Today Dark Shadows crosses over to the supernatural. In so doing, a new chapter in the story of Victoria Winters is presented; more about this below, in the main body of the post.
Dark Shadows fans have wondered why the original story of Victoria Winters, as outlined in the series bible Shadows on the Wall by story creator and developer Art Wallace, was dropped. It wasn’t; rather, it was revised.
Episode 60, also written by Wallace, strongly hints for the family background of Victoria Winters a maternal rather than paternal link to Collinwood, which is implied further in episode 127.
For now, today’s episode provides the first ever Dark Shadows mashup:
Alfred Hitchcock Presents + The Uninvited = Dark Shadows episode 52
It has long been said that the story of Victoria Winters was based on Jane Eyre. In the words of Dan Curtis: “One night I had a dream…it was a girl on a train…and she was being hired as a governess, to work in this big house, and she steps out on the empty platform…and the train pulls away into the darkness and the mist…and she’s standing there all alone…and I woke up.”
Similar to Victoria Winters, Jane spent most of her childhood growing up in an orphanage until finally becoming a teacher there before advertising her services as a governess to accept a job elsewhere. Each episode of Dark Shadows begins with a first-person narration featuring the voice of Victoria Winters, again reflecting the style of storytelling used by the protagonist in Jane Eyre.
After these general points, however, the similarities begin to diverge: Jane travels by coach rather than by train, and for Victoria Winters at Collinwood there is no Edward Rochester for her to fall in love with and marry; Vicki’s only outward attachment to the strange new world of the great estate is her task of tutoring David, which when the boy’s mother returns at one point intent on taking him away with her makes her seem potentially expendable insofar as the Collins family is concerned.
It’s more likely that when having the dream one night in 1965, the subconscious mind of Dan Curtis may have instead been piecing together a revised version of the 1945 film noir motion picture The Unseen, starring Gail Russell as a young governess who travels by train from the big city to tutor two young children in a large townhouse located in a provincial New England village.
Gail Russell’s character Elizabeth Howard travels the rest of the way to her destination by taxi.
As governess for the Fielding family, Miss Howard will become caught up in the intrigue surrounding a mysterious abandoned property immediately adjacent to the house where she will be working.
Miss Howard’s employer is David Fielding, a widower and the dismissive and patronizing prototype for Roger Collins who likewise regards his young son Barnaby with a hostile indifference which leads the boy’s governess to question Mr. Fielding on why he seems to think of his son as a “little monster.”
(Joel McCrea as David Fielding)
The prototype for David Collins is also found in The Unseen. As with David’s lingering attachment for his mother, Barney Fielding had developed a strong attachment for his former governess Maxine and resents Elizabeth’s presence as a replacement, telling her in no uncertain terms that he hates her and wishes she would just go away.
(Richard Lyon as Barnaby “Barney” Fielding)
It would naturally follow that the character of Victoria Winters would be taken from that of Elizabeth Howard in The Unseen, given how so much of what the early days of Dark Shadows was based on had been lifted from the previous Paramount Pictures film that Gail Russell had starred in, The Uninvited, released in 1944 and noteworthy as the first major motion picture to present a ghost story in a serious and decidedly spine-tingling context.
(A ghost haunts the halls of Windward House in The Uninvited)
Like Collinwood, Windward House sits atop a high cliff…
…with waves pounding against the rocks below.
Within the walls of Windward House, bizarre occurrences take place, like doors that open or close as if by themselves…
…and the unsettling sound of a woman sobbing from somewhere down below can be heard in the night.
(Ruth Hussey and Ray Milland react to the sound of a sobbing woman in The Uninvited)
If you’ve ever wondered why early Dark Shadows promotional photos have images of Victoria Winters running away from the big house…
(Image taken from the Blue Whale Books publication Dark Shadows: The First Year, p. 117)
…it’s because Gail Russell’s character Stella Meredith does so in The Uninvited.
Caught in the grip of a sudden instance of paranormal possession, Stella is impelled to run toward the cliff and reenact the death of her mother Mary…
…who had fallen to her death there seventeen years earlier.
