I’d like to start this continuation of the Dark Shadows discussion from the old board with a look at some of the new and upcoming Dark Shadows audio stories from Big Finish Productions. There aren’t nearly as many Dark Shadows audio adventures as there are Doctor Who ones, but the Doctor Who series has been around longer. The Dark Shadows audios are a mixed bag. The first release was a full-cast sequel titled “Return to Collinwood”. Later they began to release a series of interconnected sequential stories grouped in short “seasons”. More recently they’ve been going back to the timeline of the original television show and telling interstitial one-shots. As the Dark Shadows series seems to be catching on, Big Finish seems to be ramping up their production schedule. “Curse of the Pharaoh” was released in September, and the next four are set for monthly release beginning in January at a special subscription rate.

CURSE OF THE PHARAOH:

“Curse of the Pharaoh” stars Nancy Barrett (reprising her role as Carolyn Stoddard) and Marie Wallace (perhaps best known as “Eve” on the TV show) in a new role, famed Egyptologist Dr. Gretchen Warwick. The story doesn’t specify, but I assume it takes place shortly after the end of the series original TV series, circa 1970 or so. Both actresses are kind of rusty and sound as old as they are, not as young as they (Caroline, anyway) are supposed to be. Barrett was always a better actress than Wallace, and that remains true. Wallace’s shortcomings are spotlighted in this “dramatic reading” in which she plays other bit parts, most of the male (Bob the bartender at The Blue Whale, Eliot Stokes on the telephone, Carolyn’s father in flashback), which she performs in a gruff kind of storybook voice as if reading aloud to a child. The story itself is a sequel to the unpopular “Leviathan” television storyline. If you’ve never heard a Dark Shadows audio and thinking of trying one out, there are better ones to start with than this.

KEY: OB = Old Board; UR = Un-Reviewed

Return to Collinwood - 169

SEASON ONE:
S1.1 The House of Despair - 1
S1.2 The Book of Temptation - OB
S1.3 The Christmas Presence - OB
S1.4 The Rage Beneath - 7

SEASON TWO: Kingdom of the Dead - 7

DRAMATIC READINGS:

1. Angelique’s Descent-Pt. 1 - OB
2. Angelique’s Descent-Pt. 2 - OB
3. Clothes of Sand - OB
4. The Ghost Walker - OB
5. The Skin Walkers - OB
6. The Path of Fate - OB
7. The Wicked & the Dead - OB
8. Echoes of Insanity - OB
9. Curse of the Pharaoh - 1
10. Final Judgment - 1
11. Blood Dance - 1
12. The Night Whispers - 1
13. London’s Burning - 2
14. The Doll House - 30
15. The Blind Painter - 87
16. The Death Mask - 88
17. The Creeping Fog - 89
18. The Carrion Queen - 89
19. The Poisoned Soul - 96
20. The Lost Girl - 96
21. The Crimson Pearl - 114
22. The Voodoo Amulet - 129
23. The House by the Sea - 170
24. Dress Me in Dark Dreams - 154
25. The Eternal Actress - 162
26. The Fall of House Trask - 163
27. Operation: Victor - 166
28. Speak No Evil - 166
29. The Last Stop - 166
30. Dreaming of the Water - 167
31. The Haunted Refrain - 167
32. A Collinwood Christmas - 167
33. The Phantom Bride - 167
34. Beneath the Veil - 167
35. The Enemy Within - 167
36. The Lucifer Gambit - 167
37. The Flip Side - 167
38. Beyond the Grave - 168
39. Curtain Call - 168
40. The Harvest of Souls - 170
41. The Happier Dead - 168
42. The Carriage Damned - 168
43. The Devil Cat - 168
44. The Darkest Shadow - 173

SEASON THREE: Bloodlust - 170-172, 181

45. Panic - 173
46. The Curse of Shurafa - 173
47. In the Twinkling of an Eye - 173
48. Deliver Us from Evil - 173
49. Tainted Love - 173
50. ...And Red All Over - 175

