Roger Collins is living on lies. To everyone he knows, he must remain a stranger. Yet with every passing day his veneer is being chipped away little by little, largely through the perceptive and watchful gaze of his sister Elizabeth, who but for the good of David would have little if any use for the thoughtless extravagance of her brother’s ways. If you think about it, since his return to the ancestral mansion around a month ago, Roger has brought nothing but trouble not only for the family name, but also to those even loosely associated with Collinwood and all it represents.
If only Roger had stayed away in Augusta, Burke Devlin would never have returned to Collinsport to set in motion a plot to ruin the Collins family, given how despite that he blames Collins money and prestige for railroading him into prison, his principal nemesis had been mainly Roger, with his testimony on the witness stand having sealed Devlin’s fate.
So Roger schemed his way back into Collinwood, using as his bargaining chip the welfare of David’s future: “Roger made an unexpected visit to his sister at Collins House, pleaded the cause of his son….the ‘poor nine-year old child, with no mother to care for him’. He appealed to Elizabeth’s family pride, skillfully reminded her that David was the heir to the Collins name, faithfully promised a renewal of responsibility and sobriety” (Shadows on the Wall, pp. 25-26).
Yet since Roger’s return there has been nothing but trouble. Burke Devlin is back in town, leaving Elizabeth Stoddard apprehensive over the future of the Collins family business holdings and even of Collinwood itself. Her plant manager Bill Malloy is dead, after having vowed to stop Burke from carrying out his vendetta against the Collins family. Even Carolyn is affected, what with the worldly sophistication of Burke’s attention setting up a speed bump in her relationship with Joe Haskell, which at any time could sprout up into a full roadblock. All because Roger couldn’t accept the permanence, not to mention the more modest living arrangement, of his paid exile away from Collinwood and Collinsport in general.
People elsewhere in Collinsport are affected, even those with no apparent relationship with the Collins family, like Sam Evans. Although Sam’s involvement in the events of ten years earlier that sent Burke Devlin to prison on a manslaughter charge and conviction hasn’t yet been made explicitly clear, he shares the guilt that Roger holds but suffers greatly as a result whether or not the threat of exposure is looming close by. Sam represents a different shade of guilty largely because his character is more complex; for one thing, unlike Roger, he has a conscience, while Roger on the other hand, after nearly five dozen episodes of daily half-hour soap opera, has yet to display in his character so much as a single redeeming human quality.
So what do you do with this walking collection of red check marks down a list of boxes outlining the more questionable traits of human nature? If you’re the creator of the character, like Art Wallace who authored the above-mentioned series bible that serves as the show’s guiding outline of probable events, or the executive producer Dan Curtis, who is struggling to pull the sagging ratings back up to a level that would safeguard the show from an almost certain cancellation later that year, you simply provide your viewing audience with a much needed wave of satisfaction by having the character killed off.
That’s what the original plan called for; with Roger burdened by his desperate need to suppress the truth of his guilt in sending Burke Devlin away to prison, he will begin to suspect that Collinwood’s recently installed governess is conspiring against him when she is invited over to dinner at the Evans cottage, suspicious of what she may have been told about the events of ten years ago especially with the way Sam’s penchant for excessive drinking tends to loosen his tongue. Roger will then lure Vicki out to Widow’s Hill and standing by the edge he will in a fevered moment of rage grab hold of her, reminding her of the legend of Collinwood, how two young women of Collins House had hurled themselves over the edge and that at some future time there would be a third, and Vicki unnerved by the crazed look in Roger’s eyes begins to struggle against his grip; but David having followed them out to the cliff rushes forward and cries out, and Roger in that split second of surprise loses his footing and goes over the edge himself… and who among the viewing audience that afternoon in the summer or fall of sixty-six would have missed him?
Somewhere, in an alternate universe perhaps accessible through some warp of parallel time as yet undiscovered in one of Collinwood’s closed off wings, there was an end to Roger Collins after however many weeks of the series; in the series bible it happens the day Vicki takes David over to the Evans cottage so he can meet Sam the artist, so roughly early on in the phoenix story. In that parallel present time, Louis Edmonds decides once again to give up on acting, just as he had earlier that year when a steady stream of acting roles in the theater had at last dried up; his swan song as an actor would have been a bit part in a movie that filmed just before he started working on Dark Shadows called Come Spy with Me, a typical spy drama of the time released the following January that met with critical hostility and tepid box office attendance. Instead, he would have simply retired to his Long Island residence known as the Rookery, resigned to the humble but satisfying life of being a regular in the local shops and singing in the choir every Sunday, and some other actor would have landed the part of Langley Wallingford on All My Children in 1979.