As noted above, The Uninvited is a ghost story, in which books are seen to open by themselves…
…which brings us to today’s episode of Dark Shadows.
Despite everyone else in the house including Matthew the caretaker telling them otherwise, Carolyn is immovable in her conviction of what they saw at the bottom of the cliff: “…and no matter what my mother says, or Matthew or uncle Roger, no matter what anybody else says, what we saw out there tonight was the body of a dead man.”
It naturally follows that they should begin speculating as to who the mystery dead man may have been.
Vicki: Well what we saw did look like the body of a dead man.
Carolyn: Yes it did.
Vicki: But Matthew said he walked up and down the shore and there wasn’t anything there.
Carolyn: But Vicki, it could have been there and washed away again before Matthew went out to look.
Vicki: He didn’t seem to think so.
Carolyn: If the tide brought it in, then the tide could carry it out again.
Vicki: I don’t know anything about tides.
Carolyn: They’re fierce along this coast. They come in very fast. But they go out just as fast.
Vicki: Fast enough to carry a body away?
Carolyn: Sure. Especially down along this coast. That’s why mother would never let me swim here. Because of the tide and the undertow. She always said it was too dangerous.
Vicki: Well then that might me it!… If it was a dead man we saw.
Carolyn: You just don’t want to think it was, Vicki.
Vicki: I guess I don’t.
Carolyn: I wonder who he was.
Vicki: Maybe we’ll never know
Carolyn: I bet we will. Somebody has to report him missing.
Vicki: There’s only one person I know of that’s missing from Collinsport.
Carolyn: Whu… Well he doesn’t have to be from here! He could have been drowned way down the coast or,… fallen off a boat at sea –
Vicki: But it could be –
Carolyn: No it couldn’t!… [calmer] You do think it was Mr. Malloy, don’t you?
Vicki: Carolyn, all I’ve heard for the past twenty-four hours is, Where is Bill Malloy?
Carolyn: I’d have known if it was!
Vicki: We could hardly see the body, much less recognize it.
Carolyn: I still would’ve known…
This is the first time someone wonders if the body at the foot of Widow’s Hill could have been that of Bill Malloy. In the previous episode, when Elizabeth wonders if what the girls said they saw could have been in fact a drowned man, Roger jokes, “Perhaps Burke Devlin drowned himself in a fit of depression.”
It would make sense that Vicki should be the first to mention the possibility; she is the audience identification character, the one looking at Collinwood, its inhabitants, and the day-to-day—and night-by-night—goings-on the way the viewer would, as someone coming in from the outside. So she voices what the viewer has undoubtedly been thinking, by making a logical deduction.
One cannot emphasize enough something so often overlooked among Dark Shadows fans, that Victoria Winters is in fact smart. The eventual dimming-down of the Victoria Winters character is as great a lingering frustration as the writing department’s failure to resolve the truth of her family background during the show’s initial run. But in the first few months of episodes, Victoria Winters is among the most intelligent and perceptive of all the characters on Dark Shadows, and her keen proclivity for pattern recognition will be crucial to resolving some of the key storylines to come.
In fact, in these early episodes it’s Carolyn who is mostly naïve and a bit dim as she proceeds through many situations with blinders on, particularly where Burke Devlin is concerned. But one can hardly blame her for the willful denial in the above exchange with Vicki as they discuss the probable identity of the dead man they saw at the bottom of Widow’s Hill. After all, Bill Malloy is the closest Carolyn has ever had to a father figure. With her own father having walked out six months before she was even born, the thought of losing a second such role model in her life would simply be too great a burden to bear.
Yet despite this, and notwithstanding that it’s Bill Malloy on everyone’s mind, this episode nonetheless belongs to Victoria Winters. It is here in this episode where the first hint is given of her true family lineage, and it isn’t the paternal link to Paul Stoddard as originally outlined in Shadows on the Wall.
For a full, officially sanctioned resolution to the story of Victoria Winters, the reader is referred to Return to Collinwood, a 2004 audio drama written by Jamison Selby and starring the original cast and which in addition has the seal of authenticity as granted by Dan Curtis Productions.
