Victoria Winters has a brand new best friend.
Witness the new though not yet improved Roger Collins.
It’s going off the series outline, allowing the character to virtually groom the young governess with charm and deceit, but it beats the alternative of having Roger eventually killed off as planned thus consigning the talents of Louis Edmonds to the elusive realm of those famous Collinwood ghosts and legends that get spoken of so often yet never actually seen and realized in full.
With Art Wallace back writing another week of episodes, Dark Shadows can get back to one of the things that help define the show during these early episodes: food.
It was only the day before when Roger realized that he may have something to gain from being more charming toward Miss Winters rather than a constant antagonist. Once again the night before, he had forced Victoria into a situation where she felt obligated to provide in the presence of Burke Devlin an alibi to prove that Roger couldn’t possibly have killed Bill Malloy because he was still there at Collinwood the very moment the Collins business manager would have met the accident or circumstance that caused his pocket watch to stop at the presumed moment of death, 10:45 pm.
So today he’s going to intervene and give Vicki the day off from her duties to David as a governess, just allowing her to drop the day’s lessons and join him in town for breakfast as his guest at the Collinsport Inn restaurant. Roger naturally has a hidden agenda in play; after breakfast there will be one stop to make before taking her on a tour of the cannery – the sheriff’s office, where she can reiterate the alibi she provided for him last night to Burke Devlin’s reluctant satisfaction, a means to an end that can be achieved with ease today if he agrees to be more charming toward Vicki, an idea floated by Carolyn who had dropped by his office that day with the intention of spiriting Joe Haskell away for lunch.
Roger: Maybe it would be a good idea to charm Miss Winters.
Episode 71 then stands as one of those cultural time capsule moments in Collinsport, showing precisely what menu items might go into securing the confidence of the sort of hired help around Collinwood that Roger never even wanted any part of from the outset, preferring instead to brood over the cool comforts of the Collinwood drawing room liquor cabinet, which of course he keeps well stocked.
For an idea of what people in those days could expect to be served while for instance accepting a dinner invitation with friends, The Donna Reed Show, which ran from 1958 to 1966, would on occasion serve up the basic ideas for a calendar week of friendly get-togethers.
With some exceptions…
…a chicken dinner seemed to be the most widely pleasing type of meal.
Naturally these dinner parties would begin with cocktails.
At the Donna Reed Show house, they will be serving chicken tetrazzini on Saturday…
…essentially buttered spaghetti chicken with mushrooms and a special cheese sauce, so you’d need that after dinner cup of coffee just to make it out the door as the party is winding down.
Meanwhile up in the three-room suite he holds at the Collinsport Inn, Burke Devlin seems to prefer his steak dinners, which he can just have sent up from the restaurant below.
Lunch typically consists of a sandwich, like ham and cheese with butter and mustard, no lettuce…
…with a cup of coffee, hold the rat poison since the waitress is fresh out of arsenic anyway.
Vicki is relieved to be getting away from Collinwood, if only for a couple hours, still spooked by the thought of David’s ghost friends after having been taken to the Old House the night before to hopefully “meet” them.
“What you need is a change…”
Roger then begins reading off menu items that may or may not be served at the Collinsport Inn restaurant, which he wouldn’t know much about since he’s only had a cup of coffee and a slice of pie there the very night both she and Burke Devlin had arrived in town on the same train from New York.
“And to celebrate your holiday, I’ll buy you breakfast at the hotel café…”
Collinsport of course being the small town that it is, you can’t go anywhere without running into someone you tried railroading into prison once upon a time over running someone else off the road, meaning there really isn’t a whole lot Roger Collins can be sure of these days.
“I don’t think you’ll be quite that lucky Roger…”
Poor Roger, he just can’t get away from his potentially scandalous past. Whether toasting himself to near oblivion in the Collinwood drawing room or out at the Collinsport Inn restaurant manipulating his son’s governess into breakfast as a pretext for dropping in at the sheriff’s office just to help sway in your favor the pending coroner’s report on Bill Malloy. He can at least put on the Collins veneer of a brave face.
“Poor sardines don’t stand a chance…”
Caught in the middle as always is Victoria Winters, not taking sides in the matter but subjecting herself nonetheless to Burke’s excoriating comment when she returns to the restaurant in Act IV having earlier mentioned offhand how Roger would that morning be showing her around the Collins cannery.
“Did he show you the place where they cut the heads off the fish?”
Not quite, but sort of…
Soft Summer Breeze by Eddie Heywood, #11 on the charts, June 1956.
Dark Shadows extras:
Episode 71 marks the Dark Shadows debut of the second actress to play the occasional waitress Susie, having replaced the first actress Colleen Murphy who last appeared in the role in episode 40.
