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

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

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HAUNTING MEMORIES - Continuing…

“THE GHOST SHIP” - written by Lara Parker; read by Lara Parker

“The Warlock Nicholas Blair has transformed the witch Angelique into a vampire to serve him. Her love for Barnabas Collins, though, will never die…”

I’m not certain where this falls in continuity. I think it embellishes some “behind the scenes” action during one of the TV storylines set in the present day. Barnabas is a vampire, Angelique is a ghost. She forms an alliance with the Wailing Widows (of Widows’ Hill), then is later resurrected as a vampire by Nicholas Blair. Lara Parker changes her voice quite convincingly when reading the part of one of the widows. Het Nicholas Blair impression is less convincing, but effective (that is to say, she doesn’t sound like Humberto Allan Ramos, but the listener can tell when she’s speaking Blair’s lines).

One would think that the emotion most commonly associated with the Widows would be grief, but it turns out it’s love. (?) Because their husbands and sons were lost at sea, they have an extraordinary amount of unused love… which they keep stored in jars. (!?) (Even Angelique remarks that that doesn’t make any sense.) Angelique agrees to cast a spell using this leftover to bring back their loved ones on a ghost ship if the Widows will, in turn, cast a love spell on Barnabas.

The plan backfires when the sailors return as skeletons. When the Widows tire of being held in bony arms, the love spell affecting Barnabas dissipates. Parker has a haunting prose style (especially, in this story, in the passages describing the ship), but the story is otherwise so ludicrous it’s hard to take seriously.

CONTINUED…

Reality was shifting long before the time traveling started. Julius Hoffman got turned into a woman before he even got to Collinwood.

HAUNTING MEMORIES - Concluding.

“A FACE FROM THE PAST” - written by Kay Stonham; read by Marie Walace

“Elizabeth Collins Stoddard is returning to her home town of Collinsport. But on the train, she is stunned to see the young man who was once the love of her life. Could he also have returned to the town that once tore them apart?”

The story is set in 1986. Returning to Collinsport after a lengthy stay in Paris, Elizabeth sees a young man who is a dead ringer for her lover from 40 years ago, Victor, her father’s chauffer. Following the man, Patrick, to his real estate office, she is mildly surprised to discover his latest listing is the caretaker’s cottage on the Collinwood estate. She knew David had spoken of selling it, but at one time it was to have been her wedding cottage, hers and Victor’s.

So intrigued is she by Patrick, she allows him to show the property to her. Drawn in by his likeness to Victor, she begins telling Patrick of her love affair. Then, inexplicably (or at least unclearly), Patrick becomes possessed by Victor. Back in the ‘40s, before she met and married Paul Stoddard, Elizabeth had become pregnant by Victor. (I knew it!) Elizabeth’s father, Jameson, gave her the option of putting the baby up for adoption, then marrying Victor. Odd; one might think he would have offered one or the other. Sure enough, he was lying. Not only did Jameson break up the relationship between his chauffer and his daughter, he didn’t even let Victor know she was pregnant.

Elizabeth also mentions another man, Ned, she met between Victor and Paul. I have no idea what that’s about. Overall, this story was pretty pointless.

Are they marked by time period on the tape or box so that, say, fans of the present day Collinwood won't get tapes set when Barnabas was alive by accident?

These short story collections are sometnhing new; they're kind of a grab bag.

The audiobooks are a kind of mixed bag; they may be sequels to stories, or set behind the scenes of the show. Some of them are spin-offs, such as the series featuring Tony Peterson and Angelique, or the ones that trace Quentin's movements between 1897 and 1968.

The ones I like best, though, are the ones that expand the story beyond where the TV stories left off.

Just go to the Big Finish website and click around; you're bound to find something that appeals to you.

PHANTOM MELODIES - Four tales of horror, romance and intrigue…

“Last Orders at the Blue Whale” by Rob Morris; performed by Matthew Waterhouse

“Thrown out of Collinwood, petty criminal Harry Johnson is waiting to catch the next train out of town but a rash decision in the bar of the Blue Whale will unwittingly lead him into a battle for his very soul.”

