Episode 39: Open House at Evans Cottage

Open house at Evans cottage GIF_ep39



Sam Evans likes to keep pretty much to himself. Unfortunately, a number of people continually impose on him, folks he’d rather not see or talk to. He’s a painter who’s been commissioned to paint a portrait he doesn’t want to paint, and will even feign a headache to cut the portrait sitting short. On top of this, another man he doesn’t want to see barges in to talk about things Sam just doesn’t want to talk about; if that weren’t enough, the intruder even goes so far as to seize Sam’s bottle of whiskey to prevent him from even pouring himself a drink in his own living room. On that same morning, this demanding interloper will not only consider threatening him with murder, but will also offer him a sizeable bribe to leave his life and livelihood behind. After managing to get rid of the unwanted portrait subject, he begins losing his temper while trying to usher away trespasser number one, during which invader number three, Collins family business manager Bill Malloy, just walks right in through the front door without so much as a knock. When Sam raises a complaint, Bill simply tells him it’s his own fault for leaving the door unlocked.


That’s what happens in Collinsport, if you don’t bar the door, when something from your past you’d rather keep hidden comes calling right at your doorstep. Still, it could be worse, considering what the future holds in store for Evans cottage, with the gallery of Universal monsters that will someday be encroaching on his domain; a gentleman vampire caller who just can’t keep his fangs away from his daughter, a Frankenstein type man child who breaks in to borrow and brandish a huge carving knife while Sam is away at the pub for an evening drink, a werewolf in the night who just jumps crashing through the front window hungry and growling for any kind of action it can find.


There will come a time when Sam will long for the good old days of only the year or two before when it was just Burke Devlin, the old friend he betrayed long ago, Roger Collins, the man who imprisoned him in a pact of silence, and Bill Malloy, the wise old owl who comes around asking too many questions, that he would be trying to keep from seeking him out.


First thing in the morning here in the summer of sixty-six it’s open house at Evans cottage, and no one is invited.



Bill Malloy sure gets around these days. In this episode Frank Schofield, the actor who plays him, will appear on every soundstage set in use. To this point the character of Bill Malloy has appeared in just six episodes, and only in a supporting capacity. But between episodes 39 and 46, Bill Malloy will be in another six episodes as a central figure attempting to resolve the conflict between Burke Devlin and the Collins family.


There’s a certain rugged charm about Frank Schofield’s portrayal of the Bill Malloy character, a man of compassion and integrity who is always looking after the best interests of the people he works for. It’s that Down East brogue, one of only a few you’ll ever hear on the show, a voice reverberant of the weathered, rocky coastline on which the story of Dark Shadows takes place.


Always a man of reason and good sense, the main function of the Bill Malloy character thus far has been to reveal for the viewer the thoughts and intentions of the more central characters. Through his discussions with Roger and Burke in episode 3, the viewer is given a hint of there having been some dark deeds in the past, with Roger trying to hide his fear and apprehension over Burke’s return and Burke vowing to get even for something that was done to him by the Collins family. Through his discussion with Elizabeth Stoddard in episode 9, despite putting on a brave face the viewer learns that she too is harboring a deep trepidation about Burke’s presence in town, especially when Bill warns her that he may have plans for revenge against the Collins family because of the time he spent in prison. Then in episode 32 Bill Malloy is placed in a scene at the sheriff’s office, having supposedly dropped in to talk about something with the sheriff; that something is never even addressed, because Bill is merely there so that the viewer can learn what the sheriff has discovered about who tampered with the brakes on Roger’s car and precisely what he intends to do about his findings.


Now all of a sudden here in episode 39, Bill Malloy will begin to come off as the man with the plan, the one with all the answers who can go looking for people, set up meetings, and even control the destiny as well as fate of other men, even that of a Collins.


