With the death of Bill Malloy now an official fact, on this day in the town of Collinsport measures are being taken to observe his passing. The family-owned business for which Malloy devoted the greater share of his livelihood, first on the fishing boats and then as plant manager, has shuttered its operations for the remainder of the day. It was Roger Collins who made the suggestion to Elizabeth, but of course Roger would do anything to get out of work, if only for an afternoon.
It’s a dead man’s holiday, but the day really belongs to the sheriff of Collinsport. Dana Elcar appears on every set in use during today’s episode, and each appearance made by Sheriff Patterson will have a decisive effect on the actions of whomever he interacts with.
The opening narration by Victoria Winters tells of how “the long shadows of fear do reach out, touching others, darkening their hearts with growing tension.” Sam Evans for one, and Roger Collins for another, each have reason to be tense and fearful, especially with the sheriff making his rounds with hard questions that demand frank answers.
Still, there are others whose hopes and dreams cannot be shattered by the grim fact of Malloy’s demise. Joe Haskell has stopped in at the Blue Whale and is flagged down by Sam who gets Joe to join him at his table for a beer. Then when the sheriff happens in and joins them, he convinces Joe to take advantage of this nice afternoon off and go with Carolyn out for a drive in the country. Joe’s dream is of course to marry Carolyn, and a few hours just getting away from it all might find them talking of plans for the future.
Then there’s young David Collins, who in a morbid twist finds renewed hope through Mr. Malloy’s death. With the aid of a book devoted to local tide charts and currents, David will do his best to see if he can determine where exactly Mr. Malloy fell in the water. David believes that Mr. Malloy was murdered by his father, because his crystal ball told him so, and because having his father sent to prison would mean becoming free of the pervasive threat of being sent away himself. As David admits in this episode, he likes it there at Collinwood, with all his ghost friends, one of whom may even be Mr. Malloy.
Sam Evans and David Collins are quite alike in certain ways. Besides a creative bent for visual imagery, they both despise Roger Collins each for his own reason; they both believe that Bill Malloy was murdered, with each likely considering the same possible suspect; and in today’s episode both are motivated by self-preservation with their macabre speculations into the nature of Malloy’s demise, that is, the how and the where, that suggests more of a self-serving interest in the findings of the investigation than an actual concern for the deceased. David can be excused for this, because he’s only nine. Sam, on the other hand, is just plain scared.
Sam regards this type of occasion as a “day for remembering and forgetting” but for him the day is really more about guilty questioning, both in the ones he asks and the evasive answers he provides.
First he asks Joe about how they’re taking the news of Malloy’s death up at Collinwood, because, after all, you know that Sam has to be suspecting Roger of murdering Bill and thus would likely be pumping Joe for a more objective gauge of Roger’s feelings on the matter if Joe could provide some impression of Collins’ general outward demeanor, that is, whether he is in fact really broken up about Malloy’s death the way that others in the great house who genuinely cared for Bill would be, like Elizabeth and Carolyn Stoddard.
Joe: Mr. Evans, all I know is that they ordered the plant closed for the rest of the day. That’s how I happen to be in here.
Disappointed but undeterred, Sam presses on with his ulterior motive for inviting Joe for a drink over at his table.
Sam: Can the police figure it out, Joe?
Joe: Well, depends on how much information they have.
Sam: Well, you’re a good fisherman. You ought to know about ocean currents.
Joe: Mr. Evans, there’s so many factors involved.
Sam: Like what?
Joe: Well, to start with, they have to know about the time that Mr. Malloy’s body landed in the water.
Sam: Uh huh. Suppose they know that. Then what?
Joe: Well then they have to know what time it came to rest on Widow’s Hill.
Sam: Mm. And after that.
Joe: Well then, it’s a matter of using a tide chart, finding out the prevailing current, the wind conditions. You know, I suppose they have to work backwards toward it.
Sam: Joe, just answer me yes or no. Could the police tell the exact spot where Bill Malloy’s body fell in the water?
Joe: Oh, not exactly, but, ah, approximately, I think so…
It should be enough that a friend is dead, but for some reason Sam needs to know all the gruesome details. It’s a bit like having a friend or relative killed in an automobile accident, and you’re asking questions like: What was his position in the passenger seat at the moment the car collided with the tree? Was he leaning forward? What was his final position in the moment after impact?
Then before Sam can order Joe another drink and dwell some more on the grisly particulars, the sheriff shows up at their table, invites himself to take a seat, and then following some pleasant chit-chat gives Joe the old heave-ho by encouraging him to use his time off from work and take Carolyn out for a nice long ride in the country rather than waste it sitting here in a bar in the middle of the afternoon, which is what sad old Sam would do.
