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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Episode 212, the first full blown appearance of Barnabas Collins, is the culmination of the slow build since his portrait was first shown in 205. In 210, his hand appears at the very end. Episode 211 is still a tease as it begins with the hand, but then no Barnabas until Mrs. Johnson lets him into Collinwood at the end. Speaking of which, I don't recall the show ever making a point of that particular part of vampire lore, that they must be invited in. Mirrors, crosses, sunlight... yes, but I don't recall the "invitation" thing. In any case, I wouldn't think that applies to Collinwood, either the old house or the new.

It actually hasn't been just too long since I last watched the particular set of episode you're about to watch... just last year. Tracy didn't watch them with me, though, and I'm always up to watch them again. I don't know how closely you're paying attention to the writing credits, but at this point the show has two main writers: Ron Sproat and Malcolm Marmorstein. They alternate one or two episodes at a time, but Sproat's "specialty" seems to be the blackmail plot and Marmorstein's the vampire. 

When I watched these last year, I picked four episodes which I consider to be the "Intro to Barnabas" episodes, specifically: 212, 214, 218 and 220. If I were ever to give someone a crash course to Dark Shadows (with an emphasis on Barnabas), these are the episodes I would choose. [I do NOT recommend (only) these episodes to you; I'm just making a point.] I do want to advise you to pay close attention to 214 when you get to it; it is a particular favorite of mine.

I also have something to say about 221 [right] before you get to it.

"I think it's safe to say that this is where the show changes forever."

Where it changes forever for the first time; they still haven't introduced time travel

One thing I want to circle back to before the vampire plot takes over: Jeff, you said to take note of how quickly Jason's demand for $1000 for Willy drops down to $500 -- which he still hasn't given Willy yet. Is there a further point you wanted to make about that, and are you waiting for another shoe to drop before you say what it is? Or is it merely an illustration of how quickly Jason will set his sights lower when it comes to Willy's benefit--anything to get him out of his hair?

That's interesting that they never made a big deal out of Barnabas having to be invited places, considering it seemed like a "moment" to me when Mrs. J invited him in.  I guess I was just expecting it, and built it up in my head. 

I'm very excited to see what happens next with Willy...my suspicion is that he's just gone from being Jason's accomplice to being Barnabas's Renfield. We might get some nice divided-loyalty stuff out of him. 

And I'll keep an eye out for the writers! 

"Is there a further point you wanted to make about that,...?"

No, not really. I just wanted to point it out. You may remember an earlier scene, I forget the episode, but I think it was before Willie appeared and Jason was talking to him on the phone. Jason had overheard part of a conversation, thought it was about calling in the cops. and was ready to cut an run... without playing his trump card.

I like your thinking (regarding Willie in particular) but, as usual, I can neither confirm nor deny. I can now comment on one of your previous guesses... the one about Barnabas perhaps being in the locked room. That turned out to be incorrect, but it was a damned good guess! What follows is a mild spoiler for the 1897 storyline. You won't get to it for a while yet, and it occurs so early in the arc the revelations doesn't really "spoil" much, but if you would rather avoid it entirely, stop reading now.

Still here? All right. In 1897, Edith Collins, the matriarch of the Collins family is on her deathbed. She is waiting for Edward, her eldest son, to return home. She is agitated because she has not yet told him "the family secret," passed down from generation to generation. Meanwhile, a time-travelling Barnabas has arrives at Collinwood and pull the old "cousin visiting from England" routine. Edith agrees to see him and, as soon as he is ushered into her bedroom, she blurts out, "You! You're the secret!" So your guess was right... just not yet

I saw episodes 213 and 214 yesterday. Episode 213 is pretty standard -- Elizabeth & Jason sparring over WIllie, and the coldness between Carolyn and Burke thawing a little (with some help from Joe). And finally, Carolyn ALMOST learns what's going on between her mom and Jason, but she can't even eavesdrop properly! Give them a couple minutes to shout at each other before bursting into the room!

But 214 -- that's a really nicely written episode. Barnabas shares vivid memories of the Old House, and meets Roger and Carolyn. Vicki has suspicious about him, but they sound silly & trivial when she says them out loud. "He's just European," says Carolyn...an excuse that's given cover to the odd behavior of vampires for ages! (Or is Barnabas the first to benefit from that trope?) 

Episode 214, as I have already foreshadowed, is one of my all-time favorite episodes.

This sequence of episodes you're in the midst of watching is a good example of the formula soap operas use to introduce new characters. first one character (or set of characters) will meet him; in the next episode, one of those characters will tell another; in the next, that/those characters will meet him. When handled well (as it is here, I think), it can be an effective form of storytelling. 

I agree -- that "rolling introduction" can work really well if it's not too repetitive -- it gives a reason to go over the basic info again, but freshens it up with new characters in the mix.  I think they're doing a great job with Barnabas.

Tracy and I watched 215 last night. It is very much a "sequel" to 207 (or really more of a "follow-up"). I hadn't thought there was another episode (other than 207) that took place entirely at one location, but here's another (again at the Blue Whale). 

Just watched it, too, and I really liked it -- particularly the scene where Burke confronts Willie, crowding him at the bar, and gradually realizing there's something wrong with him. 

Joe's story about the calf suffers a little from Walking Dead syndrome -- there's all the signs of a vampire blood draining, but the idea never comes up, even fancifully. Like in Walking Dead, a world without zombie fiction, it's possible Dark Shadows has no vampire fiction. Or maybe people will bring up Dracula later in the run. Either way, it was a cool story -- you could tell Joe was shaken.

Watched episode 216, too -- Willie coming back to Collinwood to apologize and leave, and then collapsing in front of Barnabas's portrait. Looks like he'll be staying for a while after all.

"Walking Dead syndrome..."

Or Buffy the Vampire Slayer syndrome. Vampire lore enters the series only as the writers feel like utilizing it. there'll be some characters later on who... no, never mind. You'll get there soon enough.

"Willie coming back to Collinwood..."

John Karlen has this thing he does with his face in which his cheeks shake when he's under extreme duress. He did it when he first opened the coffin and saw what was inside, and he did it again in this episode. Some of his mannerisms are pretty over-the-top melodramatic (clutching his head with his hands when he discovers the secret room, shielding his eyes as he walks in front of the  portrait), but hepulls them off and makes them work.

Here's something I want to draw your attention to. When Jason removes Willie's jacket, he notices two fang marks on his wrist. Back in the '60s, the writers didn't even want to suggest that one man bit another man on the neck. (Of course, they didn't have any problem the episode before suggesting that Barnabas bit a calf.) 

When I found out Willie was bitten on the wrist, I figured it was for exactly that reason.

I've seen up through episode 218 now. Barnabas wants to live in the Old House...and Roger is his biggest booster! Plus Jason tracks Willie back to the cemetery, and he finally meets Barnabas. We're starting to see the seeds of suspicion grow...!

"...and Roger is his biggest booster!"

Yes, and Roger is such a shrewd judge of character!

"Barnabas wants to live in the Old House..."

They are taking their time doling out the vampire story at this point: episodes 210... 214... 218. I doubt it was yet apparent how popular Barnabas would become, but the phrase "Always leave them wanting more" comes to mind. 

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