Burke Devlin is on a rampage; at least that’s what the sheriff of Collinsport has been phoning various residents to warn them about. In episode 60 Sheriff Patterson reached out to Sam Evans informing him that Burke might be out his way, and that if he did show up he should just call in. The same advisory was issued in yesterday’s episode during a telephone conversation with Elizabeth Stoddard.
Thus far Devlin’s rampage has consisted of crashing a dinner party at the Evans cottage, which very nearly resulted in a sandwich, and now he has shown up at Collinwood demanding that he be allowed to speak with Roger Collins. It’s been a long day since morning broke way back in episode 53 and it isn’t over just yet, not even with today’s episode. If Devlin’s rampage is allowed to continue on unabated, it’s liable to erupt in drawing room tea.
For someone known to be a sworn enemy of the Collins family, Burke Devlin is quite the frequent guest at Collinwood, having strolled through the front doors of the great estate five times in the six days since both he and Victoria Winters arrived on the train from New York. Today’s visit, however, is different as Burke is neither a guest nor an invited caller, but rather an intruder who forcibly pushes his way about like a bull in a china shop.
Today’s camera blocking seems to drive home the point, the way the drawing room drapes in the background frame him just so, as he glares down at Mrs. Stoddard with a burning contempt…
…or the way the candles on the mantle seem like goal posts in the unsportsmanlike game of Devlin’s attempted takeover of all things Collins.
You see it in the tactile manner of his visit, placing his hands firmly on just about everything in sight. In the opening image at the top of the post, he has his hands on the newel post and railing of the foyer stairway; while inquiring about an item in the drawing room, he rests his hand along the top of it; chatting up governess Victoria Winters, he leans forward while gripping the back of the sofa with both hands just like he would in his hotel room atop Collinwood Inn, then a moment later is running one hand along the outer edge of the drawing room doorway. He even perches himself squarely in Mrs. Stoddard’s very own favorite spot, the drawing room windows.
With his uniquely hands-on approach, today’s episode seems to be saying… Welcome to Burke Devlin’s Collinwood.
Art Wallace as a novice writer for daytime television tends to move in a cyclic manner, with situations and the resulting conversation following more a pattern of reprise. Case in point, here it is ten weeks in episode time later, but only six days in story time, and we’re back to touching upon Burke’s humble origins with more of the same references to lobster pots and a waterfront shack.
It’s intended as a defense for Burke’s character, as an excuse for his being such an intrusive lout in this episode, particularly in the presence of the grand dame of Collinwood who at the outset had asked then demanded several times that he leave her house. In the most heated moment of their introductory exchanges, though, Burke gets properly schooled on what the nouveau riche could learn from the more time-honored values of someone who knows What It Means To Be a Collins of Collinsport.
“I learned my manners in a waterfront shack!”
Unable to get Burke to leave, and being equal parts resourceful and shrewd, Mrs. Stoddard quickly revamps her approach and devises a scheme to defuse his overbearing insistence, by making pleasant small-talk while waiting for tea and Roger. When she cordially refers to him at one point as a guest in her house, Burke has to admit to the truth of the charade, while growing ever more unsettled over Mrs. Stoddard’s abrupt change in tone as he tries maintaining the impression of poise.
“Mrs. Stoddard… Is this… making conversation? Is that what the name of this game is?”
In fact, the game could be more aptly referred to as “people management”; a great example of the Collinwood Executive Officer’s considerable skill in this department can be found in episode 25.
Even more telling is how just after the above exchange Mrs. Stoddard reminds Burke that she’s known him since he was a young boy; and in a display of locking horns, that’s all Burke is to Mrs. Stoddard – a boy, just like her much younger brother Roger, who never gets any further with his elder sister in these matters than Burke will today.
Thrown completely off his game, Burke is positively befuddled by the time Victoria Winters enters the room.
Vicki: Burke, what are you doing here?
Burke: I’m not exactly sure. I think I’m having tea.
One would figure that Carolyn would have been back downstairs taking in Burke’s unexpected visit, especially given how in the previous episode she had been pleading his case to her mother but to no avail. During that scene she had expressed how much she wanted to talk with Burke and perhaps had been encouraged by Elizabeth’s reaction, who didn’t seem to object to her seeing Burke and talking things out. Carolyn had barely left the drawing room for the foyer stairs while Elizabeth was phoning in to the sheriff’s office asking about Matthew when Burke had come knocking at the front door.