Echoes of the Past - 176

Blood & Fire - 176

Haunting Memories - 177

Phantom Melodies - 178

Dreams of Long Ago - 178

THE TONY & CASSANDRA MYSTERIES:
The Mystery at Crucifix Heights - 179
The Mystery of La Danse Macabre - 179
The Mystery of Flight 493 - 180
The Mystery of Karmina Sonata - 180

SHADOWS OF THE NIGHT:
Trio - 180
Honeymoon from Hell - 180
Retreat -180
1:53 AM - 180

MAGGIE & QUENTIN - THE LOVERS' REFRAIN:
The Girl Beneath the Water - 180
The Sand That Speaks HIs Name - 180
The Hollow Winds That Beckon
The Paper to the Flame
  

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After reading the following review online, I picked up a copy of Dan Ross’s adaptation of House of Dark Shadows on eBay.

“Just as the film HODS takes place in a world separate from that depicted on the TV series, the novel isn't related to any of the other Ross books. By the end of the novelization, pretty much the whole Colilns clan, plus Julia and Prof. Stokes, have all been wiped out by a very nasty version of Barnabas. It's one of the best novels in the series, because it stands alone and tells an interesting story that involves lots of characters that fans know and love. Ross captures the tone of the movie in a way he doesn't quite capture the tone of the TV show in the other books. It also includes several pages of black-and-white movie stills.”

I ended up paying about three times as much as I normally would have (had there been a “buy it now” option at that price I never would have paid that much), but I got caught up in the bidding and “won” the auction. (What an odd verb. I can’t think of a better one, though. Can you?) Only 18½ more to read before I get to it!

SIGH.

I wasn't able to see House of Dark Shadows when it was in theatres but I did buy the book when it appeared on the newstand and really enjoyed it. I was quite disappointed when I then read some of the other entries in the series.

After re-watching the episodes I refer to as “Intro to Barnabas-streamlined” (#212, 214, 218 & 220) we’ve gone on to rewatch other key episodes, such as Vicki’s first full day at Collinwood (#5-20), Jason McGuire’s first day (#195-196) and Willie Loomis’s (#197-203).

One of my favorite episodes is #60, in which Victoria Winters discovers a portrait painted by Sam Evans of Betty Hanscombe, who both Vicki and I believe to be her mother.

NOTE: That episode also reveals the name of the man Roger Collins killed in his drunk driving hit-and-run (for which Burke Devlin went to prison) 10 years earlier: Hanson.

After I found that canvas portrait of Barnabas Collins online a few weeks ago (which we still haven’t had framed, BTW), Tracy found this one while searching for a similar portrait of Josette.

BETTY HANSCOMBE PORTRAIT:

BARNABAS COLLINS AND QUENTIN’S DEMON - #14 in a series

“In 1895, Quentin Collins is so haunted by the recording of a waltz that he seeks out its composer. A romance ensues between Quentin and Lara Balfour, the composer's daughter. She is attracted to the young man but becomes frightened when she learns that his first wife was brutally murdered and the killer was never found.”

COMMENTARY: I have been waiting for this one: the first Ross book to feature Quentin Collins. On TV, Quentin (originally his ghost) was associated with "Shadows of the Night" (a.k.a. “Quentin’s Theme”) which actually charted (#13 of billboard’s “Hot 100”) in 1968. In an obvious nod to the television show, the heroine of this paperback is the daughter of the composer of (what I presume to be) that piece of music. Quentin had corresponded with the composer for years and, upon his death, transferred his attention to the composer’s daughter. Quentin’s wife had her throat ripped out by some sort of wild beast two years prior to the opening of the book, and Quentin’s brother Conrad raises an odd breed of vicious dogs.

Midway through the book, the character who will prove to be the heroine’s true love interest, is introduced. He is Michael Green, who is actually employed by the Pinkerton Agency and is investigating Quentin. Is it a werewolf or is it Conrad’s dogs? If it is a werewold, is it Quentin or his witchy great aunt Erica? Barnabas and Green use Lara as bait. To no one’s great surprise (not mine, anyway), [SPOILER] Quentin Collins is a werewolf, but Conrad and his dog Caesar are responsible for the murders (four total). Quentin’s fate is uncertain. Leaving him free to be used again.