How does a supporting character come by such influence as if, in terms of story time, overnight? The answer is ratings. In its first month on the air, Dark Shadows was doing fairly well with nine million viewers as of July 1966. This number likely reflects the quarterly Nielsen sweeps week, the industry gold standard measure of broadcast success. There were also other ratings measures at a network’s disposal to determine viewer numbers on a more day-to-day basis. Although not as widespread and comprehensive as the quarterly Nielsen surveys, these other more local and regional surveys with their up to the minute reports nonetheless helped network executives determine whether a given program would be cost-efficient enough to be renewed for another thirteen-week cycle of broadcasting. Nielsen’s New York report provided an immediate electronic record of around two hundred thirty homes over the seventeen-county metropolitan area. Another company called Trendex would conduct a random telephone survey each half-hour, placing one thousand calls across twenty-six U.S. cities to determine viewers’ programming preferences. For a fee these data would be available to ABC network executives on a daily basis.


Dissatisfied with the story pacing of its creator and developer Art Wallace and alarmed by the drastic drop in viewer numbers over recent weeks, executive producer Dan Curtis has decided on making a slight departure from the original series outline in a desperate bid to keep Dark Shadows afloat ratings-wise.


One of the trade-offs inherent in such a change is the risk of creating gaps in story as well as character continuity, which first becomes evident here in episode 39. The current story is about Burke Devlin acting on his intentions to undermine the fortunes of the Collins family, and then you have Roger scheming to keep Sam quiet about what he knows, which to date has still not been made clear. Nevertheless, the episode belongs to Bill Malloy; the way it’s presently playing out, it’s as if everything somehow rests in his capable hands.


At Collinwood, in a reiteration of their drawing room discussion from episode 9, Bill reminds Elizabeth about Burke’s bitter state of mind considering the circumstances under which he was sent to prison. After presenting additional information about the inquiries Burke has been making into the Collins family business and property holdings Bill says, “If we wait, Liz, until he shows his hand, it could be too late… Liz, I want to stop him. I want you to give me your permission to do whatever I can to stop him!”


Thus far, Malloy’s efforts on that front have been decidedly ineffective. In episode 3 he confronts Burke at the Blue Whale to implore him to leave the Collins family in peace, with Burke only remaining steadfast in his mission of stirring up all the “old ghosts” at Collinwood that he claims are hiding in every corner. In episode 21 Malloy walks in on Burke’s hotel room breakfast and is a bit more forceful with the subject matter he lays out on Burke’s table, reminding him of the day he was convicted of manslaughter and how he angrily swore he’d someday get even with the Collins family and even dropping that he knew about the private investigator Burke hired to ask questions about the Collins family ahead of his return to Collinsport. But Burke is able to talk his way around whatever claims of suspicion are made, leaving Malloy no choice but to concede with, “You’re a smooth talker, Burke. Always were.”


Yet now in episode 39, which in story time is barely twenty-four hours later, Bill Malloy volunteers to play the role of the hero as he steps boldly into the middle of things to save the Collins family from financial ruin. In addition, he says something quite out of character after Elizabeth’s repeated denials about feeling pressured by Burke Devlin’s initial actions against the family business: “With your permission or without it, I’m gonna… I’m gonna stop Burke cold. And I’m gonna do it today.”


Since when would Bill Malloy, the very embodiment of loyalty and trust, do something without his employer’s permission especially when that something involves his employer directly? But this is just what one would expect from a break with character continuity – more questions than answers.


Open house at Evans cottage (18)_ep39



Although Lela Swift is not directing this episode, she is nonetheless in the control room annoying Dan Curtis all through taping with complaints about acting performance and makeup.


[opening scene]

Lela: Dan, David Ford is slacking off. He’s not giving his performance enough drama.

Dan: Oh, Lela. There’s nothing wrong with David Ford’s performance.

Lela: David Ford is not giving it the drama.

Lela: Oh, for Christ sakes, Lela. If you have something to say, save it for the opening theme. Don’t disrupt the actors in their scene.



Lela: Dan, David Ford is slacking off. He’s not putting enough drama into his performance. He’s too low key this time.

Dan: Lela, you can’t have crazy, over-the-top drama in every scene…


In the middle of Act I, as the scene changes from Evans cottage to the Collinwood drawing room, Lela can be heard through the control room microphone calling for Mitch Ryan:

Lela: Mitch, come on up to the control room. I want to ask you a question… Mitch, what do you think about working with David Ford? Everyone says he’s a refreshing change from Mark Allen.

