One thing is now clear about the disappearance and death of Bill Malloy: Sam Evans couldn’t have been responsible. This doesn’t necessarily mean that other folks around Collinsport wouldn’t look upon him with suspicion, like the sheriff, were it determined that Malloy had indeed met his end as a result of foul play. In a poetic twist, he could even be framed, tried, and convicted just as Burke Devlin had been for manslaughter ten years before. Even worse, what happened to Bill could just as easily happen to him.
Sam Evans thus has reason to be running scared. If Malloy had made it to the meeting that night, Sam would be faced with charges for withholding evidence relating to the Devlin trial along with the possibility of prison time. Now with Malloy dead and the question of murder and motive not outside the realm of possibility, the penalty looming ahead could mean a life sentence.
Based on Sam’s words and actions in the previous episode and this one however, it seems the grim balance of fate is weighing most heavily on his mind today. In a drunk and desperate moment, he’s already admitted to Bill what he knows about Roger Collins, and now Malloy has turned up dead.
Whatever the outcome, for Sam Evans especially Bill Malloy represents more problems dead than alive.
It’s noontime in Collinsport, and Sam Evans has been hit with the type of thirst that only the Blue Whale could satisfy, or at least cater to.
Roger Collins would surely never be seen frequenting such a place as the Blue Whale; it would seem as out of character as Sam Evans in the Collinwood drawing room. Neither would be found in either unlikely respective environment without a specific and self-serving purpose. Just as Sam had ventured up to Collinwood recently to speak with Elizabeth Stoddard so as to unburden his guilt, so too Roger today, for the first time on Dark Shadows, enters the Blue Whale having sought out his confidant in crime to ensure his own guilt remains unexposed.
Sam, ever the artistic soul, is toasting his sudden spiral into despair by indulging in a poetic moment.
You want to like Sam Evans. There’s plenty to admire; to make his way in the world as he does, just moving about along the beaches and the bluffs, gazing at cloud formations and taking in sunset after sunset as the seasons ripen and turn, and then translating all that cyclic and fleeting beauty into strokes of a brush, thus capturing moments on canvas. This alone should have been enough.
In 1954 when Dark Shadows story creator and developer Art Wallace was bringing his teleplay The House to the anthology TV series The Web, there was in the opening scene a drunken artist named Sam who is admonished by the bartender to be careful not to break anything. It is therefore interesting that among the character sketches in the Dark Shadows series outline Shadows on the Wall, Sam Evans is given space only within a sketch for Margaret Evans, perhaps indicating that the life and influence of Sam Evans is more aptly told through the lives that have been most directly affected by his own.
After an introductory paragraph outlining how Maggie balances her innate cynicism with humor, Wallace then describes how “Maggie was born in Collinsport, the daughter of one of those idealistic young artists who was determined the village would be the Provincetown of the future.” Maggie’s mother had likewise been a local girl who “was entranced by Sam Evans’ enthusiasms, his fiery red beard, his palette, and the deep blue eyes that seemed to see so much more beauty than she would ever imagine” (Shadows on the Wall, p. 32)
Growing up in the Evans household, Maggie remembered her early years as happy ones, and “the absence of money was scarcely noticed in a home that rang with laughter and the deep booming sounds of Sam’s voice.” One of the ways in which they bonded was in the way he delighted in reading aloud to her from the varied literary selections he kept on the shelf: “They were more than father and daughter. They were friends, companions, friendly antagonists, and happy wanderers. Sam was a warm, loving, expansive, open man….and Maggie glowed in the light of his understanding” (Shadows on the Wall, pp. 32-33)
In a bitterly ironic twist, it was the materialistic subject of money which had long ago brought an end to the boundless happiness each had known.
“And then it changed. Suddenly and without explanation. It was ten years ago, and Maggie was only thirteen. Sam sold ten of his paintings….or so he told Maggie….for the fantastic sum of fifteen thousand dollars. It was more money than they’d ever hoped to have in their lives, and should have brought an even brighter glow into their home.