Yet instead Victoria is here in this episode talking with Burke. Perhaps the writers have realized that Burke and Carolyn are a dead end. On the one hand, it’s an amusing plot device in the way he tests his manipulative powers on the emotional gullibility of a young girl on the verge of womanhood. But it never really develops characterwise because of the inherent limitations, what with Burke only being deceptive and Carolyn forever naïve. Yet with Victoria, because she has nothing to do with his vendetta against the Collins family, and because he just happens to naturally like her, scenes with her lead to revealing moments of honesty, which in turn open up the characters for the viewer.
Having turned him down for lunch that day, maybe Burke can at least get a dinner date with Miss Winters. Whatever the outcome, putting Burke and Victoria together in scenes like the one today results in more profound character exposition. We learn a bit more about Victoria’s backstory, not so much her plight as an orphan in the foundling home, but more compelling is how she reveals to Burke some of her hopes and dreams while growing up there. Likewise, Burke startles the viewer with a frank personal admission.
“I don’t know what I am…”
Burke has told Vicki that same thing just about every day for the past six days, to just pack her bags and get as far away from Collinwood as possible. Why does he keep telling her this? Because he wants to save her. If Carolyn stays and gets undone by the fallout from his vendetta, that’s all the same to Burke.
Yet how very telling it is the way Burke admits, “I don’t know what I am.” It seems that wealth doesn’t make the man after all. Despite all his success, Burke Devlin is still alas incomplete. Maybe all Burke Devlin really wants out of life is just to have dinner with Vicki Winters.
Will Elizabeth Stoddard finally get Burke Devlin to stop showing up at Collinwood? Will Roger Collins ever be at Collinwood when someone shows up looking for him? Will Burke Devlin ever stop hitting on Victoria Winters?
For the answers to these and many other pointless questions, tune in for the next episode of, As the Circle Turns.
Dark Shadows extras:
Four extras are working on set today at the Blue Whale, among the most prominent being Bob O’Connell as the bartender.
The couple at the far table are Ann Leeman and Allan Lindstrom, each making their final Dark Shadows appearance after three consecutive episodes.
Seated at the far end of the bar is George McCoy, who likewise made his Dark Shadows debut in episode 63 and would be a Blue Whale regular into 1967.
Dark Shadows ratings. Today’s episode, number 65 in the series, marks the completion of the first thirteen-week cycle of Dark Shadows – and which could well have meant the end of the series if at the outset Dan Curtis had not secured an initial guarantee of twenty-six weeks.
Leonard Goldberg was the head of programming for ABC daytime when in 1965 Dan Curtis pitched him the idea for Dark Shadows, as Goldberg recalls in a special interview done for the home video release of Dark Shadows.
Leonard Goldberg: One day, I was asleep, it was very early in the morning, my phone rang in my apartment in New York, and a man named Dan Curtis called me. I had known Dan for a number of years. He had been a golf show producer. The CBS Golf Classic was Dan’s. He said, ‘I have to see you.’ Now Dan is a very forceful guy; he’s a big, physical guy. And, so, you have to tread carefully around Dan.
Goldberg agreed to meet with Curtis over breakfast that morning.
LG: He said to me, ‘I have to tell you, last night I dreamt a daytime show.’
It has been discussed here in these pages how much Dan Curtis seemed like a fish out of water as an executive producer for a daytime television serial, and Leonard Goldberg’s following analogy helps to drive home the point.
LG: Now, Dan Curtis talking about daytime television is almost an oxymoron. I mean, it would be the last thing you’d think that Dan Curtis would do, other than perhaps a fashion show.
In other words, it would be like the Marlboro Man switching to Virginia Slims.
In a future post, we’ll touch upon how the idea Dan Curtis presented that day to Leonard Goldberg seemed enchanting enough to the new, young head of daytime programming that he decided to go ahead and help develop “this gothic, but rather tame, gothic daytime serial” that was Dark Shadows. For our purposes here, let’s focus on what the fate of the show was looking like around the thirteen-week mark, when episode 65 was being broadcast.
LG: It went on the air. It was hard for ABC to get a rating in daytime, but we were doing pretty well with Dating Game and Newlywed Game, and we were going along and nothing much was happening, and Dan came to see me again. [grinning] You always saw Dan when he asked to see you. ’Cause he was physically powerful enough to walk through the door anyway, so… but he was a good guy and very smart. He said to me, ‘Tell me the truth, you’re going to have to cancel me, aren’t you?’ I said, ‘Yeah, the numbers are not really good.’ He said, ‘Then let me take the lid off.’ I said, ‘Wwwwhat do you mean by that, Dan?’ He said, ‘Let me really push the envelope.’ I said, ‘Okay, just as long as Broadcast Standards doesn’t, you know, say you can’t do it.’ He said, ‘Well, let’s say I can’t do it, but let me handle them.’
