24 August, 2009

Why Dark Shadows is the coolest show ever.

You know, I know I keep reiterating this but I really am limited in the things I can do without my own computer. Normally, at some point during the long, boring stretch between me waking up and me going to work, I can open up my DAW and work on a project or two. Normally. This past week and a half has not been normal. I've had to resort to finding other things to occupy my time and, as stated, none of things involve some of the whacked-out porn that I normally watch when I'm bored to my wit's end.
Do you have any idea how much time I've been spending at This Is Why You're Fat? For Christ's sake, I'm even thinking about reading Fail Blog again. Fail Blog. [shiver]
But one bright shining beacon along the New England coast has guided me to the ephemeral gothic shore. That beacon: Dark Shadows.
Wait a minute. Can't we get a more appropriate font?

Thank you.
For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it originally aired in summer 1966 as a daytime soap... with fucking ghosts and shit. After six months of "Was that a ghost?"-style script writing, the writers upped the ante and introduced classically trained, Canadian-born Jonathon Frid as Barnabas Collins. Barnabas Collins was a cold motherfucker. You know how some guys are just cool? Fuck that. Barnabas took that shit and dropped it down another twenty degrees, thus establishing and securing his place as straight up "cold". You know why? Because he was a fucking vampire, B.
Where other soap operas were content to have coma patients snap out of it to find out that their significant other was schtupping their evil twin, Dark Shadows said, "Fuck that noise," and brought out werewolves.
Silver bullet full moon ass fucking werewolves.
And the werewolves? Yeah, they fought vampires.
Possible captions include:
  1. Seriously.
  2. This fight has appropriately little to do with comas, evil twins, or affairs.
  3. You know your mom used to watch this shit, right? Like all the time.
You choose.
The show also included time travel, parallel dimensions, zombies, family jewels, and a fish cannery. But the real fun came in the production: The first two hundred ninety four episodes were in a crisp, high-quality black and white, stock photos of creepy mansions and sound stages instead of location shooting were employed, the opening theme was composed exclusively for theremin and harp, and the scripting and shooting happened so frenetically scheduled that it resulted in the actors occasionally flubbing their lines to horrible effect.
Consider when Joan Bennett (as Elizabeth Stoddard) flubbed the name "Matthew": "Mike-Mark-a-Matthew." Seriously. That made it to air. That's why I love this show, because I can totally picture the script meeting.
Writer 1: "OK, we're taking this to stage in two hours and we're down a cliff hanger for tomorrow's episode -"
Writer 2: "What's tomorrow's episode?"
Writer 1: "Don't know yet. Look, don't worry about it. We need to take care of today's episode first, alright? Now who's got ideas?"
Writer 3: "They don't have swamps in Maine, do they?"
Writer 2: "Jesus, Frank."
Writer 1: "No. Why?"
Writer 3: "Well, I was thinking, maybe we could bring in like a Creature From the Black Lagoon type monster."
Writer 1: "So, like a water monster."
Writer 3: "Yeah."
Writer 2: "I don't know, it's not bad but I don't know if it's going to fit."
Writer 1: "Well, it's the only idea I'm hearing."
Writer 3: "I mean, I get that there's no swamps in Maine so what if we 'New Englanded' it up a little?"
Writer 2: "How so?"
Writer 3: "Well, Lovecraft had sea creatures and his shit's completely New England."
Writer 1: "He's right."
Writer 2: "We're going to get sued."
Writer 1: "I'm sorry, have you not been here for the eight hundred eighty three other episodes we've done? Look, just write up a two minute cliff hanger and if legal can't clear that Cthulhu shit, we'll write tomorrow's episode like we never mentioned it, but right now we need a cliff hanger -"
Writer 2: "Don, how the hell are we going to 'back out' of Lovecraftian fucking sea creatures!? You can't just back out of that shit!"
Writer 1: "Like I just asked: Have you not been here for the eight hundred eighty three other episodes? Fuck! If I'm not mistaken, you're the guy that pushed for the goddamned werewolf."
Writer 3: "Episode six thirty eight."
Writer 2: "Thanks, Frank, like I fucking forgot."
Writer 3: "Just sayin'."
Writer 2: "Look, a werewolf is part of folklore. Folklore. There's no copyright on folklore. However, Lovecraft has an estate and I'm pretty sure that if they catch us fucking around with their family heirloom that we're going to catch hell for -"
Writer 1: "Did I say I wasn't going to talk to legal on this? Did I say I wasn't going to get clearance?
Writer 2: "Look, it's not that -"
Writer 1: "No, I didn't say those things. In fact, I recall explicitly stating the goddamned opposite. What did you hear, Frank?"
Writer 3: "Look, how about we calm down? Let's just put some shadows in at the tail end, we play a gurgling sound effect, and we kill off a local we don't need."
Writer 2: "We burnt through all our 'nondescript locals', last season. We can't do one of our primary characters because we've reincarnated them each about six times now. How about a second stringer?"
Writer 1: "I can live with that."
Writer 3: "Camera zooms in on a terrified face, cut to end credits right before the scream and we can all go home for dinner."
Writer 1: "OK, you guys whip something up and I'm going to call over to legal to see what we have to do to make this work for tomorrow's episode."
And thus episode 885, "Leviathans" was born. This show was awesome precisely because of how slapdash that it was thrown together, like how some of the best punk records were made.
And now, just to cap things off so I can fold my laundry and move on with the rest of the day, may I present to you a little clip I found that I like to call "How A Vampire Takes Five Minutes To Say 'I'm Going To Fucking Kill You The Minute You Leave This Bar'".
Stay classy, Barnabas.
You can watch the first ten episodes of Dark Shadows at Veoh.
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