At the time Carol Crist joined the roster of Dark Shadows extras as the second Silent Susie, she was also a folk singer and musician, eventually mentioned in the book Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass by Murphy Hicks Henry (University of Illinois Press, 1 May 2013, p. 140; chapter, The Numbers Are Growing: The 1960s; section on Vivian Williams, a fiddler from the American Northwest):
Along with Colleen Murphy, Carol Crist had in 1965 been part of the cast for the TV series Coronet Blue, a spy thriller with several Dark Shadows crossovers in both cast and crew, the thirteen episodes of which finally aired during the summer of 1967 as a seasonal replacement, which only missed finally being picked up for a full network television season that fall when its main star Frank Converse went on instead to costar in the new police drama NYPD.
In one Coronet Blue episode, both Susies from Dark Shadows are momentarily shown together in the same scene, with Colleen Murphy in the role of the waitress in a coffee house known as “the Searching i” and Carol Crist there performing a folk song (The Presence of Evil; aired August 7, 1967).
To connect with the scenic background of Dark Shadows which in 1966 was mostly the town of Collinsport, location footage was inserted showing film of Louis Edmonds and Alexandra Moltke walking along the main street in Essex, Connecticut from the Collinsport Inn restaurant to the sheriff’s office, where Roger has to make a certain stop. Exterior footage of the sheriff’s office actually shows the Essex post office. The “set design,” according to Dark Shadows: The First Year, was given in the episode summary as “Collinsport Street”:
Dark Shadows: The First Year by Nina Johnson and O. Crock (summary writers; Blue Whale Books, 2006, p. 83).
After the sheriff’s office, Roger and Vicki part company along the wharf of the Essex Marina, used to represent the Collins cannery, just outside where Roger’s office is supposed to be located…
…followed by the Griswold Inn in Essex, intended as the exterior for the Collinsport Inn.
Most of the location footage shown in these early episodes was actually shot originally in color, and the majority of the available footage was never used.
Daily studio schedule for Dark Shadows in 1966
7:00-11:00 a.m. Lighting
8:30-10:30 Morning Rehearsal
11:00-12:00 Engineering Set-Up
11:30-2:00 Camera Blocking & Run Through
2:00-2:30 Dress Rehearsal
2:30-3:00 Test Pattern
3:00-3:30 Episode Taping
3:45-4:15 Technical Meeting
4:00-6:30 Dry Rehearsal for Next Episode
4:00-7:00 Reset Studio
As Roger stands in the foyer syncing his watch to the grandfather clock, the top edge of the drawing room set is visible and illuminated by a studio light above.
When Roger picks up the phone to talk a second time with Sheriff Patterson, a large boom mic shadow moves several times against the back wall of the drawing room.
Among Dark Shadows production personnel, Max Jughans is listed as the “Boom Operator” whose visual contributions on the show have become the stuff of legend. Here in today’s episode, the handiwork of Mr. Jughans makes itself apparent as Roger and Vicki meet in the Collinwood foyer early in Act I.
A technical blooper occurs in Act III while Roger and Vicki are visiting at the sheriff’s office, where the boom mic drops out for a few seconds while potential findings of the coroner’s report on Bill Malloy are discussed. Here is the boom mic moment at normal volume…
…and then here slightly amplified (headphones recommended):
Roger: I honestly don’t know how the report will…
Episode 71 marks both the second instance and location for what in this blog is known as the Collinsport coffee mug set, distinguished by the jazzy black vertical stripes around the sides, first seen in episode 49 at the Evans cottage and now today in the sheriff’s office where they will remain for a few episodes before continuing their extensive tour around several other Collinsport locations.
David Ford as Sam Evans, pouring himself coffee only to be interrupted by yet another unannounced visit by Burke Devlin.
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
Self-described in Act I as “the worst cook in town,” Burke agrees that Sheriff Patterson makes a lousy cup of coffee.
For all the grand talk of the many varied menu items Roger was offering Vicki as his treat for breakfast at the Collinsport Inn restaurant, each seems to have ordered a standard bill of fare, and when talk turns to the unwholesome topic of Bill Malloy’s death, each leaves enough food on their plate that combined could add up to a longshoreman’s breakfast.
During breakfast Roger also describes for Vicki the methods used by the Collins fleet fishermen to catch the sardines out at sea and then the process employed to get the sardines ready for sale on the market. Sardines are the backbone of the Collins industries, which would seem to imply that Collinsport in general is more working class with regard to the year-round residents, many of whom work for the Collins family in one capacity or another. This would set them apart from the summer tourist population and the seasonal bohemian artists, which combined increase the local population by fifty percent during the summer months. By contrast, the Collins family itself hardly seem like the patrician types ruling over the town they founded like gentry from atop Widow’s Hill with their forty-room mansion; apart from Roger and Elizabeth’s generation, that of Carolyn and David come across more as middle class, or slightly upper middle.
The fact that Collinsport and its citizenry are based mainly on sardines is curious as well, in that it seems to further imply a general working class basis, given how the week episode 71 was being broadcast an article in the TV Guide was sharing recipes for dip consisting of such exclusive delicacies as King crab and salmon.
