As the opening scene concludes, Sedwick can be heard speaking through the control room microphone: “One more time!”


A short way into Act I (up to and during the point where Roger sends Burke and David out to the foyer so he can talk alone in the drawing room with Vicki), Sedwick can be heard from the control room insisting on a second take.


John Sedwick: I think we need to do one more take.

Dan Curtis: We’re not doing another take, John.

JS: David’s messing up all his lines. It’s throwing everyone else off.

Dan: Oh, for crying out loud, John. Yes, alright. David’s messing up. Burke’s messing up. Even Roger’s messing up. We’re not doing another take.

JS: You’re the man who makes the decisions. But I think we should do one more take.

Dan: That’s not the way I’m going to do it. On my show, we do everything in one take.

JS: But that’s not a keeper!

Dan [scene has shifted to the foyer with Burke and David]: Just work on getting through it, that’s all. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

JS: Mitch Ryan’s reading everything off the teleprompter.


Mitch Ryan reading off the teleprompter (2)_ep31


Dan: Jesus Christ, John! You’re worse than Lela with all your complaining.


Mitch Ryan reading off the teleprompter_ep31


JS: Dan, I’m trying for perfection.

Dan: You’re not going to get perfection from nitpicking.


In going for perfection, Sedwick manages to create a blooper. When sending Burke and David out to the foyer so he could talk alone with Vicki in the drawing room, Roger was shown closing both drawing room doors securely. But when the scene shifts to show Roger and Vicki discussing the missing valve that she found, one of the drawing room doors is seen wide open.


Dan: Jesus Christ! What the fuck is the drawing room door doing open? That was supposed to be closed!

JS: Dan, I needed the side view into the drawing room, to get the close-up on Roger.

Dan: Well you shouldn’t have done it by generating a blooper! There’s room in the drawing room for two cameras.


During Act IV, as Vicki waits in her room with David, Sedwick is again pushing for another take.


JS: Just one more take!

Dan: Jesus Christ, John! No more episodes where we do two takes.

JS: But Dan, everything’s way off in this episode. Everyone’s messing up all their lines and cues.

Dan: Dammit, John, episode 29 cost me an extra five hundred dollars because of that extra take you called for.

JS: Dan, I’m just trying to help you. You can’t just run through everything in one take. You said you want Dark Shadows to be perfect. With a second take, it will be perfect.

Dan: I want Dark Shadows to be affordable and perfect. Now Lela can get everything done in one take, why can’t you?


Here’s where John Sedwick’s impatience generates yet another blooper. Roger has come upstairs and sends Vicki out of the room so he can be alone with David. During the exchange, Roger loses his temper and accuses David of being a murderer. David manages to break free and escape, but not without a moment of difficulty. David Henesy slams his hand into the wall with an audible thud, and with the other attempts to pull the door open. His hand slips off the knob, creating a delay where Louis Edmonds has to practically stop in his tracks until David can get the door open to bolt out of the room.


David_door opening blooper GIF_ep31


In the control room, John Sedwick is blowing his top. He gets on the microphone and sharply raises his voice:


JS: Get out there! Beat it! Do anything, but go!


This can be heard even without headphones, as the voice of a crew member off-stage that leaks into the general soundscape of the broadcast, but with headphones the words can be made out clearly even to the untrained ear. So, yes, Virginia, there is a Microphone.


Once Roger catches up with David in the drawing room and is bundling him back upstairs, Dan Curtis comments on his director’s outburst.


Dan: You were a little disrespectful to David Henesy, John.


As Roger and David ascend the foyer stairs, David Henesy can be heard complaining to Louis Edmonds:


David: That John Sedwick yelled at me through the control room microphone!


Sedwick apologizes to his executive producer, but Curtis is not through addressing the matter.


JS: Alright, I’m sorry.

Dan: Alright, your sorry. But I still want to have a few words with you over the end credits, just so I know we’re on the same page.


[end credits]

Dan: John, you were a little hard on David Henesy, berating him like that through the control room microphone. David is a terrific young actor, and he can take care of himself.

JS: I know, Dan. I’m sorry, I’ve got a lot on my mind. I know you’re replacing Lela.

Dan: I’m not replacing Lela. I just gave her a few days off to think about her behavior. I’m planning on having her back directing on Thursday.

JS: But Dan, I thought I was going to be the new director of Dark Shadows!

Dan: John, you’re the associate director. We’ll have you back from time to time whenever Lela needs a break…


Until next time, this has not been The Dan and Lela Show.


(John Sedwick, Dark Shadows director)

John Sedwick_director Dark Shadows (2)_ep31


Photo Gallery:

“This is the valve you’ve been looking for, isn’t it?”

This is the valve you've been looking for isn't it_ep31.


Roger consults with Vicki after hearing Burke’s story about finding the valve out on the road.

Roger consults with Vicki after hearing Burke's story about finding the valve out on the road_ep31


David asks Burke why he lied about finding the valve on the road.

David asks Burke why he lied about finding the valve on the road_ep31


“Mr. Collins, I’m getting a little bit tired of people not believing me!”

