The Wikipedia page for Dark Shadows links the nineteenth century novel The Count of Monte Cristo with the story of Burke Devlin:
Burke Devlin’s Revenge For His Manslaughter Conviction, episode 1 to 201.
- Burke Devlin and his motivation for returning is reminiscent of Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo.
The accompanying citation, with something one would typically expect from all things Wikipedia, provides erroneous information:
“In episode 28, Burke Devlin is seen reading this novel. It similarity to events is commented upon i.e. a man returning to his home town to wreak revenge.”
They’re only off by ten episodes; and “it” should be “its” and “home town” is one word.
Now that we’ve done the necessary proofreading, let’s examine the more probable origins of the story of Burke Devlin, one of the main driving forces behind the beginnings of Dark Shadows.
In the Special Edition post on the origins of Dark Shadows, I opined that the character of Burke Devlin was based largely on that of Elliott Carson from Peyton Place, the groundbreaking nighttime serial drama that became ABC’s first number one hit TV show soon after debuting in September 1964. It is commonly believed that it was instead The Count of Monte Cristo that was the basis for the story of Burke Devlin, mainly because it’s referenced directly here in this very episode in a scene where Carolyn drops in at the Collinsport Inn restaurant to visit with Burke and they briefly discuss the book he’s reading. There are in fact certain similarities between the Burke Devlin story and the nineteenth century literary work by Alexandre Dumas, but the other more likely resemblances that seem to resonate with the story of Elliott Carson on Peyton Place should not be overlooked.
Let’s take a moment to recall just how profound the cultural impact of Peyton Place was in its day as well as beyond. As those familiar with the TV series would know, it was preceded by two motion pictures, the first of which was adapted from the novel by Grace Metalious. I have a first edition hardcover of Peyton Place, and as the image on the front jacket shows, the subject matter was racy enough for its time to make virtual voyeurs out of its readers.
(Peyton Place by Grace Metalious, Book Club Edition. New York: Simon & Schuster; 1956)
Although producer Paul Monash, who as its television creator brought Peyton Place to the small screen as America’s first nighttime serialized drama, made no secret of disliking the original novel and had no intention of exploiting its more raunchy details for a prime time viewing audience, the adult themes presented on the TV series nonetheless did surely merit its late broadcast time of 9:30 pm, when most of the nation’s more impressionable children would have been in bed asleep well south of that time slot.
More than merely a provocative appraisal of American folkways and mores, Peyton Place was captivating enough to become a huge cultural phenomenon. What the Beatles were to the music industry, Peyton Place was to nighttime serial drama, a forerunner in its genre which would serve as the basis for all that would follow, with the only similar precedent at the time being England’s long-running Coronation Street, which debuted in 1960 and which was in fact the model Monash was using for the nighttime serial he was bringing to American television.
As an example of the cultural impact of Peyton Place, there’s an episode from the first season of The Odd Couple (Lovers Don’t Make House Calls; season 1, episode 16; aired January 29, 1971) in which Oscar meets his girlfriend-to-be, Dr. Nancy Cunningham. Brooding because she wouldn’t accept his initial offer for a date, Oscar walks around in the rain for five hours and develops the flu as a result. Worried over his roommate’s condition, Felix tries to get in touch with Dr. Cunningham who is out of the office, but through her secretary manages to track her down at a restaurant where she is having dinner with his and Oscar’s usual physician, Dr. Melnitz. Felix gets the wrong idea, and a telling exchange takes place once he shows up at their table:
Felix: Dr. Cunningham?… Dr. Melnitz.
Dr. Melnitz: I don’t know why, but I had a feeling I was gonna see you tonight.
Dr. Cunningham: Mr. Unger, I told you on the phone I was having dinner.
Felix: So I see. [to Dr. Melnitz] Well I never thought I’d see my own doctor cavorting.
Dr. Melnitz: What cavorting? Two doctors put in a fourteen-hour day, stop in for a nice meal, and all of a sudden it’s Peyton Place?
(Left to right: Bill Quinn as Dr. Melnitz, Tony Randall as Felix Unger, and Joan Hotchkis as Dr. Nancy Cunningham)
There you have it; Peyton Place as not just a TV show, but also a cultural metaphor – and this already two years after having gone off the air.
