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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Passed out on the floor of the Blue Whale?

He fainted from shock when he discovered that the jukebox had acquired a third song.

Roger picked up the tab?

Sometimes (not always, but sometimes) I’ll post a reaction to an audio I haven’t quite finished listening to yet. That was the case last week when I posted, “There’s not much suspense in the plot, however, as the main action takes place in flashback,” in reference to “Old Acquaintance.” In point of fact, the threat from the past does resurface in the present (due to Carolyn reciting the spells), but I stand by my assessment that Waterhouse uses too much verse. I’m about halfway through “Devil’s Rock,” but this time I think I’ll wait until I’m through listening before I post.

DREAMS OF LONG AGO: “Devil’s Rock” by Kate Webster

“Barnabas Collins and Willie Loomis are beginning a journey. A journey that they hope will lead them to their old friend, Julia Hoffman. But, on this night, they are about to discover that Collinsport isn’t the only town in Maine to have a dark, terrible secret.”

This story features the “current” versions of Barnabas and Willie, that is to say, Barnabas played by Andrew Collins and Willie whose girlfriend works at the Blue Whale. IIRC, Barnabas had been called home from India by Quentin, leaving Julia there. Now he and Willie are on their way back to join her. The main point of this story is to explore Barnabas and Willie’s relationship. Is it friendship? Can it ever be friendship? It is read first person by Andrew Collins as Barnabas. The voice he does for Willie is discernibly different from his own, but it sounds more like JKohn Oliver than John Karlen. “Devil’s Rock” is easily the best of the three Dreams of Long Ago I have heard so far.

DREAMS OF LONG AGO: “Cobwebs” by Aaron Lamont

“Something is very wrong at Windcliff Sanitarium. Sebastian Shaw wakes from a nightmare, alone. There are no doctors... no nurses... just a tiny little spider weaving its web on his wall. And outside, in the hospital corridors, the Burned Man is calling for him again.”

The lunatic ravings of a madman. This one is a follow-up to a previous Sebastian-at-Windcliff story in which he is befriended by a spider. Not much happens in this one until the end when it is revealed that 1) ethically questionable experiments are being conducted on him, and 2) the “spider” is really Angelique. I suppose the third part of the trilogy will be Agelique using Sebastian as a tool in her next scheme.

THE TONY & CASSANDRA MYSTERIES

“She’s a witch. He’s a private detective. And when they get together, it’s magic…”

After five individual stories within the main Dark Shadows range (“The Death Mask,” “The Voodoo Amulet,” “The Last Stop,” “The Phantom Bride,” and “The Devil Cat”), Tony Peterson and Angelique Bouchard (a.k.a. “Cassandra Collins”) have now been granted their own box set of four adventures.

THE MYSTERY AT CRUCIFIX HEIGHTS by Philip Meeks

“When private investigator Tony Peterson goes undercover to Chicago with his no-nonsense secretary Rita Channing, he has no idea the formidable witch Cassandra Collins is about to make a suitably dramatic entrance back into his life.

“At a rambling mansion called Crucifix Heights and cut off by a ferocious snowstorm Tony and Cassandra have been hired by separate clients to attend an auction of deadly arcane objects and artefacts.

“The pair at first struggle to reconcile their differences but then people around them start dying horribly, one by one. They have to try to work together, because the killer at large is ingenious and seemingly unstoppable. Everyone stranded at Crucifix Heights is in peril. Including themselves.”

COMMENTS: Prior to the opening of the story, Tony and Cassandra have dissolved their partnership. Throughout the course of the adventure, we learn why. By the end, they have resolved their differences and are working as a team again. It’s a rededication of the partnership and a new beginning. In my opinion, the best Dark Shadows stories are the ones which a) take place in Collinsport and b) involve members of the Collins family. This is neither. I would nevertheless recommend it to anyone who enjoys the interplay between these two characters. Oyther than the character bits, the story is a fairly formulaic Agatha Christie-style whodunit.

Jeff, what was that movie we watched called again?

The one by Dan Curtis? It was the pilot of a prime time gothic horror about a trio of paranormal investigators. The television show would have been Dead of Night, but the title of the pilot episode was "A Darkness at Blaisdon."

Ah, OK.  

THE TONY & CASSANDRA MYSTERIES

THE MYSTERY OF LA DANSE MACABRE by Zara Symes:

“Tony and Cassandra knew when they took their first case together that there would be a few bumps in the road but when the supernatural detective duo arrive at Busby Hall in downtown Boston, a dilapidated music hall that's rumored to be haunted, they'll find that there's more danger afoot than just things that go bump in the night.

“Battling against curses, bargains with the dark side, and more than one attempt on their lives, will Tony and Cassandra be able to overcome their differences and work as a team? Or will this be their last waltz?”

COMMENTS: Tony & Cassandra accept a job to determine whether or not a music hall a brother and sister have inherited is haunted. Tony quickly discovers that the brother has faked evidence of the supernatural in order to convince his sister to sell… but that doesn’t mean the hall is not haunted.

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