SIMILARITIES: As with Paula Jennings (#9) and Diana Hastings (#12), Lara Balfour eventually finds herself in an extremely dangerous situation and, at Barnabas’ insistence, stays in it when it comes to a head when Barnabas is in his coffin during the day. Michael Green, the obvious true love interest, is introduced halfway through.

COLLINS FAMILY TREE: On TV, Quentin Collins was the brother of Edward (Louis Edmonds) and Judith (Joan Bennett) and Carl (John Karlen), and his wife was the mad Jenny. The TV story was in 1897, and the book’s in 1895. But in the book questin’s brother is Conrad and his (deceased) wife is Mary. He also has a great aunt named Erica, whose servant is Catherine Edmonds. I suppose the casual fan might mistake the books setting and characters for the TV shows’ (and the very casual fan might mistake Barnabas). I wonder if any non-fans of the TV show read the books…? I wonder how many of the books a typical fan might read…?

In this book, Barnabas’ servant is “Benson.”

CASTING SHADOWS: Benson: Robert Guillaume

BARNABAS COLLINS AND THE GYPSY WITCH - #15 in a series

“Carolyn and Maggie find a cameo engraved ‘From Barnabas to Roxanna, 1895.’ When they press Elizabeth for details about Roxanna Collins, she tells them the story of the young woman, yet another, wooed by Barnabas Collins. Following a warning from a Gypsy witch, Roxanna became involved with Barnabas who ended up the main suspect in the murder of her father and brother.”

COMMENTARY: In the present (the book was releases March 1970 and takes place in October), Elizabeth asks Carolyn and Maggie to clean out a room for the new cook she has hired. They find a cameo belonging to Roxanna Collins, and that triggers a flashback.

The story proper opens in New York City in 1895, and the heroine, Roxanna, already has amnesia. Barnabas saves her from a gang of thugs and takes her back to his boarding house, where she meets his friend Molly Perkins and his servant Hare. As Roxanna’s memory begins to return, they are both surprised to learn that each is a distant relative to the Collins family at Collinwood, currently headed by Theodore Collins. Roxanna’s father is Andrew, he has lumber interests, and they live elsewhere on or near the Collins’ estate.

There has been a falling out between Andrew and Theodore because Theodore felt his share of the lumber business should have been larger. Andrew is twice widowed. Roxanna is the daughter of his first wife, and she has two younger half-siblings, Ariel and Robert. Andrew’s lawyer, Artemis Hoag, sent Roxanna to stay with the widow of a friend of her father’s, Sybil Markham, with the intention of broadening her horizons. Mrs. Markham is living with a man named William Oakes who she describes as her ”brother.” Markham and Oakes terrorize her by keeping her prisoner with the intention of selling her (prostitution? Slavery?) to South America. In order to escape, Roxanna set fire to the drapes and escaped in the confusion. Markham and Oakes were supposedly killed in the blaze.

All of this is antecedent action. As she begins to recuperate, Barnabas takes her a play (where Roxanna apparently sees Sybil Makham in the audience), then to Rector’s (the site of the first revolving door in New York City) for dinner. After that, Barnabas makes elaborate travel plans for them to travel to Collinwood without her becoming wise that he’s a vampire travelling in a coffin. Once there, Roxanna is reunited with Reid Sterling, a suitor who’s a bit of an arsehole.

Gypsies are passing through. Roxanna visits their camp and if given a prophecy of violence and death, which begins to come true almost immediately. First, the portrait of her mother is slashed; then her father is murdered; then her brother is murdered. There are multiple suspects, as usual, chief among them Barnabas. Robert’s body is found at the bottom of Widow’s Hill with a button from Barnabas’ coat clutched tightly in his hand. Barnabas contends he snagged it in the Sterlings’ general store, that it rolled under a shelf and he was unable to retrieve it.