To think what might have been were the makers of Dark Shadows not the type of people who could appreciate the talent of actors who would distinguish themselves in their roles so much so that they would actually be willing to dispense with a key moment in a given story outline. But that turning point is still weeks ahead; for now, Roger the rogue is doing what he can between brandies to keep the truth of his deeds both past and present from spilling into view and exposing him for all to see.
In retrospect, it’s easy to think of Louis Edmonds as indispensable to Dark Shadows in the role of Roger Collins. But if you were among the viewing audience during the summer of 1966 taking things in for the very first time, your attitude toward the character may have been different and your thoughts on the actor if any may well have likewise been indifferent. You may have caught a glimpse of his television work in more recent years on an episode of the short-lived series Mr. Broadway, but unless you had been a regular attendee of Broadway theater productions from the late fifties to early sixties chances are excellent that as a viewer of daytime TV in the summer of 1966 your introduction to Louis Edmonds would have been as Roger Collins on Dark Shadows, and as the series was wrapping up its eleventh week on the air with episode 55, you probably couldn’t stand him – Roger Collins, that is.
First impressions are everything, so let’s review what kind of an impression the character of Roger would have made on the viewer during the first week of the show.
Roger is a terrible parent. Here’s that memorable opening scene of the debut episode, with Roger taking his evening remedy in the form of a brandy and his sister Elizabeth taking her equivalent by standing at the drawing room window for the soothing sea breezes coming in off the water.
As usual, Roger is attempting to insinuate himself into the running of the household by talking Elizabeth into changing her mind about bringing a governess on to tutor his son. When you think of it, the timing is odd; up till now, David had been attending regular school while living up north in Augusta, and now here it is the start of what should be his summer vacation and his aunt Elizabeth is nonetheless wasting no time in ensuring that he gets home-schooled week in and week out ad infinitum. No wonder David can’t stand the sight of Victoria Winters when she first arrives at Collinwood.
Elizabeth attempts to deflect the various issues her brother raises by reminding him of his responsibilities as a parent:
Elizabeth: Don’t you think you ought to look in on your son?
Roger: The little monster’s asleep, and I’m delighted.
The callous paternal indifference of the idle rich, as reinforced by that haughty, landed English brogue of Louis Edmonds. If the boy has problems, it’s no wonder.
Roger is creepy. We’ve all done this at one time, startled someone unintentionally when coming up from behind, and it’s the most embarrassing thing. But in episode 2, despite his rote apology afterward, one senses that Roger is rather shameless and calculating about creeping up behind the new governess without so much as a word – while she’s standing at the edge of a cliff.
If that weren’t enough, while putting on pleasant airs in the midst of making general small talk, Roger’s demeanor shifts with a sudden sharpness at the mention of Burke Devlin’s name and with such intensity that he unnerves Vicki by gripping both her arms with alarming force before turning and darting away just as suddenly.
Roger is incredibly rude. Another episode, another Roger moment. When Roger needs to call on someone he knows in the middle of the night, his flair for the dramatic exceeds that of the viewer’s wildest imagination, but does provide one with a moment of unintended comical entertainment nonetheless:
Roger [calling for Sam Evans]: Answer yer doah, ya drunken bum!
Roger is a prowler. It’s now the fourth episode, still Victoria Winters’ first night in Collinwood, and Roger has suddenly decided that he needs to talk with the young governess once more. The problem: It’s after midnight, and she’s in her room getting ready to turn in, unnerved by the slamming of the front door from downstairs.
No problem for Roger, though, as he creeps up the stairs and along the hallway outside Vicki’s room with a prowler’s patented stealth…
…intent on entering without permission and without so much as even a knock.
Fortunately Elizabeth intervenes and orders him to wait for her downstairs. Roger eventually prevails in getting Vicki to come down to the drawing room so that he can talk with her further on the subject of Burke Devlin, but not before making her wait while he casually indulges in a late brandy…
…and then subjecting her to caustic innuendo relating to certain rites of passage.
Roger: Nothing quite so satisfying as a fine brandy. You should try some.
Vicki: I have. It burns.
Roger [laughs]: The directness of youth. Pain sometimes precedes pleasure, Miss Winters, or are you too young to have discovered that yet?
Vicki: I’d rather avoid the pain as long as possible.
Roger is shamelessly incestuous. What wealthy dysfunctional household would be complete without the matriarch’s younger brother flirting openly and routinely with her daughter? The number of times Carolyn is referred to as “kitten” in the series rivals the instances where young David is referred to as a “little monster” – too many to count without a score pad.