One of the key guiding themes of Peyton Place is that of shame and punishment, where characters become entrenched in compromising situations in which the threat of public humiliation always looms, as epitomized in one of the series’ most symbolic props, the public pillory that stands in the square as a reminder of the town’s cultural origins. You catch a fleeting and only partial glimpse of it in the first episode after Dr. Michael Rossi has arrived in town, but it’s in the third episode where its emblematic meaning is driven home for one of the core characters, Betty Anderson, who holds a devastating personal secret she can hide for only so long, as alluded to in the opening narration by Warner Anderson:
Warner Anderson: On a sunny morning almost three hundred years ago, a young woman was drummed across this square to do public penance in the pillory. Afterwards, they shaved her head and sent her out of town forever. Like every girl in today’s Peyton Place, Betty Anderson has heard this story many times. But knowing it didn’t stop her from giving her love.
(Barbara Parkins as Betty Anderson in episode 3 of Peyton Place)
(Close-up of the plaque outlining the history of the town pillory)
Here in the twenty-worst century the public pillory is alive and well, only now they call it Twitter.
During her visit in Dr. Rossi’s office, Betty will dramatically illustrate how the shame and punishment so allegorically embodied by the public pillory is hers alone to live with in a chilling state of fear she can barely contain:
Dr. Rossi: Were you ever treated by Dr. Brooks?
Dr. Rossi: Recently?
Betty: Well not for years, just childhood diseases. I wish this were one.
Dr. Rossi: I haven’t examined you yet.
Betty: I told you how I feel.
Dr. Rossi: I’ll see if I can find your medical history.
Betty: I, uh, I must be one of your first patients here.
Dr. Rossi: Yes.
Betty: Welcome to our Puritan village.
Dr. Rossi: Well I’m no Puritan.
Betty: Did you happen to notice that thing in the square down there, that, that wooden thing with the holes for the arms and the head?
Dr. Rossi: You mean the pillory?
Betty: That’s how they used to punish people.
Dr. Rossi: Well that’s two hundred years ago. Times change.
Betty: That’s what you think now, Dr. Rossi. You’ll change your mind if you stay here in Peyton Place.
Shame and punishment is something that preoccupies the thoughts of Elliott Carson, as he illustrates when visiting with his father Eli after having just returned home from prison:
Eli: Son, you’re not scared? In some ways it’s easier to stay in prison, is that what you’re thinking?
Elliott: No, no.
Eli: Just remember, what’s done is done. You’re a free man.
Elliott: I’m not quite a free man, I’m on parole.
Eli: Then how does that work out?
Elliott: Well, I report to my parole officer and obey the laws… and behave myself, that’s about it. The theory is that you’re supposed to be able to live as normal a life as possible.
Eli: Well, it seems to make sense.
Elliott: You really think that’s possible?
Eli: Behave yourself, obey the laws, it’s what we’ve all got to do.
Elliott: It’s not quite that simple.
Eli: It’s what you said.
Elliott: Well the law forgives, even though it won’t forget. But not people. See, the law only tries you once for a crime. But what about public opinion? My trial commences when I walk down that street tomorrow.
Elliott: I’ll be tried and retried for the rest of my life.
Burke Devlin upon his return to Collinsport is likewise struggling with a similar sense of shame and punishment, which registers acutely when the bartender at the Blue Whale turns around to give him a look in a moment of recognition:
(Burke Devlin with his private investigator Wilbur Strake in episode 1)
This is one of the key differences between the story of Burke Devlin and the novel by Dumas; when Edmond Dantès returns from prison, he is known as the Count of Monte Cristo and is not recognized by anyone from his past.
Another difference is the fact of Burke Devlin’s parole, which as noted above would align his story more with that of Elliott Carson, whereas Edmond Dantès had to escape from prison.
Still, there are enough similarities between The Count of Monte Cristo and what Dark Shadows viewers encounter as the story of Burke Devlin unfolds to merit a closer examination. For this we’ll have a look at the 1934 American-made motion picture adaptation directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Robert Donat as Edmond Dantès and Elissa Landi as Mercédès de Rosas.
But first, one major difference: The story involves Napoleon Bonaparte during his exile at Elba, and it’s through Dantès delivering a letter on behalf of the former military leader that he is set up for arrest and imprisonment on the charge of treason. Such a national scope with the accompanying dire condemnation would qualify the Monte Cristo story as an epic, whereas the Burke Devlin story involves merely a love triangle between three friends in a small town.