Episode 52 of Dark Shadows, recorded on a Tuesday in August 1966, offers up a tentative link between Victoria Winters and Josette Collins.
Still spooked by the evening’s events, Carolyn has asked if she could bunk in with Vicki for the night. While preparing to turn in, Carolyn hears a noise from downstairs, a thumping sound which can be heard several times at regular intervals.
This is the first half of the mashup for today’s episode. For further details, see the footnote section below on part of the source material Dan Curtis was drawing on for episode 52.
Carolyn places the sound as coming from the drawing room, so presumably Vicki’s room is located directly above the drawing room, which fits the layout of Collinwood as implied by the foyer and upstairs hallway set designs and which also means that Carolyn and Vicki would most likely be the only ones in the house able to hear the sound coming from below.
Because the mashup for today’s episode consists of the combination of two separate ghost stories, discovering the supernatural source of the mysterious noise heard in the house tonight means gradually ruling out any natural circumstances, beginning with Vicki’s first guess being her mischievous nine-year-old charge.
Upon going across the hallway as the first step toward catching David in the act, it turns out that the Little Monster is in fact in his room all tucked in and dozing away in his own private nocturnal abattoir along the boulevard of brake valve dreams.
Soon after, the telephone rings from down in the foyer, and Carolyn tags along for fear of being left alone as Vicki goes downstairs to answer it, which turns out to be just a hang-up caller having apparently dialed a wrong number.
This however places them right outside the drawing room just as the thumping sound is heard yet again.
How odd that the double doors should be closed with no one inside.
Vicki is determined to go into the drawing room and find out just what it is that keeps making that strange sound.
Carolyn: I know there are no such things as ghosts, but… suppose there are?
Vicki: Well then I’ll see something I’ve never seen before.
As will viewers of daytime television.
First, once the lights are on, Vicki calls out, “Who’s in here?” Then the large curtain by the window flutters, and Vicki lets out a gasp, all the while with Bob Cobert’s eerie music score accentuating the mood – if Collinwood isn’t actually haunted, it at least sure sounds like it is.
Then in a moment of relief, after having pulled back the curtain to find that there was no one there, Vicki closes the window securely and says, “It must’ve been the wind.”
But then Carolyn makes a puzzling discovery – an open book on the floor in the middle of the room.
Vicki closes the book as she picks it up; then, holding it out before her, lets it drop. It’s the exact sound they’ve been hearing all along.
Now, in favor of building up for the viewer to the supernatural element of the story, they rule out any further logical explanations as to how the book happened to get from the table nearby to the middle of the room:
Vicki: Well, it must have fallen off the table…
Vicki: …I guess it couldn’t have gotten all the way over here, though.
Carolyn: Not by itself. Now do you believe what I was saying?
Vicki: No. There has to be a logical explanation.
Vicki: Maybe a cat got in the window and knocked it off.
Carolyn: In all my life in this house, I have never seen a cat in here. Anyway, a cat couldn’t get the book from that table to here, it’s very heavy… There’s only one other possible explanation and I don’t even like to think about that one.
So much for logical explanations. After switching off the lights and heading back upstairs for the safety of a locked door, the camera moves in on the book and the second half of the mashup for today’s episode takes place as depicted in the animated image at the top of the post.
In the movie The Uninvited, whenever a book is being opened as if by itself, it’s actually the work of a spirit entity, a benevolent force acting to provide helpful information to a member of the living. We will see this also on Dark Shadows during the phoenix story, which as in The Uninvited has a large family estate with a storied history of tragic death and ghostly hauntings become the setting of a battleground between hostile and benign supernatural forces.
During the phoenix story the ghost of Josette Collins will choose Victoria Winters as an ally through which to impart vital clues which could expose and destroy the malevolent forces at work in Collinwood, the means of which are lifted directly from The Uninvited, like books falling open at key passages in pivotal moments as well as a signature perfume worn by the spirit entity in life to let certain members of the living know of their presence. Josette’s appearances in such critical instances show also that she is watching over those with whom she comes in contact.
Yet even before the phoenix story, when Vicki falls in danger, Josette will play a protective role, one that will hint strongly toward revealing the family background of Victoria Winters, which we shall explore in depth in the post for episode 127.