And that’s Roger Collins in a nutshell, episode by episode, through the first week of Dark Shadows. What’s not to dislike?
Roger’s only interest lies in protecting his dark secret from the past, so much so that it’s anyone’s guess to what lengths he may go to achieve that end. When Bill Malloy showed up at Collinwood in episode 46 to advise Roger to be at the meeting he’d set up for later that night, Roger had been pushed almost to the brink of a breakdown, in the process even admitting to Malloy his guilt in the manslaughter conviction that instead had sent Burke Devlin to prison ten years ago. Roger’s downfall had been all but written up; but over the next hour, something had transpired to change that outcome, as epitomized in this exchange between Roger and Sam Evans during the interval where Burke steps out to check on Malloy at his house, with Roger once again steadfast and determined toward keeping the truth from being discovered.
Roger is back in control, and by the time Burke has returned and the meeting is brought to a halt he is by then jubilant at having turned out none the poorer; just observe how he adds a particular lilt to the word “yes” to rub a bit of salt in Burke’s wounds.
As an example of how Roger must remain a virtual stranger to even those closest in relation, following the late-night meeting at his office he must also allay any threat of suspicion on the home front, which means deflecting any inquiries from his sister Elizabeth who is intent on finding out why her plant manager had that day become so heated on the subject of Roger in relation to Burke Devlin. Startled to find his sister there in the drawing room as he enters for a nightcap of brandy, Roger attempts to defuse the sharpness of her mood: “I thought you’d stopped waiting up for me” is an allusion to how according to the series bible Shadows on the Wall Elizabeth being some twenty years older than he had practically raised Roger as a mother figure following the death of her own mother Carolyn while giving birth to Roger. When that fails, Roger must resort to simply being evasive.
After talking his way around his sister’s probing questions by assuring her that he’ll provide all the information she wants if she organizes a meeting with Bill Malloy once he returns from wherever it is he’s gone off to, Roger then does something quite amusing – he sends Elizabeth to bed as though he’s the master of the house and she is instead twenty years the junior.
In episode 50 Roger is sending her off to bed yet again. In episode 48, Elizabeth had found out that Roger had lied to her on the night of the meeting about not having seen Bill Malloy since earlier that day.
Elizabeth [on the phone with Roger in episode 48]: Hello, Roger? I’d like to see you at once… I don’t care what you’re doing at the moment. This is more important… Alright… Well didn’t you tell me that you hadn’t seen Bill Malloy since early yesterday afternoon?… Well I’ve just learned differently. And I’d like an explanation from you… No, I have no intention of discussing it on the telephone. I want you here and now!
Episode 50 [Roger explaining to Elizabeth where he’d been all day]:
Elizabeth: Where have you been all evening?
Roger: Obviously I don’t have to ask you that question. I know where you’ve been. For the past eighteen years, right here in this lovely old house.
Elizabeth [sharply]: When I called I asked you to come right home.
Roger: I know.
Elizabeth: I meant at that moment, not hours later.
Roger: Did it ever occur to you that I might have something more pressing to do?
Elizabeth: More important than Bill Malloy’s disappearance?
Roger: I’ve been just as concerned about it as you have. When I left the office, right after you telephoned, I had every intention of coming right back here… as you so forcefully suggested. Then I had a feeling that I might be able to find him. So I drove out to his cousins’ house. Well, it’s a long trip. And a completely wasted one. They hadn’t seen him for weeks. Hadn’t heard from him in days. And then I came right back here. Does that answer all your questions?
Elizabeth: Why didn’t you call and tell me where you were going?
Roger: Well I meant to, but it slipped my mind. I simply forgot.
Elizabeth: Did you also forget to tell me that you saw Bill here last night?
Roger: How did you know that?
Elizabeth: It doesn’t matter. I want to know why he was here.
Incidentally, that story above about Roger driving out to Bill Malloy’s cousins’ house was a lie that Elizabeth being an estate-bound recluse had no means of checking on, as detailed in her phone call to Malloy’s housekeeper Mrs. Johnson, also in episode 48:
Elizabeth [on the phone with Mrs. Johnson]: I was wondering if Mr. Malloy said anything about visiting friends or his cousins… I see. Well no, I can’t check with them, they have no phone.
Once Roger is certain he’s again in the clear, he calls an end to the night by sending Elizabeth off to bed.
Next episode, Elizabeth is back downstairs because she couldn’t sleep for worrying about Bill Malloy; despite all the excitement of a body having been allegedly spotted at the bottom of Widow’s Hill by Vicki and Carolyn, all Roger has to do is send her back to bed and she complies – at least she leaves him alone in the drawing room with his troubled thoughts.