(Opening scene from Rowland V. Lee’s The Count of Monte Cristo)
Burke Devlin comes from a humble background; as he reveals to Elizabeth Stoddard in episode 11, his father repaired lobster pots for a living and whatever other odd jobs he could get around Collinsport. In his series outline Shadows on the Wall, Art Wallace reveals how Burke came to be friendly with Roger Collins:
“By the time he was twenty-two, Burke was working on one of the Collins ships. Strangely enough he’d struck up and nurtured a friendship with Roger Collins, who was four years older than he. Roger had recognized in this wild young man the same zest for life, the same arrogant charm he remembered admiring so much in Paul Stoddard, who had disappeared nine years before. Roger was always a follower, and he hitched his yearning for freedom from responsibility on Burke’s coattails.
“They ran around together, palled around together, got drunk together.” (Shadows on the Wall, pp. 19-20)
Edmond Dantès by contrast is First Mate on a ship called the Pharaon, whose captain bestows his title on Dantès during a voyage just before expiring from an illness.
(Robert Donat as Edmond Dantès, steering the Pharaon toward port)
Burke Devlin’s manslaughter conviction and subsequent imprisonment occurred because Roger Collins had fallen for Burke’s girl, Laura, and betrayed him through false testimony. This is similar to what took place in The Count of Monte Cristo, with Edmond Dantès’ best friend, Fernand Mondego, setting him up on charges of treason so that he could marry Mercédès de Rosas.
(The marriage ceremony of Mercédès and Fernand following Edmond’s imprisonment)
Yet Mercédès was always devoted to Edmond and only agreed to marry Fernand at the request of her mother, once (false) word arrived that Edmond had died in prison, whereas according to Art Wallace it was Laura who initiated and enabled Burke’s betrayal by Roger:
“…The girl was named Laura Robin. Laura was twenty-one and had just moved to Collinsport with her family. She was an ambitious girl, sensual, darkly attractive…and Burke felt he had found someone who would help him conquer the world.
“But Laura had other plans. When she discovered that Burke was close friends with Roger Collins, she managed to arrange an introduction. Marriage to the rich Collins family was much more desirable to her than spending her life with a wild young dreamer.” (Shadows on the Wall, p. 20)
One key point that was undoubtedly taken from the Monte Cristo story was that, like Dantès, Burke returns to Collinsport with enormous wealth and the power to carry out his plans for revenge on those who wronged him with the assistance of key associates at his service, which was also what Dantès had at his disposal:
(After outlining his plans for revenge, Dantès and his associates join hands in a pact)
When Elliott Carson is paroled, he is given a mustering-out payment of $40 (the equivalent of $321.12 in 2018 currency) and will have to go to work for his father in the ship’s chandlery that Eli owns and operates.
(The prison parole officer outlines for Elliott the terms of his release in episode 32)
Yet even as Burke is busy carrying out his Monte Cristo style machinations against the Collins family, his interaction with them, and Roger in particular, mirrors that of Elliott Carson’s uneasy relationship with Leslie Harrington, the manager of the town’s main driving economic force, Peyton Mill, and who achieved great social status from having married Martin Peyton’s daughter Catherine.
Elliott eventually finds that Leslie was having an affair with his wife Elizabeth and suspects that he was somehow involved in having him sent to prison for Elizabeth’s murder by covering up evidence that could have prevented his having been framed for the crime.
When he and Leslie meet for the first time since his return to Peyton Place, Elliott can barely conceal his contempt despite Leslie’s outward show of graciousness and goodwill…
(Left to right: Tim O’Connor as Elliot Carson, Dorothy Malone as Constance Mackenzie, and Paul Langton as Leslie Harrington in episode 35)
…even after Leslie proposes to help Elliott get back on his feet by offering him a job at the mill.
Yet just as Burke does with the Collins family, Elliott will step in to help an adversary in danger when there are larger matters at stake, even if it means taking a bullet to save a life.
(Henry Beckman as George Anderson, distracted by Elliott during his standoff with Leslie in episode 59)
So that’s the story and character of Burke Devlin: The Count of Monte Cristo by way of Peyton Place.
Regarding Burke Devlin, there’s one other possible avenue of research to explore: the character name, which has an earlier precedent in the 1957 cinematic motion picture The Tarnished Angels. I must thank Count Catofi, a most excellent and astute commenter of this blog, for pointing this out in the comments section for the Special Edition post on Dark Shadows origins.
The film stars Rock Hudson as a hard-drinking newspaper reporter…
…who befriends a husband and wife team of aviation daredevils, played by Robert Stack (as Roger Schumann) and Dorothy Malone (as LaVerne Schumann).
