Monday, 6 January 2014

Dark Shadows Episode 30

Greetings, all ye Shadow Babies, to our first visit to Collinsport of 2014. I hope we'll be more frequent visitors than we were in 2013, but I make no promises. I've learned my lesson on that score.

When last we were here we saw Burke of the Chin and Devil Child David forge the beginnings of a friendship, despite David trying to frame Burke and Burke knowing about it. We also saw Caroline make copious insulting remarks about said Devil Child, much to her Mothers chagrin, and Vicky W looked winsome at the window. A lot.

Which, if any of these plot (and I use the word loosely) threads will pick up now, as we enter the all important episode 30? Who can tell? Well, we can, by diving right in.

My name is Victoria Winters. A brewing storm buffets the great house on Widows Hill, and angry spirits out of a dim past seem to pound against it's walls, demanding admission. There is no sound in the house; nothing but the echo of thunder and the whine of the rising wind. Yet the emptiness seems alive; alive with fear and tension that build on a single terrifying fact. I am alone.

A fairly long expository voiceover there from Vicky W, certainly by recent standards. And since it doesn't mention any of the recent Burke/David/Maggie/Awesome developments, and does mention Vicky herself, we can probably assume we're gonna get a change in focus this ep. Lots of Vicky W would be nice, I don't mind admitting.

And sure enough, we seem to be getting a cold open that is just her wandering around the house. Now she's closing a window against the wind. Now she's freaking out because a door closed by itself. And now the lights have gone out and she needs to light some candles. All pretty banal stuff, to be sure.

But what's this?

It's, wait for it... A Dark Shadow! BOOM!
I have no clue what is happening right now. Is this one of the ghosts they've been teasing since the start? If it is, oh my God how cheap does that ghost look?!? If it isn't...fuck knows. It disappears, Vicky W freaks out some more, and we head into the titles. I AM NOW SO STOKED FOR THIS EPISODE!

Aaand, we're back! The lights have come back on, so Vicky W is free to use one of the candlesticks to arm herself as she goes in pursuit of whatever the hell that was we just saw. Cos she aint no cower in the corner type of gal!

She doesn't get far before she bumps into Creepy Roger. Creepy Roger has just got home he says, and had popped down to the basement to replace a fuse, on account of he'd found the lights off. All makes sense, right? Yeah.

Roger and Vicky W head into the sitting room where Roger, because he's been indoors more than 30 seconds without one, pours himself a drink.

Because what else would Roger do?
The question of who or what the strange figure is is quickly forgotten as talk turns to David being missing. 'Spare me the details, Miss Winters' says Roger and 'I've worried about him for 9 years, right now I've got more important matters on my mind.' Just in case we'd forgotten what a terrific Dad he is. When they get to discussing how David tried to break into Burkes room he says 'Now there's a combination. The two people I dislike most in the world.'

I shouldn't laugh, but I just love how open everyone is about despising a nine year old kid. Even if he is a Devil Child, you'd think they'd put a face on it.

Soon enough,Vicky W is blurting out her theory about David being the bad guy, not Burke. Roger acts like he doesn't believe her, that it was deffo Burke wot done did it,  but the look on his face says different.

That little SHIT!
And speaking of Burke of the Chin, here he is, ruminating over what to do with Devil Child David for trying to frame him. I'd just abandon him in the woods and let the storm take care of him, but that's just me.

We get a nice little bonding scene here, with David apparently deciding that Burke is pretty decent after all; the offer to buy him a puppy might have had something to do with that; and David even tries to recover the evidence that he planted; not realising that Burke has already found it. He doesn't get a chance though, and heads off home feeling all guilty and shit.

He's a right old laugh on the car ride home.

That's his worried look
Up at the house, Vicky W is explaining the plot of the last couple of episodes to Roger and it seems he believes her about David trying to kill him. He's being far more reasonable in the face of the evidence than his sister was last time. Whoda thunk he had it in him?

Also, he seems...sad? Like, he's upset that David tried to kill him. I'd have thought he'd be chuffed. Firstly, it means Burke of the Chin isn't actively trying to murder him, which must be a relief, and also it means that he now has the perfect opportunity to get rid of his Devil Child. Win/Win Roger old son! Cheer up!

The sadness doesn't last long though, and pretty soon he's all...

Roger Angry! Roger Smash! Roger Have Another Drink!
Burkes here! Of course Roger wastes no time in berating his newly returned son, right in front of Burke; because say what you will about the Father of the Year, he's very open about his hatred of  Devil Children. After he's dragged David behind closed doors for a leeetle chat Burke hovers around, despite Vicky W's best efforts to make him leave. He wants to know what Roger and David are discussing; ostensibly out of concern for David, but who knows? Cos I mean, this is Burke of the Chin we're talking about here.

And it looks like he'd be right to worry, from the way Roger is brandishing that magazine.

Corporal Punishment FTW
David is, as David does, attempting to talk his way out of all the shit he's in by basically blaming someone else. Namely, Vicky W. She's making it all up, you see. She never found the evidence in his room at all! Roger will never believe him though on account of he hates his fucking guts.

Once Roger makes this point abundantly clear to David, we head out into the foyer where Burke and Vicky W are still diligently standing around looking for all the world like two people standing in a foyer for far longer than two people would ever stand around in a foyer. Burke is looking at the clock. For the lols.

After giving us a history lesson about said clock Burke makes my heart sing by telling Vicky W to turn around and go home. Oh how I've missed people telling Vicky to go home. And emphasises his point by saying...

There's something going on in that room, and if my guess is right, you're loving in a madhouse and you'd better get out of here while you still can.

...which if nothing else makes him a pretty good judge of character.