With each passing day Roger is faced with yet another renewed struggle in covering his tracks, especially when the sheriff stops in at Collinwood with questions about Malloy. At the start of episode 55 Roger is ostensibly hearing about Bill’s death for the first time, yet we know from episode 54 that Roger seems to have had prior knowledge given how at his office he was instructing employees with new systems of operation he had implemented and threatening them with their job if they failed to comply. How about this reaction of Roger to the news: convincing enough for Elizabeth and the sheriff, but hokey and comical to the viewer:
It’s during this occasion when the general incompetence of the sheriff of Collinsport first becomes apparent. When Sheriff Patterson remarks that Roger may have been the last person to see Bill Malloy alive, Elizabeth informs him that she had been talking to Malloy’s housekeeper Mrs. Johnson and says that Bill had been home that night at ten thirty and got a phone call.
Sheriff Patterson: Well, I can check that out with Mrs. Johnson.
A sheriff who knows his job would just check it out with the phone company.
There’s an episode of The Untouchables from 1959 called The Underground Railway, where a mob figure named Frank Holloway breaks out of prison to travel cross-country to collect the half million in cash from the robbery being held by an associate.
The Underground Railway is so named because it refers to a hidden network of stopovers scattered around the country that allow well-connected figures on the run to move about without being detected, and with a mug like Holloway’s one could see why he would need to be traveling incognito.
(Cliff Robertson in heavy makeup as Frank Holloway)
Eliot Ness however has a clue about who it was that planned Holloway’s itinerary.
Eliot Ness (Robert Stack) pays a visit to Daniel Oates (Joe De Santis).
Agents Flaherty (Jerry Paris, right) and Rossman (Steve London, left) are then sent to the phone company to check on Oates’ business and home phone records, after obtaining a court order.
Agent Rossman with the telephone company supervisor, checking further on phone records for notification of Oates’ next move.
The above Untouchables episode was set in 1933 Pennsylvania, so it isn’t like 1966 Collinsport wouldn’t have such capability, that is provided the sheriff is indeed intent on checking into the circumstances of Malloy’s death from all possible angles as he claims. But such is the state of Collinsport law enforcement in the post–Jonas Carter era.
Recall how back in episode 46 Roger was on the phone with someone when Vicki walked into the drawing room; he had been asking someone to meet him somewhere.
Given the recent suspicious actions of caretaker Matthew Morgan in hiding the fact of Malloy’s death by pushing the body back out to sea the night it washes up on the rocks below Widow’s Hill, a different scenario is beginning to develop: that maybe Roger was on the phone with Matthew to meet him so he could use the caretaker as muscle to dispose of Malloy.
The subject of Roger’s mysterious phone call that night will be revisited again, more than once.
Looking less guilty in the disappearance of Malloy is Sam Evans; yet Sam shares with Roger a certain degree of guilt with regard to their pact of silence relating to Burke Devlin’s manslaughter conviction. But unlike Roger, Sam seems to be taking Malloy’s disappearance especially hard.
Perhaps Sam is worried that what happened to Malloy could happen to him as well, given that it was he who in a drunken moment had supplied Malloy with the information that would lead to the meeting being arranged to begin with. Wound up in a fit of angst, he reminds Maggie about the letter he gave her, asking if she’d put it away in a safe place.
You can really feel the tension Sam is consumed by, and scenes like this emphasize the great and natural chemistry for the father-daughter relationship being portrayed as embodied by David Ford and the actress who plays Maggie Evans.
This episode lets Sam off the hook with regard to suspicion in Malloy’s disappearance and death, because despite the motive and opportunity, Sam unlike Roger still doesn’t know that Bill is dead.
Maggie: But Pop, Mr. Malloy is a fair man. Maybe he can help you.
Sam: Yes, yes. Maybe he is the one man who can help me.
Meanwhile back at Collinwood when asked if anyone else at the plant can verify that Bill Malloy had requested him there for a late meeting in his office, Roger provides the names of two other men who were present…
…which naturally comes as a surprise to Elizabeth given what her brother had previously told her about the meeting that night.
After seeing the sheriff out the front door, Elizabeth confronts Roger: “How much of what you told him was the truth?”
Roger: Don’t you see that Burke Devlin is out to murder me? He’s out to destroy me!
Elizabeth: Bill said he had some evidence that could set aside Burke’s conviction.
Roger: Lies, all lies! If you can ever accept that premise, then you will believe me. You’ve got to believe me.
That’s Roger’s one saving grace; his sister’s unwavering allegiance to what it means to be a Collins of Collinsport.
