“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).
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.
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.