“Good eve – uh, good afternoon ladies and gentlemen… No, that isn’t it either. Good afternoon ladies and shut-ins.”
“From yesterday afternoon’s half-hour, we found out something rather shocking about the Collins family’s gem of a caretaker. Personally, from what I’ve been able to observe thus far, being the caretaker of Collinwood is more akin to being a zookeeper. Half the people living there think of the big house as a sort of cage anyway, and with certain members of the household there is the greatest difficulty in keeping their behavior and drives in check. As with wild animals, tensions exist which are liable to flare up at any moment.”
“However, today’s television playlet concerns itself with the motivations of the caretaker himself, who, when a friend of the family has drowned and washes ashore on the great estate, sees nothing wrong in giving him a push back into the water so that said friend may wash ashore somewhere else, or perhaps not at all.”
“Given Matthew the caretaker’s casual admission of such an act, even when questioned by the police, today’s play is called “They Float Bodies, Don’t They?”. Because that’s what a caretaker at Collinwood does; trim the hedges, carry the firewood, and float bodies that have washed ashore back out to sea where they can hopefully never be found. Now, if only someone could do that with my dreaded sponsors, I would never again have to suffer through another commercial break. In the meantime, I shall consult with the production crew and see if Matthew the caretaker is available for immediate employment. Until then, another sponsor with yet another commercial message is just about to wash ashore.”
“Here’s Phil Hill, America’s first world champion racing driver.”
“And here are some of the reasons why he uses Super Shell.”
“The gasoline with nine ingredients for top performance.”
“And Super Shell fights knock at all speeds.”
“Champion driver Phil Hill…”
“…needs top performance, and he gets it with Super Shell.”
“I like Super Shell gasoline. I use it on as well as off the track.”
“Try the gasoline with nine ingredients for top performance. Super Shell.”
The dropping of clues. This is one area in which Dark Shadows is beginning to excel as it explores the continuing mystery/suspense of the Bill Malloy story. Such a process could be rather cut and dried if you had just one hour of prime time television to wrap up the story, as in the Alfred Hitchcock anthology shows; but with five half-hours to fill each week this prospect could instead present a significant challenge, especially if said mystery story is extended over several weeks or even months. On the other hand, it could be of great benefit to your afternoon serial by exploring in more intricate detail the many layers of your more complex leading characters, with episode 54 providing a case in point by highlighting the character traits of one Roger Collins.
Previously, back in episode 46, just as it was becoming clear that something may have happened to prevent Bill Malloy from showing up at the meeting he arranged in Roger’s office at the cannery to clear Burke Devlin of guilt in his manslaughter conviction, the viewer was led to believe that more than one person could have easily been responsible for Malloy’s apparent disappearance. Both Roger Collins and Sam Evans had motive to want to stop Malloy from going ahead with his plans. Earlier on, while notifying the principals, as Malloy storms out of the Evans cottage after demanding that Sam be present at the meeting later that night, there is a moment of ambiguity as Sam snaps a paint brush in two which could suggest that a decisive and violent action may follow. Sam is after all being placed in a desperate situation and has everything to lose; in addition, he’s prone to temper tantrums, and as far as artist types go, he is more physically rugged than most.
To top that off, in episode 49 while being interrogated by Burke Devlin the morning after Malloy fails to show up at the meeting, Sam slips up in an absent-minded moment and refers to Bill Malloy in the past tense, which Devlin immediately seizes upon as a telltale sign of Sam’s likely guilt in Bill’s disappearance.
Then of course there’s Roger Collins, who from the very moment of Bill Malloy’s disappearance has been looking especially guilty. Also in episode 46, an hour before the meeting was set to begin, Malloy had stopped in at Collinwood to remind Roger to be at his office at eleven, adding that as far as Roger concealing his guilt any longer, it was the end of the line.
As Roger was preparing to leave for the allotted appointment set for within the hour, the seeming inevitability of his impending downfall had left him visibly shaken.
Yet when arriving at his office a short while later, he had regained his composure such that he exhibited only mild annoyance at having to show up for this mysterious after hours gathering.
Just past midnight, after having waiting around for an hour because Malloy had failed to show up, Roger is positively buoyant as he returns to Collinwood whistling a carefree tune as he saunters over to the drawing room liquor cabinet for a nightcap, but is surprised by Elizabeth who has been waiting up for him and then deftly evades her pointed questions about Bill Malloy.
Something must have happened on the way to the meeting at his office to account for this sudden change in mood, to have just an hour before been heatedly imploring Malloy to reconsider taking on a matter that would mean for Roger something that could destroy him and then to arrive at his office a short time later calm and collected and subsequently to return home without a care in the world. It has only just come to light that Bill Malloy is in fact dead, but clues are being dropped that seem to indicate that Roger may well indeed have been among the first to learn of Malloy’s fate.
In episode 51, just the previous night in story time and some twenty-four hours after Malloy had failed to show up at the meeting in Roger’s office, Vicki and Carolyn came running into Collinwood in a fit of hysterics after claiming to have seen a dead man in the water along the rocks beneath Widow’s Hill. Roger’s immediate reaction, an aside meant only for the viewer, was a look to indicate some degree of guilty knowledge over the prospect of such a grim discovery.