Elizabeth: Yes, I have to. I have to believe you.
From the control room:
The series: The Dan and Lela Show; the main players: director Lela Swift, executive producer Dan Curtis; the setting: television studio control room; main prop: the control room microphone; opening scene: main theme…
More extensive control room discussion taken from the tapings of episodes 53, 54, and 55 will be examined together at length in an upcoming post, after the move to the new studio has been made. Here in episode 55, director Lela Swift has mainly two things on her mind as expressed during the opening and closing themes.
Dan: Lela, will you just please leave it alone?
Lela: No I won’t leave it alone. Dan, I want you to fire Mitch Ryan. He told me to go fuck myself, right from the soundstage.
Dan: Lela, I have other things on my mind…
Below is an audio clip (of just under 2 seconds) to provide a glimpse of how Lela sounds when asserting herself through the control room microphone. This occurs during a break in dialogue in the middle of Act III as the scene transitions from the Collinsport Inn restaurant to the Collinwood foyer, and provides an idea of how well such discussions coming through the control room microphone could be heard throughout the television studio and also how easy it is to pick up such things as Lela’s distinctive voice through the layers of audio as heard throughout the overall broadcast by the fine art of “selective audio focus” as I call it:
[Middle of Act III, transition from Collinsport Inn restaurant to Collinwood foyer]
Lela: Dan, you heard something!
To get better acquainted with the general sound and tone of Lela’s voice during one of her frequent scraps with her executive producer as they oversee the videotaping from the control room, here’s the above clip put on a loop so that it can be heard three times back to back:
Lela: …you heard something!
Lela: Dan, I’m not thrilled with the idea of working in a converted lumber yard.
Dan: Lela, we’ve got to do this to keep Alexandra on the show. This way, she won’t have to keep coming to the same dressing room all the time.
Lela: But Dan, this studio is state-of-the-art…
Bob Lloyd [ABC announcer]: The king is coming. Watch the advance premiere of the Milton Berle Show in color, tonight on ABC.
Dan: …The next studio will have everything this studio has.
Lela: But Dan, I’m going to miss this control room…
Bob Lloyd: Dark Shadows is a Dan Curtis production.
Dan: Don’t worry, Lela, you’ll adjust…
Until next time, this has been The Dan and Lela Show.
Episode 55 is the last to be taped at ABC Studio 2 on 24 West 67th Street in New York. Starting with episode 56 and continuing all the way to the end of the series in 1971, production will take place at a location newly converted from an old lumber yard, ABC Studio 16 at 453 West 53rd Street. To accommodate the move, Dark Shadows took one week off from production from August 29 until September 5, while episodes from the two-week backlog of videotapings were used to maintain the normal broadcast schedule. As a result, over the next few months there would only be at most a one-week lag in the videotaping schedule from production to broadcast, which eventually would cause tension behind the scenes where at one point the time span between taping and broadcast gets reduced to a mere two days, requiring Dan Curtis to make an emergency decision of preemption later in the year to restore the comfort zone between production and broadcast. The reason for changing studio locations is provided in the “From the control room” section of the post for episode 53.
Below is a brief audio clip (11 seconds) from the control room discussion on the subject between Dan Curtis and Lela Swift during the opening scene of episode 53, where in a converted WAV (“wave”) audio file with the sound amplified you can hear (with headphones, in the left channel) the following:
Dan: Goddamn that fucking Mark Allen for ruining my show like that.
Lela: Dan, what are we going to do about Alexandra?
Here is a clip where Dan’s voice is put on a loop so that it can be heard back to back five times (for a total of 18 seconds):
Dan: Goddamn that fucking Mark Allen…
As of 2017, ABC Studio 16 was demolished to make way for a residential property. However, because the original Dark Shadows production location of ABC Studio 2 is part of the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District, this building still stands.
(ABC Studio 2 on 24 West 67th Street, in a November 2017 Google Street view)
During Act II, while Roger recounts for the sheriff the night of the meeting Bill Malloy called in his office, there is a rare scripted mention of a “doorbell” when he describes how Burke stepped out to check on Malloy at his house and that no one had answered the front doorbell. Thus far, a front doorbell has only been heard at one residence, the Evans cottage, over three episodes (7, 22, 49), all when Burke Devlin comes calling on Sam unannounced. The sound effect used for the Evans cottage front doorbell is a buzzing sound, the same sound effect used for the telephone intercom system in Roger’s office in episode 54.