Curtis knew it was time to put all his cards down on the table.
LG: He said, ‘What have you got to lose? You’re going to have to cancel me anyway.’
It was perhaps a credit to the unique position that Goldberg found himself in as the head of daytime programming for ABC that he understood the approach Curtis was willing to take to save his show, given how Goldberg himself had been expecting to be “out of business in eighteen months anyway” as explained in further excerpts from the interview where he tells of how he came to be in charge of ABC daytime.
LG: My boss called me in, Edgar Scherick, who was my mentor, and he said to me, ‘How would you like to be head of daytime programming?’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve never watched daytime programming, I don’t know anything about it.’
So Leonard Goldberg had in common with Dan Curtis the same “fish out of water” status in their given area of work.
Having to that point only been a director of program development in New York, becoming the head of daytime programming for ABC was quite a professional leap, but being creative and very young at the time, he found the prospect stimulating.
LG: I thought, “Wow!’ All my friends immediately, including Aaron Spelling, said to me, ‘Daytime television? You can’t go into daytime television, that’s terrible. And you’ll be out of the mainstream, you’ll be forgotten.’ But I thought, well they’re going to let me do what I want to do. I can be the head, it’s like my own little company. I said, ‘Okay, I want be a vice president, and I want a raise to $30,000 a year, and I want a development fund, to develop new shows.’ And Edgar said, ‘Why would you need a development fund?’ I said, ‘Well, we have one at night, I need one in daytime.’ He said, ‘Well alright, you can have a hundred thousand dollars for your entire development fund.’
To put in perspective just how insubstantial an amount that was in those days in terms of funding television programming, the cost of producing a week of five Dark Shadows episodes was $70,000.
LG: He said, ‘One thing I want you to know, though. You’ll be back in nighttime in eighteen months.’ I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘Because our ratings are so low, that we get about a six share of the audience, and NBC and CBS have about a thirty share each… Our programming ratings are so low, our affiliated stations have said they don’t want to carry our programming anymore. But they asked us to provide programming for eighteen more months until they could get their local programming together to replace us.’ I said, ‘So I’m already out of business.’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ So everybody said that’s crazy, you can’t go into a job that’s already over. But I looked upon it the other way. As long as I was going out of business in eighteen months, I couldn’t fail; I was already out of business. So I could do whatever I wanted, and if I got lucky who knew.
So Dan Curtis in turn got lucky in pitching his dream/idea to an ABC executive of a similarly creative, free-wheeling spirit – and especially that the “come what may attitude” of a burgeoning network like ABC was willing at the time to accommodate such maverick types who could, just by living on luck and taking chances, transform their industry.
Noteworthy is how Leonard Goldberg in the above interview excerpts talks of “the first thirteen weeks” and “the next thirteen weeks”; in 1991 Dan Curtis for his Dark Shadows revival only got a commitment of thirteen weeks and was cancelled. The backers of the revival later voiced regret over their decision to cancel, but by then the damage had been done, given how the project had moved on and needed a whole new process of development, which collapsed before they could get the revival back on the air.
Thirteen, traditionally such an unlucky number; yet in the world of Dark Shadows, whether in the 1960s or the 1990s, thirteen (weeks) could represent the difference between success and cancellation.
With just another thirteen weeks, the Dark Shadows revival series might have been huge and ongoing, especially with the airing of the original series on the Sci-Fi channel soon after the 1991 revival debuted in nighttime. By the same token, without another thirteen weeks to get the original show past September 23, 1966, Dark Shadows would only have been a minor footnote in television history and none but the most fanatical of completist collectors would have been talking about it over 50 years later.
Dark Shadows was truly a one of a kind, once in a lifetime phenomenon.
Dark Shadows bloopers. Today’s episode is notable for the prominence of the boom mic in the drawing room scenes between Burke Devlin and Elizabeth Stoddard, as noted in the section on bloopers below.
Dark Shadows, of course, is famous for its bloopers, mainly it seems because it’s such a spectator sport among the fans; this aspect of the show, however, often fuels the commentary of detractors, who point to such things as wobbly cemetery gravestones in addition to the frequent intrusion of boom microphones and their shadows against the lighting as evidence of low production values.
Indeed, because the cost was low for the production of daytime programming, from its very first episode General Hospital took no longer than seven and a half minutes, not counting commercial breaks, to show the viewer an undressed portion of the television studio. Look at all those wires just snaking there all over the floor; someone’s liable to trip and fall on their head and really need a general hospital.