This especially solicitous nature of Josette, as if to reinforce a consanguineous connection with Vicki, is further explained in episode 212, when David and Barnabas meet for the first time by chance at the Old House. At first David thinks his newly arrived cousin from England is a ghost, but explains that it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for him to be speaking with him so casually were it so, adding that he talks with ghosts all the time, which intrigues Barnabas.
Barnabas: “Now tell me more about those ghosts.”
David’s favorite is Josette Collins.
Barnabas: “Our ancestor from over a hundred years ago.”
David: “You’re not afraid, are you?”
Barnabas: “Perhaps I am.”
David: “Don’t be. She wouldn’t hurt you, she’d help you. You know, kind of protect you… especially if you’re a Collins.”
So perhaps Josette’s first “appearance” here in the Collinwood drawing room in episode 52 is well-timed, as someone may be in need of such a watchful, caring presence. Indeed, in the very next episode, David reveals over breakfast to Miss Winters the latest vision from his crystal ball; that someone in Collinsport is going to try and kill her.
Thus begins a significant turning point in the evolution of Dark Shadows. The supernatural moment borrowed from The Uninvited is strategically placed at the very end of Act III, so that the kids just home from school waiting to tune in to the Dick Clark music program Where the Action Is would be likely to catch it. Just a little further along, Dark Shadows will become even more clever about luring in potential young viewers by placing such surprise supernatural moments at the very end of a given episode, in the final minutes or seconds, so that the younger viewing audience ready for WTAI to start would be almost certain to see something that would pique their interest.
Dark Shadows is known for being the first daytime soap to attract a large audience of younger viewers, mainly because of the phenomenal popularity of the vampire story and Barnabas in particular, but what is often overlooked is that the opportunity for acquiring such a youth demographic to begin with was the result of network programming and the time slot in which Dark Shadows was scheduled during its first year.
As noted above, Dark Shadows, airing at 4 pm Eastern time, was the lead-in for WTAI, which featured appearances and performances by hundreds of the most well-known music groups and singing stars of the period.
The ABC network was intent on bringing in their share of younger viewers for this important after-school time slot. The show that Dark Shadows replaced in the four o’clock time slot was a teen-oriented serial called Never Too Young, which starred Tony Dow of Leave It to Beaver fame and which debuted in 1965 and ran a full season before being cancelled. Thus, it would seem that Dark Shadows from the very beginning would have been expected to tap into this younger viewing audience, which it never even would have had the chance of acquiring had it been placed in the more traditional afternoon soap time slots of 1:00 to 3:30.
Let’s have a look at Never Too Young, just to get a sense of what the 4 pm time slot on ABC consisted of from September 1965 up until Friday June 24, 1966 the week before Dark Shadows made its debut.
It starts out with the camera panning around a sunlit beach, with a lot of kids hanging around doing the things young people do, while a popular hit instrumental plays; naturally, one of them is carrying a guitar.
(The “In” Crowd by the Ramsey Lewis Trio, 1965)
Then one of the teen characters arrives on the scene, having been driven by her overly protective mother, who’s worried when her daughter tells her not to bother picking her up later on because “one of the gang will give me a ride.”
Mother: Alright. Have Tad and Barbara bring you. At least I know them.
Daughter: Honestly, mother, sometimes you think I just came down here to pick up boys.
Mother: Now I never suggested that.
Daughter: Oh, I’m sorry. Look, we like it down here. We have fun with just… swim and surf and have fun goofing around.
Mother: Mm-hm. It’s the goofing around that worries me.
Daughter: Mother you know I didn’t mean it that way. Honestly, sometimes I just think you’re too far out of it.
Mother: No, darling. I’m just over it. I did my goofing around a long time ago. I’ve had a long time to regret it.
And that’s the opening scene for an episode called Welcome to the High Dive, the High Dive being the Blue Whale equivalent where young folks with their teen serial drama type issues and concerns have fun just “goofing around” while their parents sit at home worrying. This was the 4 pm Eastern time slot that Dark Shadows took over on Monday June 27, 1966.