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
Yesterday the Collinsport Inn phone booth was in the lobby facing the front entrance, while today it’s back in the restaurant. Just as with the hotel lobby, the revolving phone booth has faced different angles in the restaurant, including the counter (episode 28) and the doors to the lobby (episode 40). Today it faces straight across to the main restaurant entrance beyond the counter.
Of special note, Maggie answers an incoming call as “Collinsport Restaurant.” Over the first year, the Collinsport Inn restaurant will be referred to by many names, including restaurant, coffee shop, and even by Roger on two occasions as the hotel café, but this is only the second time in the series thus far where this establishment is referred to as it was originally scripted at the very beginning of the series. The one previous occasion was in episode 29, when Maggie phones Collinwood to let them know where David has run away to and Carolyn describes the caller for Elizabeth: “It’s Maggie Evans. She works in the Collinsport Restaurant.”
Collinsport Restaurant, as named in page 3 of a script for episode 1; image from: Dark Shadows: The First Year, by Nina Johnson and O. Crock (summary writers), Blue Whale Books, 2006.
In Act I, as Elizabeth answer’s Roger’s question about what Matthew had done, Joan Bennett says the line, “Matthew didn’t want Bill’s body discovered at Collinswood.”
In Act I, at the Collinsport Inn restaurant, as Sam considers trying to phone Bill Malloy at his office, a shift in camera position allows the glare of a studio light to intrude in the upper right corner of the frame.
In Act II, as Sam and Maggie discuss the letter he gave her to put away in the hotel safe, the camera bumps into something causing the frame to momentarily shudder.
In Act III, as Sheriff Patterson ponders what Mrs. Stoddard has just told him about Ned Calder in relation to Bill Malloy’s position at the plant, the shadow of the camera can be seen against the sheriff’s uniform; not really intrusive if you instead think of it as a piece of drawing room furniture, which it sort of is.
Momentarily in Act IV, the camera blocking goes off while both Roger and Elizabeth move forward toward the camera, but it appears that the cameraman has failed to move back to accommodate the shot, leaving the actors each half in and half out of frame.
This episode provides yet another glimpse of the portrait that hangs over the liquor cabinet in the drawing room, which one may assume somewhat resembles how Louis Edmonds would appear as Joshua Collins in 1795.
But here in 1966, the character of Joshua was still more than a year away from being created; as originally envisioned in Art Wallace’s story outline Shadows on the Wall, the great estate of Collinwood was built in 1830 by Jeremiah Collins.
To this end, scenic designer Sy Tomashoff went searching through antique shops to find portrait paintings that would help to emphasize the nineteenth century type of ambience the Collinwood drawing room was constructed to emulate.
A commenter in the post for episode 32, What It Means to Be a Collins of Collinsport, contributed by identifying this portrait as one of the composer Richard Wagner, which makes sense given how it serves to reinforce the overall period feel of that century.
The image of the German composer of the Romantic Period shown in the drawing room was undoubtedly based on the following image…
…modeled after a contemporary portrait…
…which is similar to how Wagner looked in this 1873 photograph.
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
At the top of Act I, Roger prepares himself for the sheriff’s questioning with a good stiff glass of brandy. As can be seen, the glass is still half full, even after he has already taken a healthy sip from it, whereas ordinarily he only pours enough for a sip or two.
As the scene switches back to the Collinwood drawing room for the final third of Act I, Elizabeth is serving coffee from a service tray. Sheriff Patterson graciously accepts while Roger, still on edge over the news of Bill Malloy washing ashore at Collinwood, sharply refuses.
With the start of Act II, Maggie brings for Pop a black coffee and cheese danish, which apart from the coffee Sam cannot bring himself to enjoy because he is instead brooding over alphabet soup; that is, the letter he gave to Maggie back in episode 37 to put in the hotel safe.
In the middle of Act III, as Sam broods away at his table while chain smoking, Maggie takes a food order over the phone from Burke, who wants it sent up to his room. Whatever it is, probably a sandwich, Burke wants lots of mayonnaise on it. One can rule out ham, because back in episode 24 when ordering a ham sandwich to take back to his hotel room, he had it made with cheese and “butter and mustard, no lettuce”; so it’s probably a roast beef he’s ordering here in this episode. Maggie asks if he wants coffee as well, because that’s what people did in 1966; a sandwich and a coffee. Stay nourished and alert, especially in Collinsport when you just never know what the next scene will bring.
A minute later as the scene continues and Maggie jokes with Pop over the possible contents of the letter he wrote for her to put away, after spreading mayonnaise on a slice of white bread Maggie can be seen topping it with what indeed looks to be a strip of lean roast beef. As can be seen from the menu board on the back wall, fourth item up from the bottom, in 1966 a roast beef sandwich at the Collinsport Inn restaurant went for a dollar and a quarter ($9.88 in 2019 currency).