Roger does this again later in the same episode when Matthew returns from Widow’s Hill to report to Mrs. Stoddard that there was not in fact a body at the foot of Widow’s Hill as the girls had insisted there had been; a lengthy, theatrical aside once again intended for the viewer alone to scrutinize, a clue as to some degree of knowledge about or involvement in Malloy’s disappearance.
Here in episode 54 another clue is dropped. Bill Malloy hasn’t been seen or heard from since the night before last, and despite having appeared extremely concerned over talk last night of the body of a dead man having been seen below Widow’s Hill, Roger waltzes into his office in the morning whistling away just like he did the night he returned home from the meeting that never happened because the man who arranged it had inexplicably failed to appear. The clue is when Roger is on the phone with a cannery employee: “I don’t care what Malloy told you. From now on, we’re going to do it my way… I sent you a memo on it. Is that clear enough, or would you like me to take an ad in the paper?… Alright, Townsend. I’m sure you’ll find my new system will work out much more effectively.”
Roger has evidently just implemented a new system that has effectively replaced Bill Malloy’s previous methods for operations at the plant. This indicates that Roger knows for certain that Malloy will not be returning as plant manager, which enshrouds him with an additional layer of suspicion given how as of the close of episode 53 only two people knew for certain that Bill Malloy was in fact dead: Matthew Morgan and Elizabeth Stoddard, and as of today’s episode the sheriff. Roger will be informed of Malloy’s demise later on that day when his sister calls him away from the office to have him return to Collinwood, and Roger will feign surprise upon hearing the news, but it’s evident from his phone conversation above that he was somehow already aware of Malloy’s fate.
That’s the key to good mystery/suspense: keep the audience guessing, giving away only a little at a time, and always leaving open the avenue of ambiguity; guilt could involve one key figure, or either of two with sufficient motive, or any one of a whole series of individuals, even those whom you would never suspect.
Another means of maintaining audience involvement is to tantalize, that is, to have a character enter a scene and explicitly state information that expresses what the viewer already knows or suspects, but which has not been definitively exposed as fact; in this case Burke Devlin, who barges in on Roger at the cannery unannounced to level at him a series of accusations concerning his manslaughter conviction ten years ago and the disappearance of Bill Malloy.
Roger: …And so you insinuated to my niece and to one of my employees that I had something to do with Bill Malloy’s disappearance.
Burke: I didn’t insinuate a thing to them. And I’m not insinuating to you. I’m telling you! Loud and clear!
Burke: Bill Malloy set that meeting up for a reason. One reason only! To clear me of that manslaughter charge.
Roger: How could he?
Burke: Through Evans. And when Bill didn’t show up last night, you must have talked to Evans, and told him to keep his mouth shut.
Burke: You and Evans were thick as thieves!
Roger: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Burke: You sent me up on that manslaughter charge, and you know it!
Roger: I know nothing of the kind.
Burke: And if Bill Malloy hadn’t conveniently disappeared, he would have proved it.
Roger: You not only jump at conclusions, you leap over them! Number one, Bill Malloy has not disappeared, he has simply not appeared.
Roger: I’ve told you again and again, I don’t know anything about Sam Evans!
Burke: But Sam Evans knows something about you.
Roger: That’s absurd.
Burke: And Bill Malloy knows what that something is!
Roger: I won’t be badgered and bullied about it.
Burke: Yes you will!
Burke: Bill Malloy made me a proposition.
Roger: What could he possibly offer you?
Burke: He offered me you, Roger. You, on a silver platter!
To tantalize by bringing everything out in the open is a good technique, because it keeps a running count of the facts for the viewer as the story moves along, that is, suspicions held by some characters and deeds being concealed by others, which is useful given how the average viewer may only be tuning in three out of five episodes a week. For the makers of Dark Shadows, shrewd story pacing was something they were learning right here in the early days of the story of Bill Malloy.
As episode 54 indicates, and which the second half of today’s post will elaborate on, Roger as a figure of suspicion in the disappearance of Bill Malloy is thus far only half the story.
“We have now reached the halfway point in our little teleplaylet. I have brought along another of the sponsors seen during my evening program on most of those other stations. Hopefully the following message will help to clear up any gray area remaining in today’s story.”
“What’s the good of having a youthful figure…”
“…a lovely face…”
“…if dull, faded gray hair…”
“…makes you look older than you are.”
“Hate that gray?”
“Wash it away. Wash years away with Clairol’s great new discovery…”
“…Loving Care hair color lotion.”
“Colors only the gray.”
“Washes it away without changing your natural hair color.”
“So easy, used about once a month…”
“…Loving Care washes away gray…”
“…without changing your natural hair color.”
“And Loving Care won’t brush off or rub off…”
“…even in the darkest black brown shades.”
“Gives all your hair…”
“…vital, youthful sheen.”
“Looks so fresh and natural.”
“Makes your husband feel younger too just to look at you!”
“So if you hate that gray…”
“…wash it away with Loving Care.”
“Not a tint, better than a rinse.”
“Hairdressers call it a fountain of youth for graying hair.”
“Loving Care hair color lotion…”
There’s a new sheriff in Collinsport, except that no one is aware of this, including the new sheriff of Collinsport.
On Dark Shadows the sheriff started out as a constable named Jonas Carter, first appearing in episode 23 as played by Michael Currie in his first regular job in television.