Mitch Ryan: Well I’m glad you got rid of the letch. I like David Ford, I think he’s a fine actor. Why do you think he’s slacking off?

Lela: I’m just trying to get him to kick his acting back up a notch, the way it was when he made his debut…


In the middle of Act II, just after the scene has returned to Evans cottage, Dan reacts to Lela’s discussion with Mitch Ryan:


Dan: For Christ sakes, Lela. Why did you have to mention that awful Mark Allen? People around here are trying to forget about that guy.

Lela: I was just trying to get a sense of comparison.

Dan: Yeah, but why bring up Mark Allen?

Lela: David Ford is not bringing enough drama to his performance.

Dan: Oh, Jesus Christ, this again. David Ford is bringing to his performance pathos. That’s what it needs.

Lela: Dan, you don’t know the first thing about acting on a soap opera. It needs dramatic performances…


At the start of Act III, as Roger and Sam resume their heated discussion at Evans cottage:


Lela: Dan, that makeup job on Louis Edmonds looks dreadful.

Louis Edmonds' makeup job_ep39

Dan: Oh no, now you’re complaining about the makeup department. Is there no end to your complaints, Lela?

Lela: That makeup job looks like something out of a B-movie.

Dan: So what am I supposed to do about it?

Lela: You said you wanted to go for realism, and that makeup job looks fake.

Dan: Lela, I am telling you, I am sick and tired of your constant complaining.

Lela: Dan, I’m trying to help you!

Dan: Lela, you’re not even directing this fucking episode! Why are you here in the control room complaining about everything? John Sedwick is directing.

Lela: I’m here so I can keep on top of everything from episode to episode, so I’ll know what to do when I am directing again. And one thing I’m going to make sure of when I’m directing is that the makeup job for Louis Edmonds’ stitches looks real.

Dan: What’s your problem, Lela? Are you trying to criticize John Sedwick’s directing?

Lela: Only an associate director would allow a makeup job like that to go on the air.

Dan: John Sedwick is doing a fine job. Now will you please stop complaining?


[end credits]

Dan: Lela, I’m going to tell you one time and one time only, so pay attention. When John Sedwick is directing an episode, you stay the hell out of the control room. You got that?

Lela: But Dan, I’m trying to help you, don’t you understand that?

Dan: I understand that you’re complaining about everything…

Bob Lloyd: Dark Shadows is a Dan Curtis production.


Until next time, this has been The Dan and Lela Show.


Photo Gallery:

Roger: “I told you I didn’t want Burke coming here…”

Roger reminds Sam about stopping the portrait sitting with Burke_ep39


Sam: “Burke Devlin is a man of independent thought…”

Sam explains why he couldn't get out of doing the portrait for Burke_ep39


Roger [after Burke knocks at the front door]: “Don’t answer it…”

Roger tries to stop Sam from answering the front door_ep39


Burke: “Now you’re not going to try to cancel out again, are you?”

Burke tries to keep Sam from canceling another sitting (2)_ep39


Roger listens from another room as Sam tries to postpone his appointment with Burke.

Roger listening to Sam and Burke from another room_ep39


Burke finally has a portrait sitting with Sam.

Burke has a portrait sitting with Sam_ep39


Bill: “I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately thinking about you.”

Bill tells Liz he's been having trouble sleeping over worry_ep39


Burke: “You interrupted my portrait posing, hope you know that.” Bill: “That what you were doin’ at Evans’ place?” Burke: “Yes. When it’s finished, maybe I’ll give it to Mrs. Stoddard. How do you think my face would look, hanging in Collinwood?” Bill: “You’ll never make it, Burke.”

Burke discusses with Bill Malloy the portrait Sam Evans is doing of him_ep39


Roger: “You’re lying! You wouldn’t dare write a letter like that!” Sam: “I’ve got nothing to lose, nothing at all… Why don’t you ask around? Why don’t you ask your sister, or Bill Malloy, or that new woman up on the hill – ”

Sam tells Roger about the letter he wrote the night before_ep39


“Did I hear my name mentioned?”

Open house at Evans cottage (1)_ep39


Favorite Lines/Exchanges:

[Sam opens the front door for Burke]

Burke: I was beginning to think you’d forgotten our appointment.