So with the good fortune of having been placed right at the top of the after-school broadcast time, there was a huge demographic of younger viewers that Dark Shadows could bring in, and Dan Curtis knew it. Given the new and unprecedented subject matter he had to work with as the summer wore on, and no longer feeling constrained by the more traditional tropes of the daytime soap opera format, Dan decided that the way to attract younger viewers was by bringing a ghost onto Dark Shadows.
It must have been the spirit of the eternal child within that allowed Dan to understand that young viewers would be immediately intrigued if they saw a ghost on a daytime TV show, regardless if it was listed as a serial, that is to say, soap opera; because Dan seems to have understood as well as anyone that kids just love a spooky ghost story.
He’s right. It’s just something kids would naturally be drawn to. As a case in point, I remember sitting in front of the TV one day in October 1973 at the age of seven. I would be right up in front of the TV set in my usual sitting kneeling position (in Japanese the “seiza” pose, which is close to the “Thunderbolt” pose in Vajrasana yoga), and there was a commercial preview for the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie which had an episode of McMillan & Wife (The Devil You Say; season 3, episode 2, aired October 21, 1973). It was a Halloween-themed episode, and this is one of the things the preview showed:
The McMillan’s housekeeper, Mildred (played by Nancy Walker), is upstairs in one of the bedrooms and turns to look at the window because of a tapping sound…
…and sees an evil not quite human face looking in…
…and thusly reacts.
I got so excited, I just had to see this episode, just based on that crazy zoom-in close-up of the scary face. But when I asked, my parents said that no, it was too late and was after all a school night. Sometimes I would catch the very start of a McMillan & Wife episode; the door of my room was always open and at the foot of my bed I could see the TV just outside in the living room. The images from the opening theme of each episode would be forever etched in my mind, as would that catchy Henry Mancini music with the “whistling” intro:
(NBC Mystery Movie Opening Theme, 1973-1974 season)
Beyond the opening theme, I don’t remember too much of those episodes; they were right, it was on too late for me at the time. I finally did get to see that episode forty-five years later on DVD, and it was worth the wait. Now of course I can stay up as late as I want, and I can even understand the adult themes. Growing up is also worth the wait.
Already as of the summer of sixty-six, Dan Curtis knew how to go about reeling in the type of viewers that would in the long run make Dark Shadows a huge success. He just needed time.
Sure, Dark Shadows was a success because of Barnabas Collins, because of Angelique, because of 1795, because of Quentin, because of werewolves, because of more vampires, because of more time travel, because of 1897, because of all these things and more; but, most of all, because of Dan.
After all, Dark Shadows… is a Dan Curtis production.
Dan Curtis (right, in red shirt) with film crew on location at Seaview Terrace gathering exterior footage for Collinwood, spring 1966
The Gentleman from America is an episode from season 1 of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (episode 31; aired April 29, 1956).
Visiting London in 1940, Howard Latimer (second from right) has been winning big in the gambling room of a gentleman’s club, including the horse race that was just moments ago being broadcast on the radio.
Standing nearby and listening in on Latimer’s run of good fortune is Sir Stephen Hurstwood (right), with a trusted associate named Derek.
Recently down on his luck in his own gambling activities, Sir Stephen talks Derek into inviting Latimer for a game of poker.
When Latimer declines in favor of more frivolous pursuits like a show or a nightclub for the evening, Sir Stephen devises another scheme. While discussing the family mansion, Hurstwood Manor, he casually mentions that the house is inhabited by a ghost, which Derek describes as “the Hurstwood ghost” and which never appears to family members, but only to those who “try” to spend a night in the Cromwell room.
Skeptical at first, Latimer is intrigued by the prospect of earning an easy £1,000, which is the bet Sir Stephen wagers that he won’t be able to make it through the night in the Cromwell room of Hurstwood.
So Latimer accepts the deal.
Indeed, Hurstwood Manor looks foreboding enough just from the outside.
Having settled in for the night, Latimer reads up on the Hurstwood ghost in a reference volume titled Ghosts of Notable British Homes.