With Joe out of the way, the sheriff then reveals his true reason for stopping in at the Blue Whale, starting with a roundabout but clever ploy.
“Oh boy, the smoke is terrible in here. Let’s get out of here, what do you say?”
This is amusing, because in 1966 that’s one of the first things that would hit you when you walked into a bar; besides the pervading deep stench of booze, upon entering you would also be greeted by a wall of secondhand smoke. Because how can you not smoke when drinking? It’s like a hamburger with no French fries.
Suggestions for widespread legislation to remove smoking from public places were first proposed in the early 1960s (like the Royal College of Physicians 1962 report Smoking and Health, followed in the U.S. by the Surgeon General’s report in 1964); but it was only in the 1970s when they finally banned smoking in building elevators, and you could still smoke on public transportation like subways and buses up until the late 1980s.
That’s another reason why I would have no interest in a Dark Shadows remake or sequel: It just breaks my heart to even think of a smoke-free Blue Whale, and you’d get no more scenes like this.
Imagine also what the Collinsport diner must be like these days; probably just another trendy hipster hangout with a vegan menu for Bearded Millennials who can’t turn away from their cell phones – and who don’t even realize that every ounce of their precious vegan food is nonetheless tainted by the ever-present “filth allowance” that goes with the industry of farm-based food production, where even a bowl of oatmeal contains measurable amounts of various animal by-products not included on the ingredients list, like spiders’ legs, moth larvae, etc. Bon crappétit!
Really, though, the sheriff getting Sam away from the Blue Whale is just his way of saying, “Look, I have a set of my own, and tension-wise it would benefit a soap opera more effectively if I can just get you into my own domain and grill you like a well-done hamburger.” Add to that the element of surprise in catching a suspect for questioning off-guard by stopping in at a place where there’s an excellent chance of finding him, rather than allowing him time to prepare a list of lies or excuses by formally requesting perhaps by phone that he come down to the station to answer some questions about Bill Malloy.
Meanwhile over at Collinwood the same type of unseemly speculation is going on, with David Collins hard at work poring over a book on ocean currents to see if he can determine where exactly Bill Malloy fell in the water.
Then Carolyn comes along and reminds him that her mother said that he should be playing outside. Instead David just hits her with a barrage of questions about whether it’s known where Bill Malloy fell in the water, because he needs to be able to determine the exact spot. Carolyn explodes, lamenting the pervasiveness of death and fear in the house, which leads to a very telling exchange outlining the fundamental differences between Carolyn and David and their respective experiences of living at Collinwood.
“A dear, dear friend has died, and I just don’t want to talk about it.”
Carolyn: …I’m sick of death and fears and ghosts… and this house. Especially this house.
David: What’s wrong with it? I think it’s fun.
“Fun? Well wait till you’ve grown up in it the way I have. Wait till you’ve spent years surrounded by these walls.”
As outlined in the series bible Shadows on the Wall, when Paul Stoddard left eighteen years before, the resulting hermitage that came to define the life of Elizabeth Stoddard would likewise become a plight that was inadvertently shared by her daughter:
“…A sensitive child, Carolyn had often retreated in her world of make-believe….a world shared by millions of children in far happier homes. But for Carolyn the daydreams were often a necessity, since the panelled walls of Collins House were not only the protective boundaries of home, but were also a prison that prevented a loving mother from sharing the sunlight.
“Carolyn’s childhood was spent in a divided world. Her days were passed in the Collinsport School, and her nights in the house on the hill. And there were times she felt happier when school was out, and she could spend all her time sitting near the edge of the cliff, looking out at the sea, waiting for her father to return.” (Shadows on the Wall, pp. 16-17)
David: Carolyn, if you don’t like it, why don’t you just go away?
Carolyn: It isn’t that easy, David.
David: Sure, it’s scary sometimes. But I have lots of friends here.
Carolyn: You? Friends?
David: Sure. Out on Widow’s Hill. And in all the rooms that are closed off. They’re all my friends, Carolyn. Who knows, maybe even Mr. Malloy will come back.
This calls to mind the manner in which David is being kept in the present story, as a kind of chorus which in the context of Ancient Greek drama would “comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action”; taking this a step further, in having a crystal ball to consult with, he seems also to function as a narrative portent of things to come, in the way that he suggests that Mr. Malloy might be coming back. Were they already thinking of showing the ghost of Bill Malloy? Aside from possible flashback sequences, this would have been the only way to keep Frank Schofield in the cast.