Sam [sheepish grin]: Oh, come on in, Burke.

Burke: I’d hate to have gone and gotten myself pretty for nothing.

Bill: I don’t know if you know this, Liz, but Burke’s been making a few inquiries about your business properties.

Elizabeth: What do you mean, inquiries?

Bill: Mortgages, notes, the rest of it. And not only on the cannery and fishing fleet, on everything you own.

Elizabeth: Are you sure of that?

Bill: A hundred percent, no. Fifty percent sure, yes. Matter of fact, that’s one of the main reasons I came up here today, to let you know.

Elizabeth: What reason would he have?

Bill: Moby Dick, Liz. Captain Ahab chasing after the great white whale that chewed his leg off. Went after it for years. Not just to get a leg back, but to destroy it, all of it. That’s all he ever thought of, destroying the thing that hurt him

Elizabeth: Captain Ahab was a madman.

Bill: Single-minded, like Burke.

Burke [during the portrait setting]: How you doin’?

Sam: Hold still.

Burke: Can I talk?

Sam: If you don’t move.

Burke: Tell me, Sam. Have you ever been up to Collinwood?

Sam: Once, long time ago.

Burke: Did you ever wonder what it’d be like to live in a place like that?

Sam: Once, long time ago.

Sam [after Burke has left]: Alright, he’s gone.

Roger: Evans, I could quite easily kill you.

Bill: Shouldn’t leave your door open, Sam, if you don’t want company.


Background/Production Notes:

Associate director John Sedwick fills in as director for a full week of taping, credited for episodes 39 through 43.


As the opening scene narration by Victoria Winters gets underway, location footage used to represent the exterior of Evans cottage is shown. This was among the footage shot by Dan Curtis and crew in the spring of sixty-six, once the location intended as the backdrop of Collinsport was decided upon.

Location footage_Essex Connecticut_Evans cottage_ep39


This location is along the eastern waterfront of Essex, Connecticut, by North Cove. The real-life address is 17 Little Point Street, and a 2013 image from Google Street Views shows what Evans cottage looks like in more recent times.

Evans cottage_17 Little Point Street_Essex CT


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


Set Design:

The opening scene features a lovely shot of the Evans cottage living room, with the electric green Victorian oil lamp on the writing table by the telephone, along with the bay window by the studio where Sam paints, a location that by day admits his preferred north light.

Evans cottage_bay window_opening scene_ep39


The bay window of the artist’s studio is one of the many influences borrowed from the 1944 motion picture The Uninvited, which served as a blueprint for story creator and developer Art Wallace to use as a backdrop so that the initial idea Dan Curtis had for a program on daytime television could become a reality.


(Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey with the bay window of the painter’s lair known as the “Bluebeard room” in The Uninvited)

The Uninvited_bay window in the artist's studio (3)_ep37A


Bloopers/Story Continuity:

In the opening slating segment, ABC announcer Bob Lloyd initially misreads the videotape recorded (VTR) date before correcting himself: “Dark Shadows number 39, VTR 8/6 – 8/4 ’66…”

Slating for episode 39_ep39


In Act I, Mitch Ryan has a slight misstep when he says a line as: “…I’ve go[t] – I have a yen to have my portrait painted…”


In Act II, David Ford says one line as: “…So help me, Burke, I can’t remember half the things that I do – half the things that I say…”


In Act IV, with the camera moving to the right as Roger and Sam talk in the living room of Evans cottage its shadow outline can be seen against Sam’s blazer jacket.

Camera blooper_shadow outline of camera against Sam's blazer_Act IV_ep39



In the opening scene, while Sam assesses the possible value of some of his personal effects, a view is given of a portrait in his studio of his late wife. The portrait was first shown in episode 22, when Burke drops by and comments to Maggie on how she resembles her mother.

Mrs. Sam Evans_portrait seen in studio_ep39


On Dark Shadows, Sam’s wife is never mentioned by first name. However, she has been given the name Sally in The Paper to the Flame, part of the 2018 Big Finish Productions audio series Maggie & Quentin: The Lovers’ Refrain.

