Dark Shadows from the Beginning Special Edition: The Perils of Mark Allen, Revisited, Pt. 1

Revisited_ep20_crew member and AM Act II interlude

With headphones, listen to the audio clip below. It’s from episode 20, where Act II begins following a commercial break and you see the location shot for the Evans cottage. Barely one second into the clip as you hear the sound effects for crickets chirping, first you hear a crew member mentioning the actor playing Sam Evans, when the voice of Alexandra Moltke breaks in, sobbing and obviously in shock, telling Lela what Mark Allen had done just before the commercial break.

Crew member: Lela, do you know what Sam Evans just did? –

Alexandra Moltke: Oh Lela, he just jerked off in my dressing room.

Maggie Evans [soundstage]: Pop!

If you can hear the contents of the above audio clip, you may click below to access the main body of the post for tales of the greatest off-stage television studio story never told, again.

This time in audio.

Hidden audio – for this listener, it began with episode 11. Listening to this episode, one can detect, beneath the monaural layering of actors’ voices on the soundstage plus the occasional sounds of crew members’ voices as well as noises from their equipment in the nearby production area, the faintly peripheral yet frequently distinct sounds of voices, mostly those of the same man and woman, always arguing and often ferociously.

In those moments when during an episode taping there are complete gaps of silence, where actor dialogue, sound effects, and music cues fall momentarily silent all at once, it is possible to make out very clearly what is being said, the source of which is most often the Dark Shadows television studio control room microphone, leaking into the final broadcast as taped live. If you know that in those days to save on expenses that television shows often relied on using tape reels that were second hand, that is from tapes of previously recorded broadcast television shows that were “wiped” so they could be reused (the main reason why so much of the history of early television is lost forever), then you might be inclined to just dismiss these Dark Shadows “control room microphone” moments as remnants of the erased former broadcast “leaking in” to the reused version of a given tape reel.

Here’s something from episode 11, where the voices of Dark Shadows director Lela Swift and executive producer Dan Curtis could be heard very clearly throughout. At the tail end of that episode, the music supervisor flubbed a music cue resulting in a lengthy gap of silence between the end of the fourth act and what should have segued immediately into the closing theme, where you can clearly make out the voice of Lela and then Dan:

Lela: I can’t stand you!

Dan: Lela, alright…

ep11_Lela_into closing theme_8x_mp3_Revisited

Lela understood the way actors worked emotionally it seems, and if she didn’t like someone she would just come right out and say it – directly into the control room microphone so that everyone in the Dark Shadows television studio could hear it. Likewise, if she really did like someone she would also come right out and say it that very moment. Take for instance Joseph Julian, a character actor who had been in numerous television productions by the time he appeared in the first two episodes of Dark Shadows as Burke Devlin’s private investigator Wilbur Strake hired to look into the background and business holdings of the Collins family.

Revisited_ep1_Joseph Julian as Wilbur Strake

“Best I could learn Mr. Devlin is that Elizabeth Collins Stoddard hasn’t left that hill in eighteen years.”

Revisited_ep1_Joseph Julian as Wilbur Strake (2)

Lela: I like this guy!…

Revisited_Lela comments on Joseph Julian in episode 1_mp3_8x20%NR_1.3 sec_28.6 kb

One actor Lela took an instant and personal disliking to was George Mitchell, a solid veteran character actor who on Dark Shadows originated the role of Collinwood caretaker Matthew Morgan. Below is a clip at normal volume of the scene change during Act II from the Collinwood basement to the upstairs drawing room.

Matthew introduces himself_ep6

Finally, barely halfway through Mitchell’s Dark Shadows debut as the gruff and guarded caretaker, Dan had to reprimand Lela about talking about the actor through the control room microphone during taping, which we can hear by holding a “magnifying lens” to part of the above scene in question.

Dan: I want to tell you something, Lela. I want you to stop talking about George Mitchell. You’re making him nervous.

Lela: Oh but Dan, I can’t even stand to look at – [him]

Matthew points toward the house Mrs. Stoddard gave him_ep6

Other actors in the original roster of the male supporting lineup will provide Lela with endless reasons for complaining, especially when some of the actresses start complaining about them, like Mark Allen, the first actor on Dark Shadows to play Sam Evans. Below is a scene from Act II where David is alone at Collinwood for a while with one of his toy robots, with the clip below at normal volume as heard in the original broadcast.

David_robot_A_ep10 GIF

Holding a similar magnifying lens to a key interval in the above audio clip, the name of the actress who issued the complaint against Mark Allen is revealed.

Lela: Kathryn Leigh Scott… No! Kathryn Leigh Scott has a complaint about Mark Allen. Mark Allen has been misbehaving during rehearsals.

David_robot_B_ep10 GIF

Complaints against Mark Allen only increase in both frequency and severity. Here’s a short interval from Act I of episode 18 played at normal volume.

Collinwood foyer_clock during opening scene of episode 18_Revisited

This is when Mark Allen starts becoming a huge liability to the show, as revealed by Dan’s incredulous response as he tries to get his head around the matter.

Dan: …Tell me he didn’t rape anybody.

Lela: Well no, he didn’t rape any-…

Roger and David in Act I of episode 18_Revisited

[To be continued with Revisited, Pt. 2]

True story, all of the above, submitted for your approval – even if you disapprove.

“Believe it… or not.”

Jack Palance_Ripley's Believe It or Not_image 2

The first of several parts in this extended Special Edition “Revisited” series, which will likely span… deep time.

On that note, I have since come to realize that the decision to have the blog Dark Shadows from the Beginning blacklisted out of the Dark Shadows fandom likely originated among industry executives in the offices of MPI Home Video. I suppose one could understand their concern, given how they foot the bill for all the DVD reissues and festival events, no doubt wondering how the tone of such gatherings may be affected once it becomes general knowledge that Dan Curtis unwittingly hired a sex fiend as a cast member during the first thirteen weeks of the show. That, however, is their problem. The blog must go on.

During the hiatus when this blog was protected from the withering scrutiny of harshly judgmental eyes, there were nonetheless a series of persons formally requesting access, some of whom were actual detractors who printed vile, slanderous garbage about myself and this blog in those awful Facebook groups. Unfortunately, I can’t prevent such persons from accessing this site, but I can keep them from entering the comments section and smearing the blog with their phony “Likes” only to have them running me down on those disgusting anti-social “media” outlets with their contentious claptrap. Other than that, I hold no grudges.

I really have nothing against the folks at the Literary License Podcast; they’re actually alright. I was just blasting off out of indignation, only because I knew I was right all along. I’ll leave those posts unedited though, just to reflect my state of mind along the way.

Let the folks at MPI stress out over this, that, and the whatever thing, keeping in mind one simple truth: Every time an MPI executive even thinks of perpetrating a blacklist-related offense against a Dark Shadows fan, Karma clips thirteen minutes off their life span and donates it to PrisoneroftheNight.

Coming next: Episode 71: School’s Out for Roger

— Marc Masse

(aka PrisoneroftheNight)

© 2020 Marc Masse and Dark Shadows

from the Beginning. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of

the content herein is a violation of the

terms and standards as set forth under

U.S. copyright law.