“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).
Continue reading “Episode 69: Avengers Uncorporated”
Dark Shadows canon is a tricky concept, with consensus drawn mainly from whichever writer gets the last word in storywise. Take for instance the names of the Collins parents immediately preceding the generation of Roger Collins and Elizabeth Stoddard. While many Dark Shadows fans know the name of the father of Elizabeth and Roger to be Jamison Collins, this earlier patriarch as first outlined by Art Wallace in Shadows on the Wall was named Joseph Collins. Perhaps this is why Elizabeth is always so intent on having Carolyn marry Joe Haskell, because he has the same first name as her beloved father. And with Elizabeth’s mother Carolyn having died at the age of thirty-eight while having given birth to Roger, it’s no surprise that she should name her daughter Carolyn as a loving tribute. This is only speculation of course, but either way all these richly symbolic bits of possible backstory get eliminated from consideration when in later years some writer comes along who was never even involved with the beginnings of Dark Shadows, but who nonetheless gets to set the canon only by virtue of having gotten in the last word on a given subject.
Particularly in this run of episodes where it’s yet to be determined whether or not Bill Malloy had met with foul play, it’s worth noting how Roger Collins and Matthew Morgan could indeed have been working together to see that Malloy would never arrive at the meeting in Roger’s office that night to carry out his intentions of clearing Burke Devlin. When the present week of episodes were being scripted, there was still the plan for the story arc to be leading to Roger’s death from atop Widow’s Hill, his mind having been driven to a frenzied state while agonizing over whether Victoria Winters had been conspiring with Burke Devlin to expose him and bring about his downfall. Given how Roger thus far has generally been ice-cold to all those around him in terms of humanity and compassion, having regarded even members of his own family with generous projections of contempt, it wouldn’t be too significant a stretch to assume that he would resort to the ultimate crime if it meant saving his own patrician hide, with the topper being that true to form he wouldn’t actually want to get his hands dirty, but in an ironic twist would enlist the aid of the Collinwood caretaker – to take care of a matter that could bring scandal and disgrace to certain of those who live in the big house, but most especially would compromise the dignity and good standing of Mrs. Stoddard; Roger being Roger, this no doubt would have been his main selling point to the gruff and burly caretaker, whose loyalty toward his long-time employer rivals that of many dog breeds toward their given master. After all, what’s the sense investing story time to humanize a character like Roger Collins when there are only a few weeks at most left to go before he has outlived his usefulness?
Think of how suspiciously Matthew Mach II has already behaved and just in the past twenty-four hours. There’s a hidden yet fatal flaw in Matthew’s character that gets one to question the true nature of his fiercely determined loyalty toward all things Collins and Collinwood. It isn’t in the way he was menacing toward Vicki that time in the basement, when she was only checking on a strange sound she had heard in the night, while he was enforcing the wishes of Mrs. Stoddard by making sure people wouldn’t go snooping around down there; it isn’t even when he ventures down from the hill to intercept Burke over coffee at the Collinsport Inn restaurant warning that he’ll kill him if he doesn’t stop trying to bring trouble to Mrs. Stoddard up at Collinwood – it’s that in the past twenty-four hours, later claiming to have been acting in the best interests of the family by keeping sensational rumors from damaging the reputation and legacy of the Collins name, upon discovering Bill Malloy dead by the foot of Widow’s Hill, rather than notifying the folks in the great house right away, Matthew actually… eased the body back into the water and even watched it float away out of sight, keeping mum about it until finally Mrs. Stoddard confronted him for the truth relating to that alleged dead man both Vicki and Carolyn supposedly saw washed up on the rocks below the cliff the night after Bill Malloy had disappeared.
This is the one instance thus far on Dark Shadows where it’s hard for the viewer to suspend disbelief, to take Matthew’s claims of complete devotion for the Collins family at face value; given how we know that Bill and Elizabeth had been such good friends of long-standing and that we’re supposed to believe Matthew was acting purely out of sincere loyalty, it makes the caretaker’s actions all the more unthinkable. What Matthew did that night below Widow’s Hill would seem more the desperate act of someone attempting to cover up evidence that could possibly lead to the revelation of a dark deed, an action so inconceivable that it may well in fact be a question of murder.
Continue reading “Episode 63: A Question of Murder”
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.
Continue reading “Episode 58: Dead Man’s Holiday”
It almost feels like the supernatural era of Dark Shadows starts right here in episode 50.
Aside from the fact that a man Elizabeth Stoddard has known for twenty-five years is still missing, these late evening scenes in and around the Collinwood estate carry a decidedly ominous tone throughout.
There’s talk of ghosts and tragic family legends, the Wailing Widows, and premonitions of death courtesy of a nine-year-old boy with a crystal ball who seems to know for certain what grim and deathly portents this night will bring forth and for whom.