(Michael Currie as constable/sheriff Jonas Carter at Collinsport Inn, episode 24)
The identity of Collinsport’s principal figure in law enforcement then underwent a transformation which could only have been the result of a sudden decision to disregard a detail given in the series bible, Shadows on the Wall, as outlined by story creator and developer Art Wallace. The series bible had Jonas Carter listed as the constable, and that’s how the character was first introduced in episode 23 after having been initially mentioned in episode 22. Then in episode 24, Carter had a patch on his uniform that read sheriff, despite that everyone was still referring to him as a constable. It wasn’t until episode 26 (“I never liked mustard on ham”), when Roger Collins turned up at Carter’s office to remind him of the influential role the Collins family could play in local elections, that scripted dialogue began referring to a sheriff rather than a constable, and it wouldn’t be until episode 28 that during the closing theme the character of Jonas Carter would finally be credited as such. Then as of his next appearance in episode 32, Jonas Carter was out of a job. In episode 45 Bill Malloy makes one final mention of Jonas Carter while in Roger’s office.
Among Dark Shadows fans, Jonas Carter is mostly forgotten in the role of sheriff. With the pre-Barnabas episodes largely ignored, it’s the character of George Patterson that viewers will remember, as played on a rotating basis by several actors over a span of years. It’s here in episode 54 that Sheriff Patterson makes his debut as played by Dana Elcar. Perhaps another reason the Jonas Carter character is forgotten is because of the lack of continuity between the first and second sheriff, given how the character of Jonas Carter was retired rather than replaced.
For viewers in 1966, however, the change in casting would be addressed in the form of scripted dialogue, first when the sheriff arrives at Collinwood after Elizabeth calls in to say they know where Bill Malloy is…
Elizabeth [opens the front doors of Collinwood]: Come in, George. Or, should I say sheriff?
Sheriff Patterson: No, George is fine with me, Mrs. Stoddard.
…and again after Elizabeth has called Roger home from the plant, which begins episode 55:
Elizabeth: Roger, this is Sheriff George Patterson.
Roger: Yes. Yes, I remember the sheriff…
Roger certainly should remember the sheriff, since it was only three days earlier that he’d made the trip up to Collinwood to announce his findings in the case of a certain missing brake valve, but was headed off by Elizabeth’s duty to the integrity of the Collins name.
“Jonas, there’s no reason to go on with this.”
(Sheriff Carter in his final appearance, episode 32)
You’ve heard of parallel time, well how about parallel sheriffs?
Sheriff Patterson: Matthew?
Sheriff Patterson: Do you know where Bill Malloy is?
Matthew: He’s dead. Drowned.
Sheriff Patterson: Oh? How did it happen?
Matthew: I don’t know.
Sheriff Patterson: Well where’s the body?
Elizabeth: We don’t know that either.
In addition to parallel sheriffs in Collinsport, at Collinwood there’s a parallel Matthew.
Viewers familiar with how Dark Shadows began will recall the role of Matthew Morgan as having been originated by veteran character actor George Mitchell in episodes 6, 13, and 16. Mitchell’s Matthew could be menacing, as shown by his introduction to Vicki when he confronts her for going down in the basement, which had been strictly forbidden by Mrs. Stoddard…
…but the gruff and caustic exterior would settle into an easy civility if he knew he could trust you.
George Mitchell just played it straight, the way he’d done for instance in a 1962 episode from The Alfred Hitchcock Hour called The Black Curtain, about an amnesiac who forgets the past three years of his life after having been hit over the head while being robbed by a pair of teens. A taxi driver happens upon the scene which chases away the young men, then takes the stricken man to a nearby all-night drugstore, with the pharmacist played by George Mitchell.
It turns out that the pharmacist has seen the man in his drugstore several times recently, which is something the amnesiac man will try to recall, whose backstory involves thugs out to murder him as well as a detective out to find him. When the detective shows up at the drugstore with an offer of money for information on the man’s whereabouts, Mitchell’s character turns down the bribe in the following manner:
Pharmacist: Yes, sir?
Pharmacist [examines the man’s credentials]: Private detective.
Detective: Have you ever seen this man?… It’s an old photo. [stuffs a ten bill into the pharmacist’s shirt pocket] Recognize him?
Detective: You barely looked at it.
Pharmacist: That’s all I ever do, mister. Even with the regular police. I have two professions: pharmacist, and coward.
This would as well sum up George Mitchell’s Matthew, who despite a few rough edges was nonetheless on the up-and-up, with his actions guided by the straightforward principles of sincerity and loyalty.
You could never picture Mitchell’s Matthew Morgan taking it upon himself to journey into town threatening to kill Burke Devlin if he didn’t stop trying to bring trouble to Mrs. Stoddard, the way Thayer David’s Matthew did in episode 38…
…or most recently hiding the fact that he’d discovered the body of Bill Malloy below Widow’s Hill, but instead of notifying his employer simply pushed the body back into the water so that people in town wouldn’t gossip about another death connected with the legends of Collinwood and Widow’s Hill, an admission Mrs. Stoddard naturally found shocking and unacceptable.
Aside from wondering why on earth Mrs. Stoddard would even keep Matthew on as caretaker a minute longer, the viewer is left to wonder just what exactly Matthew may actually have been hiding.
Matthew [chuckles]: What would I be hiding?
And yet, Matthew seems to understand that he did something wrong, based on his discussion with Sheriff Patterson:
Matthew: Aren’t you going to arrest me?