In addition to this, in today’s episode David is given the function of light comic relief with the way he reacts to Carolyn’s disgust over his preoccupation with Bill Malloy’s drowning. Despite that just less than a week earlier David had been trying to get his father killed by tampering with the brake system on his car, today he seems almost normal in the way he irritates his older cousin.
Carolyn: David, come back here.
David: Now what?
Carolyn: Didn’t you understand anything I said to you?
David: Sure, you don’t like this house.
Carolyn: David, I’m talking about Mr. Malloy. What you’re doing it’s… it’s morbid. Can’t you see that?
David: No. ‘Cause I don’t know what that means.
[Knock at front door]
David: There’s someone at the door.
Having taken the sheriff’s advice to “get something out of the day” Joe has come up to Collinwood to see about taking Carolyn out on that drive through the country, before which he takes a moment to tell her that he’s been meaning to drive up here anyway to say how bad he feels about Mr. Malloy.
The story of Joe and Carolyn is a tragedy in the making; despite the prospect of the entirety of a beautiful afternoon in front of them, along with fifty miles of pleasure riding, all it takes is one little “nine year old horror” to come between them.
David believes Joe can help him with the ocean currents to find out what he wants to know about Bill Malloy drowning, and while Carolyn is upstairs changing David corrals Joe into the drawing room to get a rundown on calculating the flow of the waters along the shore.
When Carolyn comes back downstairs and walks in to see this it gives her reason to erupt in yet another meltdown, forcing Joe into immediate damage control mode.
How can the story of Joe and Carolyn develop if her moods are as volatile and unpredictable as the heavy surf that pounds the rocks beneath Widow’s Hill?
Back in Collinsport, Sheriff Patterson is trying to figure out the story of Bill Malloy as it relates to the meeting Sam attended at Roger’s office the night Bill drowned.
The viewer still doesn’t know for certain what Sam’s involvement was with Roger regarding the accident of ten years ago that sent Burke Devlin to prison on a manslaughter charge, and the sheriff in his questioning of Sam is tantalizing because at least in a hypothetical way it addresses that subject directly.
Patterson: Alright, let’s work on that meeting. You say you don’t know why it was called.
Sam: That’s right.
Patterson: Sam, do you remember Burke Devlin’s manslaughter conviction ten years ago?
Sam: Yeah, sure.
Patterson: There were some people around town who thought he wasn’t guilty of that crime. You remember that?
Patterson: Well you didn’t happen to be one of those people, did you?
Sam: No, I never thought much about it.
Patterson: Why, I thought you always liked Burke, Sam. Back in those days, I mean.
Patterson: That’s very strange. He should be tried, sent to prison for five years, and you – what did you just say? – you never thought much about it?
Sam: Sheriff, just what is it that you want from me?
Patterson: Sam, did you have evidence you should have given at that trial?
Sam: Of course not!
Patterson: I want the truth, Sam!
Sam: I’m telling you the truth! Now what has this got to do with Malloy?
Patterson: Malloy set that meeting up because he wanted to prove that Burke was innocent of that crime, and he wanted you there because he knew you could help do it.
Sam: That’s nonsense, absolute utter nonsense! I tell you, I don’t know why the meeting was called.
Patterson: Oh, but you went anyway, didn’t you? At eleven o’clock at night. Now doesn’t that seem a little bit strange?
Sam: Malloy was a good friend. He insisted that I go and be there.
Patterson: And you never asked him why.
Sam: Of course I did! He said I’ll find out. Now if you don’t believe me, why don’t you ask Roger Collins and see what he’s got to say about it?
Patterson: Well what about Burke Devlin? Think I ought to ask him?
Sam: If you want to.
Patterson: I spoke to Burke, earlier today. He said Malloy told him the purpose of that meeting was to exonerate him from that crime. He said he made that very clear.
Sam: Uh, I don’t know anything about it.
Patterson: Well why would he lie?
Sam: How should I know? I don’t know anything about Burke’s manslaughter conviction. And that’s the honest truth, and that’s a fact!
Patterson: How did you get to the meeting?
Sam: I, uh, I, uh, I walked.
Patterson: From your house?
Patterson: How long did it take?
Sam: Oh, uh, about half an hour. I left at ten thirty, got there at about eleven o’clock.
Patterson: And where would you say were at about, uh… ten forty-five, say?
Sam: ‘Bout halfway, I guess.
Patterson: Anybody see you there, at ten forty-five, I mean?
Sam: No, I… What are you getting at? Is, uh, that when Bill Malloy died? Ten forty-five?
