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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DARK SHADOWS - #1 in a series

“Victoria Winters arrives at Collins House (called Collinwood in later volumes) to serve as governess to young David Collins. Visiting the house is Ernest Collins, who is grieving for his wife. [Elizabeth and Roger's cousin Ernest was not a character on the TV show.] In no time, Victoria finds herself falling in love with Ernest, though she is the focus of a number of mysterious attacks and wonders just how Ernest became a widower.”

COMMENTARY: The last time I read through these books I was deep into a re-watch of the series itself. I tried desperately (and unsuccessfully) to integrate the paperbacks and the television show into the same continuity but it just doesn’t work. The Dan “Marilyn” Ross universe is its own thing.

There are a few minor differences between the books and the tv show. As mentioned above, the mansion is at first called “Collins House” rather than “Collinwood”; it was built in 1830, not 1795; Maggie Evans appears in only one scene (near the beginning), as does Burke Devlin (near the end). Victoria has two love interests. One is Will Grant, a young lawyer who works for the firm representing the Collins’ family interest. The other is Ernest Collins, a cousin who lives on the estate when not touring the country as a concert violinist.

Ernest has a somewhat troubled past. He used to live in California until his wife, Elaine, who he loved very much, was killed in a car accident. After that, he came to live on another house on the estate. After a year or so, he moved to a set of apartments within a closed off portion of Collins House itself. (These apartments will play a role in future stories as well.) After several months, Ernest became friendly with an artist named Stella who was renting another house on the Collins estate at the time. Stella died under mysterious circumstance: she either jumped or was pushed off Widows’ Hill.

Evidence (all circumstantial), points to Ernest, and it is rumored in town that he killed her. Strange things begin to happen around the estate, and Vicki sees what she believes to be a ghost, but whether it’s Elaine’s or Stella’s she does not know. A little digging reveals that another lady friend of Ernest’s was attacked (with a chain across the face) was attacked in California just before he moved back to Maine. Having read this story before, I knew what was really going on, but there are a lot of suspects (Matthew Morgan, Roger Collins, et al) and there are a lot of red herrings as well, but the mystery holds together quite well.

COLLINS FAMILY TREE: Isaac Collins is the town’s founder. Jeremiah is Elizabeth and Roger’s great grandfather. Jeremiah’s French wife, Josette, fell, jumped or was pushed to her death from atop Widows’ Hill. All of this jibes, more or less, with the history of the Collins family on television, but it will become more convoluted, IIRC, as the series progresses.

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