(Dorothy Malone with her signature turned-up collar style)
Because Roger and LaVerne have a troubled marriage, the focus becomes the relationship that develops between Burke and LaVerne.
Burke supports them with food and lodging, allowing the two plenty of time to talk and get to know each other well, and he quickly becomes a confidant to Laverne…
…which makes for a complicated relationship.
The Tarnished Angels is based on a William Faulkner novel called Pylon, in which the newspaperman was simply known as The Reporter. The name Elliott Carson from Peyton Place also has an earlier precedent with a character by that name in the 1948 movie Night Has a Thousand Eyes, so it’s possible that either Dan Curtis or Art Wallace or even both could have been fans of Douglas Sirk and lifted a character name for use on Dark Shadows. Maybe they were even fans of screenwriter/novelist George Zuckerman. In any event, the character name is the only thing in common the Burke Devlin story on Dark Shadows has with the film The Tarnished Angels.
(Rock Hudson as Burke Devlin in The Tarnished Angels)
I remember Rock Hudson from the 1970s TV series McMillan & Wife, and that opening theme with the roving flashlight…
…with Susan Saint James emblazoned in my mind forever.
The theme music for season 3 (1973-74) of McMillan & Wife was done by Henry Mancini, who also did the score for the 1967 motion picture Wait Until Dark, which was adapted from the 1966 Broadway play whose cast included Mitch Ryan even as he was working days as Burke Devlin on Dark Shadows; more about that in the Background/Production Notes section below.
In seeing Dorothy Malone in an earlier film like The Tarnished Angels, there’s an interesting coincidence regarding her role on Peyton Place, where her character Constance Mackenzie runs a local bookstore, because the part that first brought her wide recognition was in a similar capacity in the 1946 film The Big Sleep.
Below she is shown in a scene with Humphrey Bogart, a man whose very essence can be summed up in a single word – style. He does quite an amusing thing throughout the film in joking about his modest height, thereby taking that opportunity out of the hands of moviegoers who typically prefer dominant stature in their favorite leading men. Bogart of course knew that he could get by, having possessed in great abundance one of the most important things that go in accord with greatness, that of course being style.
It’s easy to see why this particular scene brought Dorothy Malone to prominence; talk about a sexy librarian type fantasy.
But then again I happily digress…
Miss Malone: Hello!
Episode 38 marks the Dark Shadows debut of Thayer David in the role of Matthew Morgan, a character whose last appearance was in episode 16 as having been originated by veteran film and television character actor George Mitchell.
The addition of Thayer David to the cast is in keeping with a recent preference for stage actors who can bring a more theatrical presentation to their performances, a transformation that began with the debut of David Ford in episode 35.
Between 1950 and 1966, Thayer David had performed in no less than thirteen Broadway productions, including The Taming of the Shrew (as Gremio in 1951), King Lear (as the Duke of Cornwall in 1956), A Man for All Seasons (replacement actor in the role of Cardinal Wolsey, a play that ran for 637 performances from 1961 to 1963), The Crucible (as Deputy-Governor Danforth in 1964), Baker Street, billed as “A Musical Adventure of Sherlock Holmes” (replacement actor in the role of Professor Moriarty), which put on 311 performances in 1965, and from October 26, 1965 to June 11, 1966 in the original play The Royal Hunt of the Sun as Miguel Estete.
As if to underscore the new theatrical approach to acting performance, Thayer David’s first episode on Dark Shadows also seems to represent the second debut of the Matthew Morgan character. Matthew Morgan first appeared in episode 6, and what unfolds in episode 38 between Matthew and Vicki in the basement and then with Mrs. Stoddard admonishing Vicki to not be roaming about down there plays almost like a reiteration of that earlier episode.
In both episodes, Matthew catches Vicki down in the basement and each time he accuses her of snooping with regard to the locked door. Each instance brings Vicki down to the basement on behalf of David; in episode 6 she was looking for David, and here in episode 38 she is looking for a book for David.
On each occasion Matthew will become rough with Vicki. You’ll recall from episode 6 that their first meeting was anything but cordial.
Once Vicki begins inquiring about what’s behind the locked door is when Matthew Morgan II turns physically abrasive.