Sheriff Patterson: I can’t think of a proper charge. I suppose I could thumb through the books and come up with something, like… improper burial without a license. The only thing is, I kinda wish you hadn’t ‘uh done it, set Bill afloat the way you did.
Matthew: You’re right George, I shouldn’t have. Wasn’t thinking good.
Sheriff Patterson: Ah, a smart detective would say that you were thinking real good, that you pushed him back into the sea to hide something else.
The sheriff then sends Matthew out to show his deputy precisely where he found the body, after which Mrs. Stoddard and the sheriff discuss the matter further…
Mrs. Stoddard: What if you don’t find him?
Sheriff Patterson: Well, then I’ll have to figure out if Matthew didn’t do something a little worse than just delay the recovery of the deceased.
…with Matthew hovering nearby to overhear, and looking very concerned.
Enter Matthew Morgan, the latest in the growing rogues’ gallery of suspicious characters in the death of Bill Malloy.
“Between the last commercial break and the end of our little play, I’ve been thinking of a more effective means of floating bodies away that have washed up on shore.”
“I understand that there is quite a high swell of breakers near the area of Widow’s Hill.”
“One could easily have disguised the death of Bill Malloy as a surfing accident.”
“I should begin polishing my skills to take up the sport.”
“On the other hand, it looks as though there may soon be an opening at Collinwood for a new caretaker.”
“So perhaps I’ll consider applying for the position, but with one proviso…”
“…I don’t do windows!”
As noted in the main body of today’s post, for Michael Currie Dark Shadows was his first regular job. His first actual job in television was in an episode of the short-lived lawyer series The Trials of O’Brien starring a pre-Columbo Peter Falk as New York attorney Daniel “Danny” J. O’Brien.
Despite having run just twenty-two episodes, The Trials of O’Brien has an impressive roll call of actors who would go on to appear on Dark Shadows. In addition to Michael Currie (as Smitty in “Never Bet on Anything That Talks”; aired October 9, 1965), Thayer David was also in an episode (as Regis Thurlow in “Leave It to Me” aired December 17, 1965), as was Barnard Hughes (as a Chief Judge in two episodes) and Joseph Julian (also in two episodes as Edgar Cromwell), along with Conrad Bain (as a District Attorney in one episode), Dana Elcar (as Sam Styles in “How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?”), Grayson Hall (as Louise Malcolm in the 1966 episode “A Horse Called Destiny”), and House Jameson (in the same episode as Thayer David), who on Dark Shadows appeared in two episodes as Judge Crathorne (270, 271). Unfortunately, given that The Trials of O’Brien has never enjoyed an official home video release and because only a handful of episodes are circulating among collectors, none of the above episodes are available; however, the episode with Kathy Cody is:
Kathy Cody in the pilot episode of The Trials of O’Brien (as Dinah in “Over Defence Is Out”; aired September 18, 1965)
Dolph Sweet, who on Dark Shadows would play Collins fishing fleet employee Ezra Hearne in one episode (99), was a series regular:
Dolph Sweet as Sgt. Garrison in a scene with Peter Falk and Alan Alda (“Picture Me a Murder”; aired November 27, 1965).
Also in the above episode is John Harkins (as Ralph Ennis), who on Dark Shadows played the role of Lt. Costa in a pre-Barnabas episode from 1967 and would later return in 1969 as the Ghost of Garth Blackwood and Mr. Strak and in 1970 as Horace Gladstone.
(John Harkins makes his television debut in The Trials of O’Brien, 1965)
As with any TV crime drama series, light humor provides an occasional instance of levity. Just four minutes into the pilot episode, The Trials of O’Brien establishes the main character’s peculiar relationship with hot dogs, which may in fact provide a subtle clue as to the actor’s true ethnicity. Peter Falk’s background is Jewish-American, yet he’s playing an Irish-American lawyer who is forever patronizing street vendors for hot dogs, as he does immediately after leaving the courthouse following a successful round of lawyering.
While loading his hot dog with toppings, a colleague stops by to congratulate him.
They get to talking while O’Brien continues absent-mindedly loading the hot dog with extras.
Before he knows it, his hot dog is buried beneath a mountain of sauerkraut…
…so he just throws it away.
A real Irishman would never throw away a hot dog – especially if he had to pay for it.
Later in the same episode, also outside the courthouse following another successful case, he’s holding another hot dog.
But he gets called away, so he hands it over to his secretary (Miss G., played by Elaine Stritch, center, with Joanna Barnes, at right, co-starring as his ex-wife).
O’Brien: “Here, watch this.”
Which she does, while eating the hot dog.
What sort of Irishman would buy a hot dog and then just give it away? In your typical Irish-American household, franks and beans were an integral part of Saturday nights, made especially appetizing following the obligatory hurdle of fish on Friday.
But to a Jewish-American actor, a hot dog from a street vendor might not be deemed kosher. So with Peter Falk in The Trials of O’Brien, this seems to be a running gag throughout the series, a bit like having an actor portraying a smoker, but who offstage is a nonsmoker, so they just have the actor holding a cigarette in scene after scene but without ever actually puffing from it.
There’s another episode called Bargain Day on the Street of Regret, which features a young pre-Baretta Robert Blake in the role of a boxer named Joe Rooney.