Big Finish Productions_Maggie & Quentin_The Lovers' Refrain_2018_ep39


Food & Drink in Collinsport:

In the opening scene, before anyone shows up at Evans cottage, Sam is having a cup of coffee.

Sam with a cup of coffee_opening scene_ep39


To diffuse the situation when Burke keeps asking questions about Roger Collins and Collinwood, Sam pours himself a drink.

Sam pours himself a drink_Act II_ep39


After quickly downing the one drink just moments later, Sam is pouring another.

Sam pours a second drink_Act II_ep39


Hardly a minute or so later, while Burke is on the phone with Mr. Malloy, Sam can he heard generously freshening his glass.


(Sam working on his third drink in as many minutes as Burke heads for the door)

Sam with third drink_Act II_ep39


At the start of Act III, while Sam has stepped outside to make sure Burke is safely away, Roger is helping himself to a glass of Sam’s whiskey.

Roger helps himself to a glass of Sam's whiskey (2)_ep39


In Act IV, in the restaurant at Collinsport Inn, Bill sits before a cup of coffee as he discusses with Burke a possible deal between them.

Bill Malloy with a cup of coffee_Collinsport Inn restaurant (3)_Act IV_ep39


In the middle of Act IV, as Sam is away washing up after his charcoal sketching session with Burke, Roger helps himself to yet another glass of Sam’s whiskey.

Roger helps himself to a glass of Sam's whiskey_ep39


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 39 was airing on ABC, Tuesday August 18, 1966, following in the 4:30 time slot was season 2, episode 243 of Where the Action Is.


Where The Action Is_opening theme_18 August 1966_ep39


Dick Clark: “Where the Action Is is brought you by, Armstrong EPIC, first thin-coat floor wax…”

WTAI_Armstrong EPIC ad_18 August 1966_ep38


“…and by, Bactine, the modern no sting antiseptic.”

WTAI_Bactine ad_18 August 1966 (2)_ep39


Dick Clark: “…Paul Revere and the Raiders in Minneapolis land, and there we swing on back to, uh, the Floridian, to get ahold of the Action gang… [the Action Kids] Kids, come on over here!…”

WTAI_the Action Kids_s2 e243_18 August 1966 (3)_ep39


“…Join the Critters, second big hit, Mr. Dieingly Sad…”

WTAI_the Action Kids_s2 e243_18 August 1966 (2)_ep39


“Just a breeze will muss your hair”

WTAI_Critters_Mr. Dieingly Sad_s2 e243_18 August 1966 (1)_ep39


“But you smile away each little care”

WTAI_Critters_Mr. Dieingly Sad_s2 e243_18 August 1966 (2)_ep39


“And if the rain should make you blue”

WTAI_Critters_Mr. Dieingly Sad_s2 e243_18 August 1966 (3)_ep39


“You say tomorrow is a new”

WTAI_Critters_Mr. Dieingly Sad_s2 e243_18 August 1966 (4)_ep39


“Blue be your eyes, blonde your hair”

WTAI_Critters_Mr. Dieingly Sad_s2 e243_18 August 1966 (5)_ep39


“You realize beyond a care”

WTAI_Critters_Mr. Dieingly Sad_s2 e243_18 August 1966 (6)_ep39


“Life’s in a hurry, but”

WTAI_Critters_Mr. Dieingly Sad_s2 e243_18 August 1966 (7)_ep39


“You’ve got no worry, you’re”

WTAI_Critters_Mr. Dieingly Sad_s2 e243_18 August 1966 (8)_ep39


“So mystifyingly glad”

WTAI_Critters_Mr. Dieingly Sad_s2 e243_18 August 1966 (9)_ep39


“I’m Mr. Dieingly Sad”

WTAI_Critters_Mr. Dieingly Sad_s2 e243_18 August 1966 (10)_ep39


If it appeared like the debut single by New Jersey group the Critters, Younger Girl, was going for the mellower folk-rock sound of The Lovin’ Spoonful, it would seem to be no coincidence as the song was written by Spoonful founding member and lead singer John Sebastian. But their follow-up and biggest hit, Mr. Dieingly Sad (#17 U.S. Billboard Hot 100) was written by Critters lead singer Don Ciccone.