Whereas George Mitchell’s Matthew Morgan was a gruff but lovable teddy bear, Thayer David’s Matthew Morgan is just plain scary. Look at how the camera blocking shows him approaching Vicki with that hanging basement light fixture in view – probably the first thing viewers in 1966 would have been reminded of was the film Psycho; during this scene in the Collinwood basement, the light fixture is actually swaying slightly as well.
How about those crazy pasted-on bushy eyebrows — that devil’s brow — and that penciled-on unshaven beard and the wildly longish unkempt hair; you could argue that Thayer David’s Matthew Morgan was the first “monster” makeup job on Dark Shadows.
As if to fulfill the objective of establishing Thayer David as Matthew Morgan, this episode shows him doing something you’d never expect the previous portrayal of Matthew to even think of attempting: traveling into town to the Collinsport Inn restaurant so he can confront Burke Devlin and, acting as the Collins family enforcer, threaten him with violence:
Burke: Don’t I know you?
Burke: Matthew Morgan. You work up at Collinwood, hm?
Burke: Don’t you remember me? I’m Burke Devlin.
Matthew: I remember you, Devlin. Important thing is you better remember me.
Burke: Why’s that?
Matthew: ‘Cause if you bring any trouble to Miss Stoddard, I’m going to kill you.
Burke: I really think you mean that, don’t you?
Thayer David has the sort of impressive bulk to make you think that his Matthew Morgan may well be one of the few men in the area of Collinsport that Burke Devlin probably wouldn’t be able to handle in a scrap, whereas George Mitchell’s Matthew Morgan would have been too slight of build to carry a scene like this off the way Thayer David does so convincingly.
(George Mitchell and Alexandra Moltke in episode 6)
This may be the first instance on Dark Shadows where a scene is written for the qualities of the actor rather than the original series outline of the character.
Other noteworthy scenes in this episode involve the developing relationship between Carolyn Stoddard and Burke Devlin.
In the post for episode 24, I commented on how unseemly it is that Carolyn should be pursuing Burke Devlin the way she has ever since she first laid eyes on him. It isn’t really; I was merely blending in my thoughts images from future episodes where thirty-two-year-old Burke Devlin has seventeen-year-old Carolyn Stoddard up in his hotel room for a romantic evening, committing misdemeanor after misdemeanor by plying her with drinks of hard liquor and engaging in amorous physical contact with the suggestive implication that she may indeed be spending the night with him, and with Carolyn dressed to the nines in a highly provocative manner to indicate that she is indeed sexualized for the occasion. It may even be normal for a young woman to be infatuated with older men, it’s just what Burke does with this in upcoming episodes that makes it appear unseemly – but what do I know from sobbing women and females?
Here in episode 38 it’s just Carolyn scheming for an opportunity to be alone with Burke for, say, an afternoon and instead being fended off:
Burke: Well, what’s on your agenda for today?
Carolyn: I thought I’d leave that to you.
Carolyn: Well, I thought I’d offer my services as a guide to show you some of the things that are built up in the Collinsport area while you were away.
Burke: You mean like the war memorial, the new housing project, new roads, and other fascinating things.
Carolyn: Burke Devlin, you’re making fun of me. And I don’t like it.
Burke: Alright, serious. Thank you for asking me, but… well, I’ll have to take a rain check. Posing for my portrait this afternoon, remember?
Carolyn: Well, how about later this afternoon?
Burke: No, no, I have a business appointment.
Carolyn: Burke, you’re just trying to avoid me.
Burke: I don’t see how I can. Or want to. Tell me, do you always make friends with your family’s enemies?
Carolyn: You’re nobody’s enemy.
Burke: How do you know? [points at book on table] Remember, the Count of Monte Cristo return[s] for revenge and retribution.
Carolyn: Do you have to have a business appointment this afternoon?
Burke: I have to drive up to Bangor.
Carolyn: Then why don’t I go with you?
Burke: Miss Stoddard, you shock me.
Carolyn: There you go, making fun of me again.
So it’s all playful and innocent at this point. Until Carolyn decides to leave her ring behind for Burke to discover, which may provide him with further opportunity to interact with those at Collinwood, perhaps even in the literal sense leaving their fate in his hands. As with any other such possibilities, it will depend on what Burke decides to do with it.
Dark Shadows extras:
In the diner set, the suave gent at the counter with the moustache playing a Collinsport Inn restaurant customer is Andrew Elliott, making his only Dark Shadows appearance.
(Andrew Elliott as a Collinsport Inn restaurant customer in episode 38)
Also in the diner set, Colleen Kelly makes her second of three episode appearances as waitress Silent Susie.