I never read the mystery or romance genres to any great extent, but I understand that they can be formulaic. I think I’ve mentioned that, in preparation for these posts, I take the most notes while reading the first and last chapters. The first chapter introduces the characters and conflict, the last chapter resolves it, and the middle chapter strings you along. Here’s the resolution of this one, two pages from the end, in which Barnabas explains what he has learned.

“‘Sybil Makham is really the second wife of Andrew Collins who was supposed to have died in Europe. She didn’t die, but ran off with the adventurer William Oakes. That was why Andrew returned an embittered man, he kept the secret down through the years. But there had been an affair between Sybil Makham and Hoag while she lived here in Collinsport as Andrew’s wife. Later she got in touch with him from New York. And it was through her the plan was devised to have Roxanna got to New York and vanish.’

“Roxanna asked, ‘But why?’

“Because you stood in the way of Ariel and Robert inheriting Andrew’s full fortune,’ Barnabas said. ‘When the scheme to do away with you in New York failed, Sybil and Hoag hit on another scheme. She came here disguised as the Gypsy Bianca. Getting Andrew out of the way and blaming it on me was their first step. But Robert saw through the masquerade and was going to tell the police. So Hoag murdered him to keep him quiet and Sybil approved even though he was here son. Their next move was to murder Roxanna and have me blamed for all the crimes. Then Ariel would inherit the fortune though innocent of complicity in the plot. Hoag and Sybil were sure they could make her bow to their will. And Hoag would have control of the fortune. He planned to move to New York and live there in luxury with Sybil. Luckily the plot failed!’”

With those revelations, all of the niggling little inconsistencies are smoothed out. At that point, the story jumps back to the framing sequence in the present day and that's the end.

COLLINS FAMILY TREE: Way back in the very first episode of the Dark Shadows TV series, Elizabeth identified one of the portraits on the wall as that of Theodore Collins. I have always accepted that the son of the Quentin Collins of 1840 (on TV), “Tad,” and Theodore were one and the same, but given the haphazard nature of Dan “Marilyn” Ross’s paperback series, I don’t see his character being named Theodore as anything more than a coincidence.

TIMELINE: A strict interpretation of the date (“75 years ago”) places the action in 1895, which is when #14 took place (in mid-May). If I’m going to continue to pretend there’s a consistent timeline, it couldn’t have taken place sooner because Quentin was the head of the household between 1893 and 1895 at least (unless it was prior to that). Also, we’re encroaching on the 1897 era of the TV show. In any case, in the Marilyn Ross universe, Collinwood much change hands among heads of household a lot!

SIMILARITIES: In #7, Clare Duncan has a “pre-adventure” on her way to Collinwood; in #12, Hastings has one one; in this one, the “pre-adventure” is antecedent actions.

I get the feeling that New York City of the past is of particular interest to the author, both in this one and 1916 NYC in #3.

Gypsies play a part in this one as well as the 1897 storyline on TV.

In this one as well as several others set in the past (take my word for it), the heroine at some point gets it into her head that Barnabas will make an exception and see her during the day, but it never works out.

I'm waiting for them to get to Throckmorton P. Collins.

I just saw Willard Waterman, the second guy to play Throckmorton P Gildersleeve, in an episode of The Dick van Dyke Show about 25 minutes ago.

Neat.

PowerBook Pete, the Mad Mod said:

I just saw Willard Waterman, the second guy to play Throckmorton P Gildersleeve, in an episode of The Dick van Dyke Show about 25 minutes ago.

BARNABAS, QUENTIN AND THE MUMMY’S CURSE - #16 in a series

“Professor Anthony Collins brings his collection of Egyptian relics to Collinwood, including the mummy of King Rehotip, who died more than 2,000 years earlier. When a young woman is found murdered, Maggie suspects that the mummy has been brought back to life. Professor Collins threatens her into silence and she fearfully waits for the murderer to strike again.”