“Dr. Hardy, calling Dr. Hardy…”
It may be surprising to discover how many bloopers of all types have made it into the final broadcast of shows with the most lavish of production budgets, and even those made without the added pressure of a “live to tape” situation as done on Dark Shadows and other soaps of the day.
Let’s take as an example some of those Hart to Hart made for television movies of the 1990s. Nearly forty minutes into the 1994 TV movie Crimes of the Hart, as Jonathan investigates a crime scene and is met by the threat of an unknown assailant with a gun, you can see Robert Wagner being “stalked” by a boom microphone reflected in the glass of the door in the background (look at the actor’s head and allow your gaze to travel to the right).
That same year, a second movie followed, Home Is Where the Hart Is, set in the West Coast equivalent of a Collinsport-type town where people die mysteriously as strange, unexplained goings-on take place – and no, it isn’t based on the supernatural but does nonetheless have a notable Dark Shadows parallel; in a twist almost right out of one of the show’s parallel timeline stories, look who the law is there in the coastal town of Kingman’s Ferry.
Sheriff Carson: “Times have changed, Mrs. Hart, even in a little berg like this.”
Here’s a boom mic shadow from that movie, the lighting creating a shadow against the wooden post midway up along the left edge of screen; at the light-colored base of the post you can even clearly make out a “wheel-like” component of the boom mic, which as you watch moves with the action.
During the years when Dark Shadows was on the air, some of the best-known nighttime programming from the era had boom mic shadows all over the place, productions where a retake would never present a problem, but for which none would be done, because everyone knows that boom mic shadow gaffes only happen on Dark Shadows.
Here’s a 1967 episode from the Quinn Martin show The Invaders, where a boom mic shadow follows David Vincent’s exploratory progress through an alien storage facility.
Elsewhere in the Quinn Martin Productions empire, episodes of The FBI had to be vetted by the real-life agency before they could go into production. The Bureau even had veto power over which actors could appear in the series episodes, but boom mic shadows evidently weren’t important enough to have been redacted by retakes.
In this 1966 episode, you can see Erskine and Rhodes at the residence of a suspect in a series of railroad bombings. As the agents approach the front door…
…you can see the wand of the boom mic sweeping across beside the door (to the right for the viewer); watching the episode, the boom mic then gets pulled upward with a bouncy movement like a fisherman from somewhere above reeling in a catch. And that’s an outdoor set.
Here’s another outdoor set in an episode from the short-lived 1971 series Bearcats.
Look at the window in the background, with the shadow of the mic wand in full view as well as a studio light reflected in the glass panes, both of which episode director John Llewellyn Moxey apparently had no issue with.
Kolchak: The Night Stalker would be known to numerous Dark Shadows fans given the association of Dan Curtis with the two pilot movies preceding the series. The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has for any given episode of a TV series a “Did You Know?” page with sections on trivia, goofs, quotes, etc., with some of the standout gaffes listed but many of the less obvious mistakes overlooked.
Case in point is the episode titled The Energy Eater. IMDb has the boom mic noted when Kolchak tries to point out to a building architect all the unusual conditions in the building’s basement.
Yet in some other episodes, there are several instances which have gone uncatalogued. Dark Shadows fans are often treated to revealing glimpses past the top edges of studio sets, so why should Kolchak: The Night Stalker be any different?
Here in the episode titled Vampire is the top of the INS newsroom offices.
In the same episode is the top of an apartment building hallway set.
In another episode called The Devil’s Platform, here’s yet another peak above the top edge of the INS newsroom set.
In the episode Firefall, one can even catch a quick glance of a crew member leaning into the shot, no doubt coaching the dog.
In that same episode there is a curious moment with the location footage used…
…which is repeated in the final episode of the series, The Sentry…
…where aerial city views are provided…
…and while helicoptering about…
…for a suitable building to use as representative of an internal studio set…
…it appears that accidental “extras” were caught in flagrante…
The Rockford Files is another show from that era known for its high-quality production values, but which nevertheless allowed more than its fair share of bloopers into the final broadcast.
Aside from the momentary tip of a boom microphone as well as boom mic shadows on walls, many of the Rockford Files bloopers are created unavoidably as a result of the differences of minor but noticeable details between the location footage for Rockford’s trailer and the studio set. For instance, during scenes inside the trailer you notice a discrepancy between camera angles regarding the amount of space behind Jim Rockford’s desk. From one angle it looks as one would expect, with the desk and chair right up against the wall…
(Susan Strasberg as Deborah the “Countess”)
…then from the angle as seen from behind the desk there is ample space, room enough for a camera setup complete with lighting equipment, which you can see reflected in the screen of the TV set.