With Latimer’s thought-voice reading aloud, the tale of the Hurstwood ghost is told in flashback, which begins in the early nineteenth century with the two young daughters of the first baronet to inherit Hurstwood. In their first night in the new house, having arrived home from school on the Continent, the two girls are turning in for the night…
…when one of them hears a sound from somewhere down below…
…and decides to go investigate.
As a footnote to a footnote, in The Gentleman from America, Latimer was required to spend the entire night in the Cromwell room until six in the morning without leaving the room for any reason, which sounds quite similar to the lottery story from 1841 parallel time, where a selected family member once every generation had to endure a full night in the Cursed Room of Collinwood, which makes this episode from Alfred Hitchcock Presents an influence on Dark Shadows for all story seasons, both in 1966 and 1971.
From the control room:
Although it isn’t known the exact moment when Dan Curtis decided to bring a ghost onto Dark Shadows, it can be recorded with certainty the first time he floated the idea to a fellow crew member, this being director Lela Swift during the taping of episode 50.
The following excerpt occurs during a scene for that episode in the drawing room where Elizabeth is pressing Roger for the reason Bill Malloy was at Collinwood the night before and what he and Bill were arguing about. The exchange takes place immediately after the scene fades out and then back in for the start of Act IV:
Dan: You know what, Lela? I’ve been thinking of putting a ghost on Dark Shadows. What do you think of that?
Lela: Are you serious, Dan? A ghost?
Dan: Of course I’m serious. I’ve just been realizing, with this mystery story, that I can do whatever I want…
[Taping of episode 52]
The series: The Dan and Lela Show; the main players: director Lela Swift, executive producer Dan Curtis, with special guest John Sedwick; the setting: television studio control room; main prop: the control room microphone; opening scene…
Dan: You don’t have to be in the control room today. John Sedwick is directing this episode, Lela.
Lela: I know that John Sedwick is directing. What I have to talk to you about has nothing to do with directing. What is this idea of a ghost story supposed to be about?
Dan: Oh, boy. Lela, I am sick and tired of having to explain myself. This is my show.
Lela: Well, I think you should explain yourself to all these people who thought they were going to be on a soap opera, and now you’re about to turn it into a spook show.
Dan: One thing I will explain about is that I’m no longer feeling constrained by the limits of a soap opera. I’m learning that I can do whatever I want. If I want to do an Alfred Hitchcock story, I’ll do an Alfred Hitchcock story. If I want to do a ghost story, I’ll do a ghost story.
Lela: But this show is still listed as a serial.
Dan: We can still keep it as a serial.
Lela: What about unicorns? Are you going to bring on unicorns next?
Lela: Dan, why do you have to bring a ghost story to Dark Shadows? For crying out loud!
Dan: Lela, I am combining The Uninvited with Alfred Hitchcock, and that’s the way it’s going to play out. Like it or not…
[Act II begins, with Carolyn having heard a bumping sound from down below]
Dan: Art Wallace did a great thing basing the background of Dark Shadows on The Uninvited, and now I’m going to take it a step further. I’m getting really creative in this. I’m combining The Gentleman from America with The Uninvited. Never been done before on daytime television.
John Sedwick: But Dan, this is breaking all the rules of daytime television.
Dan: Fuck the rules of daytime television. I’m doing my show my way.
[Middle of Act II, Sam Evans telephones Collinwood]
Lela: Dan, I want to talk to you about this ghost story. This is supposed to be a soap opera, not a spook show. You can’t do a ghost story on daytime television!
Dan: Lela, I can do whatever the hell I want on my show! If I want to put a ghost on daytime television, then I’m going to put a ghost on daytime television.
[Act III begins, as Vicki and Carolyn enter the drawing room to investigate the source of the strange bumping sound they’ve been hearing; the camera catches crew members moving in the foyer to adjust the positioning of the drawing room doors]
Dan: Oh, for Christ sake! These goddamn bloopers!
Lela: Dan, no one will notice anything.
Dan: But I want Dark Shadows to be perfect. I’m bringing something to daytime television that’s never been seen before.
Lela: I know you are, Dan. And that’s the problem!