“But there was a difference. Sam became quieter, more withdrawn than usual….and would fly into a sudden frenzy every time Maggie would ask the name of the man who had bought the paintings. To this day, she hasn’t received an answer to that question, and long ago learned not to raise the subject. But she does remember that shortly before the ‘big sale’….as she still refers to it….there was a number of visits from a member of that old established family that lived on the hill….Roger Collins” (Shadows on the Wall, p. 33)
So, unlike that of Roger Collins, Sam’s plight represents a grand struggle, to recapture something essential, a free and easy happiness which evaporated when he sold out to a lie in a moment of weakness that represented an unwise as well as uncharacteristic life choice for which he has been paying ever since, with the “inverted pyramid” analogy in the audio clip below sounding something like a metaphor for Sam’s troubled conscience.
“How long can we go on telling lies, Collins?”
By contrast, through his continual all or nothing manipulation in keeping Sam trapped in this lie, Roger Collins comes off as even more contemptible in the coldness of his unrelenting determination for having his own guilt kept secret. It’s that unlimited sense of entitlement that goes with being a Collins of Collinsport, the way he seems to think of everything and everyone as his to own. There have been hints of this in recent episodes, and one is dropped here as well during his Blue Whale meeting with Sam.
Roger: All I know, all anyone knows, is that my caretaker found a body at the foot of Widow’s Hill last night and pushed it out to sea. The fact that he called it Bill Malloy means nothing. Unless the body shows up again for definite identification.
His caretaker? Since when has Roger been in charge of hiring the staff at Collinwood? In episode 54 he takes a similar stance in a couple of instances when Burke storms into his office demanding answers about Bill Malloy.
Roger: Now it’s one thing for you to make threats and insinuations around Collinsport, but don’t you dare come in here and tell me how to run my business.
His business? One would think he’s referring to the operations relating to the work that comes through his office, but given the other example noted above, it most likely relates to the overall sense of propriety he enjoys as a Collins of Collinsport.
During the phone call preceding Burke’s visit to Roger’s office, while Roger was busy fending off Burke’s inquiries about Bill Malloy, he seems to suggest that Malloy’s position in the company is subordinate to his own.
Roger: For heaven’s sake, Burke, the man works for me. I’m not paid to look after him.
Bill Malloy works for him? But it was Elizabeth who hired Malloy, and Bill was the manager of the whole plant. Elizabeth even spelled out to Roger (in episode 50) that if he wanted to try out any of his ideas in the family business, it would only be on the condition of Bill Malloy approving them. Also in that episode, Roger bristled at the prospect of her sister bringing Ned Calder back to take over Malloy’s position: “…and now with Calder breathing down my neck.”
Here he is again in episode 54 when Burke recounts to Roger the visit he made up at Collinwood in episode 49, and how he’d talked to Carolyn and Joe.
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.
Roger had at one time owned a percentage of shares in the company, but had long since put them up for sale after having recklessly spent his way through his inheritance.
So that’s the difference between the characters of Roger Collins and Sam Evans. Roger has everything to lose: his undeserved stature as well as the secrets he holds which punish other men instead of him. Sam on the other hand has everything to gain: in breaking free of the lies that bind him in such a way, he may one day save his soul and restore his path back to the humanity he knew in younger years. It’s easy to see who the viewer should be rooting for.
Meanwhile over on the Collinwood set, the makers of Dark Shadows are using the start of Act IV in today’s episode to remind viewers of a key landmark moment from episode 52, when it was indicated that the legends and ghosts of Collinwood might in fact be real.
In that moment, Dark Shadows was drawing on the same source used for the Sobbing Woman, the 1944 motion picture The Uninvited. Here in episode 56, they further tantalize the viewer with the possibility that the ghost of Josette Collins may indeed be haunting Collinwood, but then it turns out to be Carolyn looking through the family history.
(A book on the Collins family history opens to a page on Josette Collins in episode 52)
(Inspiration for the above instance, from The Uninvited)
Gail Russell as Stella Meredith in The Uninvited, running from Windward House while in the grip of a supernatural possession.
Alexandra Moltke in an early promotional image taken on the grounds of Seaview Terrace in Newport, Rhode Island.
