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 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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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 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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Episode 54: They Float Bodies, Don’t They?

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“Good eve – uh, good afternoon ladies and gentlemen… No, that isn’t it either. Good afternoon ladies and shut-ins.”

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“From yesterday afternoon’s half-hour, we found out something rather shocking about the Collins family’s gem of a caretaker. Personally, from what I’ve been able to observe thus far, being the caretaker of Collinwood is more akin to being a zookeeper. Half the people living there think of the big house as a sort of cage anyway, and with certain members of the household there is the greatest difficulty in keeping their behavior and drives in check. As with wild animals, tensions exist which are liable to flare up at any moment.”

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“However, today’s television playlet concerns itself with the motivations of the caretaker himself, who, when a friend of the family has drowned and washes ashore on the great estate, sees nothing wrong in giving him a push back into the water so that said friend may wash ashore somewhere else, or perhaps not at all.”

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“Given Matthew the caretaker’s casual admission of such an act, even when questioned by the police, today’s play is called “They Float Bodies, Don’t They?”. Because that’s what a caretaker at Collinwood does; trim the hedges, carry the firewood, and float bodies that have washed ashore back out to sea where they can hopefully never be found. Now, if only someone could do that with my dreaded sponsors, I would never again have to suffer through another commercial break. In the meantime, I shall consult with the production crew and see if Matthew the caretaker is available for immediate employment. Until then, another sponsor with yet another commercial message is just about to wash ashore.”

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Episode 52: Something Uninvited

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Today Dark Shadows crosses over to the supernatural. In so doing, a new chapter in the story of Victoria Winters is presented; more about this below, in the main body of the post.

 

Dark Shadows fans have wondered why the original story of Victoria Winters, as outlined in the series bible Shadows on the Wall by story creator and developer Art Wallace, was dropped. It wasn’t; rather, it was revised.

 

Episode 60, also written by Wallace, strongly hints for the family background of Victoria Winters a maternal rather than paternal link to Collinwood, which is implied further in episode 127.

 

For now, today’s episode provides the first ever Dark Shadows mashup:

 

Alfred Hitchcock Presents + The Uninvited = Dark Shadows episode 52

 

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Episode 51: The Mind Plays Tricks

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David had warned Vicki and Carolyn what they would find if they ventured back out to Widow’s Hill that night: death.

 

With David’s favorite new hobby being crystal ball gazing, his penchant as a misfortune teller is proving disturbingly accurate.

 

Running back to Collinwood in a fit of hysterics, Vicki and Carolyn are certain of what they saw: a dead man at the bottom of the cliff.

 

Accompanied by caretaker Matthew Morgan, Mrs. Stoddard eventually journeys out to the edge of Widow’s Hill and at first isn’t sure of what she sees along the rocks below.

 

Before long Vicki and Carolyn can no longer be certain of what they saw.

 

As the mystery surrounding Bill Malloy’s disappearance deepens, the only thing one can be certain of at this point on Dark Shadows is that there’s really nothing one can be certain of.

 

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Episode 50: What The Tide Brought In

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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.

 

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Episode 49: The Case of the Vanishing Man: Part 2, Questions and Concerns

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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.

 

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