[Act III closes with the book on the drawing room table opening by itself to the page for Josette Collins; as the music cue builds and the scene fades out, Lela reacts from the control room]
Lela: Dan, you can’t do this!…
Lela: Dan, I am so disappointed in you, bringing a ghost story to Dark Shadows.
Dan: Lela, I’m trying to save the ratings. Kids love to watch shows about a ghost story. Kids who watch Where the Action Is might be tuning in.
Lela: Dan, what does Where the Action Is have to do with Dark Shadows?
Until next time, this has been The Dan and Lela Show.
Whereas in episode 49 scenic designer Sy Tomashoff had been taking a more minimalist approach to the scenery outside the window of Evans cottage by Sam’s studio…
…for today’s episode the multilayered lushness of trees is back…
…which is more in keeping with the exteriors captured for the house used to represent Evans cottage located at 17 Little Point Street in Essex, Connecticut.
(Location footage for Evans cottage, episode 39)
In Act II, Alexandra Moltke mixes up a word as Vicki and Carolyn discuss telling Elizabeth and Roger about the bumping noises they’ve been hearing from downstairs:
Vicki: Carolyn, they already think we’re hearing things – seeing things, now they’re going to think we’re hearing them.
During the same scene just a half-minute later, as Carolyn is saying that she’ll go out and find her wristwatch in the morning so that Joe won’t notice she isn’t wearing it, the sound of motor traffic accelerating outside the television studio can be heard, along with the honking of a horn another half-minute later, just as the scene is ending.
In Act II, Kathryn Leigh Scott has a slight line flub:
Sam: Burke’s not a one to forgive and forget.
Maggie: But Pop, you’re holding something back on – from me.
In Act III, as Vicki and Carolyn enter the drawing room to investigate the source of the bumping sound they’ve been hearing, when Vicki is moving by the drinks cabinet to switch on the lights, the camera angle reveals the edge of the drawing room set, and crew members can be seen hurrying toward the double doors which they push fully open as Vicki and Carolyn step into the room.
Also during Act III, when Carolyn steps forward to point out the open book lying in the middle of the floor and says “Look,” the sound drops out of fullness for a moment, as if the boom mic encountered a temporary obstruction and is only partially functioning.
In Act IV, David Ford gets the name of the town wrong:
Maggie: What does Roger Collins have to do with Burke’s portrait?
Sam: Well, he just doesn’t want me to do it, that’s all.
Maggie: But why? Does he want to hire you on an exclusive basis for the Collins family?
Sam: No, no, he’s only anxious that nothing keep Burke Devlin in Collinport.
At the start of Act IV, as Vicki and Carolyn return to Vicki’s room, a loud, short squeak is heard from the production area nearby.
During a scene in Act IV at the Evans cottage, a teleprompter weaves into view for a fraction of an instant at left of screen.
As the opening scene begins, the Petofi box is shown in its usual place on the hallway table outside Vicki’s room.
As Sam dials the number for Collinwood in Act II, the shade for the green lamp in the living room of Evans cottage looks almost white with the light bulb in use.
The antique styled electric white lamp in Vicki’s room is represented in previous film and television projects that have had an influence on Dark Shadows…
…like The Uninvited…
(Gail Russell and Ray Milland in a scene from The Uninvited)
(Stella resting after having fainted in the Bluebeard Room at Windward House)
…and Peyton Place.
(Barbara Parkins as Betty Anderson in Peyton Place episode 165)
In episode 80, there will be a green lamp on the writing desk in Vicki’s room.
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
As Sam recounts for Maggie how Bill Malloy asked him to come to a meeting at his office but never showed up, he pours himself a late drink.
On the Flipside:
Over the end credits of Dark Shadows episode 51, ABC announcer Bob Lloyd reads the following message: “It’s like nothing else except funny, and it’s Love on a Rooftop. Advance premiere tomorrow night in color, on ABC.”
The day that episode 52 aired was Tuesday September 6, 1966. That night at 9:30 pm saw the ABC debut of Love on a Rooftop, starring Peter Deuel (who later changed his surname to Duel) and Judy Carne as Dave and Julie Willis, newlyweds who because of Dave’s apprentice architect salary of $85 a week ($663.15 in 2019 currency) are forced to set up house in a converted storeroom atop an apartment building, hence the “rooftop” part of the show’s title.
