Episode 75: On a Clear Day, You Can See Murder

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“Roger’s tension is increased. Learning about Burke’s meetings with Vicki, he…once again…probes, endlessly wanting to know every word that was spoken between them…feeling, more and more, that Vicki and Burke are united to harm him” (Shadows on the Wall, p. 50)

That was supposed to have been the aftermath of the brake valve caper which led to Roger’s accident back at the end of the third week.

It is now Friday October 7, 1966, and Dark Shadows is airing an episode that concludes its fifteenth week on the air. Roger spends the first half of today’s episode admiring the view from atop Widow’s Hill, when Vicki, herself out for a walk with a view, happens upon Roger there: “Not planning to jump, are you?” She reiterates the line Roger startled her with back in episode 2, and here today Roger offers a belated but good-natured apology.

That’s Art Wallace for you, always reprising an earlier situation but with none of the story resolve such repetition might bring about. In yesterday’s episode, David was sneaking into Burke’s hotel room just like in episode 29. In episode 73, David stole away from Collinwood into town and Collinsport Inn to visit Burke but stopped in at the restaurant downstairs for a sundae, just like in episode 28.

Two weeks from now will have the run of episodes 81 to 85 where David locks Vicki away in a secret room in the closed off wing of the house, on the pretext of having something important to show her – not a filigreed fountain pen, which is a prop and product of the TV series itself along with the indeterminate side avenue into mystery and suspense with the death of Bill Malloy. These will be the final week of episodes written by Art Wallace. What should be happening right around now with today’s episode between Roger and Vicki according to the series bible is more tension:

“Roger’s pressure on Vicki is heightened. Playing on her unsureness, on her growing tension, he tries to get her to leave. Roger and David….almost seem to be working as a unit in their constant harassment of Vicki. They make the legends of the old house seem alive as they surround her with constant reference to the horrors that live with them” (Shadows on the Wall, p. 55).

Instead we have a dead plant manager, a silver filigreed fountain pen found on a beach, and up until this afternoon a prime murder suspect who on this fine day tosses pebbles instead of governesses over the edge of Widow’s Hill, all because too many ABC affiliates across the country thought it would be a great idea to fit Dark Shadows in at 10:30 am instead of 4 pm where it belongs.

TV Guide_Dark Shadows listing Monday 3 October 1966_10.30 am_page A24_ep71

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Episode 74: Celebration Day: Death Has Come at Last

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“Accidental death due to drowning. I think I’ll have it cast in bronze.”

The main thing to be taken from today’s episode is how each of the interested parties have reacted to the news of the coroner’s decision, that Bill Malloy’s death was the result of accidental drowning.

 

You would expect that Burke should be outraged, because this would leave him hanging with no hope now of clearing his name which is what Bill Malloy had promised would come of the meeting he had arranged that night in Roger’s office.

 

Generally though most of those involved would be relieved, especially Mrs. Stoddard and Carolyn who considered Bill near and dear, that no violent act on the part of person or persons unknown had befallen the man and that at last the matter could be brought to rest.

 

It’s Roger’s overreaction that stands out as suspicious; all that expansive euphoria, celebrating with drinks and a carefree stroll along the cliffs – where Bill’s body had washed up just a couple nights earlier – as though Roger were a terminal patient who had just been handed a clean bill of health and the renewed lease on life that would naturally go with such news. There’s just too much of a joyous plateau for comfort.

 

Either the producers and writers of Dark Shadows have suddenly decided to just make a red herring out of the entire Bill Malloy mystery story or someone has decided that Louis Edmonds is too good of an actor to let go, considering that Roger’s character is, or was, scheduled to be killed off at some point, after Victoria Winters makes one too many visits over to the Evans cottage while hearing Sam’s tongue getting loosened over liquor to reveal details of what really happened ten years ago with the Burke Devlin manslaughter story.

 

Most likely it’s the latter point, because things in life tend to happen for a reason.

 

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Episode 73: The Backstairs of Main Street

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With a population of around three thousand, Collinsport is one of those places that could aptly be described as a small town.

 

If somebody among their number should happen to meet with sudden death under mysterious or suspicious circumstances, the locals will surely be talking about it with each new development that arises, on street corners, while waiting in line at the bank or department store, or even while stopping in for breakfast or lunch at the Collinwood Inn restaurant, where such talk can be overheard by the waitress who will then pass the information along to her father, for decades one of the local established artists who apart from the occasional ad agency commission works most of the time getting his canvases ready for the influx of the lucrative summer tourist season.

 

Today though the coroner’s decision on how Bill Malloy actually died is expected to be handed over to Sheriff George Patterson, whose office Sam Evans had that afternoon just happened to visit on purpose while supposedly on his way into town to purchase art supplies. According to Maggie, talk among the restaurant patrons hinted that the coroner would in fact be returning a verdict of wrongful death by homicide, which as the sheriff had told Sam would automatically make him a suspect in an ongoing and highly public murder investigation, a prospect which thoroughly ruins his appetite for the free ice cream sundae his daughter had just placed on the restaurant counter before him.

