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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Roger: “I told you I didn’t want Burke coming here…”
Sam: “Burke Devlin is a man of independent thought…”
Roger [after Burke knocks at the front door]: “Don’t answer it…”
Burke: “Now you’re not going to try to cancel out again, are you?”
Roger listens from another room as Sam tries to postpone his appointment with Burke.
Burke finally has a portrait sitting with Sam.
Bill: “I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately thinking about you.”
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.”
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 – ”
“Did I hear my name mentioned?”
[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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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)
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…”
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.
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.
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.
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
In the opening scene, before anyone shows up at Evans cottage, Sam is having a cup of coffee.
To diffuse the situation when Burke keeps asking questions about Roger Collins and Collinwood, Sam pours himself a drink.
After quickly downing the one drink just moments later, Sam is pouring another.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dick Clark: “Where the Action Is is brought you by, Armstrong EPIC, first thin-coat floor wax…”
“…and by, Bactine, the modern no sting antiseptic.”
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!…”
“…Join the Critters, second big hit, Mr. Dieingly Sad…”
“Just a breeze will muss your hair”
“But you smile away each little care”
“And if the rain should make you blue”
“You say tomorrow is a new”
“Blue be your eyes, blonde your hair”
“You realize beyond a care”
“Life’s in a hurry, but”
“You’ve got no worry, you’re”
“So mystifyingly glad”
“I’m Mr. Dieingly Sad”
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)
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 40: Coffee Time
— Marc Masse
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