This is the way the trailer should look from the outside, as shown from a shot of the interior filmed on the studio set…
…but a glimpse of the “outside” from the trailer’s interior shows this to be a studio set…
…whereas the one on location is just a prop, as shown by the empty interior.
Once again, on location looking in, with the countertop of the kitchen inside totally bare…
…then switching to the studio set, with everything made up and Jim’s father standing in what was previously shown to be an empty space…
In the very same episode from which the above two images are taken, someone goofed in keeping track of the location footage. During season one, through the fall of 1974, they were using the footage taken from the Pacific Highway location…
…but then later in the year switched to a beachfront spot, also in Malibu.
(Paradise Cove, 1978)
Claire, the episode in question from the first season, shows at one point the recently revised location for Jim’s trailer, with the ocean background…
…yet earlier that episode showed the highway backdrop seen in previous episodes.
For the episode Lions, Tigers, Monkeys and Dogs, the following bloopers are listed on the episode’s IMDb page:
“As Jim visits the princess for the first time, the large shadow of the moving boom mic is very apparent on the wall behind them.”
“During the last few minutes when Rockford is just about to park at home light stand equipment can be seen reflected in the rear quarter panel of his car.”
Not listed is a verbal blooper so charming and perfect, you have to wonder if it may in fact have been intentional.
Jim is discussing with a client possible suspects in a murder based on motive, and at one point James Garner says “motor” instead:
“…he’s a character assassin, but he’s not a killer. What would be the motive?”
“Yeah, well, forget about the motor for now…”
Perfect for an actor who in real life was a race car driver of professional caliber, as evidenced by the fact that he did his own stunt driving on the show…
…most notably with the patented “J-turn” made famous throughout the series:
The 1974 (Sierra Gold) Pontiac Firebird Esprit used throughout season one.
One area in The Rockford Files which scores an unexpected Dark Shadows parallel is in the props department, as in the late 1970s the Collinsport afghan makes a surprise cameo.
There must have in the late seventies been an exchange program for various props among nighttime TV shows, given how the Collinsport afghan around that time also appears in an episode of Taxi.
The resurgence of the Collinsport afghan in the late 1970s is the result of a little-known art movement called afghan expressionism, which began in Collinsport a few years earlier when one summer an artist visiting from New York as part of the seasonal tourist crowd happened to visit the Evans cottage. From seeing the Collinsport afghan there on the sofa, the artist experienced a moment of inspiration that would forever transform the art world over the remainder of that decade.
Returning to his native Queens, New York that fall, Pablo Picollins took residence near the corner of Northern Boulevard and Hauser Street and set to work on a series of signature masterpieces.
Indeed, by 1976 one of these works had found their way into the living room of Mike and Gloria Stivic’s first household, after having moved from the Bunker house at number 704.
Just two years later, the unique brand of afghan expressionism as refined and perfected by Pablo Picollins was even finding its way into public establishments along Northern Boulevard, with a window over the door of Archie’s Place among the first items to be redecorated once Archie had taken over Kelsie’s Bar.
As you can see, in the months leading up to Archie going into business for himself, when it was Kelsie’s Bar that window was never decorated.
With the Collinsport style of afghan expressionism permeating the art world and beyond, the pioneering work of Pablo Picollins helped to inspire the final design for a three-dimensional puzzle created by Hungarian sculptor and architecture professor Ernő Rubik, whose Rubik’s Cube quite literally put the Collinsport afghan in the palm of one’s hand.
Afghan expressionism appears to have flourished first in Gloria’s old bedroom at 704 Hauser Street, as seen by the works on the closet door and the wall over the bed.
Being a “live to tape” show, at least for the first eight seasons, All in the Family also had its share of bloopers which made it into the final broadcast, like when Mike is telling Archie about George Orwell’s book 1984 in the episode Archie and the Computer; he says the title twice, but says it first as nineteen ninety-four.
Mostly, though, it’s bloopers by the crew that prevail. In a lot of the early episodes especially there are boom mic shadows all over the place, often making it look like tree branches are forever blowing in a breeze from somewhere above.
Boom mics as well make their appearances, more commonly than many viewers would think, like when one dips into frame for a few seconds in The Taxi Caper.
Many of these gaffes are similar to those more commonly associated with Dark Shadows.
The appearance of a teleprompter swinging into frame…
…was hardly an isolated instance.
The one blooper on All in the Family that was an isolated occurrence was the wardrobe malfunction in Flashback: Mike and Gloria’s Wedding Part 2; of course, wearing a minidress of the period (1972), how could there not be a wardrobe malfunction?
