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

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
 

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THE TONY & CASSANDRA MYSTERIES

THE MYSTERY OF FLIGHT 493 by Alan Flanagan:

“When Tony and Cassandra board a flight bound for home they think that their latest case is behind them, until a terrifying creature begins to murder their fellow passengers. Something is hunting the people on Flight 493, and Tony and Cassandra must deduce what connects it with a story about a little boy who's terrified of what might be under his bed… before it's all far too late...”

COMMENTS: Have you seen the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Cause & Effect”? In it, the Enterprise is caught in a time loop, endlessly repeating the last half hour or so before a fatal collision with another ship throws it back in time and the cycle repeats. As the crew goes through the same series of events over and over, they experience an increasing sense of déjà vu, until they finally realize what is happening to them and they figure a way out of it.

If you’re familiar with “Cause and Effect” then “The Mystery of Flight 493” will hold no surprises for you.

THE TONY & CASSANDRA MYSTERIES

THE MYSTERY OF KARMINA SONATA by Aaron Lamont:

“When Karmina Sonata arrives in their office, Tony and Cassandra think it’s just another case. A séance gone wrong, a few violent deaths... Par for the course, if you specialize in the unusual. But what if this is not just another case? What if something else is going on? And what if, just if, their sins are about to find them out? Because for Tony and Cassandra, things will never be the same again...”

COMMENTS: Karmina Sonata is a fake medium who accidentally unleashes a true supernatural threat during a séance. When the participants in the séance begin dying one by one in grisly ways, Karmina seeks help from Tony & Cassandra. The fake gypsy accent used by the actress who plays Karmina is the same fake gypsy accent Grayson Hall used when she played Magda Rakosi on the TV show. Karmina is supposed to be young and sultry, but every time she speaks I picture Julia Hoffman. The Amy Jennings character has been recast (as an adult), and so have David Collins and Professor Stokes (not to mention Barnabas, come to think of it). If they ever decide to include Julia Hoffman in a story (rather than paying lip service to her being in India or some other exotic locale), Anna-Maria Everett would be a good choice to assay the role.

Those who participated in the séance are being killed apropos their vices based on the “seven Deadly Sins” of Catholic dogma. The clues are there for the audience to pick up on (I didn’t) before Tony and Cassandra figure it out. That’s a “writerly” kind of conceit, but there are enough twists and turns to keep it from becoming formulaic. (For example: there are seven deadly sins, but only four people participated in the séance. What about the other three sins?) Clever quips abound, especially between the two main characters, making this an enjoyable story, and series overall.

SHADOWS OF THE NIGHT: Four tales of horror, romance and intrigue…

Short story collections is the new thing between “seasons.” First up this time is…

TRIO by Nick Myles:

“Carolyn Stoddard and Amy Jennings are the greatest of friends and they would never let a man come between them. But the mysterious pianist Jude is no ordinary man…

Jude is a fascinatingly ugly concert pianist who apparently has the ability to make women fall madly in love with him. It’s definitely a story of the supernatural, but beyond that I’m not sure what the point is.

HONEYMOON FROM HELL by Antoni Pearce:

“Cyrus Longworth and Sabrina Jennings have finally defeated their demons and are now married. But, when on their honeymoon in Germany, they see a man watching them can they be sure that they’ve escaped their past?”

Honestly, I had forgotten that Cyrus and Sabrina were married. I’m not terribly interested in the character of Cyrus, and I like Sabrina only when her character arc is developed alongside [her sister-in-law] Amy’s. Plus, they keep referring to themselves and Cyrus and Sabrina Longworth-Jennings. Shouldn’t that be Jennings-Longworth?

RETREAT by Daniel Hinchliffe:

“Amy Jennings may be on vacation, but when a last day in Paris becomes a hunt for a friend through a long-neglected bookstore, it seems there are some things you can never run away from...”

This one starts out as gothic horror, then switches to modern horror (more Clive Barker than Staphen King I should say). It’s about a man perpetually trapped in a half-man/half-werewolf state due to an unsuccessful attempt at a cure some years ago. He finds out about Amy’s connections to werewolves (her son and her sister-in-law), and kidnaps Roger to enlist her help. She can’t cure her own son, but the creature doesn’t want to be cured, but returned to his full werewolf state. My favorite story of the set.

1:53 AM by Lila Whelan:

“Doctor Robert Harper is visited by his old friend, Carolyn. She needs his help to investigate what appears to be a case of possession in a typical suburban house. But he is about to discover that it’s not only the Collins family who have dark secrets…”

This one comes in second best of the set. It features James Storm (“Mr. Sneary-face” to you, Bob) as Carolyn’s professor. It also takes a stab at tying the four stories together. A man’s daughter is possessed, but Carolyn has reason to believe he may be faking it for reasons of his own.

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