CHAPTER ONE: This one begins specifically in early December 1969. Anthony Collins is a professor of Egyptology and a cousin to Roger and Elizabeth. Elizabeth is away on vacation to the West Indies with Carolyn and Amy. Barnabas is said to be returning. Professor Collins and company will be staying in a red brick house with white trim, yet another building on the estate in the Marilyn Ross universe. Professor Collins’ secretary is 25 years old; Jack Radcliffe and his wife Emma are his servants; in addition, he has hired Bessie Miles from Collinsport to be his maid; Professor James Martin, a colleague, will be joining them shortly. Before the chapter is over, Herb Price, another colleague, joins the professor, but it’s pretty obvious from his description that he is really Quentin Collins. This is the first paperback to feature Quentin in the present day. I’m eager to learn how this one compares to the one on TV. Maggie seems to know him.

OTHER CHARACTERS: Mrs. Stamer is the housekeeper at Collinwood; Hare is once again Barnabas’ mute servant.

COLLINS FAMILY TREE: A “Josiah” Collins, whose portrait hangs above the fireplace, is mentioned as the founder of the Collins dynasty. (In both the TV show and previous paperbacks, it is Jeremiah’s picture above the ,antle and Isaac is the founder of the town.)

I wanna see Tintin and the Widows' Hill.

I’m not going to go through each of the remaining books chapter by chapter, but I’m trying to make my posts shorter. Last night I happened to read just one chapter.

CHAPTER TWO: Snow has been falling all morning. Last night, David and Maggie both heard the howl f a wild animal. With Amy on vacation, Elizabeth has given David a month off from his schoolwork, so Maggie is left with little to do. Professor Collins asks Roger to recommend a local girl to hire as an additional assistant and he suggests Maggie. She walks over to the house where the professor is staying for an interview and meets his secretary, Harriet Fennel. Harriet is in her mid-twenties and apparently has a crush on Herb Price (Quentin?).

The house has been filled with boxes from the professor’s Egyptian excavation, and he needs someone to take notes as he inspects the contents and dictates. He puts Maggie to work immediately and they work all day, until 6:00P. The professor suggests that, due to the long and unusual hours they will be working, Maggie should move into the red brick house for as long as she will be assisting him. She agrees, but is not ready to move in quite yet; she will need to spend the night at Collinwood and will return in the morning with a suitcase.

It has been snowing all day while she and the professor have been working in the basement, and it is still snowing now. Herb Price offers to walk back with her to Collinwood. The going is pretty tough; they can’t see more than a few feet in front of them, and Maggie in uncertain where, exactly, they are. Suddenly, Price becomes ill and must return to the brick house. Maggie suggests that they both press on to Collinwood since they are likely to be closer to it by this point, but he says he has medicine back at the other place. He runs off into to woods, and shortly thereafter she hears the howling of a wolf.

She presses on in what she hopes is the right direction, when suddenly a form looms before her. It is Barnabas Collins!

CONCLUSION: King Rehotip was a follower of Osiris and decided to fake his own death, then be “brought back to life” through the “power of his god.” His physician concocted a potion to put him into a death-like coma, and an antidote. The usual mummification procedure would be faked, and the antidote was handed over to his brother to revive him in a couple of days. But his brother and the physician were in league against him, and simply entombed him. As an added touch, the brother buried the antidote with him.

Somehow, Professor Anthony Collins became aware of this and sent all of his assistants to Boston on some pretext, leaving only Maggie Evans to assist him. The mummy comes to life and attacks them both before shambling out into the snowstorm. The professor is convinced the cold will kill the mummy and convinces Maggie not to call the police. Anthony and Barnabas do not get along. Barnabas suspects Herb Price of being Quentin Collins, and of being a werewolf.

Maggie is attacked by a poisonous insect from inside the sarcophagus being thrown into her bed. When Bessie Miles, the maid, is found killed, evidence points to either a mummy or a vampire or a werewolf. Before long there are two more deaths and again, both times, the evidence could go either way. [SPOILER] It turns out that, although there is actually a mummy, the real culprit is Professor Anthony Collins, and the “bite marks” found on the necks of the victims were from a poisoned scarab ornament.

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