 

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Episode 72: Great Moments in Mayonnaise: Cooking in Collinsport

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“Ooh, this mayonnaise doesn’t smell fresh to me. I think you better complain to the firm that made it.”

Beats complaining to the team who wrote it – the episode scripts for Dark Shadows.

In those days the major companies that made all the brand-name products were still thought of by some folks as firms rather than corporations, because at least you could still complain to a firm about something and even expect a human response as well as a solution.

Then again no public relations department of any firm would have known what to do with “Mrs.” Sarah Johnson, the first and only housekeeper on television you could think of offhand who regards her menial job with the devotion of a loving wife that never was, except that today she is a bereaved widow who has nowhere left to go in life since the only man she prepared homemade mayonnaise for has gone away forever. One could only hope she carried the same torch for her actual real-life late husband from some years ago, at least throughout that first day or two of mourning.

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Episode 71: School’s Out for Roger

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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.

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

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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.

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Episode 70: A Serial Thriller Is Born

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Victoria Winters: What’s the “Old House”?

 

Matthew Morgan: Nothing. It’s a dangerous place, maybe more dangerous than the top of Widow’s Hill.

 

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Episode 69: Avengers Uncorporated

 

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“Clarice Blackburn was first utilized as a sobbing woman in episode #37, more than a month before her first appearance as Mrs. Johnson. The vengeful, conniving Mrs. Johnson, first seen in episode #67, is a far cry from the loyal family servant of later years. But she was intended to be even worse initially. The original idea was to make her a sinister, insane character who would menace Vicki” (Dark Shadows: The First Year, by Nina Johnson and O. Crock [summary writers], Blue Whale Books, 2006, p. 13).

Dark Shadows_The First Year_front cover

 

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Episode 68: The Most Charming Man in the World

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For Louis Edmonds, one of the great fan favorites of Dark Shadows, the job he landed in 1966 as Roger Collins was in fact originally intended as the swan song to an accomplished career which began ever since he first realized he wanted to be an actor back home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1939.

 

Today’s episode represents a slight departure from the Roger Collins we’ve seen thus far. As the main villain of the piece, besides having been guilty of the manslaughter charge that sent Burke Devlin to prison ten years earlier, he may well also be guilty of murder when Bill Malloy failed to show up at the meeting he called that night at Roger’s office with the intention of clearing Burke’s name while bringing in Sam Evans as leverage to prove that Roger had been guilty all along. Roger hasn’t actually provided anyone, the other characters involved or the viewer, with any reason to suspect otherwise.

 

Caught in the middle is newly hired Collinwood governess Victoria Winters. Through her association with Burke Devlin, both of whom arrived in Collinsport a week earlier on the same train from New York, Roger has been cultivating a burning animosity toward Vicki despite her earnest best efforts to get along with everyone on the great estate. So far only her employer Elizabeth Collins Stoddard has been mostly unwavering in her gracious efforts to make her feel welcome in such a strange and gloomy environment, but even this can be subject to change despite Vicki’s best intentions to the contrary.

 

Beginning today Louis Edmonds brings a new layer of depth to what has thus far proven a mostly intractable character, the signature cocktail charm that in later times on Dark Shadows would make his character portrayals on the show so entertaining rather than one-dimensional.

 

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Episode 67: Mourning Has Broken

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Bill Malloy it turns out represented different things to various folks around Collinsport. Despite his unrequited feelings for Mrs. Elizabeth Stoddard, Bill Malloy was nevertheless during her long hermitage in Collinwood a trusted friend and business associate let alone her one regular weekly contact with the outside world, not counting the woman she hired from town to clean once a week; after which the woman’s young son, Joe Haskell, would drive up the hill to pick her up while finding a few minutes here and there to chat with the employer’s daughter Carolyn. Her father having walked out six months before she was born, Bill Malloy had become to Carolyn through the reliable presence of his weekly business meetings something of a surrogate father, even dubbing her “Princess” out of affection. Today we learn that Bill Malloy was also a surrogate husband of a sort – to his housekeeper.

Thus far we have only heard of a “Mrs. Johnson” who Sheriff Patterson says told him about a phone call Mr. Malloy received the night he was killed, first mentioned with Dana Elcar’s introduction in episode 54. With today’s episode we get to know the housekeeper’s first name through the Dark Shadows screen debut of Clarice Blackburn, here making her second Dark Shadows “appearance”; yes, it’s true – the screen debut of Clarice Blackburn on Dark Shadows was in fact her second episode working on the show. You’ve heard of parallel time; this is a case of parallel casting.

 

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