Below is a brief demonstration with audio clips of conversation from the television studio control room, specifically executive producer Dan Curtis and main director Lela Swift, which can be heard as hidden layers of audio that were included as part of the initial videotaping as originally broadcast. These instances should not be confused with master tapes that have been poorly wiped; that is, where one can clearly hear the audio remnants of some other broadcast, a variety show or whatever, that was erased so that the tape reels could be reused. To this reviewer’s knowledge there are three such instances over the entire Dark Shadows run; two occur during the 1970 episodes and the first such instance is in early 1967 with episode 140.
There are episodes however where it is not possible to hear such background voices as those coming through the control room microphone, such as the kinescope episodes where because of the constant rush of white noise resulting from the second-generation recording transfer, it sounds like a torrential driving rain pounding through the television studio, leaving as audible only the most rudimentary elements from the original broadcast such as dialogue and music cues. Other such instances are when the quality of the surviving master tape is poor, like in episode 78 where the video quality is subpar and the audio quality is likewise muffled and murky, so that like with the kinescope copies only the basic audio in the very forefront can be heard.
To date however it is possible to get a glimmer and a general idea of what is being said from the control room at various moments within any given broadcast. To hear the voice of Dan Curtis for instance, let’s take a moment from the opening scene of episode 48.
Vicki is with David in his room during the start of morning lessons. In the 7-second clip below, there is a line of dialogue, followed in the background by 3 seconds of background chatter.
Vicki: Alright, Michelangelo. Let’s get down to history.
That voice you hear in the background is Dan Curtis, conversing with someone in the control room, with the control room microphone and the studio boom microphone combining to leak his voice into the background of the broadcast audio. Now, let’s hear the last part of that clip again, with only the background chatter.
OK, now let’s hear the above background chatter clip amplified 4x, to see if it can be determined what’s being said.
It might be helpful to put the above clip on a loop, so that it can be heard back to back five times. It sounds a bit like…
Dan Curtis: …I think it hurts David way too much…
Or something like that; one has to really study this background chatter, intently and repeatedly, just to get the gist of what’s being said. But as you can see, it’s there; and many other similar snippets can be heard throughout that episode, and with Lela’s voice as well.
Here’s another example of Dan’s voice leaking into the broadcast from the control room, this one from episode 49. Here’s a 10-second audio clip from Act III of episode 49. Joe and Carolyn are enjoying a quiet moment in the Collinwood foyer when there is a knock at the door; sort of like finding the x image in the y illustration, see if you can spot the moment where Dan’s voice can be heard booming through the control room microphone.
In the above clip, Dan’s voice can be heard at the 3-second mark; he has just called one of the actors up to the control room for a little pep talk, and as the actor in question was evidently not moving fast enough, Dan really leans into the control room mic to crack the whip. Here’s that 1-second of Dan’s voice isolated.
Dan: Move it!
Just for fun, let’s put that 1 second on a loop with the sound amplified 4x so that it can be heard back to back five times.
Dan: Move it!
That one would make for quite a unique ringtone for a cell phone, wouldn’t you say? Ideal for any Dark Shadows fan on the move.
One of the other familiar voices coming through the control room microphone, whether or not she’s directing an episode, is that of Lela Swift.
To get an idea of what Lela sounds like when she’s all riled up, which as it happens is a good deal of the time, and battling away with Dan Curtis, here’s a reprise of a snippet from Act III of episode 55 as included in the previous post.
Lela: Dan, you heard something!
Here’s the above snippet put on a loop so that it can be heard back to back three times.
Lela: …you heard something!
There’s an untold story behind the move made from the original studio location to the one most people associate with Dark Shadows. It sort of begs the question, like the old saying goes: If it ain’t broke, why fix it? ABC Studio 2 was state of the art, so why all of a sudden move to a new studio that had been renovated from a lumber yard?
Background discussion from the control room during the opening scene of episode 53 answers this question, the origins of which can be traced back to the taping of episode 20. Here’s a clip of Lela Swift speaking through the control room microphone during Act I of episode 20, with the sound amplified.
Lela: I’ll sabotage you right off the show, Mark Allen!
Here’s Lela’s voice speaking just the first three words from the above clip, put on a loop so that it plays five times back to back.
Lela: I’ll sabotage you…
Below is the full 15 seconds of Lela speaking through the control room microphone in that instance, which happens right after the restaurant scene with Mark Allen and Alexandra Moltke has transitioned to Burke’s room, where Burke finishes reading the paper and gets up to shut off the light when there is a knock at the door. Lela is bemoaning the fact that Mark Allen is showing improvement with his lines during performance; this is just moments before the dressing room incident.
