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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Awesome! I'm so excited to get there!

I watched a bit of episode 65 while I was cooking breakfast this morning. It looks like it's a great one for flubs. Mitchell Ryan has already fumbled a few of his lines, and at one point Joan Bennett is so flustered that she calls him Roger instead of Burke. And there's one point where the camera anticipates Burke moving across the room, but he just points instead... so the camera swivels right, then quickly back to Burke... and THEN he crosses the room.

One of the things I really love about the show is that it feels like it was MADE, by writers and actors and directors and camerapeople -- not that it's real, and we're just watching. People are expending effort to put on a show for us. It's a nice feeling.

As planned, my wife and I watched Haunting of Collinwood this weekend, splitting it up over two nights. The three hour show provides a good overview of Dark Shadows for anyone looking for a relatively quick sample of series continuity. At the end of three hours you will either be searching for more or screaming for a different series to follow.

We are not planning to watch the other compilation, DS: The Vampires Curse, since we have already seen the individual episodes from that storyline. For a DS novice however, Curse may be a better place to start since it provides a lot of back story including how Barnabas became a vampire.  In Haunting the main players are Quentin, David, Amy, Maggie and Mrs Stoddard. Barnabas plays only a very minor role in this storyline.

Near as I can tell, after reviewing an episode guide, Haunting draws on material from some 40 daily episodes eliminating all but the material pertinent to the Quentin’s ghost plot. With such heavy editing comes a few continuity blips such as housekeeper Mrs Johnson suddenly being in the middle of the action having not been seen previously. If you can overlook the continuity hic ups and are willing to fill in the blanks here and there, a viewer shouldn’t have any problem figuring out what is happening.

Got up to episode 69 last night. Burke and Roger have gone round the mulberry bush about who killed Molloy (and who was driving that night 10 years ago) another time....but finally, there's some forward movement! Burke has arranged to put a spy in the house of Collins -- Mrs. Johnson, Bill Molloy's housekeeper (who was obviously pining for him in much the same way Molloy himself was pining for Elizabeth. So much repression in this town!). Carolyn has decided to get her placed in Collinwood, and I've no doubt it'll happen. It's a juicy development.

One more thing that occurred to me: Burke can't remember who was driving the car, and assumes it was Roger -- but what if it were Laura driving the car? Then, suddenly, Roger goes from being a scheming conniver who saved his own skin to being a scheming conniver who saved Laura..which would explain the change in her affections toward him, but the ultimate dissolution of their marriage over arguments about Burke (according to David, but I believe him on this). That's my theory, and I think it's pretty solid.

Another scene I really loved: Sam questioning Maggie on when she remembered him leaving home the night Molloy died, and her not being sure... until she knew it was needed to establish an alibi. Then, when the sheriff was asking, she was certain and defiant, obviously lying about how sure she was. And Sam would have none of it: He walked back the alibi, contradicting Maggie and telling the sheriff that he wasn't sure when he left, but it was about 10:30. A great moment.

Followed by a funny one: After this exchange, the sheriff looks at his watch and says he has to get back to his job. You're questioning witnesses in a murder case! What part of that is keeping you from your job?

Anyway, this is still a blast.

"One of the things I really love about the show is that it feels like it was MADE"

The shows were taped, but they were all but live in that it was very expensive (in those days) to stop tape and later edit. There were no "blooper reels" for actors to stop if they got a case of the giggles; they had to suppress their laughter and continue on with the scene. Plus, the cameras were needed for the local newscast shortly after ftaping was scheduled to wrap. Only the most catastrophic of flubs wold result in stopping the camera.

doc and I aren;t too far apart in our relative assessments of those two DS compilations. I'll have more to say about The Vampire Curse when Rob gets to that point. 

Jon Pertwee used to tell the women who played his companions that if they really wanted to re-do a scene, they should swear, because that was the only thing that would get them a re-shoot.

"Awesome! I'm so excited to get there!"

"Got up to episode 69 last night."

Okay, very next one.

Another great moment in no-retakes. A few episodes ago, the sheriff was questioning Mrs. Johnson at the police station, and she starts to cry. He goes to get her a cone of water from the cooler, and then comes back emptyhanded and says, "I'm sorry, I thought we had more water cups but we're all out." There's no way that was scripted. It's wonderful.

Just watched episode 70, and what the hell? Ghosts aren't real. That's it, I'm out. I thought Dark Shadows was all about vehicular homicide, but this is a bridge too far.