You may also be familiar with Don Ciccone’s work from the seventies, contributing as the bass player for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on their 1976 number one hit December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night) and also singing the falsetto part: “I felt a rush like a rolling ball of thunder/Spinning my head around and taking my body under…”


(Don Ciccone, right, as a member of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, 1975)

On the Flipside_Don Ciccone as a member of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons_1975_ep39


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 40: Coffee Time


— 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.

17 thoughts on “Episode 39: Open House at Evans Cottage”

  1. Seems Lela Swift was about having full-on drama in each installment, where David Ford (as an actor) understood the importance of building the drama. Starting with full-blown histrionics gives an actor no place to ‘go’ in a scene, or with their character. Ms. Swift MUST have known that – which makes her attitude even less comprehensible to me. Guess she wanted to earn her crown as a Drama Queen? She sure seems to like stirring the pot!

  2. Wonder if Lela’s special for women offered any helpful solutions for dealing with problematic men? Like putting rat poison in their coffee!

  3. @Count

    Yeah, the man with the shovel. That’s someone Joe brings out to the house, a local handyman, with the intention of getting Elizabeth to allow that extensive home repairs be done. He isn’t a regular caretaker, and otherwise has no relationship with Elizabeth Stallworth.

  4. Here’s a fun fact from IMDB: In 1961, Lela Swift directed a TV Movie titled, “Special For Women: What’s Wrong with Men?”

    Now that’s a funny question in the title, “… What’s Wrong with Men?” 🙂

    To find the answer, fast forward from 1961 to 1966: Apparently, what’s wrong with men – or at least with male actors – is that some wear baggy trousers, have jumbo derrières, and tend to spit out bits of egg while reciting dialogue!

  5. POTN wrote, “As yet I haven’t been able to trace a prototype for caretaker Matthew Morgan, and it’s most likely that there isn’t one. The character isn’t mentioned in Art Wallace’s outline Shadows on the Wall.”

    Priz, I could very well be mistaken in my recollection of “The Web” (1954), but was there a caretaker or a gardener or, if not, at least someone like that, who was carrying a shovel to do some digging in Art Wallace’s “The Web” episode from 1954?

    I had quickly re-viewed “The Web” a few days ago on YouTube, and at the end of it I think I recall seeing somebody carrying a shovel …

    I could have mistaken the man with the shovel in his hand for a caretaker/gardener. I probably just mistook the digger to be the caretaker of the property, as Matthew Morgan was for Mrs. Stoddard. I’ll watch it again, but will pay closer attention next time to who’s who.

    I don’t have a copy of “Shadows on the Wall,” however, but I’m sure you’re correct about there being no caretaker in the DS bible.

  6. Oh, incidentally, Lela did work on a daytime soap for ABC in 1964 — The Young Marrieds. It followed General Hospital at 3:30 but didn’t last long because it ran against Edge of Night.

    As with Dark Shadows, it seems Lela started out as the main director, having directed the first 14 episodes, then sporadically thereafter in short spurts, 24 in all. Maybe the producer couldn’t stand her complaints about actors’ trousers. 🙂

  7. As yet I haven’t been able to trace a prototype for caretaker Matthew Morgan, and it’s most likely that there isn’t one. The character isn’t mentioned in Art Wallace’s outline Shadows on the Wall. After dismissing all the servants etc. to become a recluse, one of Elizabeth Stoddard’s few remaining contacts with the outside world is a woman from town hired for house-cleaning duties once a week; the woman is the mother of… Joe Haskell. Once he’s old enough to drive Joe drops his mother off at Collinwood and picks her up at the end of the day — that’s how he came to be friendly with Carolyn.

    It’s more likely that the Matthew Morgan character was created as an afterthought to menace Vicki — recall their first meeting in episode 6, and that Matthew isn’t altogether friendly and helpful thereafter, despite the offer of tea and muffins in episode 13.

    Matter of fact, that’s how Mrs. Johnson was first intended; aside from spying on the Collins’ for Burke Devlin, she was originally meant to be “a sinister, insane character” who would present danger for Vicki.

    After all, Dark Shadows was once upon a time the story of Victoria Winters.