There’s a scene where O’Brien visits his client in jail, who has been framed for a murder rap. Peter Falk is holding yet another hot dog; a bite has been taken out of it, however he was not seen to have taken it himself.
Robert Blake: “You gonna finish that dog? The food around here ain’t too much.”
O’Brien then gives Joe Rooney the hot dog, so that he can be free to resume talking with his hands…
…because that’s what Peter Falk does; each episode even opens with an illustration of this:
As a side note, despite the apparent refusal of Peter Falk to partake of non-kosher foods for the role of an Irish character, there is a little-known connection of cuisine tying together the cultural heritage of Jewish and Irish immigrants in the U.S. The Irish were never big beef eaters before emigrating to the new world, mainly because they couldn’t afford to be. It wasn’t until after having newly arrived in the U.S. that they began to patronize the many affordable Jewish-American delicatessens which featured among other items corned beef (so named because of the corn kernel sized cubes of salt which flavored the beef), in particular the corned beef brisket. So the next time you sit down to a St. Patrick’s Day boiled dinner, you are actually paying homage to the legacy of Jewish-American cuisine as adopted by Irish-Americans; in the old country, they celebrate with the more traditional dish of lamb or bacon.
Getting back to Michael Currie, there is something which his IMDb page does not include, that he actually appeared in two episodes of The Trials of O’Brien. Two of the final three episodes were a two-parter called The Greatest Game, which are not available even among collectors; however, an adaptation of these episodes is available. In 1967, these episodes were re-edited as a full-length motion picture called Too Many Thieves, with an impressive cast that includes Britt Ekland, David Carradine, and Nehemiah Persoff. Michael Currie appears briefly as a policeman, which may provide a clue as to how he landed the job of constable/sheriff Jonas Carter on Dark Shadows.
Michael Currie (second from right): “Oh, sarge! She’s not up there now, that’s for sure, no jewels.”
As Michael Currie exits the scene, while adjusting his hat his expression seems to take on a certain look of heaviness, as surely he must be thinking, Oh great, now I’ll go on Dark Shadows and have to deal with Lela Swift!
Peter Falk will always be remembered for Columbo, but looking back he expressed a greater fondness for The Trials of O’Brien.
From the control room:
The series: The Dan and Lela Show; the main players: director Lela Swift, executive producer Dan Curtis, with special guest Mitch Ryan; the setting: television studio control room; main prop: the control room microphone; opening scene: teaser…
[Opening scene, as Roger comes whistling into his office]
Lela: Dan, I have something to say to you over the opening theme about Mitch Ryan.
Dan: Oh, for Christ sakes. You’re back to complaining again?
Lela: You have no idea how mad I am about Mitch Ryan being drunk!
Dan: Oh, for Christ sakes, Lela! Is there no end to your complaining?
Burke: Roger, let’s not play any games anymore.
Burke: No‘was a-any idea where he’s gone or if he went, how he went, and why. You want to start answering those questions in order?
Lela: He’s messing up every one of his lines! He can’t even read them off the teleprompter. That’s how drunk he is… This is the worst performance…
Dan: Alright, Lela, take it easy.
Lela: You don’t know how mad I am…
Lela: Dan, Mitch Ryan is drunk off his ass! He can’t even read his lines off the teleprompter.
Dan: Mitch carries himself along just fine.
Lela: No he doesn’t! I am sick and tired of working with drunk Mitch Ryan!
[Act IV, Roger’s office]
Burke: If I find out you had anything to do with his disappearance which [is] what I’m thinking, you’d better hope to god the police find it out instead of me!
Roger: Your threats don’t frighten me.
Burke: They better! This isn’t a case of the… Collinwood money who can railroad an innocent man into prison.
Lela: Oh, for crying out loud, the Collinwood money! He hasn’t gotten a single line right yet today.
[Act IV, Roger’s office, following a scene change, after Roger has taken a phone call from Elizabeth]
Roger: I’m afraid your inquisition will have to wait.
Burke: I can wait. But not long.
Roger: I’m sure that the next time I see you, you will have forgotten this whole thing.
Burke: Don’t you believe it, Roger. I don’t forget anything, ever.
[Burke throws a dart at the dartboard in Roger’s office; as it hits, Lela exclaims through the control room microphone]
[Scene then changes to Collinwood drawing room]
Lela: Mitch Ryan never forgets anything – except his lines!
Mitch Ryan: Goddammit, I am sick and tired of that Lela Swift always getting on my case. Lela, go fuck yourself!
Lela: What the fuck!?… What the fuck did I just hear coming from the soundstage?! [Elizabeth Stoddard walks from the drawing room to the foyer as Roger enters through the front door] Dan, did you hear what Mitch Ryan just said? Dan, Mitch Ryan just told me to go fuck myself, right from the soundstage!
Lela: Dan, I want you to fire Mitch Ryan right this minute!
Dan: Why, Lela? Mitch Ryan’s the best looking guy on the show. I’m not going to fire him.
Lela: Dan, Mitch Ryan told me to go fuck myself, right from the soundstage so everyone could hear!
Dan: Well, good. It’s about time somebody told you to go fuck yourself.
Lela: Dan, what do you mean by “Well, good”?
Dan: I’ve been wanting to tell you to go fuck yourself since day one.
Lela: Dan, how can you say something like that? Mitch Ryan, as an actor, told me to go fuck myself. That’s unprofessional behavior.
Dan: So was yours, Lela. Goading him about his lines.