In episode 40, we’ll bid farewell to Miss Kelly with a special feature spotlight highlighting her work before Dark Shadows, a short-lived TV series with several surprising Dark Shadows parallels.
(Colleen Kelly as Silent Susie in episode 38)
[SPOILER ALERT!]: This section contains control room discussion during the taping of episode 38 between Dark Shadows director Lela Swift and executive producer Dan Curtis about Dan planning for changes in story direction as well as the cast of characters. You may wish to skip this section if you haven’t gotten as far as episode 53, or better still episode 108.
Today’s episode of The Dan and Lela Show, the audio drama set in the television studio control room which plays out during the taping of Dark Shadows episodes, features at the outset an amusing instance of role reversal between the principal players, executive producer Dan Curtis and director Lela Swift.
In the opening scene of episode 38, as Thayer David’s Matthew Morgan makes his initial appearance on camera, Dan drops a remark intended as a send-up of his often volatile director:
Lela [as Vicki descends the basement steps]: Dan, wait until you see Thayer David!
Dan: Thayer’s trousers is the first we see of him…
Dan: …you may have to sabotage him off the show, Lela.
Lela is not amused, and in keeping with role reversal takes it upon herself to scold the producer for stepping over the line:
Lela: Dan, how could you do that? What’re you trying to do, sabotage his performance? I’m going to give you a piece of my mind over the opening theme!
Lela: Dan, how could you say something like that? Thayer David is a fantastic actor, right up there with David Ford!
Dan: I know, Lela. I was only joking, take it easy. For Christ sakes, you and your trousers comments…
In the middle of the first act, as the scene in the basement between Matthew and Vicki draws to a close, Dan has something else to say that Lela will not be happy with:
Dan: Lela, I’ve got something to tell you about Frank Schofield. We’re getting rid of him.
All through the taping of episode 37, which was taped the day after episode 38, Lela would be continually after Dan to get him to reconsider, but as those familiar with upcoming episodes would know, Dan had made up his mind about this change in story direction and wouldn’t relent. Nonetheless, during the taping of episode 38 Lela did what she could to try to convince Dan to keep Frank Schofield in the cast.
Lela [start of Act II, as Matthew waits in the foyer for Mrs. Stoddard to assign him a task]: Dan, you can’t just get rid of Frank Schofield.
Dan: We have no choice, Lela. We’re losing too many viewers. Art Wallace isn’t moving the story along.
Elsewhere during taping for this episode, in Act III Dan is having a problem with one of the Collinsport Inn restaurant extras, the man at the counter played by Andrew Elliott.
Dan: Lela, who is that guy at the counter?
Lela: That’s Andrew Elliott.
Dan: What the hell does this guy think he’s doing, trying to insinuate himself into the scene like that? Extras aren’t supposed to be looking at the regular actors.
As the uncredited Collinsport Inn restaurant customer in question is seen to be paying his bill and making his exit at the start of Act IV, from the control room Dan can be heard expressing through the microphone one final thought on Mr. Elliott’s performance:
Dan: I don’t like this guy. I’m not having him back on. Got that, Lela?
In an unforeseen plot twist to The Dan and Lela Show, it appears that Colleen Kelly, the actress who plays Collinwood Inn restaurant waitress Silent Susie, has evidently made a complaint about Thayer David.
Word of this arrives to Dan via Lela toward the end of Act III, when the camera is on the Collinwood foyer set after Mrs. Stoddard dismisses Vicki and there is a break in dialogue as Mrs. Stoddard goes to phone Ned Calder.
Lela: Dan, Colleen Kelly has a complaint about Thayer David.
Dan: What the hell are you talking about? Thayer would never molest an actress.
Lela: He didn’t molest an actress. She’s offended because Thayer asked her out on a date.
In the middle of Act IV, at the point where the scene changes from the Collinsport Inn restaurant to the Collinwood foyer, Lela pushes for Dan to resolve the matter.
Lela: Dan, you’ve got to explain to Colleen about Thayer… Colleen, come up to the control room…
Dan: Colleen, let me explain about Thayer. He only asked you for something. He would never molest an actress.
Colleen: I know. But this is my second episode, and every time I’m in the studio there’s a middle-aged man hitting on me. That isn’t what I came on Dark Shadows for. Maybe I’m just not cut out for an acting career.