Otherwise, all the standard technical goofs would apply, just like on Dark Shadows and many times there would be more than one type of blooper in a single episode, like in the 1977 episode The Draft Dodger where you see a studio light above the set…
…soon followed by the edge of the set divider for the living room and kitchen (at left, behind actress Liz Torres).
Studio lights reflected in other objects were among the most frequent of bloopers to be found on All in the Family, like when an actor is wearing glasses and they get reflected in the lenses.
Ever notice how Archie always wore his wedding ring on the middle finger of his left hand?
It might be tempting to label this a blooper, but it was more of an inside joke, given how he also wore a ring on the middle finger of his right hand; just a way of giving added depth of definition to the character, who goes through life with both middle fingers on full display.
Perfect for a man who gets his news information from the National Enquirer and derives literary edification from various comic books.
Archie: Wait a minute, aw wait a minute, what do you call this? Can anybody over there tell me what this is?
Gloria: It’s beef stroganoff.
Mike: Yeah, haven’t you ever had that before?
Archie: Looks like I had it an hour ago.
Carroll O’Connor performing Remembering You, the closing theme for All in the Family, with composer Roger Kellaway on the The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour in 1971.
Years after concluding its original series run, All in the Family was namechecked on the sitcom Taxi for one of its most iconic television firsts, the flushing toilet. Considering that Taxi was by this time on the NBC network and All in the Family had run on CBS, it was a testament to the status of Norman Lear’s creation that a show from one network would be acknowledged by a show from a competing network.
Alex Goes Off The Wagon has cabbie Alex Reiger in the fit of a gambling obsession as he calls in to work following an all-night marathon in a casino that has left him at rock bottom.
Elaine: What was that?
Alex: Oh, they’re watching a rerun of All in the Family here.
During the subsequent scene change, you hear from among the studio audience the “Oh Guy”:
It sounds as though Taxi’s live in-studio audience consisted of a few regulars, which makes you wonder whether they may have been paid to be there; because with the exception of only a handful of episodes from season three, the “Oh Guy” can be heard reacting from the studio audience over most every episode that aired.
“Oh!… Oh! Oh!…”
All in the Family was also referenced in Taxi for another famous first in television. Louie is in the garage telling the cabbies how he has just put his mother in a nursing home; while doing this, he grabs a bottle of soda from the vending machine and belches.
Belching on TV was just as funny in 1980 as it was when first done in 1971:
“Archie, that’s terrible.”
For my money, though, Archie does his best belch in We’re Having a Heat Wave, the lead-off to season four, letting one rip while having a beer with the Meathead standing nearby to catch the brunt of it. You’ve just got to love how Carroll O’Connor closes his eyes for this particular belch, like an opera singer concentrating hard to reach within and give it all they’ve got for that one key moment in an aria. Belch? I nearly puked.
Next to Dark Shadows, Taxi would have to qualify as a close second when it comes to bloopers.
There are episodes where Taxi exceeds even the typical Dark Shadows quota for bloopers per episode, and the below episode (Out of Commission, season three) is but one of many similar instances.
Let’s dip our toes in with some boom mic shadows. Here’s one, seen dangling like a lopsided chandelier in some undersea shipwreck.
Here’s another, almost like a fishing lure right out of a Dark Shadows parallel studioverse.
There it is again, sweeping across the top of the (right) door frame, as it follows the actors into position.
Mind you, this is all in one scene, barely three and a half minutes into the episode. It would be making several more cameos on that very set later in the episode.
Tune in again next time to more exciting scenes of… The Edge of Set. By chance, is that someone’s script affixed to the upper left portion?
Through the mirror, you can see the edge of the opposite end of the set with that dark stretch of studio space on the left.
Do you like overhead studio lights? Any true blooper fan would just adore overhead studio lights. Then Taxi is your blooper-spotting show for overhead studio lights.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the makers of Taxi proudly present their hit theatrical production, Studio Lights Over Garageway!”
Complete with an encore!
That episode with the director credit, Alex Tastes Death, also has a character surname misspelled. In all the sources you read, Alex’s last name is spelled as Reiger, but on set it’s written on a staff locker as Rieger.
Back to studio lights, plus additional crew equipment caught at right of screen.
Studio lights are great for mood effects on the set of Latka’s apartment; shown here is only the first of at least three separate appearances in the scene, over a mere twenty seconds.
“Alright, step right up ladies and gentlemen, and get your boom microphones. We have boom microphones for every position. We have boom microphones in the upper left of screen…”
“…We have boom microphones front and center…”
“…We have boom microphones in the upper right of screen.”
“And for those of you bargain blooper shoppers in the market for marking tape…”
“…We’ve got marking tape for any occasion or scene.”