Nah, just kidding: Aw yeah, Josette! 

I loved how they introduced her, superimposed over her portrait, linking the ghost with the person so there's no doubt who it is. And then the eerie image of her dancing among the columns of the Old House. I love it!

I'd love to know of any contemporary accounts of audience reaction to this. I know it was positive, but are there any letters, any reviews? This is cool.

OK, I've now seen up to episode 73 of Do You Want a Cup of Coffee? -- I mean, Dark Shadows. The wheels of justice grind slowly, as all three suspects, one by one, come to visit the sheriff to find out about the coroner's report. Which eventually reveals itself to be a dud -- it's ruled an accidental death. (I doubt that will last.) 

The show's doing  some exterior shots around town -- but only shooting with the camera, and piping  in some music and sound effects later. No one seems to talk outside. 

And Carolyn REALLY doesn't know what she wants -- one minute she's sure Bill was murdered, the next she's sure it was an accident. One minute she's old friends with Vicki (we're now on Day 8!) and the next she's mad at her for trying to steal Burke Devlin away... whom she can't decide whether she's attracted to or reviles as an enemy of the Collins family. She does so many 180s, she should be a professional skateboarder.

"Just watched episode 70, and what the hell?"

Up until now, Dark Shadows had been very Gothic, with howling winds, slamming doors and mysterious sobs. But as I mentioned, ratings were tanking and the show was in real danger of cancellation, so Dan Curtis decided to pull out all the stops by introducing an actual ghost. #70 was a Friday episode, and I imagine it generated quite a bit of word of mouth publicity over the weekend. (I don't know if you've noticed, but each week has its own arc, with Monday's episode being something of a recap and Friday's ending on a cliffhanger.) Ratings began a distinct upward trend, and the course of the show's future was set.

In order to ride that wave, a new, supernatural, arc (which ran #123-191) was inserted at the conclusion of the "Bill Malloy" arc. No spoilers here, but what should have been the next arc (according the the series' bible) was delayed until #193-275. (Some of the arcs overlap. The "Burke Devil" arc, for example, runs #1-201.)

Also introduced in #70 is the Old House, an important set used throughout the rest of the series. I have been picking and choosing individual episodes to re-watch along with your project, and #70 was one of them. While not exactly "standalone" (being part of a long form story), the episodes I choose are "key." The most recent I watched before this was #60, in which Victoria finds the portrait of Betty Hanscomb. I have some more in mind which I will point out as you get to them.

"The show's doing some exterior shots around town..."

Before production began, Dan Curtis took cast and crew to Newport, Rhode Island (Collinwood and The Blue Whale), Tarrytown, New York (Collinwood stables & garage and the Old House) and Essex, Connecticut (Collinsport Inn, police station, main street, waterfront, cannery, Evans' cottage, etc). Shots of various cast members were shot walking to and from these locations with no specific plans for how they would be used. The Spratt Mansion on the Lyndhurst Estate (the Old House) was discovered by accident. They filmed some exterior shots, anyway, and eventually worked them into #70.

By that time, they were running out and had to go back to film more, including the scenes of Josette (played by Kathryn Leigh Scott, BTW) haunting the Old House, which burned to the ground in 1969. The scenes were shot in color, but most of theme were used only in the b&w episodes. By the time the show switched to color, the establishing shots were phased out. the only stills which made it to the color episodes were of Collinwood, the Evans' cottage and The Blue Whale.

Oh, I did notice in #70 that dialogue was inserted over David leading Vicki to the Old House for the first time.

Only got one episode, episode 74, in yesterday. But it was a fun one, as Carolyn storms into Burke's hotel room all jealous that he's having a secret meeting with Victoria...only to discover he's been talking with David. 

And it looks like Burke's silver pen is finally coming into play. Roger last had it... but must have lost it somewhere. Perhaps during the time he's desperately trying to give himself an alibi for? Wonder where it'll be found?

Episode 75. So weird to see sourpuss Roger happy. So glad it won't last.

Vicki found the pen!

Carolyn: "Some days I hate this room... some days I love it!" Sweetie, you can't make up your mind about ANYTHING. You were just telling Vicki what a huge threat Burke would be, and then 10 minutes later when you're on the phone with Joe, you completely dismiss him. It's almost like you're merely a pretty exposition machine without a thought in your head.

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