Lela: Only one missed line! Your improvement is only temporary! I’ll sabotage you right off the show, Mark Allen! I’m sick and tired…
Here now as posted previously is the transcript of the background discussion from the control room during the opening scene of episode 53 as heard by this reviewer.
[Taping of episode 53]
Lela [during opening narration, the moment it begins]: Dan, I have to talk to you about what Alexandra’s been saying. She’s having trouble returning to that dressing room every day. Dan, Alexandra is still saying that she wants to leave Dark Shadows.
Dan: Goddamn that fucking Mark Allen for ruining my show like that!
Lela: Dan, what are we going to do? We can’t let Alexandra leave.
Dan: Well if it’s only the dressing room that’s the issue, we can just have her switch with someone.
Lela: Dan, no one else wants that dressing room, because of what happened.
Dan: Alright then. We’ll just have to change studios. There’s one in the area that ABC is renovating. It’s only a few blocks from here.
Lela: But Dan, how can we just change studios? This is where we contracted to work.
Dan: Well, it’s either we change studios, or we lose the show. Because if Alexandra leaves, there goes Dark Shadows.
Lela: But Dan, I don’t want to change studios. I like this control room.
Dan: There’s no choice, Lela. We won’t have a show if we don’t have a protagonist. My whole dream of starting Dark Shadows was based on a governess traveling by train to this small town. If we lose the governess, we lose everything.
Lela: But Dan, I want to keep this control room.
Dan: And I want to keep Alexandra on Dark Shadows. Understand?
Lela: But Dan! There has to be another way…
From the above transcript, here’s a clip where Mark Allen’s name is mentioned, by Dan Curtis, with the sound amplified 4x, as Dan and Lela discuss what must be done about the situation.
Dan: Goddamn that fucking Mark Allen for ruining my show like that!
Lela: Dan, what are we going to do?
And here is Dan’s voice from the above clip put on a loop so that it can be heard five times back to back.
Dan: Goddamn that fucking Mark Allen…
“Believe it, …or not.”
Episode 55 was the last to be taped in the original home of Dark Shadows productions, ABC Studio 2 on 24 West 67th Street in New York. Starting here with episode 56, production would take place in the location most Dark Shadows fans associate the series with, a converted lumber yard that became ABC Studio 16 at 453 West 53rd Street. Studio 16 was demolished in 2017 to make way for a residential property, while the building where the first fifty-five episodes of Dark Shadows were taped still stands, as part of the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District, shown here in a November 2017 image from Google Street views.
A copy of one of Sy Tomashoff’s set design blueprints from Dark Shadows shows the position of the Collinwood drawing room and foyer in relation to the new studio. Because the width of Studio 16 was rather narrow, the set had to be positioned at an angle. As many Dark Shadows fans would know, the Collinwood drawing room and foyer was the only standing set, that is, the only set that would never be dismantled from episode to episode as others would have to be to make room for other sets in use.
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
If you’ve ever wondered about the shimmering movements on the windows of the Blue Whale set, the effect is created by placing water pans outside the set and under each window; with a strategic play of studio lighting on the water pans, a series of wave patterns are created thereby simulating the waterfront environment where the Blue Whale is located.
In the opening scene, as Carolyn is about to head up the foyer stairs with her coffee and her mother calls to her from the drawing room doorway, when Joan Bennett throws open the drawing room doors the one on the right bounces back into view…
…which is then eased back out of sight by an unseen crew member.
During Act I, after Roger has entered the Blue Whale and is approaching Sam’s table, while the camera angle keeps Louis Edmonds in view one of the studio lights is visible.
In Act II up in Vicki’s room, while Carolyn bitterly lampoons the legends of Collinwood following news of Bill Malloy’s death, Nancy Barrett says: “Step right up ladies and gentlemen and see the haunted house. See the old witch and her daughter. Shiver and quake as you walk along Widow’s Hill and look over the edge. And for only a sh- slight extra charge, we’ll take you to the very spot…”
Also in Act II, at the Blue Whale Louis Edmonds occasionally stumbles with certain words, saying, “The Coast Guard found his body two miles souz of… south of Collinwood” and “On the night of his dis…ppearance…”.