Patterson: You’re sure nobody saw you.
Sam: You think he was murdered, don’t you?
What the sheriff does think is that if Bill Malloy was murdered, there would be two people who would stand to gain from that, echoing what Burke surmised back in episode 49 when paying a visit to Sam’s cottage the day after the meeting to give him the third degree.
So the sheriff makes another visit up to Collinwood. The door is answered by David, who acting as the daytime soap equivalent of a Greek chorus lets the viewer know what to expect for tomorrow’s episode.
“You want to see my father, don’t you?”
It appears that yet another member of the Collins clan is potentially in trouble with the law, the second instance in almost as many days. Looks like it’ll be Liz Stoddard to the rescue once again, to remind the viewer – and this new doppelganger of a sheriff – what it means to be a Collins of Collinsport.
Ramsey Williams, in the title role of The Sniper (aka B.F. Sylvester of the Omaha World Herald) from the 1950s television series The Big Story, having a few laughs over a game of pinball.
Having originated as a top-rated radio crime-drama series in the 1940s, the TV adaptation of The Big Story ran for nearly a decade from 1949 to 1958 (the latter marking its first year of syndication), making it one of the longest-running TV series from the early days of television. The show’s lasting appeal was likely because of how it drew upon real-life newspaper stories from all over the country, from the big city dailies to the small-town weeklies.
Each episode of The Big Story began with an introduction by series host and narrator Burgess Meredith, attired in trench coat and hat on a set dressed with a newspaper stand against the backdrop of a nighttime cityscape.
Following a dramatic reenactment of the events, each episode would close with a short interview with the actual real-life reporter whose original story served as the basis for that episode, like George Ammer who as a cub reporter launched his career in journalism by exposing an extortion ring operating in his hometown of Circleville, Ohio, for the newspaper the Columbus Citizen.
(George Ammer, second from right, in the city room of the Columbus Citizen in Two Edged Sword, aka George Ammer of the Columbus Citizen; season 9, episode 12; aired in syndication, 1957-58)
Sometimes the reporter would be a renowned figure in the profession, like Walter Winchell. The Cat details how Winchell got one of his biggest stories for the New York Daily Mirror, for which he arranged a rendezvous under terms of surrender between a notorious and feared mobster and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
(Robert Middleton, center, in the title role of The Cat; season 9, episode 5, aired November 2, 1957; first aired as season 5, episode 2 on September 18, 1953)
Even if you never read any of the stories printed under Walter Winchell’s byline, you would most likely be familiar with his distinctive narrative style while acting as the voice of The Untouchables TV series.
(Closing narration for The Underground Railway; season 1, episode 12; aired December 31, 1959)
It was Dana Elcar’s appearances in The Big Story which helped him to hone his persuasive style of police interrogation, put to good use on Dark Shadows a decade later in the role of Sheriff George Patterson. His work in The Big Story will be among those projects featured in the Dark Shadows Cast Member Spotlight below.
There are other associations one could make between The Big Story and Dark Shadows. For instance, The Big Story may get one to thinking about Dark Shadows because of a children’s song sung in one episode. On Dark Shadows, the ghost of Sarah Collins is always singing the song London Bridge, and at one point David points out that no one sings that song anymore; however, it was featured in The Big Story some ten years earlier.
A young woman who cannot keep her child gets duped into handing her baby over to an international black market adoption racket, but then has a change of heart and only a tip-off to a dedicated newspaper reporter can help get her child back. At one point while aboard a bus after the reporter has put a scheme in motion to get the illegal adoption racket exposed, she slips into reverie recalling children’s games while a haunting rendition of London Bridge plays out in her mind.
(Elizabeth Ross as Ruth in For Sale: Child, aka Bert Collier of the Miami Herald; season 9, episode 14; aired in syndication, 1957-58)
Another thing about The Big Story series that might ring a bell with Dark Shadows fans is the use of props, like in one episode where a teen has committed a robbery and he visits with his mother while talking about whether he should surrender himself to the authorities.
(Roberta Robinson as Mary Parker and Joey Walsh as Roy Parker in Wanted Dead or Alive, aka Tony Slaughter of the Fort Worth Star Telegram; season 9, episode 10; aired in syndication, 1957-58)
At least now we know the origin of the Collinsport afghan.
Even the music cues of The Big Story appear to have had some influence on Dark Shadows composer Bob Cobert. Take for instance one of his frequently used scene-ending Dark Shadows music cues, which was in evidence from the very first episode.