After thanking Mrs. Stoddard for the coffee and while wrapping up their discussion in the foyer, Sheriff Patterson brings up the fact that Bill Malloy was seen in the Blue Whale drinking in the hours leading up to his disappearance and wonders if this may have affected his behavior enough to have led to his accidentally falling in the water. The sheriff remarks that his housekeeper, Mrs. Johnson, would surely have noticed given that she is a teetotaler.
At the top of Act IV, after the sheriff has left and his sister making reference to “the ghosts of your past” accuses him of lying to both the sheriff and her, Roger retreats into the drawing room for another brandy: “Very well, I and my ghosts want a drink! My nerves are shot.”
Despite having already been served coffee up at Collinwood, Sheriff Patterson drops in at the diner for another coffee and asks also for a donut. He makes small-talk with Sam about his art work while Maggie pours his coffee, which he won’t get to drink because he gets called away with news that the Coast Guard had just pulled Bill Malloy’s body out of the water. Funny how the Coast Guard would be calling for the sheriff through the pay phone of a local coffee shop, rather than the sheriff’s office. But then again, Sheriff Patterson’s deputy is out with Matthew at Widow’s Hill, so at that moment there’s probably no one in the sheriff’s office to answer any incoming calls.
As Maggie goes round the counter to field the phone call, Sheriff Patterson can be seen reaching for a sugar container to sweeten his coffee.
The sheriff only gets to handle the donut he ordered, before Maggie alerts him that the call is for him.
A change in camera angle reveals this to be a plain donut.
While the sheriff is taking his phone call, Sam tells Maggie that he has to leave. It can be seen that even though the sheriff ordered just “one of those donuts” there are in fact two plain donuts on his plate. The other donuts, all plain, are stacked in the glass domed holder on the counter which also doubles as a pie holder, as it will in episode 72 when Mrs. Johnson is served “fresh” baked apple pie during lunch.
On the Flipside:
Over the closing theme of episode 50, ABC announcer Bob Lloyd provides the following message: “The famed Green Hornet comes to television. Watch the advance premiere of The Green Hornet in color one week from tonight, here on ABC.”
The “advance premiere” was a strategy where the ABC network sought to gain ground on their two more venerable competitors NBC and CBS by airing newer programs from their fall 1966 lineup one week earlier, ahead of the official start of the new network television season which would begin on Monday September 12.
With Dark Shadows episode 55 airing on Friday September 9 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern standard time (EST), ABC was providing an advance premiere for two new shows in its Friday evening lineup: The Green Hornet at 7:30 EST and The Time Tunnel from 8:00 to 9:00 EST.
Although The Green Hornet was making its television debut, the character was already part of a franchise that extended back three decades, beginning with a radio series in the 1930s and film serials in the 1940s as well as several varied series of comic books that decade, beginning with Green Hornet Comics written by Green Hornet co-creator Fran Striker.
Similar to other crime-fighting cartoon icons of the day like Batman and Superman, the Green Hornet is the alter-ego of Britt Reid who publishes the Daily Sentinel newspaper, but who fights crime in a vigilante disguise of green mask, gloves, and overcoat while, also like Batman, tooling around the city in a souped-up wonder car nicknamed the Black Beauty. In yet another parallel with Batman, the Green Hornet has as his faithful ally Kato who in his masked incarnation is Green Hornet’s bodyguard/assistant/enforcer, but who by day is Britt Reid’s chauffeur.
The debut episode of The Green Hornet is called The Silent Gun. How silent is the silent gun? The silent gun is so silent, that you can take it out among a crowd of people during a funeral service…
…and just kill some guy…
…so that no one would know, not even the police who are present in the background.
Forget the police, this is a job for the Green Hornet.
Noteworthy is that The Green Hornet provided television viewers with their first glimpse of Bruce Lee, who played Green Hornet’s faithful assistant Kato.
Given the Batman similarities noted above, it should come as no surprise that Van Williams’ Green Hornet and Bruce Lee’s Kato would appear on episodes of Batman that season, especially since both shows were products of Greenway Productions and executive produced by William Dozier, who also did the narration for both.
With The Green Hornet on at 7:30 p.m. each Friday night, you can be sure that plenty of kids were tuning in. Let’s see what the ABC advertising executives in 1966 were pitching to their prospective younger audience: “V is for… Viceroy?”
“The Green Hornet is brought to you by…Viceroy.”
“Viceroy’s got the taste that’s right, right any time of the day.”