Mr. Collins I'm getting a little bit tired of people not believing me_ep31


Roger takes a call from Carolyn, who confirms that David was with Burke in his hotel room the whole time he was supposedly walking along the road on his way home to Collinwood.

Roger takes a call from Carolyn (2)_ep31


David shows Burke a photograph of his mother.

David shows Burke a photograph of his mother_ep31


“Burke, I want to talk to you.”

Burke I want to talk to you_ep31


“If you ever need a friend, you’ve got one.”

If you ever need a friend you've got one_ep31


“Your father was almost killed.”

Your father was almost killed_ep31


“You know, Roger? I don’t think your upset because you think David tampered with your breaks, you’re sore because I didn’t.”

Burke surmises the true source of Roger's resentment over David tampering with his brakes (2)_ep31


“You’re a little murderer, that’s what you are!”

You're a little murderer (2)_ep31


“The only way you can help is to get out of here!”

The only way you can help is to get out of here_ep31


“You think this all pretty amusing, don’t you?”

You think this all pretty amusing don't you_ep31


Favorite Lines/Exchanges:

Burke: Well, Davey, what do you think? Did he believe me?

David: I don’t know. Why did you lie?

Burke: Oh, that’s an old habit of mine. When the enemy is moving in, you try to keep them stirred up as much as possible.

Burke: I kinda wish you hadn’t picked on me. The way things are going around here, I’d say you showed pretty good sense.

David: Then you’re not mad?

Burke: A little. But if I was really sore, I woulda told the truth in there.

David: Then we’re still friends.

Burke: Well, as long as you stay away from my automobile brakes.

[Roger emerges from drawing room]

Roger [sharply]: Burke, I want to talk to you.

Burke [turns to David]: Well, it looks like it’s my turn.

Roger: That’s not particularly funny!

David: I wish you’d never come here.

Vicki: What difference would that have made? Your father was almost killed. My coming here had nothing to do with that.

David: You blamed me for it, didn’t you?

Vicki: I told the truth.

David: I hate you.

Burke: Well, I guess I’d better go before I wear out my welcome.

Vicki: You think this is all pretty amusing, don’t you?

Burke: In a way, yes. It’s sort of like the judgment of the gods in a way.


Background/Production Notes:

This is one of the few episodes to show cast members in preparation for a scene during the slating segment. While priming himself for the opening scene, Mitch Ryan can be seen saying something to Alexandra Moltke (perhaps “No, I’ll be alright”) and then grinning over something said to him by Louis Edmonds, who stands just out of frame.

Slating for episode 31_ep31


The location footage for the start of the opening scene, representing the view of Collinwood as seen from the back lawn, is an odd choice given that the scene takes place in the drawing room on the first floor…

Location footage for Collinwood_from back lawn of Seaview Terrace_teaser_ep31


…with the camera then zooming in for a close-up of a window on the second floor…

Location footage for Collinwood_from back lawn of Seaview Terrace_teaser (moving in for close-up of window)_ep31


…which then dissolves to a close-up shot of Roger standing in the drawing room holding the bleeder valve.

Location footage for Collinwood_from back lawn of Seaview Terrace_teaser (dissolve to studio drawing room scene)_ep31


This is another episode where “scene connectors” are written into the dialogue, that is, when a key word that ends one scene is picked up at the start of another; in this case, the scene connector term is “stupid”:

[Burke and David in the foyer]:

David: But my father said he was going to send me away.

Burke: That’s no reason to do what you did.

David: I know. It was stupid.

[Roger to Vicki in the drawing room]:

Roger: It was very stupid, Miss Winters, not holding onto this valve after you found it in David’s room.


Episode 31 is one of those that takes place solely in Collinwood, with only two sets in use: the drawing room/foyer and Vicki’s room.


Daily studio schedule for Dark Shadows in 1966

7:00-11:00 a.m.  Lighting

8:30-10:30           Morning Rehearsal

10:30-11:30         Break/Make-Up

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

3:30-4:00             Knockdown

3:45-4:15             Technical Meeting

4:00-6:30             Dry Rehearsal for Next Episode

4:00-7:00             Reset Studio


Bloopers/Story Continuity:

As the teaser begins, with the camera moving up from the bleeder valve to a close-up of Roger’s face, Louis Edmonds can be seen looking toward the camera…

Louis Edmonds waits for his cue_ep31

…as can Mitch Ryan…

Mitch Ryan looks directly at the camera_ep31

…and Alexandra Moltke.

Alexandra Moltke looks directly at camera_ep31


In the foyer set during the first half of Act II, after Burke says the line to David, “…you figured the best way to plant that thing was to put it in a room where a man was suspected, right?”, the honking of a car horn can be heard from the motor traffic outside the television studio.


In the middle of Act II, as Vicki steps across the room to go over her story with Roger, a boom mic shadow passes backward across the side of Louis Edmonds’ head.

Boom mic shadow_across Louis Edmonds' head_Act II (middle)_ep31


In the second half of Act II, as Roger and Vicki confer in the drawing room, one of the drawing room doors is open and the shadow of a camera is seen along the lower part. Earlier, when Roger sent Burke and David out of the room, he was seen closing both of the drawing room doors.