A decade earlier, a structurally very similar music cue could be heard as heralding a scene transition in Shakedown, an episode from The Big Story.
(Police visit a cabbie hangout to investigate a shakedown artist operating through the city’s network of taxi drivers in Shakedown, aka Bill Lambert of the Portland Oregonian, an episode from the syndicated ninth season of 1957-58)
And of course there is the list of guest stars who would later be a part of the Dark Shadows roster of cast members; unfortunately some of those episodes aren’t available, like the one in which John Karlen is a guest star, but in other episodes of The Big Story you will encounter a few familiar names.
George Mitchell was in several episodes of The Big Story; in Hostage (aka Thurman Johns, Reporter: Phoenix Arizona Gazette or Thurman Johns of the Phoenix Gazette), he was a police chief (season 8, episode 4; aired November 23, 1956), which on the IMDb is incorrectly credited to Bill Quinn, who you may remember from The Odd Couple as Dr. Melnitz.
Burke Devlin’s tough-talking private investigator Wilbur Strake was in the first two episodes of Dark Shadows…
…but the actor who played him, Joseph Julian, was in several episodes of The Big Story, displaying impressive range in a variety of roles including a man named Alex Bryant who becomes a suspect in the disappearance of a college girl while employed as part of a group of timber workers in the hills of New Hampshire in The Theory of Murder (aka The Leonard Lerner Story; from the syndicated ninth season of 1957-58)…
…and The Bridge (aka Charles Scott of the NY Journal American; also from the syndicated season 9 of 1957-58), in which he plays a deaf mute named Jose Garcia who is wrongly charged with a crime and imprisoned and must then struggle to be exonerated with the help of a sympathetic newspaper reporter.
Peter Turgeon was Robert Gerringer’s replacement as Dr. Woodard on Dark Shadows for a short stint in 1967. In the decade before Dark Shadows, he was in a few episodes of The Big Story including The Human Element (aka Robert F. Ward of the Bridgeport [Connecticut] Post and Telegram; season 7, episode 12; aired March 16, 1956) as Pete Lacek, a factory worker who inadvertently leaves work with a capsule of radioactive material (cobalt) in his coat pocket, creating a potentially deadly trail wherever he goes which includes a children’s hospital.
Coincidentally, the nurse at the children’s hospital is named Miss Winters.
Even Alfred Hinckley, the train conductor in the debut episode of Dark Shadows…
…was in an episode of The Big Story, a bartender in Hit and Run (from the syndicated season 9 of 1957-58), about the pursuit of a drunk driver following a fatal accident.
There’s another TV series, from the early 1960s, called East Side, West Side which Dana Elcar also appeared in and which also featured several actors who would later be on Dark Shadows, some for just a day and others for several years.
East Side, West Side stars George C. Scott as… a social worker (cue sting music accompanied by a picket fence of exclamation points along which can be seen a team of purple unicorns marching in military formation).
That’s right; before Mussolini, before Patton, there was… Neil Brock, an advocate for the underprivileged working to right the wrongs of the world as they affected slum residents of New York City through his office at the CWS (Community Welfare Service).
East Side, West Side was cancelled after just one season, largely due to lack of advertising support from Madison Avenue which resulted in around one-third of the show’s commercial air time left unsold. East Side, West Side was controversial for its time, featuring in its main story lines many of the taboo themes that prime time television would never address, like heroin addicts, unwed mothers, not to mention episode casts packed with ethnic minorities; in a ground-breaking move, one of the regular co-stars was a black woman. If you remember the 1970s and its culture of television, the name Cicely Tyson will surely ring a bell. Though her career in television had begun several years previously, it was East Side, West Side that was her first regular job.
(Cicely Tyson as Jane Foster in You Can’t Beat the System; episode 3, aired October 7, 1963)
Despite the controversial content and lack of sponsor support, East Side, West Side nonetheless managed to attract the top names in acting talent of the period, like Tim O’Connor who soon after would go on to play Elliot Carson on Peyton Place.
(as Mike Stuart in The $5.98 Dress; episode 14, aired January 13, 1964)
Perhaps you’ve wondered why an actress like Elizabeth Wilson would appear on Dark Shadows in the role of a social worker, as Mrs. Hopewell, the director of services at the foundling home where Victoria Winters grew up.
This may be because just a couple years earlier she was co-starring in East Side, West Side as Neil Brock’s administrative assistant at the CWS, Frieda “Heckie” Hechlinger.
Another reason may be the show’s art director.
For a series that ran for only 26 episodes, East Side, West Side has quite a lengthy list of actors who would later be known for their work on Dark Shadows.