As Carolyn and Vicki chat in the Collinwood drawing room in Act IV, the teleprompter swings into view at right.
During the same scene the camera angle momentarily wanders to the left, showing where the oak paneling for that part of the drawing room wall ends.
In the final scene, as Elizabeth greets Roger in the foyer, Joan Bennett says, “Oh, Roffyew, I’ve been trying to reach you.”
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
In the opening scene, Carolyn comes from the kitchen with a cup of coffee which she refers to as “warmed over”: “Sleep till noon, and your punishment shall be the dregs of the coffee pot.”
Uncharacteristically, Roger at the Blue Whale is having a mug of draft beer, when thus far we’ve only seen him in his frequent indulgence of drawing room brandy. Sam on the other hand self-medicates with an old-fashioned beer cocktail known as a boilermaker: a sip of whisky from a shot glass with a draft beer chaser.
On the Flipside:
With the fall lineup for the 1966-67 TV season kicking off as of Monday September 12, the day that Dark Shadows episode 56 was broadcast, it may be telling as to why ABC was consistently third among the three major networks. CBS and NBC started off the weeknight 7:30 time slot by going after younger viewers with their respective shows, season 3 of Gilligan’s Island and the debut of The Monkees, whereas ABC was keeping to the more tried and true format of… a western. After all, Gilligan’s Island and The Monkees became cultural touchstones that would set off a lifetime of cherished memories for countless young viewers then and since; over a half century later, could the same be said for Iron Horse?
Iron Horse stars Dale Robertson as frontier gambler Ben Calhoun who wins the unfinished Buffalo Pass, Scalplock and Defiance (BPS&D) railroad line in a poker game and must contend with scheming bankers and other assorted shady competitors who want it for themselves.
(Dale Robertson as Ben Calhoun)
(View of the poker game)
(The original owner of the BPS&D puts the deed for the railroad up as collateral to match the stakes raised by Calhoun)
(Ben Calhoun’s winning hand)
The term “iron horse” was apparently a nickname in those days for the locomotive engine. The popular crime drama series The F.B.I. earlier that year had used the term for one of their episode titles about a saboteur engaged in a string of railway bombings, called How to Murder an Iron Horse.
Incidentally, the steam locomotive used in the pilot as well as throughout the Iron Horse series is the Sierra No. 3, built in 1891 and widely used in motion picture and television productions, including among many others Petticoat Junction. The Sierra No. 3 is currently owned by the state of California and preserved in the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, and remains operational to this day.
(The legendary Sierra No. 3 steam locomotive used for the Iron Horse pilot and TV series)
The pilot for the series was shown on TV earlier that year as a feature-length movie western called Scalplock. As western movies go, this one is pretty good, especially if you like old-time steam locomotive trains.
After winning his new acquisition, Ben Calhoun sets about hiring people and equipment. When he stops in to send a wire, he hires the young apprentice messenger, Barnabus Rogers, to act as his administrative assistant.
(Ben hires Barnabus Rogers, left)
That’s right, Barnabus Rogers, as played by Robert Random, who would go on to be one of the series’ main co-stars.
(Robert Random as Barnabus Rogers)
The TV Guide listing has it spelled as Barnabas, but the pilot movie’s end credits has it spelled with a “u”.
In a local foundry, Calhoun takes a liking to an unused private railroad car called the La Bonne Chance, which is owned by a Mr. Burton Standish whose interests include the Union Pacific railroad. The car comes complete with a young woman who lives in the its back room named Marta Grenier, for whom the car was specially built.
(Diana Hyland as Marta Grenier, with Burton Standish pictured)
Diana Hyland was quite a hot property at the time, appearing all over television in such shows as The Twilight Zone, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Fugitive, The F.B.I., and The Green Hornet. Eventually she would become a series regular on Peyton Place as Susan Winter, the troubled and hard-drinking wife of Reverend Tom Winter.
James Doohan plays a foundry manager named Scrimp, who is bribed ten thousand dollars by Calhoun to change the title of the car over to his newly acquired railroad. You may know James Doohan better…
…as Scotty from Star Trek.