Lela: Colleen, you can’t just give up!…
Dan: Well, Lela, Colleen doesn’t want to stay on Dark Shadows. She’s sick of middle-aged men hitting on her every time she’s in the studio. She agreed to do one final episode. She gave me the name of another actress she worked with, Carol Crist. She’ll be Susie…
At the very least, this episode explains why Silent Susie number 1 became Silent Susie number 2.
Until next time, this has been The Dan and Lela Show.
“Matthew, do you believe in ghosts?”
Mrs. Stoddard informs Matthew that Burke Devlin was not responsible for her brother’s accident.
“I thought I asked you not to come down here!”
Vicki asks Mrs. Stoddard about the sound of crying in the night.
Carolyn drops in on Burke at the Collinsport Inn restaurant.
“Burke Devlin sent to prison by the cruel Collins family returns to wreak revenge upon them.”
“You think that’s why I’m here?”
Burke realizes that Carolyn has left her ring for him to find.
Matthew warns Burke he’ll kill him if he brings any trouble to Mrs. Stoddard.
Burke: Well, what is the lovely Miss Stoddard doing down from her hilltop castle so early in the morning?
Carolyn: Ooh, I wanted to get something in the early mail. Then I thought I’d drop in for coffee.
Burke: I’m delighted that you did.
Carolyn: Well aren’t you going to ask me to join you?
Burke: Are you sure it’s safe?
Carolyn: It was safe enough last night for Vicki Winters, wasn’t it?
Carolyn: The Count of Monte Cristo? I thought only kids in school read this.
Burke: Well, when I was in school I didn’t have much time for reading. It’s a good book.
Carolyn: Oh, I remember. The rich, handsome man of mystery returns to take revenge on… Say, you wouldn’t be the Count of Monte Cristo, would you?
Burke: No, but I’m starved.
Carolyn: I’m not a child, and… I just want to get to know you better.
Carolyn: Why, why, always why. Yes or no, that’s all.
Episode 38 was taped out of broadcast sequence. Originally scheduled for Wednesday August 3, 1966, the taping of episode 38 took place instead on Tuesday August 2, having switched places with episode 37. In the post for that episode, it was speculated on that this may have been done to accommodate the extremely busy schedule of Mitch Ryan. All through his time on Dark Shadows that year, Mitch had a part (as Mike Talman) in the Broadway play Wait Until Dark, which between February 2 and December 31 staged an astounding 373 performances across three separate venues. In addition to this was the grueling schedule for a day’s taping of the many Dark Shadows episodes he appeared in during this time. As an additional speculation, this may have contributed to those occasions where it seemed he had difficulty remembering lines in his role as Burke Devlin.
Down the road apiece we’ll take a closer look at his work in Wait Until Dark, for which the production process of the movie adaptation was already well underway by August 1966. There’s a moment in an upcoming episode where Lela is complaining up and down about how he is missing lines during scenes, and at one point teases him about it directly through the control room microphone; after the scene moves to another set, Mitch can be heard from the soundstage talking back at Lela and telling her precisely what she can do about it.
I’ve managed to acquire an original playbill for Wait Until Dark from the Schubert Theatre, which I’ve scanned and cropped and posted below. When the moment arises we’ll look through the pages of this playbill and see what it says about Mitch Ryan’s involvement in the original stage production of Wait Until Dark.
(Original Schubert Theatre playbill, August 1966)
Josette Collins is mentioned in Act I. When Vicki describes for Matthew the sobbing sound she heard somewhere in the house during the previous night, Matthew believes it was the ghost of Josette. Josette Collins is first mentioned in episode 5.
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
During the first half of Act I, in the Collinwood basement set a boom mic shadow sweeps forward along the bottom of a picture frame at left of screen.
In the middle of Act I, as the scene dissolves from the Collinwood basement to the Collinsport Inn restaurant, the music cue “warps” in, as if the turntable in the control room has been switched on to speed up just as the new scene begins.
As the second half of Act II gets underway and the camera is pulling back just before Victoria is startled to find Mrs. Stoddard there glaring at her, crew members just off camera can be heard conferring about the movement of the camera.
At the beginning of Act III, Nancy Barrett can be seen gazing in the direction of the camera for her cue to begin the scene. This moment nonetheless captures the very essence of Carolyn Stoddard, and for that matter Nancy Barrett as well – dreamy and gorgeous. If you ask me, the cutest blooper in the history of Dark Shadows.