John Karlen was in one episode as part of a troupe of Beckett-like tramps whose escapades were dedicated to enjoying the precarious heights brought about by wood alcohol.
(as Billy Conrad in One Drink at a Time; episode 16, aired January 27, 1964)
Other actors from East Side, West Side who would appear on Dark Shadows included George Mathews…
(as Hank Stone in The $5.98 Dress)
(as the chairman in Creeps Live Here; episode 13, aired December 23, 1963)
(as Charley Burns in Here Today; episode 26, aired April 27, 1964)
and Clarice Blackburn (as Gert Keller in The Givers; episode 25, aired April 13, 1964).
(Mrs. Johnson advises General Patton on the best recipe for a boiled dinner)
East Side, West Side might even explain how the wardrobe on Dark Shadows came to be provided by Ohrbach’s.
Either Dan Curtis or those working for him might have consulted with Sy Tomashoff while assembling the cast for Dark Shadows, but one thing would surely be certain:
It takes more than the dream images of a novice executive producer to create a television program; it takes everyone you’ve hired, and everywhere they’ve been.
Control room deniers: This describes a segment of Dark Shadows fans who, even if presented with definitive irrefutable proof, just cannot accept that the Dark Shadows television studio was indeed an edgy environment in which the participants thrived but among whom nonetheless tensions occasionally flared and conflict erupted.
There seems to be a certain innocence associated with being a Dark Shadows fan, given how so many experienced the show at a very young age as it was originally broadcast – the “I ran home from school just to watch the show” generation. Consequently, many fans are content with being brainwashed by the long-running narrative that backstage the Dark Shadows television studio was some kind of rose-tinted Shangri-la, the fantasy-world equivalent of a monastery retreat.
For control room deniers, the truth can represent a letdown.
On a positive note, such revelations go a long way toward explaining those information gaps resulting from the early weeks and months of the show’s evolution: For instance, why would Dan Curtis hire and then let go several of his supporting actors early on during the initial 13-week cycle when they were under contract, some of whom were among the biggest names in supporting actors for that period in both television and film?
Below are a couple of glimpses into the background audio of discussions heard from the control room microphone which provide clues to answering the above question.
Previously in this blog it was reported that director Lela Swift had been complaining about George Mitchell, the actor who originated the role of Matthew Morgan, during the taping of episodes 13 and 16. A close examination of the audio for the taping of Mitchell’s initial appearance in episode 6 reveals that Lela had been complaining about him from the very start and for no apparent specific reason other than the fact that she just didn’t like him.
During Act 2 of that episode, there’s a transition where the scene changes from the Collinwood basement to the drawing room, during which there is a quiet interval where no dialogue, music cues, or sound effects are heard, just the voices of Dan Curtis and Lela Swift coming through the control room microphone. Here first is a 42-second clip at normal volume of the change from scene to scene. The vertical red cursor in the image below marks where in the following audio clip the control room discussion begins.
Between Elizabeth saying “Poor David…” and Matthew making his gruff name introduction to Vicki, here is that 15-second interval where the control room discussion can be heard…
…as amplified 128x (you’ll need headphones):
Dan: I want to tell you something. I want you to stop talking about George Mitchell. You’re making him uneasy.
Lela: Oh but Dan, I can’t stand him!
Another Dark Shadows actor Lela had a problem with was Mark Allen, the first actor to play Sam Evans. His first appearance was in episode 5, but Lela started complaining about him as early as episode 3. Below is a 45-second clip, first at normal volume, from the taping of episode 10; Act 2, where David is operating his toy robot in the foyer and then the drawing room.
Around 11 seconds into the above clip (note the vertical red line), there is an interval where things go mostly quiet in the studio, with no dialogue, music cues, or sound effects to be heard, during which Lela’s voice can be detected as coming from the control room where she even goes as far as mentioning by name the first actress to have complained about Mark Allen as well as describing the nature of the complaint…
…in the clip below amplified 12x. Because of the quality of the surviving master tape for that episode, higher amplification like that for the clip from episode 6 would result in a huge wall of an electrical white noise hum running throughout the bottom of the sonic spectrum, thus muddling the background control room audio being highlighted. As with any of these control room “hidden audio” clips, headphones are required:
Lela: Dan, Kathryn Leigh Scott has a complaint about Mark Allen. Dan…
Crew member: [coughs]
Lela: …he’s been misbehaving during rehearsals.
“Believe it, …or not.”
In the opening scene, when referring to Carolyn as Joe’s “lady love” David Ford pronounces it Caroline.