When Vicki returns to the restaurant in Act IV, Burke is still brooding over the donut and coffee breakfast he first sat down with at the front counter back in Act II.
While Burke during Act IV is pressing the sheriff for an update on when the coroner’s finding on Bill Malloy may be made available, Patterson asks Susie: “Well, how about some of your good coffee?”
On the Flipside:
Through just over nine months of weekdays, from June 27, 1966 to March 31, 1967, Dark Shadows was the lead-in during ABC daytime for the youth-oriented music variety program Where the Action Is.
WTAI opening theme for season 2, August 12, 1966.
WTAI creator and host Dick Clark addressing the viewing audience for his introduction to season 3, September 26, 1966.
In addition to the many guest recording artists who performed in various public settings while miming to studio recordings of their latest hits, WTAI maintained its own roster of regular singing stars including Keith Allison and Tina Mason.
The afternoon that Dark Shadows episode 71 aired, at least on those local affiliate stations that kept to the recommended network TV schedule (see section “This Week in TV Guide” below), Tina Mason was showcasing her latest A-side 45 rpm single, Finders Keepers.
Any Way That You Want Me was the B-side, written by Chip Taylor, a songwriter known for several memorable compositions throughout the decade as recorded by various artists, among them Wild Thing by the Troggs and I Can’t Wait Until I See My Baby’s Face by Aretha Franklin.
Tina Mason dancing at the Blue Whale during her uncredited appearance in Dark Shadows episode 33.
This Week in TV Guide:
Low ratings over the first year of Dark Shadows, that is as it concerns the notoriously overlooked first 209 episodes (the “pre-Barnabas” era), are often attributed to the slow story pacing as well as the lack of supernatural payoff when compared with the more thrilling and special effects heavy content of what became famous as the “vampire soap opera” that sent kids running home from school just to catch the 4:00 pm starting time.
A closer examination of the various contemporary issues of the TV Guide however, especially given how printed versions would vary by region and time zone, tell a slightly different story, like the October 1-7, 1966 edition as it related to southern Ohio in particular the tri-city area covering Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati.
Look at where this market’s key ABC affiliates have Dark Shadows listed – 10:30 am, running up against a variety show, a game show, the Beverly Hillbillies…
…oh, and Romper Room (with “Miss Jo”).
In the 4 pm slot, only one serial – Secret Storm…
…but two separate listings for WTAI, one of them a repeat from the previous Monday.
Is it any wonder that ABC daytime as of 1966 was little more than a television ratings disaster area?
ABC nighttime was fortunately a whole other story, given what could be achieved when you had all the network and affiliate programmers working from the same page. Despite this, you might have been inclined to check out what the other two major networks were up to, like CBS, which in 1966 was routinely producing the types of television shows that would for many viewers become iconic.
New to the fall lineup that year was Mission Impossible, one of many spy thrillers populating the landscape of “Cold War” television programming.
Despite having aired only its third episode on Saturday October 1 beginning at 9:00 pm, Mission Impossible saw no difficulty in attracting top names for its guest starring roles, like Fritz Weaver as a foreign agent out to destroy a U.S. city leaving the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) with the task of locating the device before detonation.
Right from these earliest episodes, Mission Impossible would start off with the trademark tape recording outlining the task ahead for the given secret agent on assignment…
…except that the automatic self-destruct function would come along in later episodes, leaving the agent with the task of disposing of the tape recording manually.
With financing by Desilu Productions, Mission Impossible could go all out for dramatic effect by stretching the limits of set design.
It soon becomes apparent though that Fritz Weaver’s Rogosh character, despite the status of solitary confinement, has cell mates…
…whose presence from multiple angles…
…leave Rogosh and possibly the viewer clamoring for escape.
What a perfect opportunity then to jump to ABC at 9:30 for the variety program Hollywood Palace…
…hosted on Saturday October 1 by one of the great stars of ABC nighttime, Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched.
Hollywood Palace tends to have an infectious quality, owing largely to the continual music cues of a live orchestra within an overall program recorded live to tape with no apparent overdubs. Otherwise, the production offers mainly standard Vegas-type fare of the times, including the inevitable high-rise daredevil…
…and the familiar circus act brand of lion taming.
The circus element calls to mind a bygone era of Western culture, images of which are recollected in occasional Dark Shadows episodes where a character will assume the speech and tone of a circus ringmaster to describe a present situation whether in the positive or negative sense…
…such as when David sums up in episode 29 the new friend he believes he has found in Burke Devlin…
…or when Carolyn attempts to encapsulate the sense of loss she feels over the recent passing of Bill Malloy, who had been in her life the closest thing to a father figure she had ever known.
Mission Impossible and Hollywood Palace, listed back to back on page A-12 for the Saturday evening programming schedule for October 1, 1966.
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 72: Great Moments in Mayonnaise: Cooking in Collinsport
— Marc Masse
© 2021 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.