Lately daytime television’s first gothic serial drama has been branching into mystery and suspense, and here in this episode story creator and developer Art Wallace is reaching back for the supernatural and noirish mid-1940s inspirations of Dark Shadows to bring a kind of otherworldly atmosphere to the current story, enough so that the viewer would possibly be wondering whether Bill Malloy’s disappearance may be the result of darker, more paranormal forces at work.
Episode 50 is about as close to the supernatural as Dark Shadows has gotten thus far without actually crossing over; it will be in one of next week’s episodes when the lines between the physical and spirit worlds really begin to blur.
Continue reading “Episode 50: What The Tide Brought In”
Today the talk of Collinsport is Bill Malloy.
Not that he was particularly popular; matter of fact, most folks just seemed to take him for granted, that is, when he was around.
It’s a seeming disappearance that has everyone talking about a man many around town wouldn’t have otherwise given a second thought to.
Even more than this, there exists in the minds of some the possibility of foul play, causing even friends of long-standing to begin turning against one another.
That’s what happens when you bring Alfred Hitchcock to a town like Collinsport; the smaller the populace, the larger the mystery, the more persistent the questions, the greater the concerns.
Continue reading “Episode 49: The Case of the Vanishing Man: Part 2, Questions and Concerns”
Bill Malloy these days comes across as the man with all the answers; or at the very least appears to know the proper solutions, and the means of applying them, to save the Collins family from ruin in the face of Burke Devlin’s determined vendetta.
Knowledge can be a blessing; freeing you from short-sighted doubt as well as fear of the unknown. Knowledge can also be a curse; setting you apart from others while leaving you torn over sudden and unforeseen divided loyalties.
So what do you do when you’ve learned too much about the very people you rely on the most? If you’re Bill Malloy, you skip out on work for an afternoon and go to the Blue Whale where you can find a nice quiet table to drink things over for a while.
Continue reading “Episode 43: The Man Who Learned Too Much”
“The character of Sam Evans will be played by David Ford.”
Dark Shadows is known mainly as a “vampire soap” to even those with only a passing knowledge or awareness of the original TV series that aired weekday afternoons between 1966 and 1971.
Before rocketing into the public lexicon as television’s first vampire series, there were five gradual transformations that took place without which the “Barnabas era” of Dark Shadows would not have been possible.
The most significant transformation is, of course, the arrival of Barnabas Collins in 1967. The precursor to Barnabas was the phoenix story, featuring a fiery goddess threatening to consume and destroy the lives of all those with whom she comes in contact. The phoenix was the first supernatural monster on Dark Shadows. Before this was the first appearance of a ghost in episode 70, which was preceded in episode 52 by a supernatural occurrence in the Collinwood drawing room where a book was opened as if by the hand of an invisible spirit. The first essential transformation occurs here in episode 35 with the acting department, as David Ford joins the cast in the role of Sam Evans, taking over for Mark Allen who last appeared in episode 22.
Continue reading “Episode 35: A Great Dramatic Reading”
Today Victoria Winters is making her first visit to the Blue Whale, while enjoying her first alcoholic beverage since arriving in Collinsport – even though she’s underage.
The character of Victoria Winters, and the actress who plays her, is barely twenty. Burke Devlin, the man who bought her the drink, is over thirty.
Evidently, the bartender didn’t ask to see the young lady’s ID. In yesterday’s episode, he wouldn’t even shut down a drunk and hollering Joe Haskell.
This won’t be the last time on the show where older men will be plying drinks on young underage girls. In those days, you could get away with that kind of thing. Dark Shadows, during that unsupervised era of daytime television, manages to do just that.
Those were the days!
Continue reading “Episode 34: A Ripple in the Whirlpool”
In the previous episode we found out, through Elizabeth’s decision to protect David despite his having nearly gotten his father killed, what it means to be a Collins of Collinsport.
In this episode we find out, through the ravings of a drunken fisherman, precisely what is wrong with what it means to be a Collins of Collinsport.
Continue reading “Episode 33: She Loves Me, She Loves Me Drunk”
Burke Devlin is one of the more intriguing characters of Dark Shadows beginnings. You never really know if he’s a good guy or a bad guy. He gets on the right side of characters we like, especially Maggie and Sam Evans. On the other hand, despite appearances he seems insensitive with other characters we like, including Carolyn Stoddard, and derives amusement from antagonizing other characters we like, particularly Joe Haskell.
Still, you have to root for the underdog, and in terms of Burke Devlin that means Collinsport Inn vs. Collinwood mansion, Burke’s hotel room vs. the Collins family drawing room.
Episode 24 belongs to Burke Devlin, and is set exclusively on his “home” turf.
Continue reading “Episode 24: Taking Risks”