In Act I, when talking with Carolyn about where Malloy might have landed in the water, David Henesy says: “…All I want to know is whe – wheth – where he was.”
Also in Act I, when referring to the ghosts of Collinwood as his friends, David Henesy says, “There all my friends Cal – Carolyn.”
In Act II, Dana Elcar says, “It really is a shame how a good’s man’s death can be a benefit to some people.”
In Act II, David Henesy is still having trouble today pronouncing Carolyn’s name: “All I want is some help, Calor – Carolyn…”
In Act III, as the camera pulls back for a wider shot as David enters the foyer from the drawing room, in the upper right of screen the teleprompter can be scene being wheeled back out of sight.
With the end credits for crew and other contributors running on a scroll today, the usual Orhbach’s misspelling is evident.
Today’s episode features what appears to be a new prop, a small desk in the drawing room which will eventually be seen as the place where Elizabeth attends to her business, looking through mail and business documents and the like.
This is actually a bit of ingenuity on the part of the scenic design department, having previously been used as the writing desk in Vicki’s room. Eventually the familiar chair with the custom-designed seat back with the ornate floral illustrations will be brought downstairs to the drawing room as well, but for now it’s just the writing desk they’ve brought to the drawing room set. Here’s a clear overall view of the desk and chair up in Vicki’s room for the closing credits of episode 80.
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
At the Blue Whale, Sam treats Joe to a beer while working on the same old-fashioned beer cocktail he was drinking there in episode 56, a boilermaker.
Dark Shadows Cast Member Spotlight: Dana Elcar
“There are eight million stories in the Naked City” and Dana Elcar was one of those. From 1958 to 1963, the crime drama series Naked City emphasized the gritty realism of the human element, filming episodes on the streets and in the buildings of New York City itself rather than in a television studio while focusing on the lives and travails of New York’s 65th Precinct detectives.
(as Al Borris in Man Without a Skin; season 4, episode 20; aired February 6, 1963)
By that time Dana Elcar’s career was already well established, with his patented style of police interrogation having been perfected several years earlier in The Big Story series.
(Dana Elcar in 1958, with considerably less girth and with even the faint trace of a barely remaining hairline, in Until Proven Guilty, aka The Bus Bergen Story, or Bus Bergen of the Cleveland Press)
Here he is again in The Big Story, once more in a police role, this time as Sergeant Jim Lawler in Till Death Do Us Part (aka J. Victor Bate of the Detroit Times from the syndicated ninth season).
Let’s listen in and see how he wrenches a confession out of a violent assailant in less than a minute and a half.
For a few months in 1961, the supernatural TV series Way Out was the lead-in for The Twilight Zone.
“This is Rod Serling. Next on most of these stations a toy telephone becomes an object of terror, in The Twilight Zone.”
In addition to a soundtrack composed by Bob Cobert, Way Out was hosted by Roald Dahl, a writer perhaps best known to television audiences for the movie made from his novel Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, in addition to the British TV series Tales of the Unexpected (as the program creator), which ran from 1979 to 1988.
As with other fellow Dark Shadows alumni, Dana Elcar appeared in an episode of Way Out called False Face, about a stage actor who finds he cannot remove the makeup he uses for playing Quasimodo in a production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, after he “buys” the disfigured face of a chronic drunk. Elcar plays the night manager of a flophouse, a type of role he would later replicate for the debut episode of the series N.Y.P.D.
(False Face; season 1, episode 7; aired May 26, 1961)
N.Y.P.D. was co-created by David Susskind, the man behind the series East Side, West Side in which Elcar also guest starred in an episode detailing the tensions that erupt when a wave of immigration leads to neighborhood turnover.
(as Father Mello in It’s War, Man; episode 17, aired February 10, 1964)
It is of course his role of Sheriff George Patterson that endears Dana Elcar to Dark Shadows fans, whose delivery of dialogue is so sure-fire and convincing, that you just have to say that Dana Elcar is the sheriff of Collinsport.
On the Flipside:
On the date that Dark Shadows episode 58 aired, ABC’s nighttime soap Peyton Place was airing their episode number 270.
(TV Guide listing for Peyton Place, Wednesday September 14, 1966)
In this episode, Constance (Mackenzie) Carson goes into labor, which wouldn’t be such a big deal if it weren’t for the fact that she and husband Elliot are both nearly forty.
That Elliot and Constance had conceived Allison nearly twenty years earlier was one of the big secrets of Peyton Place when the series first aired in 1964. As an unmarried mother, Constance went off to New York to give birth out of range of local gossip, while Elliot was (wrongly) convicted and sentenced for the murder of his then wife Elizabeth.