“If it’s marking tape you’re looking for, Taxi has you and your studio floor covered.”
Wobbly gravestones on Dark Shadows? Wobbly pillar on Taxi.
They had one on All in the Family as well.
What blooper segment would be complete without production equipment and occasional crew members wandering into frame?
There’s this thinga-ma-bobby on wheels at right of screen, they always had stuff creeping in at right of screen on the garage set.
They had teleprompters edging into frame (seen at right against the orange shirt of the actress at the vending machine)…
…which would sometimes include part of a crew member and whatever papers might be held by the one hand that has crept into frame…
…and for the unintended appearance of crew members, it would be hard if not impossible to top this masterpiece in flaming burnt orange.
The more you look, the more you see. Call of the Mild has always been a favorite episode, but now as a Dark Shadows fan, enjoyment is compounded by the spectator sport of blooper spotting.
The location shot of the wild…
…and then of the cabin…
…help to remind the viewer of the glare from that overhead studio light…
…seen here reflected in the glass window of the cooking compartment on that wood-burning stove in the background.
We do hope you’ve enjoyed this very special presentation and that you’ll tune in for future episodes of, The Edge of Set.
At least now we know what the Dark Shadows studio crew were up to between 1978 and 1983.
(Taxi TV series opening theme)
Incredibly, the Taxi bloopers listed above are what made it into the final broadcast after retakes were done, if they were done at all. Because Taxi was recorded before a live audience, they wouldn’t want to stop and do retakes unless they had to; sometimes, though, actors would mess up entire lines or couldn’t even get through a scene because they’d be laughing so hard, so a number of times they would have to cut and do the scene over. Other times they would just have an actor come in during post-production and rerecord the part that needed to be redone, then just dub it into the master for the final broadcast. None of the numerous crew gaffes listed above, which represent only a small portion of the many to be found throughout the run of the series, was ever cause enough to stop and do the scene over again.
Secretary: Goodnight, Mr. Walters.
Mr. Walters: Uh-uh…
Say, Mr. Walters, why is it that Dark Shadows is so notorious for bloopers and not a show like Taxi?
Mr. Walters: Uh-uh… because only Dark Shadows fans notice those things.
Thank you, Mr. Walters, for setting the record straight. Now I have seen the light.
Slating shows someone, probably another crew member, walking in front of the camera to obscure the episode slate, as the crew member holding the slating board moves his free arm to usher away the person blocking said view. Yet, how can this be a blooper, when after all the episode is yet to technically begin, which of course opens with the start of a music cue followed by the intro and prologue as spoken by Victoria Winters.
In the opening scene, as Burke storms about the foyer demanding to see Roger, a boom mic shadow settles against the foyer wall.
As the camera moves in close, the shadow of the boom mic can then be seen along the wall below the landing.
When in Act I Roger finds Sam at the bar of the Blue Whale, an overhead studio light can be seen, but which for the Blue Whale set only means added ambience.
They’re having a special bulk discount sale on boom mics today in the Collinwood drawing room. Boom mics going once…
Boom mics going twice…
Boom mics going three times. Do I hear four? Four times for the boom mic…
Sold! To the boom mic operator in the Dark Shadows television studio.
As the scene for the middle of Act II gets underway and Burke is asking Mrs. Stoddard if she left the room to phone the sheriff, Joan Bennett says: “I had no intention of calling the sheriff. I want – went to put the tea kettle on.”
Further along during Act II while Mrs. Stoddard goes about diffusing Burke’s mood with a show of pleasant small talk, Joan Bennett says: “Roger, I do wish you’d sit down, after all you are a guest – I mean, Burke please, you’re a guest in my house…”
Early on in Act III, the shadow of the boom mic descends sharply against the foyer wall at the left edge of screen, like a prowler startled by sudden movement in the foyer and darting briskly out of sight.
Soon after, Mitch Ryan gets the story timeline wrong saying his line as: “It also wasn’t part of my plan to bust up your dinner party the other evening at Maggie Evans.”
In Act IV as Burke is telling Vicki about his father, a teleprompter is being wheeled about in the background, which gets reflected in the painting of that guy who looks like David Crosby during his time as a member of the music group The Byrds. As the light from the teleprompter begins a right to left sweep across the painting, the effect provides David Crosby Collins with the hint of a “ghost double” image.
After Mrs. Stoddard brings tea into the drawing room and Vicki mentions that Burke has been telling her about all the places he visited, instead of saying “Collinsport” Mitch Ryan says: “None of them have ever seemed as much like home as Collinwood.”
Then again, perhaps the above wasn’t a blooper, given Mrs. Stoddard’s line in response: “Not quite like it used to be in the past, but I’m delighted you still enjoy being here.”