Lela: For Christ sakes, Dan! You’re really going to let Mitch Ryan get away with that?
Bob Lloyd [ABC announcer]: Dark Shadows is a Dan Curtis production.
Dan: Mitch is my hero.
Lela: Jesus Christ, Dan!…
Until next time, this has been The Dan and Lela Show.
Today’s episode kicks off with location footage intended to represent the property for the Collins fishing fleet and cannery, showing Louis Edmonds walking around the wharf area as Roger is on his way into work.
In the screen images below, taken from the documentary clip Dark Shadows On Location hosted by Nancy Barrett, period location footage for Roger’s office at the Collins cannery dissolves into later footage of the real-life location, the Essex Island Marina at 11 Ferry Street in Essex, Connecticut.
In numerous episodes of Dark Shadows, especially in the early days of the series, the names of several characters are mentioned who never actually appear on screen. Today’s episode contains three such instances.
As Roger enters his office in the opening scene his telephone begins ringing, so he steps back in the doorway to call for his secretary, Miss Blackman, who is apparently away from her desk. In Act I, Roger is on the phone with a cannery employee named Townsend who he forces to implement a new system of operations he has created to replace the one Bill Malloy had been using. In Act IV Sheriff Patterson asks Matthew to accompany his deputy Harry Shaw out to Widow’s Hill to show him precisely where the body of Bill Malloy had washed ashore. Harry had first been mentioned, only by first name, in episode 23. In the sheriff’s office of Jonas Carter in episode 26, it was Harry who had brought Sheriff Carter the ham sandwich he’d ordered, but Carter had forgotten to tell him no mustard. Here in episode 54 Harry is given the surname Shaw.
(At his cannery office Roger calls out for his elusive secretary, Miss Blackman)
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
In episode 54, the Collinsport Inn phone booth is back in the lobby, but now facing the front entrance. In previous episodes it had been facing the adjoining wall of the restaurant.
There is a persistent problem with the sound feed throughout today’s episode, especially in the later scenes, where sound keeps dropping out and then back in, a bit like when you’re driving on a highway and you’re tuned to a radio station that’s just fading out of range and you only get flickers of reception.
Following a contentious phone conversation with Burke Devlin in the opening scene, as Roger heads back out of his office the teleprompter momentarily swings into view at right of screen.
In the middle of Act IV, as Elizabeth whirls around in surprise as the sheriff asks her if she knew of anyone who would want Bill Malloy dead, as the camera frame changes to pick up her movement a crew member, probably the camera operator, can be heard saying in a loud whisper, “Hit me over here!” This is what one might call a quasi-blooper, that is, something easily heard through headphones, but which was likely not heard at the time of broadcast through a single-speaker analog television set with the viewer positioned elsewhere in the room.
Because the credits are running on a scroll, the blooper that never gets fixed, Ohrbach’s spelled as Orhbach’s, comes up again.
At the very end of the closing theme, someone is seen walking through the frame, probably Mitch Ryan.
The opening scene concludes with a close-up of Roger’s office phone as it rings after he has stepped out of the office. It can be seen that the number is Collinsport 5000.
Whenever a view of the far wall in Roger’s office is given, the Smith Brothers portrait can be seen.
The Smith Brothers portrait is so-named because the image would not look out of place on those old-fashioned Smith Brothers cough drop boxes. But come to think of it, the image bears a striking resemblance to that used for W.B. Mason office products, which would be perfect considering that the portrait first appears in Roger’s office at the cannery, in episode 45. This would be an indication that the Smith Brothers portrait dates from sometime around the 1890s, perhaps intended to represent a former Collins plant manager, like Bill Malloy’s grandfather, Wilfred Malloy.
Dark Shadows Cast Member Spotlight: Mitch Ryan
As mentioned in the post for episode 37 and again in episode 38 (The Count of Monte Devlin), Mitch Ryan was extremely busy throughout 1966. In addition to his day job as Burke Devlin on Dark Shadows, he had a key role in the Broadway play Wait Until Dark, which between February 2 and December 31 put on an astounding 373 performances across three separate venues. Already by August, a major motion picture adaptation was underway and would feature an all-star cast upon its release the following year.
Below are images from an original playbill from the Schubert Theatre where Wait Until Dark was playing in August 1966.
(Original Schubert Theatre playbill, August 1966)
Mitch Ryan played the role of Mike Talman, which in the movie adaptation the following year was played by Richard Crenna… They sure targeted theatergoers with a lot of booze ads in those days, didn’t they?
More of the cast, with yet another ad for hard liquor.
Of course, you can’t read the remainder of the cast credits without seeing still another liquor ad. They want you to drink before the show?
A section on cast notes reveals a strong Shakespearean background for Mitch Ryan as a theater performer, but makes no mention of his then current day job in television. “MITCHELL RYAN, Mike Talman, alternates between classical and contemporary roles. A frequent participant in the New York Shakespeare Festival, he believes that training in the classical drama enables an actor to delineate a modern role in greater depth. Shakespeare aficionados have applauded him as Agrippa in Antony and Cleopatra, Leontes in A Winter’s Tale, Macduff in Macbeth and Iago in Othello, which he also performed off Broadway at the Circle In The Square. His portrayal of Bertolt Brecht’s Baal attracted nationwide attention. A native of Louisville, he made his stage debut at Virginia’s Barter Theatre.”