One thing you notice right away about Pete Duel is that he bears more than a passing resemblance to Dick York (Darrin Stephens on Bewitched), a similarity made more striking by the pitch of Duel’s voice. One has to wonder if this is the main factor for Duel being cast in the role.
“It has no windows!”
As if to render relations between in-laws positively hopeless, Julie’s parents are rich and her father doesn’t approve of his new son-in-law’s modest means of providing for his daughter, as made clear when they arrive in town on short notice for a visit in the pilot episode. In preparation toward having her parents over for dinner, Julie, an art student, attempts to mask the truth of their spartan living conditions by painting illustrations of windows onto the plain brick walls.
Naturally the evening is a disaster; right after the wine is poured, the lights go out because of an unpaid light bill, so Julie suggests they take their (cold) spaghetti dinner on the roof, but when asking her parents how they like the “patio” Mr. Hammond remarks, “Depends on how you feel about soot.”
(Herb Voland and Edith Atwater as Fred and Phyllis Hammond)
Dave’s outlook, particularly his pride, is not helped when Julie’s father insists on bringing in a team of “interior decorators” to install a pair of windows.
With such episode titles as “117 Ways to Cook Hamburger” Love on a Rooftop had all the makings of a successful situation comedy depicting the dedication of a loving couple eager to make a determined go of their marriage for the sake of love over material comfort, and in the process making household names of Pete Duel and Judy Carne.
Women of ABC nighttime, 1966-1967: Elizabeth Montgomery, Judy Carne, Marlo Thomas
The first ladies of ABC nighttime on the set of Bewitched
(TV Guide cover for week of October 15, 1966)
Love on a Rooftop has a roundabout Dark Shadows connection. Pete Duel would go on to be one of the co-stars of the Western TV series Alias Smith and Jones, but would be replaced in the role of Hannibal Heyes by Roger Davis, who seemed the natural choice having already appeared in one episode in another character role in addition to having been heard as the narrative voice during the opening theme since the series began.
Despite that Love on a Rooftop was cancelled after just one season (some have speculated because of the industry pull exerted by Danny Thomas, father of That Girl star Marlo Thomas), the show has nonetheless enjoyed a lengthy cultural legacy having been cited as an influence on the 1990s situation comedy Dharma & Greg, the story of financially mismatched newlyweds making a go of it with the conviction that love itself is the most important thing.
Whereas the romance moved along quickly in Love on a Rooftop, with Dave and Julie having met and married during the opening narration of the first episode, it takes Dharma and Greg more than seven minutes into the pilot episode before they are exchanging vows (a snap decision on their first date, during which they get on a plane to fly out of state for blueberry pie).
Similar to its 1960s predecessor, the first episode of Dharma & Greg features the newlywed couple attending a dinner invitation with the disapproving parents of the rich half, in this instance those of Harvard grad and business professional Greg.
Greg’s parents should be familiar to Dark Shadows fans: They are Mitch Ryan and Susan Sullivan as Edward and Kitty Montgomery.
Susan Sullivan will appear as a ghost in Dark Shadows episode 156, and more recently has acted in Dark Shadows audio dramas produced by Big Finish including Panic (released in 2015) and the audio series Bloodline (released in 2019).
Dharma & Greg cast photo (left to right: Alan Rachins, Mimi Kennedy, Jenna Elfman, Thomas Gibson, Susan Sullivan, Mitch Ryan)
Both Love on a Rooftop and Dharma & Greg were likely influenced by Neil Simon’s 1960s smash hit Broadway play Barefoot in the Park.
Neil Simon of course wrote the original theatrical production of The Odd Couple, which eventually became one of my favorite all-time TV shows, so for that alone Mr. Simon has my eternal thanks and praises.
(Neil “Doc” Simon appearing uncredited in “Two on the Aisle” an episode of The Odd Couple from 1974)
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 53: Our Caretaker’s a Real Gem
— Marc Masse
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