Further confirmation that Mitch Ryan said “Collinwood” correctly as scripted can be found in the authoritative source bible for the first year of Dark Shadows, with the summary for that part of the scene described as follows: “Elizabeth enters with the tea service. Burke offers to help and takes the tray from her. He admits all through his travels he has never felt at home as he has here in Collinwood” (Dark Shadows: The First Year, 2006, Blue Whale Books, by Nina Johnson and O. Crock [summary writers], p. 77).
During their game of questions and evading answers, Burke attempts to dampen Mrs. Stoddard’s insistence on his explaining what he wants at Collinwood by remarking on one of the drawing room pieces of the great estate. For the record, the “chest” that Burke describes is referred to in scenic designer Sy Tomashoff’s original blueprint for the Collinwood drawing room as “CAB” for “cabinet”.
“This chest; it’s over two hundred years old, isn’t it?”
He does that a lot when he’s at Collinwood; like back in episode 30 after having brought David home as the missing brake valve caper was winding to a finish, and he’s in the foyer waiting with Vicki while Roger interrogates David behind closed drawing room doors and for small talk says: “That’s a great old clock.”
It’s in the way he utters the word “clock”; hitting those hard “c” and “ck” sounds with aggressive emphasis as though a more rounded pronunciation might bring the tactile satisfaction of running one’s hand along the surface of something, thereby consuming the object of his appetite.
Burke gets a “feel” for Collinwood during Act III of episode 65.
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
Sam Evans in Act I sits down at the bar to order a drink; after Roger strolls over to say hello, Sam has the bartender make it a double.
Roger, as Act II begins, is shown with a drink in a tall glass with ice.
In case you may be thinking that Sam spilling his drink at the Blue Whale was a blooper and that Roger’s line, “You can buy another drink, but you can’t buy another life,” was a scene-saving ad lib by Louis Edmonds, the reader is referred to the book Dark Shadows: The First Year, the authoritative source bible on the first 210 episodes of Dark Shadows whose writers had access to primary sources of information including copies of original episode scripts, for the following description of the scene: “Roger demands to know what Sam told the sheriff today. Tensely he reaches for Sam, grabbing his arm and spilling his drink” (Dark Shadows: The First Year, 2006, Blue Whale Books, by Nina Johnson and O. Crock [summary writers], p. 76).
Soon after, Sam calls to the bartender to bring him another double and makes a special point of noting that it should be put on Collins’ bill.
At Collinwood, also during Act II, after assuring Burke that she only went to put the tea kettle on and not to phone the sheriff, Mrs. Stoddard offers Burke a drink, turning to point out the liquor cabinet across the room, which Burke declines.
Toward the very end of the episode, the tea that was proposed earlier is finally brought into the drawing room on a tray by Mrs. Stoddard herself.
Blue Whale scenes today are playing that new tune off the jukebox from yesterday’s episode, the slow and soulful instrumental piece that sounds like it was recorded for Stax Records, but which more probably was just a selection from the freely available library music for use in those movie and television productions which run on a tight budget. For a short history of library music as used in film and television, the reader is referred to the footnote section of the post for episode 64.
Perhaps it was thought that the Bob Cobert guitar instrumentals didn’t provide the right mood for the confrontation between Matthew Morgan and Burke Devlin in yesterday’s episode, as well as the tense dealings between Sam Evans and Roger Collins today, where Sam reminds Roger about the offer of money made awhile back for him to leave town. Roger at first refused, but then realized he may not have given Sam’s proposal enough consideration, only to have Sam change his mind once more.
Roger: Now come on Evans, you can’t change your mind every few minutes.
Sam: Seems we’re guilty of the same vice, huh?
If Dark Shadows had the budget and didn’t have to rely on library music but could afford the licensing fees toward music from established recording artists, for guitar instrumentals the Blue Whale jukebox would surely be stocked with at least one record by the English music group that pioneered the format for the guitar instrumental.
The Shadows, Apache (Columbia, 45-DB 4484; UK, July 1960)
Merchant seaman traveling from overseas might have stopped in at the Blue Whale and handed the bartender a 45 rpm single or two of other English guitar instrumental groups that followed in the footsteps of the Shadows.
The Falcons, Stampede (Philips – BF 1297, November 1963)
The Phantoms, Phantom Guitar (Palette – PG 9014, May 1961)
Joan Bennett’s 1970 autobiography (original front cover).
The Bennetts: An Acting Family, the 2004 biography.
The Louis Edmonds biography, Big Lou.
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.
Coming next: Episode 66: A Killer Alibi
— Marc Masse
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