Back to Roger berating David. He's waving that magazine in the kids face. You know, the one with the instructions on sabotaging cars. Yeah, that one. The one David left in Vicky's room, an act he's now denying any knowledge of. This little shit is determined to blame Vicky W for the crash.

Roger: You have an answer for everything don't you? It doesn't matter who takes the blame for this does it?

Roger knows the score yo!

Giving up on trying to get David to confess alone, Roger opens up the floor to new speakers. Or drags Vicky W in to tell her story again. And wouldn't you know it, as soon as Vicky mentions that she found the evidence while she was looking for the letter David stole from her room...

That's why you're making it up! Because I took your stupid letter!

This kid never gives up! Fucking criminal mastermind! Of course, he then goes into a rant about how he never had the valve. And...

He of the Chin sees all
Yes, Burke has just been chillin in the doorway the whole time, and of course he knows full well that David did have the valve, because the little shit planted it in his room last episode. Will he grass him up though? Oooh, the tension!

Burke: Excuse me!

Roger: I thought I told you to leave?

Burke: I know, but I thought I might be able to help. Is this what you've been looking for?

Oh snap!

Shit gettin real, yo!
And that's the end of the ep. We're left to wonder just how Burke will explain being in possession of the valve, and try as I might I can't think of an explanation that doesn't drop either Vicky W or Devil Child David in the shit. If he turns on my Vicky there'll be hell to pay!

If you want to know, you'll have to come back when I watch it. Or, you know, watch it yourself. If you like. Or do both! Yeah, that's a good idea, I'm glad you thought of it! See you then, Shadow Babies.


  1. Good review.
    I've been re-watching Dark Shadows on DVD, beginning with Dark Shadows: The Beginning. I've noticed a conflict between what I'll call the series's story time vs. its emotional time. One nice thing about watching a series on DVD is that you can watch several dozen episodes (about 22 minutes each) in under a week. The experience differs from watching one or two episodes a day, as was the case when the Dark Shadows was broadcast, most recently on the Sci-Fi Channel in the 1990s. DVDs offer a more compressed viewing experience. Seeing so many episodes at once enables one to see the "bigger dramatic picture" because the story isn't parceled out in little bits. The first 37 episodes pf Dark Shadows cover only the first three days of Victoria Winters's stay in Collinwood. But it feels so much longer for the viewer. Those 37 episodes cover over 7 weeks of broadcast time -- yet so many events are compressed into those 3 days! Day 1: Victoria arrives at Collinwood, the Collins fear the arrival of Burke, Sam warns Victoria, as does Maggie, Carolyn is smitten with Burke. And much else. Day 2: Carolyn brings Burke up to Collinwood, David tampers with Roger's brakes, resulting a Roger's car crash. And much else. But let's focus on ... Day 3: Roger leaves the hospital, the police investigate Burke, Burke travels to Bangor then returns to Collinsport, during which the police have searched his room, the police then learn that David's fingerprints were on the wrench under Burke's fingerprints, David tries to plant false evidence in Burke's room, Burke brings David back to the house, they both lie and claim Roger's car crash was an accident, Victoria has dinner with Burke, making Carolyn jealous, Victoria returns yet again to Collinwood, and late that night, after 1 a.m., Victoria hears a ghost sobbing. And much else. These events consume over 7 weeks in broadcast time -- yet occur over 3 days in story time. Pay attention as each episode segues into the next, from cliffhanger to cliffhanger. No days in between. Three days. I suppose one can say that it's a bit over 3 days, because it's 1 a.m. by episode 36. Yet the morning of Day 4 doesn't start till episode 38, so I consider the first 37 episodes the first 3 days. Continued...

  2. ...What's the aesthetic effect? A disconnect between what I'll call the story time and emotional time The story time as experienced by the characters is 3 days, yet the emotional time corresponds to the broadcast time as experienced by the viewer. For instance, the characters undergo significant emotional shifts over those 37 episodes, as a person might over 7 weeks -- rather than as a person might over 3 days. Victoria decides to leave, then stay, then leave, then stay, several times. Carolyn refers to Victoria as a longtime family member by the end of Day 3. On the morning of Day 4, Carolyn says to Victoria, "Since you're one of us now..." These would be odd statements to make after only 3 days of knowing someone. Yet it feels right to viewers. They've been watching these characters for over 7 weeks, so it feels like these characters have known each other for 7 weeks. That's the disconnect between the story time and broadcast/emotional time. The characters behave -- and the viewers emotionally respond -- to however long viewers have watched the characters, not to however long the characters have lived in their fictitious world. In Danse Macabre, Stephen King remarked on a curious feature of soap opera time. I don't have the book before me, but King referred to soap opera's "mysterious growing kid phenomenon." (His exact term may differ.) A woman on a soap has a baby. Within six months of broadcast time, the baby is a young child. In another year, the child is a teenager. No explanation is given. The characters all take it in stride. Dark Shadows likewise pretends that its broadcast time corresponds to the characters' story time. Four years into the show, characters refer to events as happening four years ago. Yet if one were to observe closely, I wonder ... does the show's entire five years of events occur over only about 3 and a half months? (1250 episodes / 37) * 3 = 101 days of story time. Yes, parts of Dark Shadows's story occurs in other time periods. But that would only shorten the story time. For instance, as I recall, Victoria disappears during a seance, then reappears soon thereafter. Several months of broadcast time in 1795 reduced to a few seconds of story time in 1967. So perhaps all the events at Collinwood occurred in only a couple of very busy months.

  3. I bet it turns out that it wasn't David, but he was possesed by the ghost of aunt Amalia Collins or something like that.