Drawing room door open with shadow of camera_Act II_ep31


In the drawing room in Act III, as the boom mic is being moved about overhead, it gets in the way of the studio lights causing shadows to pass over the left side of Louis Edmonds’ head.

Boom mic shadow_across Louis Edmonds' head (left side)_Act III_ep31


In the drawing room scene with Burke and Vicki in Act IV, after Vicki says the line “I can’t, not yet,” two honks of a horn from the motor traffic outside the television studio can be heard.


Up in Vicki’s room in Act IV, as David flees from his father’s accusations, David Henesy has trouble getting the door open to make his escape.


In the drawing room in Act IV, as Burke gets up from the piano, the camera angle reveals the top corner of the drawing room set with a studio light visible.

Camera blooper (top left)_studio light above drawing room_ep31


With David running from his father seeking help and protection from Burke, he should be heard rushing down the foyer staircase. But because David is coming from an adjacent set, his footsteps can be heard sprinting from behind the foyer set; both Mitch Ryan and Alexandra Moltke at one point even glance in that direction as David approaches.

David can be heard running in from an adjacent set_ep31


As Roger marches David back upstairs, the camera angle from the drawing room catches Louis Edmonds as he stops halfway up the foyer stairs to turn around.

Louis Edmonds stops to turn around on foyer stairs_ep31


At the end of the final scene, as Vicki stands alone in the foyer after Burke has left, the shadow of a crew member passes along the landing just outside the doorway.

(Light from doorway on foyer landing without shadow)

Light from doorway on foyer landing without shadow_ep31

(Light from doorway on foyer landing blocked by shadow of head and shoulders)

Light from doorway on foyer landing blocked by shadow of head and shoulders_ep31



In Act IV, while waiting upstairs with David, Vicki is seen reading a magazine.

Vicki with magazine open_Act IV_ep34


When she offers the magazine to David to read, the back cover can be seen with part of the bottom section blocked out with black marker.

Vicki holding magazine with back cover visible_ep31


After David refuses Vicki’s offer of the magazine, the front cover can be seen momentarily. The lettering at the top reveals the name of the magazine: Vanity Fair. The woman on the cover bears a resemblance to Joan Bennett.

Vicki holding magazine with front cover visible (2)_ep31


Food & Drink in Collinsport:

While in the drawing room with Burke, Roger pours himself a brandy.

Roger pours himself a brandy_ep31


With Roger upstairs dealing with David, Burke sneaks a glass of Roger’s brandy.

Burke sneaks a glass from Roger's brandy_ep31


Recommended Reading:

Joan Bennett’s 1970 autobiography (original front and back covers).

Joan Bennett cast member spotlight_The Bennett Playbill_front cover_ep25

Joan Bennett cast member spotlight_The Bennett Playbill_back cover_ep25


The Bennetts: An Acting Family, the 2004 biography (front cover).

Joan Bennett cast member spotlight_The Bennetts An Acting Family_front cover_ep25


From the page I created for Dark Shadows Wiki:

Dark Passages is a novel written by Kathryn Leigh Scott and published in 2011 by Pomegranate Press, Ltd.

Set in the 1960s, Meg Harrison leaves her native Minnesota for New York to pursue a career in acting while working as a Playboy Bunny in New York’s Playboy Club. After changing her name to Morgana Harriott, she soon lands the role of Margie, a restaurant waitress and daughter of a local artist, in the new daytime TV serial Dark Passages. The show will eventually feature a vampire, but the catch is that Morgana is one in real life.

The characters described on the sets of Dark Passages resemble quite vividly those on Dark Shadows and the actors who played them. The diner set where Margie works is greatly similar to that of the Collinsport Inn restaurant on Dark Shadows.

For the back cover, Jonathan Frid wrote the following blurb: “Reading DARK PASSAGES was like being back on the sets of DARK SHADOWS, except with real vampires behind the scenes!”

Dark Passages_novel_front cover


Recommended Listening:

In this eight-CD box set of composer Robert Cobert’s series soundtrack, every music cue used on Dark Shadows is available, including the full-length original recordings of the guitar instrumentals heard at the Blue Whale.

Dark Shadows_Soundtrack Music Collection_Front cover


Since 2006, UK production company Big Finish has been extending the Dark Shadows legacy with audio dramas offering new stories featuring cast members from the original TV series. My favorite is the 2015 audio drama …And Red All Over, in which Mitchell Ryan reprises his role as Burke Devlin to the backdrop of an eerily compelling backstory on how he came to acquire his wealth in business. Also starring Kathryn Leigh Scott as Maggie Evans, with original series themes and music cues composed by Robert Cobert. A must listen for any fan of the first year of Dark Shadows.

And Red All Over_CD booklet front image


Coming next: Episode 32: What It Means to Be a Collins of Collinsport


— Marc Masse

(aka PrisoneroftheNight)


© 2018 Marc Masse and Dark Shadows

from the Beginning. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of

the content herein is a violation of the

terms and standards as set forth under

U.S. copyright law.