(James Doohan with William Shatner in The Corbomite Maneuver, a 1966 episode)
Eventually the series would bring on another co-star, Ellen “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (at least not for quite a while yet)” Burstyn as Julie Parsons as a romantic interest for Ben Calhoun. In the pilot film, that function was fulfilled by Sandra Smith in the role of Joanna Royce.
In the pilot movie, Todd Armstrong (right) plays the role of Dave Tarrant, the construction superintendent in charge of finishing the railroad line.
A good portion of the film was edited into the debut episode for the series, with reshoots to accommodate casting changes made between the pilot and the start of the series. For the series, the role of Dave Tarrant was inexplicably cast with Gary Collins.
Now, isn’t Gary Collins supposed to be some kind of talk show host or something? What in tarnation is Gary Collins doing in a western? I don’t believe even Gary Collins himself knows for certain.
Interesting how the end credits for the pilot have Don Kirshner listed, considering how he would soon be hired for one of the shows going opposite Iron Horse that fall.
Despite that the series didn’t over the long run have the same mystique as those running in the same time slot over the other two big networks Iron Horse still did pretty well, lasting two seasons until 1968.
(TV guide listing for Iron Horse series debut)
Meanwhile, further along in ABC nighttime after 267 episodes Peyton Place is now being shown in color.
Opening narration by Warner Anderson [who played Matt Swain in the first year of the show]: “Betty Anderson [Cord], occupation, housewife. But today, she is actively employed. While Constance Mackenzie’s husband is in New York, Betty has been staying with her, taking care of her book shop, for Constance is soon to have a baby. Betty’s husband, Steven Cord, occupation counselor-at-law, now defending a man named Lee Webber, on a charge of murder. A heavy world. But this morning in Peyton Place, Betty Anderson attempts to lighten it.”
As if to drive home the point of the transition to color, this episode is highlighting a red color theme, beginning in the opening scene in the outer office of lawyer Steven Cord where the secretary Miss Nolan is filling one of the coffee cups to take in to her boss.
(Penelope Gillette as Ann Nolan)
The striking exuberance of the color red is further emphasized in the following scene at the Peyton mansion, with George Macready as Martin Peyton sporting a bright red smoking jacket as he walks in to the living room to find Steven Cord’s mother Hannah tossing all the personal effects of the recently deceased Ann Howard into the fireplace.
“Hannah, What madness is this?”
It turns out that Ruth Warrick, rather than dark-haired as the previous black and white episodes would indicate, is in fact a redhead, almost as vibrant a shade as that chair in the background.
Even the contents of the fireplace have for the moment a red backdrop.
As noted above, Ann Howard (who had been played by Susan Oliver) has tragically died and it is believed that Lee Webber murdered her, among them some of the people closest to Lee including his brother Chris (played by Chris Haynes). Tellingly, even Lee’s wife Sandy (played by Lana Wood) has not been to visit him since he was returned to jail for talking to Allison Mackenzie, who as a witness could place him at the scene and time of Ann’s death.
(Chris wondering if Sandy thinks Lee murdered Ann Howard)
Given that Allison’s disappearance was timed as having occurred just after Lee had confronted her on the wharf that night, and that he had in fact been the last one in Peyton Place to see her before she mysteriously disappeared, there are even those who think that Lee killed Allison to keep her quiet about the Ann Howard case.
It was however Frank Sinatra who killed off the Allison Mackenzie character; the nefarious influence of “Ol’ Blue Eyes” on the remaining years of Peyton Place cannot be overstated.
(TV Guide listing for Peyton Place, Monday September 12, 1966)
The season 3 opener of Gilligan’s Island, Up at Bat, is a vampire spoof where after being bitten by a bat Gilligan fears he will turn into a vampire.
That night he has a dream, in which he lives in a castle and sleeps in a coffin.
The other castaways each have different roles in Gilligan’s dream, and Ginger is the bride of the vampire. Check out that vampiric boom mic shadow on the left (just over the corner of the mantle). It makes you think that Dark Shadows shouldn’t be faulted for such bloopers, given how other shows of the period with larger budgets and more relaxed production schedules chose not to care about such things.