  8. There isn’t a ton of information on what work Lela Swift did before she became the lead director on Dark Shadows. DS seems to be the first *daily TV show* she directed. The programs she directed prior to DS weren’t what you’d call soap operas.

    Internet Movie Database (IMDB) states she worked in radio, worked as a producer, was hired by CBS, directed some early live TV, and interestingly also worked on a TV program called “The Web,” where … who knows … she may have even crossed paths with future DS writer Art Wallace. As Priz has previously detailed here in the D.S.F.B. blog, Art Wallace in fact wrote an installment of “The Web” in 1954 featuring about half a dozen familiar pre-cursors to the characters in DS. These characters later reappear in Wallace’s “The House” (1957), an episode of “Goodyear Playhouse.” The characters are then revived, modernized, and made affluent (the Collins family) in 1966 for “Dark Shadows” where they become our well-known, beloved characters Mrs. Stoddard, Carolyn, Sam Evans, Jason McGuire, Joe Haskell, and one or two others, possibly caretaker Matthew Morgan.

  9. I wish we knew something about the behavior of other soap opera directors of the time. Did they also make negative and often insulting comments about the actors during filming on the live control room mic – for the entire cast and crew to overhear? I doubt it. Lela was a bully. She could have accomplished the same ends by having meetings with Dan and the actors in question behind closed doors. Instead, she used humiliation and intimidation to control the show her way.
    She may have been better able to produce a soap opera than Dan Curtis but it’s hard to tell since she seemed to spend most of her time forcing him to comply with her demands.
    I have to think that Dark Shadows would have benefited more from a director who spend her time directing instead of stirring up nonstop disruption in the control room.

  10. ” … she [Lela] was more able to run a soap opera than he [Dan] was.”

    That makes good sense based upon what little information we have about this relationship. Oftentimes the simplest explanation turns out to be the correct one. I don’t know enough to make further assumptions about Dan and Lela. Therefore it would be mere speculation on my part to hazard a different guess, so I won’t. You know, Occam’s razor.

    But if anyone else has a better theory or more information, let’s hear it …

  11. Samantha wrote, ” … I don’t understand why Dan Curtis put up with her.” I must agree.

    Most of the other cast & crew members might have feared Dan Curtis might fire them on the spot from the show. Lela however feels so extremely secure as a colleague and co-equal of Dan Curtis that she is emboldened to challenge Dan *repeatedly.* I find this rather odd …

    There must be a reason or some sort of explanation for her bold behavior and/or her feeling so secure in her job. I just don’t know the two personalities of Dan & Lela well enough to have the faintest idea what that reason could be …

  12. I prefer David Ford’s portrayal of Sam Evans. To me, he conveys a wider range of emotional states and does so more effectively than the prior actor in the same role, Mark Allen.

    Ford’s moods can swing from good-natured to quite angry, from fearful to joking, from exhibiting warm concern for his daughter to being extremely drunk, from merely worrying to suffering an attack of panic. He exhibits much variety.

    I did not relate as well to Mark Allen’s portrayal, nor did I feel sympathy for his version of Sam. Allen’s portrayal of the Sam Evans character, though adequate I suppose, strikes me as a mean, selfish man who could rather easily commit perjury against young Devlin in exchange for money from Roger.

    As Sam, David Ford gives us a realistic portrayal of a man in a growing state of panic, who is tormented by the guilt from his past misdeeds, and driven to the verge of madness by the knowledge that his past actions may soon be found out. And he just cannot figure a way to escape the horrible situation he has wrought for himself, or find a path to make things right again. (Sam’s entanglements remind me also of Liz Stoddard’s similar predicament.)

    Ford is a better choice than Allen if what Dan and Lela really desire is versatility. I haven’t a clue why Ford’s acting here isn’t enough drama to satisfy Lela Swift!

  13. I agree. David Ford was wonderful in this episode. Lela was just being disruptive. I don’t understand why Dan Curtis put up with her.

  14. Not at all. Part of the charm of David Ford is the many moods he brings to his portrayal of Sam Evans.

    Lela underestimates the viewer, in part because she likely believes they will lose interest if not bombarded with constant melodrama.

    If Lela had her way 100%, then Dark Shadows would have ended up being just another soap opera.

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