At the start of the second half of Act III, Joan Bennett says the line about Ned Calder’s phone call as, “Oh, and I was so anxious talk – to talk to him…”
At the end of the final scene there appears in the upper right of screen the same blinking white square icon that showed up in the closing moments of episode 36.
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
In Act I at the Collinsport Inn restaurant, Burke orders coffee and a donut for Carolyn and a breakfast plate for himself, which appears to be eggs and bacon.
After breakfast, they each sit with a fresh cup of coffee.
In Act IV, after having threatened to kill Burke if he attempts to make trouble up at Collinwood, Matthew sits in the Collinsport Inn restaurant before the cup of coffee he ordered, black.
Dark Shadows Cast Member Spotlight: Thayer David
(From the IMDb page for Thayer David)
Thayer David is one of only four actors from the 1966 cast of Dark Shadows who would remain with the show all the way to the final episode in 1971 (the other three being Joan Bennett, Louis Edmonds, and Nancy Barrett). By the time he took up the role of Matthew Morgan in 1966, Thayer David would already have been generally well known for his work in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth from 1959. Before there was Count Petofi, there was Count Saknussemm…
Thayer David with James Mason in Journey to the Center of the Earth…
…and a friend they meet on the beach.
Thayer David’s legacy holds a special connection with me that’s more close to home. In the 1940s, he was attending Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Thayer was part of a group who wanted to form an independent theater company, which they eventually named the Brattle Theatre Company, after his father purchased for them the building on Brattle Street known as Brattle Hall, which in 1948 was being sold by the Cambridge Social Union at auction. Whenever I go there, I think of the Brattle as “the house that Thayer built.”
(Brattle Theater, 40 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts)
For this spotlight feature, I visited the Brattle to capture some cellphone pics of the interior, which are shown below. That day I saw the sci-fi classic Donovan’s Brain, which is from 1953 and very likely was shown there the very year the Brattle was converted from Thayer’s theater group days to a movie cinema. They even showed a Betty Boop cartoon as an opener.
While watching this movie, something occurred to me. Donovan’s Brain must have been the source of inspiration Dan Curtis and the Dark Shadows writers went to for the head of Judah Zachery/possession story. The way Judah transmits thoughts to others to get them to carry out his wishes, overtaking them so completely that he becomes the person he’s transmitting to, as the host begins adopting all of Judah Zachery’s mannerisms… That’s so exactly like what takes place in the movie Donovan’s Brain. But that’s a topic for further exploration when we get to the 1840 period of Dark Shadows.
My favorite seat in the Brattle; balcony, top row, left (October 31, 2018)
During moments when the heating/air-conditioning system is running, those hanging light fixtures visibly sway, right to left and left to right.
(Enlargement of prefilm slideshow image)
And on this very stage the great man himself did perform in plays…
Thayer David’s gift is a wonderful enduring treasure. Viva la Brattle!
(Mural art on the back wall of the lower level)
On the Flipside:
During the end credits, ABC announcer Bob Lloyd says, “Stay tuned for Where the Action Is, next on ABC.”
On the day episode 38 was taping, Tuesday August 2, 1966, ABC was airing Dark Shadows episode 27 at 4 pm Eastern with season 2, episode 231 of Where the Action Is following in the 4:30 time slot.
WTAI creator and host Dick Clark opens with, “Where the Action Is is brought to by, Clorets…
“…helps stop bad breath anytime, anyplace. And by, the Borden Company.”
Among the special musical guests, today’s episode features the Vogues, an American vocal group from Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, whose smooth and richly melodic harmonies ensured a steady stream of memorable pop hits during the mid to late sixties.
In a segment taped on Olvera Street in Los Angeles, the Vogues perform their recent top ten hit Five O’Clock World (#4 U.S. Billboard Hot 100, released October 1965).
Dick Clark: Alright, synchronize your watches. Let me cue a Five O’Clock World.
Dick Clark: A song cue, for the Vogues.
“Up every morning just to keep a job (up!)”
“I gotta fight my way through the hustling mob (up!)”
“Sounds of the city pounding in my brain (up!)”
“While another day goes down the drain (up!)”
“(Yeah, yeah, yeah) but it’s a five o’clock world when the whistle blows”
“No one owns a piece of my time”
“And there’s a five o’clock me inside my clothes”
“Thinking that the world looks fine, yeah!”
“A-da-lay-ee-ee (up, up, up!)”
(My 1990 Rhino Records CD of the Vogues’ greatest hits)
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 39: Open House at Evans Cottage
— Marc Masse
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