Eighteen years later, out on parole, Elliot returned to Peyton Place to clear his name. In a bid to keep her secret, it was originally planned for Constance to kill Elliot and remain stoic throughout the trial; but viewers took a liking to the earnest depth of Tim O’Connor’s portrayal, having already logged years of experience as one of television’s top character actors.
So Warner Anderson’s Matt Swain was edged out as editor of the town’s newspaper The Clarion so that Elliot could have something to do as well as keep him involved in local events, moving into the Mackenzie house to become the father Allison never had as plans are made for Elliot and Constance to finally marry.
As newlyweds in mid-life, Constance and Elliot Carson are one of the most interesting couples on Peyton Place, largely because in their renewed exuberance they seem so ultra-modern. Like the way they walk arm in arm toward the bandstand in the town square for a picnic lunch during a break from work, taking great pleasure in their surroundings, as enhanced by their sense of togetherness, the way that young lovers do…
…or the way Elliot dreams of buying a sailboat and taking his family for an extended getaway; such romantic fancies are the stuff of younger, more idealistic minds and Norman Harrington even comments on this at one point.
Elliot: Well, what I had in mind, Norman, was to take about a year off from the office, get my family on board and just sail around the world.
Norman: Just like that. You know, you’re pretty cool. Most people when they get to be your age, well they kinda turn square.
And then Constance shows up with a “just because” gift, in support of those hopes and dreams; a compass, so he’ll always know where he’s going.
What makes them seem so modern is that neither time nor age can wither away such passion, a theme that wouldn’t be explored much until the more free-thinking 1970s and especially the 1980s, when Baby Boomers entering mid-life would frequently reject the expected limitations imposed on them as they evolved into a more advanced demographic.
Part of this can be attributed to the creative team behind Peyton Place, itself also ultra-modern in having contributed the lasting legacy of the modern writing team, where the task of writing series episodes would, instead of going to freelancers, be assigned to a group of regulars on a rotating basis. In the early days of the series, the writing staff of Peyton Place were mostly under the age of thirty-five and around half were female.
With a keen sense for social progression, a more modern influence could be felt, for example as outlined by staff writer Peggy Shaw who in one episode had Elliot and Constance returning from a shopping errand together, where Elliot not only helps to put away the groceries, but they are also preparing dinner together: “I thought, well, that’s one in the eye, without saying anything. Nine million people are seeing that.”
The writing staff of Peyton Place in 1965, left to right: Dick DeRoy, Sonya Roberts, Michael Gleason, Nina Laemmlie, Lionel Siegel, Paul Monash, Carol Sobieski, Celia Armanda, and seated: Peggy Shaw, Rita Lakin, and Del Reisman.
So in episode 270, with Elliot having gone to New York to search for Allison who has mysteriously disappeared, it makes sense that he should rush home to be with Constance as she gives birth.
Given the advanced age of Constance, at least in terms of childbearing years, you would think that she might give birth to a full-grown baby adult; as it happens, their son already has a fully developed head of dark hair.
When seeing an infant used in these old TV programs, I always try and project forward to imagine where each given baby would be now. In the above case, he’d be in his early to mid-fifties by now; how ironic if he were bald by this point, after having started with a full head of hair.
(Dorothy Malone and Tim O’Connor in a publicity photo, from: Peyton Place: The Television Series, by James Rosin. Philadelphia, PA: The Autumn Road Company; 2010; revised 2012)
Parallel Collinsport, 1966:
Just assuming that the Blue Whale jukebox would play more than just three guitar instrumentals, given that a Seeburg Select-O-Matic 100 has ninety-seven additional possibilities, what on this day of lonely desolation that is a dead man’s holiday in Collinsport might Sam Evans have selected to typify the gloomy depth of his artistic temperament?
Ask The Lonely by the Four Tops would seem a solid contender…
Perhaps you remember a hit song from 1970 called Hey There Lonely Girl as recorded by Robert John, who is perhaps best known for his 1979 hit Sad Eyes, a singer with a distinctive “balls in a vice” falsetto that makes Frankie Valli sound like Muddy Waters.
Seven years earlier the original, Hey There Lonely Boy, was recorded by Ruby and the Romantics.
“Take It Easy” with the Walker Brothers, and cry in your beer with a bit of style.
Before causing controversy in the 1970s with his song Short People, Randy Newman was writing songs recorded by other artists, like I Don’t Want to Hear It Anymore.
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 59: Oh, Brother
— Marc Masse
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