Although the central character is the unfortunately-named son of the Collins family housekeeper, it is narrated by no one in particular (no specific character, I mean). I listened to this one on my way to work this morning and was quite impressed by the actor’s vocal skills. Although I seemed to recognize his voice, I just couldn’t place it. He did different voices for several characters, not only all distinctive, but also close to the actors who played those characters on television. (He did a particularly good Louis Edmonds.) I was a bit surprised when I checked the credits to find it was Matthew Waterhouse!

Harry has stepped over the line and has been thrown out of Collinwood. He stops by the Blue Whale on his way out of town where he meets a grizzled old sailor named Mordecai. The sailor is not what he appears, however, and (as happens) cheats Harry out of his soul. D’oh! In life, Mordecai was a shady character. The only way for him to postpone losing his soul is to find another shady soul, one each year, to offer in his place. He initially sets his sights on Roger’s (due to framing Burke Devlin for manslaughter), but when that proves untenable, he turns toward Carolyn (who has done some shady things in her past as well). Mordecai’s demon master finds Caroline’s soul unpalatable for reasons I’m not quite sure of*, and the demon claims Mordecai at last.

*The reason given was that Caroline’s soul had already “crossed over” (meaning that she died), but I’m not sure what that’s a reference to. Barnabas had to travel to the past a time or two to save the Collins family, but one would think those “deaths” occurred in an alternate timeline and been rewritten.

PHANTOM MELODIES - “The Scarlet Bride” by Ian Atkins; performed by Andrew Collins

“Agnes is getting married but what should be the happiest time of her life is being spoiled by strange dreams of a scratching at her bedroom window. She dreams of a mysterious man trying to break into her room… A man who stares at her as she dreams…”

Andrew Collins is Big Finish’s “new” Barnabas Collins, but the story he’s reading is set in 1973 and concerns the Jonathan Frid Barnabas. As the story opens, Barnabas is in a cabin aboard a ship, reading a bundle of letters given to him by Julia Hoffman. The main story is bookended by scenes of him reading these letters.

SPOILERS: Agnes’ fiancé’s family is a coven of witches. They have captured Barnabas and have been using Agnes as a pure vessel through which they are draining the vampire’s essence into themselves, thereby extending their lives. Julia and Agnes form a partnership to free Barnabas and defeat the witches. However, doing so turns the witches to dust, depriving Barnabas his opportunity to feed. In his maddened state, he attacks Agnes and drains her of blood. Julia is aghast, and the two have a falling out. Barnabas resolves to confide his secret to Professor Stokes and enlist his aid in finding a cure. Stokes is in Cairo, Egypt, and Barnabas passes the time aboard the ship, and tortures himself, by reading these letters.

END SPOILERS: This story is very well-written, using lots of interesting turns of phrase throughout. Like many stories in these short story sets, it seems to set up follow-up stories for later on.

PHANTOM MELODIES - “On the Line” by Ian Farrington; performed by Nancy Barrett

“Carolyn Stoddard is embracing her new life at university but a mysterious telephone call is about to change everything…”

This one is pretty good. Nancy Barrett gets to play two characters, both Carolyn Stoddard, but from two different points in her life: a 27 year old in 1973 and a 71 year old in 2017. Her future self uses a spell to enable her to call her past self on the telephone. The older Carolyn tries to convince her younger self that she must break off her friendship with Amy Jennings in order to avoid future calamity. But first she must convince her that she is who she says she is. But can her future self be trusted? As Carolyn-the-younger begins to follow Carolyn-the-elder’s advice, the timeline begins to change and the phone calls become more difficult to establish and maintain.

Nancy Barrett does a convincing job of playing the character both old and young.

PHANTOM MELODIES - “In a Broken Dream” by Penelope Faith; performed by Stephanie Ellyne

“In an attempt to distance herself from her past, Amy Jennings is visiting Elizabeth Stoddard and Roger Collins in Paris but, mysteriously, they are not there. Will her life ever be free from the unexplained?”

Amy goes to Paris. Can’t find Roger and Elizabeth. Goes sightseeing. Meets a Frenchman who runs a little curiosity shop. He owns a little brass figurine identical to one Amy owns, which she had thought was unique. The two begin to date. Amy has dreams of Roger, Elizabeth and both her dead brothers (Chris and Tom), all of whom warn her to beware the Frenchman.

……….

I finished listening to this one last week but I forgot to post. It seems to be setting something up, but really goes nowhere. It’s a story with a beginning and a middle but no end.

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