Page 32 of the program has the staff listing, with “Wigs and Makeup designed by Dick Smith”; a note at the bottom in bold type warns that “The taking of pictures in this theatre is strictly forbidden” which undoubtedly was a standard rule on the Broadway circuit at the time…
…however, it seems that somewhere along the play’s run someone managed to sneak a quick one.
On the Flipside:
Over the closing theme of Dark Shadows episode 49, ABC announcer Bob Lloyd provides the following message: “The Tammy Grimes Show is the new comedy about a far-out funny girl in a wild pursuit of happiness. Advance premiere one week from tonight, in color on ABC.”
Making its television debut on September 8, 1966, The Tammy Grimes Show is a curious footnote in the history of network television, notable mainly for having been cancelled after only four episodes due to low ratings, which weren’t helped by less than flattering reviews at the outset:
“The makers of The Tammy Grimes Show had a million-dollar baby, but they put her in a 10-cent script. In the opener, she got stuck on a Navy cruise while trying to give her brother a present. The whole banal mess was reminiscent of the Smothers Brothers in their CBS-TV series last season. Wrong format, wrong everything. What is really sad is that Miss Grimes has enough charm, talent and comedic ability for any dozen performers. It is incredible how so many important people could have mishandled such talent. Just terrible.” (Rick DuBrow, UPI)
Initially under the working title of My Twin Sister, TTGS was one of many projects being developed by William Dozier of Screen Gems, the television branch of Columbia Pictures, both companies of which had Tammy Grimes under contract. Another of Dozier’s television projects was the hugely successful television adaptation of Batman, which had made its debut earlier in 1966 in January. In 1963 it was Dozier who had developed a pilot for a series tentatively titled The Witch of Westport. Dozier had in mind Tammy Grimes for the lead role, and Richard “Dick” Sargent was chosen for the male lead, though neither could take on their respective roles due to contractual obligations with other projects (some sources have it that Miss Grimes turned down the role so she could work in the Noël Coward stage musical High Spirits). Instead, the roles were recast with Dick York and Elizabeth Montgomery and the series went on the air in 1964 under the revised title of Bewitched. Perhaps this is why on TTGS, Tammy Grimes’ character is named Tamantha; Dick Sargent, by this time free for new projects, joined the cast as Tamantha’s brother Terence Ward.
Perhaps the above review hits on something (i.e., “Wrong format, wrong everything”) as a clue to why the series didn’t take off. It couldn’t have been the makers of the show. In addition to having William Dozier as executive producer, TTGS had the same crew as The Green Hornet, a show which would also debut in the ABC lineup in September 1966, with William Self as executive in charge of production, who was also in the midst of fulfilling the same function through all 514 episodes of Peyton Place, along with plenty of talent in guest stars, including Henry Jones in the first TTGS episode to air (Officer’s Mess), who previously on Bewitched had guest starred as an Irish leprechaun, Brian O’Brian. It must have been something that just didn’t connect with the viewing audience.
Tamantha and Terence both work for their rich uncle, Simon Grimsley, at the First Perpetual Savings Association. The clue to a lack of connection with the audience may lie in the fact that Tamantha doesn’t really have to work, given that she has a trust fund. The first episode opens with Tamantha running through a list of the things she bought that day for her uncle and brother.
(Hiram Sherman and Tammy Grimes in the opening scene of TTGS)
When her uncle Simon asked how she managed to pay for all these items that she bought, given that it is he who controls the terms of her trust fund, her explanation reflects only the carefree ways of the well-to-do:
“Money? Money? Oh, uncle Simon. It is an insult to offer money in any shop today. Don’t you know, that our entire economy is based on one fiscal policy? The charge account.”
She tools into work for the job she doesn’t really need on a less than practical motorbike, probably also acquired through a charge account.
And here’s Dick Sargent, three years before finally landing the role of Darrin Stephens on Bewitched.
And of course, she’s late for work as usual, but it doesn’t matter when she’s showing up for a job she really doesn’t need.
And here she is taking her place at a mostly empty desk without a thing to do at the job she doesn’t really need.
She then flings her hat across the room like a frisbee…
…so that a nod can be given to the show’s creator…
…and look where it lands.
Tamantha Ward, “customer relations” specialist, with her exploding Rolodex.
Overall, the show is entertaining enough, with the usual fast-paced comedy hijinks one would expect from situations arising from a comedy of errors.
In the season opener Officer’s Mess (actually the fourth episode to be filmed), Tamantha sneaks on board the naval ship on which her brother is enlisted as a crew member to leave him a bon voyage present, but accidentally locks herself in his cabin as the vessel departs, so she subsequently attempts to avoid detection by dressing up as an officer, here with the ship’s commander played by Henry Jones.
Elsewhere in the episode, Tammy’s uncle Simon shows up at her apartment wondering where she is and is greeted by her maid Mrs. Ratchett who serves him dinner, which he invites her to sit down and eat with him.
Uncle Simon: Let’s get down to business. How much do you owe me in our weekly gin rummy game?
Mrs. Ratchett: Three hundred thousand, four hundred and twenty-two dollars.
Uncle Simon: We’ll talk settlement when I win half a million.
The commercial sponsors may provide a clue as to the type of audience the network was aiming for in this Thursday evening time slot.