“The lines are all straining, over 4000 pounds; mister, take her away”
“Then a Viceroy smoke for the taste that’s right”
“Right any time of the day”
“This is the good taste you always get”
“When you smoke the Viceroy way”
“Cause a Viceroy smoke’s got the taste that’s right”
“Right any time of the day”
“Viceroy is the filter cigarette blended with natural flavor fresheners, to enrich and improve true tobacco taste”
“That’s why Viceroy tastes rich, good, rewarding, any time you light up”
“You’re well out to sea, doin’ 17 knots”
“Now’s the time when you say”
“Give me a Viceroy smoke”
“It’s got the taste that’s right”
“Right any time of the day”
Following The Green Hornet is a one-hour time travel adventure series called The Time Tunnel, created and produced by Irwin Allen who is perhaps best known for his 1970s TV disaster movies like The Towering Inferno.
As part of a secret government endeavor called Project TicToc, 12,000 personnel working 800 stories deep in a secret complex in an Arizona desert set to work building a time machine, with the focus on three researchers in particular played by James Darren, Robert Colbert, and Lee Meriwether.
In addition to the intriguing subject matter, The Time Tunnel is also technically and visually impressive, even after more than fifty years on, as one of the researchers takes a visiting senator on a tour of the complex, beginning with a freefall elevator system which takes them 800 floors deep.
For a television production, they really go all out in set design. It was rumored that The Time Tunnel had the biggest budget of any television show of its day, and one look at the wide angle views of the sets would explain why.
(Lee Meriwether as Dr. Ann McGregor)
(A crew member at work in the time tunnel)
James Darren (center) as Dr. Anthony Newman and Robert Colbert (right) as Dr. Doug Phillips, addressing Senator Leroy Clark (Gary Merrill)
The project has been going on for ten years at the cost of $7.5 billion, so the senator demands fast, immediate action: Send a man back in time that very day, or he’ll return to Washington and cut off the funding.
Having put their lives into the project, Dr. Newman is determined that it be allowed to go ahead, so he programs the tunnel for operation himself when the laboratory is empty.
Then he rushes forward into the time tunnel.
Dr. Phillips and other personnel arrive on the scene, but too late to stop him.
Dr. Phillips calls out a red alert, ordering all time tunnel personnel to report to their stations at once.
As personnel wait through a crucial countdown, Dr. McGregor explains to the senator that Newman has entered into a radiation freeze, the first step in his relocation.
During a location probe, it is determined that Newman has hurled himself back into the past and is aboard an ocean liner, a familiar four-stacker…
…which turns out to be the Titanic, on the day before its collision with the iceberg.
So back at the laboratory they’ve got to figure out a way to rescue him before it’s too late.
They’ve got the scale model of Titanic about right. For comparison, below is an image of Titanic’s elder sister ship Olympic from a colorized clip of British Movietone footage filmed in the 1930s, along with an audio clip of Olympic sounding her whistles as she communicates with nearby tugboats upon her entry into New York Harbor, also from the 1930s.
(Images from the opening theme of The Time Tunnel, 1966)
Parallel Collinsport, 1966:
On the day episode 55 was taped, Friday August 26, 1966, music trio the Walker Brothers released their LP Portrait, featuring the widely covered Hurting Each Other.
With their heavily orchestrated production sound and richly nuanced vocal harmonies, the Walker Brothers have been referred to as “the English Righteous Brothers”; originally based in Los Angeles, it was eventually decided that their approach would be met with greater success over in England. The Burt Bacharach and Hal David song Make It Easy On Yourself was their breakthrough hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
Moving their base of operations to London proved effective, as they enjoyed great success on the English charts, including their 1966 #1 hit The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.
There’s an interesting and lesser known background to the song – it was first recorded and released by Frankie Valli. Co-written by Four Seasons member Bob Gaudio and producer Bob Crewe, the song was recorded as The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore) during a 1965 Four Seasons recording session. Upon release the single went nowhere, most likely because the Four Seasons were still in the midst of their impressive chart run of hits, and the public just wasn’t ready yet for Frankie Valli as a solo act. Underrated as songwriters, music arrangers, and musicians, this recording shows that these Jersey boys really were crackerjack.
Joan Bennett’s 1970 autobiography (original front and back covers).
The Bennetts: An Acting Family, the 2004 biography (front cover).
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 returning is the actress who played 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 56: More Problems Dead Than Alive
— Marc Masse
© 2019 Marc Masse and Dark Shadows
from the Beginning. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of
the content herein is a violation of the
terms and standards as set forth under
U.S. copyright law.