Stories with such dream sequences provided the show with added creative opportunities, where the cast could perform as more of a theatrical repertory company and take on different roles.
Skipper Watson: Inspector, did you hear a scream?
Professor Sherlock: I beg your pardon, what did you say?
Skipper Watson: I said, did you hear a scream?
Professor Sherlock: I can’t hear you, old boy! Someone’s screaming.
Undoubtedly, a substantial portion of the show’s appeal can be put down to the classic question: “Ginger or Mary Ann?…”
(From the season 2 episode “Don’t Bug the Mosquitoes”)
(TV Guide listing of Gilligan’s Island for Monday September 12, 1966)
Whereas typical pop music groups begin with a series of chart hits, The Monkees instead began with a series of television episodes. The group’s initial single Last Train To Clarksville debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart at #67 the very week their eponymous TV show premiered.
(TV Guide promotional ad, week of September 10-16, 1966)
(TV series opening theme, 1966)
In assembling the four personalities who would become the Monkees, it was only a coincidence that some of them also happened to be musicians in their own right. One of them, Micky Dolenz, was no stranger to show business, having previously appeared on Peyton Place for a short stint as Kitch Brunner, who unlike his later Monkees counterpart was anything but friendly and innocent. Having already been in the business for nearly a decade, this role on Peyton Place was his fifth job in television.
Dolenz makes his initial appearance in the episode where Norman Harrington first meets Rita Jacks, only at that time she’s running with a rough crowd and going with Kitch, the leader of the gang.
While out for a night at the Shoreline Café, Kitch and his gang spot Norman there and for a lark they convince Rita to bring him over to their table so they can amuse themselves with one of the rich Harrington boys of Peyton Place. At one point, Kitch spikes Norman’s drink.
Rita however had seen what Kitch had done and calls him a rat for it. When Norman returns to their table from the dance floor, Norman sips from the drink despite Rita’s warning not to.
After Norman leaves the Shoreline, he stumbles toward home in a disoriented stupor.
Kitch and his gang eventually catch up with Norman however, intent on finishing with their game.
Then they tie him to the pillory in the town square and administer a beating.
Such a rough, dark character portrayal would no doubt come as a surprise to the average Monkees fan of the period, but given the racy reputation Peyton Place had at the time, it’s unlikely they would have been aware of the episodes Dolenz had appeared in.
Just to be clear on what demographic the target audience for The Monkees TV series was, let’s look at one of the commercials for that first episode. It seems they’re interested in picking up those younger fans who have embraced the Beatles-led “British Invasion” of recent years.
“I’m a London girl”
“I change my looks to suit my mood”
“With Yardley’s super new lip polish, Slicker”
“Under my lipstick, to soften the color”
“To light up my lips”
“For moist, natural innocence”
“Get Slicker lip polish”
“By Yardley of London”
No cigarette ads here, although you wouldn’t have had to look far to find one; that’s what the back cover of the TV Guide is for.
“MEN AND STEEL: Skilled men…doing a mighty important job. Camel smokers? Lots of them. They like a real taste that satisfies longer!”
In thinking of further music to complement the atmosphere of the Blue Whale, one has to wonder what tunes of the period might have appeared on the jukebox were it not for the budgetary limitations which invariably kept the selections down to three guitar instrumentals and the odd occasional Muzak rendition of popular standards.
The Blue Whale’s striking ambience of waterfront warmth would surely have been highlighted with a number like The Girl From Ipanema.
(Left to right: Stan Getz on saxophone, guitarist João Gilberto, and singer Astrud Gilberto at New York’s Cafe Au Go Go, 1964)
With the rise of female singer-songwriters in the 1960s, Jackie DeShannon was among the first, here with her 1963 composition When You Walk In The Room.
(Performing on the TV series Hollywood a Go Go, 1964)
Speaking of those occasional orchestrated instrumentals one hears from the Blue Whale jukebox, the more mature set might have been happy with R.S.V.P. Mon Amour, an original by Dave Miller, the producer and record company founder behind the long-running, low-budget orchestral recording act 101 Strings.
A song like Running Scared by “the Big O” Roy Orbison would sum up in this episode the mood of Sam Evans.
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 57: The Ripple Effect
— Marc Masse
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