“The Tammy Grimes Show is brought to you by new Behold, the concentrated spray furniture polish. More oils and waxes to give your furniture more protection and a better shine. Brand new Behold.”
“You wouldn’t spray water on your furniture. So why use a thin, watery furniture polish?”
“Does your mommy always get Griffin’s?”
“Look at your dress!”
“Griffin, with its new applicator, is the neatest and easiest way you can polish shoes.”
“I love a shiny floor, but I hate this thick wax buildup…”
“Get off your knees. New Aerowax gives you a lasting shine, but without that thick-wax buildup.”
“We’re living in super times.”
“Cheeseburger with mayo…”
“Would you like a little more wine?”
“Onion rings… a chocolate malt…”
“So you want something new, to calm the upsets of these super times.”
“Now we have Resolve…”
“…the superseltzer for our super times.”
“This Ban roll on is one deodorant I haven’t tried. You won’t tell, will you?”
“Mam, I don’t think I have to.”
“I beg your pardon?”
So, from the above one has a pretty good idea of the general target audience; no after shave commercials in this half-hour. And no doubt not too many of the housewives buying the furniture dusting and floor waxing products could have afforded a maid to do all the housework the way Tamantha Ward could.
Still, there was likely an even greater reason TTGS wasn’t a ratings hit. When during the closing themes of Dark Shadows episodes around this time you hear ABC announcer Bob Lloyd tell of an “advance premiere” it means that ABC was implementing a strategy for introducing its fall 1966 lineup by rolling out new episodes a full week before the actual network season started, thereby with the aim of getting a jump on the competition, which proved effective at least because CBS kept to its usual schedule so that the first episode of TTGS was able to outperform in the ratings a repeat of My Three Sons. However, NBC opted to copy ABC’s idea of an advance premiere, so for the debut of TTGS on September 8 the competition was formidable, going up against the pilot episode of a series that would go on to become one of the most iconic shows ever…
(The Man Trap, debut episode of Star Trek)
As a footnote to a footnote, in between missing out on the role of a lifetime and starring in her own short-lived eponymous series, Tammy Grimes was in an episode of The Trials of O’Brien.
(as Sister Mary Anthony in the 1965 episode A Gaggle of Girls)
(Opening cartoon logo for The Tammy Grimes Show, 1966)
Tammy Grimes, the original choice for the role of Samantha Stephens on Bewitched.
Also making its debut on the evening of September 8 was another sitcom featuring another female lead, That Girl, with Marlo Thomas as an aspiring actress who moves from her small hometown upstate to make her way in New York City.
(Freeze frame close-up at the end of the opening scene for the debut episode, aired September 8, 1966)
Unlike with The Tammy Grimes Show, viewers could more readily connect with That Girl’s Ann Marie…
…a small town girl with big hopes and dreams which she took seriously, always rushing to be on time to whichever new job she was applying for or acting role to audition for…
…with the crucial need for making a good impression in either capacity always leading the way for a never-ending string of unforgettable comedy situations.
In the pilot episode (Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There), while working in a gift shop in the lobby of an office building aspiring actress Ann Marie is approached by a producer to star in a TV commercial.
This is also the episode where she meets her boyfriend-to-be, magazine writer Donald Hollinger, whose office with Newsview Magazine is also in the building.
The scene in the commercial calls for Ann to be bound and gagged and taken captive…
…which of course is something Don Hollinger would have no way of knowing about when he walks right into the middle of a scene in progress.
So it’s Don Hollinger to the accidental rescue…
…during which he fails to even notice the camera equipment.
All Don is focused on is getting Ann out of harm’s way…
…and preventing anyone from trying to stop him…
…even if it means saving Ann from filming a TV commercial he doesn’t even realize he’s ruining.
Despite their initial misunderstanding, Ann agrees to a dinner date with Don and they become a steady couple all the way through to the final episode after five seasons on the air.
“Hi, I’m Marlo Thomas. I hope you liked our first show. Well, actually, it wasn’t our first show. It was our preview show. Our real first show will be on next week, when the season officially begins. Tonight you saw how That Girl met her boyfriend. And in next week’s show you’ll meet Ann Marie’s parents, in the episode that shows what happens when she leaves home and goes to live in New York. And wherever you live, I hope you watch That Girl. In color – or black and white. I just want you to watch.”
Parallel Collinsport, 1966:
Across the pond in England, September 8, 1966 marked the second episode in the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) program, Dusty, which featured performances by singer Dusty Springfield. All performances were one hundred percent live, with no lip synching or prerecorded backing tracks.
As England’s first female soul singer, Dusty Springfield was always bringing lesser known numbers from the soul genre to a wider audience. In the second episode of the first series, Dusty closed with an encore of a song that opened episode 1, a nugget written by the crackerjack American songwriting team of Ashford and Simpson called The Real Thing (Valerie Simpson, Nick Ashford, Jo Armsted).
Below is a clip of the full-length performance from episode 1.
“Well it looks to me like this could be the real thing…”
The original recording of The Real Thing was done by U.S. soul singer Tina Britt.
Released in May 1965 on the Eastern Records label, despite that the song didn’t make an impression on the national charts, The Real Thing was nonetheless a regional hit in the Philadelphia area that summer. Below is Tina Britt’s original version.
(Tina Britt on the cover of her 1969 LP Blue All the Way)
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 55: Two Shades of Guilty
— Marc Masse
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