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April 13, 1967
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- My name is Victoria Winters. There are no limits to the things some men will do. They sink to the bottomless depths of corruption. They will desecrate sacred ground, and violate that which should remain sealed forever.
Jason encounters Willie in the foyer of Collinwood. He tersely asks him about his most recent activities, but Willie plays it cool and acts as if his behavior is perfectly normal. Jason suspects that Willie is planning some new scheme, but Willie brushes him, preferring instead to stare with great interest at a portrait of the bejeweled, aristocratic Barnabas Collins hanging in the foyer.
Jason tells Willie to pack his things and prepare to leave Collinsport. Shortly thereafter, Jason meets with Elizabeth in the Drawing room at Collinwood. He pressures her about a sum of money she had promised him, and Elizabeth angrily passes him a thick envelope. She tells Jason that she wants Willie to leave – tonight! Jason leaves to track Willie down. Meantime, in a storage shed, Willie searches for and packs up several tools.
Later that evening, Willie takes a tool bag and goes to the Collins Family mausoleum. He suspects that the Collins family jewels may be hidden within the mausoleum and is prepared to steal them before leaving town. Back at Collinwood, Victoria enters the drawing room, and she speaks at length with Elizabeth who informs her of Willie's pressing exodus. Elizabeth is surprised to learn that Willie has been looking into the Collins family history, and that he has a particular interest in the portrait beside the doors in the foyer. She tells Victoria about Barnabas Collins and how he was known for his jewelery. Elizabeth finds it strange that a man like Willie would be interested in jewelery found only in a painting. Meanwhile, Willie inspects the inner chamber of the mausoleum and finds three coffins laying side by side.
Willie tries to pry open the coffin of Naomi Collins, but finds that he is unable to. He hears a heartbeat sound coming from behind the wall and backs away in terror. Back at Collinwood, Jason comes downstairs and Elizabeth demands an update on Willie's imminent departure. He tries to placate her, but Elizabeth tells him to take care of Willie at once. Elsewhere, the heartbeat drives Willie almost out of the mausoleum, but once it stops he resumes his grave robbing. Unpacking his tool bag, he takes out a pulley and some rope. He runs the rope through an iron ring hanging from the lion's head relief on the wall behind the coffin. However, rather than opening the coffin of Naomi Collins, the pulley succeeds in tripping a hidden switch, which opens a door into a secret crypt inside the mausoleum.
Willie enters this secret chamber and finds a solitary coffin, wrapped in thick, sturdy chains. Convinced that this is the resting place of the coveted family jewels, he gets to work on prying the chains loose. Meanwhile, Jason enters the main door to the Great House, returning from a fruitless search for Willie. He joins Victoria in the drawing room, but she resists his efforts to cozy up to her and starts to leave. He tries to talk her into staying and in the course of the conversation learns that Victoria saw Willie leaving with what she assumes are his things. Jason starts to point out that Willie's things are still there, and that he wouldn't have left without Elizabeth's payoff, but stops before he says too much. Willie breaks the lock on the third and last chain to the beat of a telltale heart. Elated at the prospects of priceless treasure within his reach Willie begins to gloat fiendishly, and he opens the coffin. A look of terror passes over his face and a cry of anguish is paralyzed in his throat. Stricken with terror, Willie watches in horror as a hand reaches out of the coffin and grabs him by the throat.
- Willie: Honest! I'll swear on a bible!
- Jason: A bible you could swear on will never be written, Willie!
- Willie: What, are you going to get rough with me?
- Jason: (to Willie) As rough as I have to be!
- ← Joan Bennett as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard →
- ← John Karlen as Willie Loomis →
- ← Dennis Patrick as Jason McGuire →
- ← Alexandra Moltke as Victoria Winters →
- ← Timothy Gordon as The hand of Barnabas Collins (uncredited)
Background information and notes
- This is the first appearance of the character of Barnabas Collins. However, Jonathan Frid, the actor who portrays Barnabas throughout the remainder of the series, will not appear until the next episode. His appearance here is merely a cameo, as all we see of him is his left hand, portrayed by Timothy Gordon. A portrait of Barnabas hangs in the foyer at Collinwood; producer Robert Costello posed in costume for a reference photograph, and Frid's face was added to the painting after he was cast.
- When MPI Home Video first released Dark Shadows on VHS in 1989, this was the first episode to be released. However, the first 8 volumes contained edited copies of this episode through episode 270 with only scenes featuring Jonathan Frid. Therefore any episodes in this period which he did not appear were not included. Starting with Volume 9, MPI began releasing tapes with 5 complete episodes per tape (4 on the last tape, #200) beginning with episode 271. In 1995, MPI began a second series of VHS tapes called "The Collectors Series" which started with complete copies of episodes 1 through 5. Starting with tape #42, complete copies of these 60 previously abbreviated (or not released) episodes were now available. The Collectors Series ended with tape #54. Since only 2 episodes remained to be released at the time of the manufacturing of that last tape, to fill out the tape MPI included 3 previously released episodes only this time with their original ABC commercials included.
- When MPI reissued the series on DVD beginning in May 2002, they released them the same way in 4 disc sets with the exception that episodes 210 through 270 were released complete the first time. Collection 26 had only 19 episodes, so discs 3 and 4 of this set contained most of the standalone special VHS tapes that had been released after the series (Best of Barnabas, 25th Anniversary Highlights, etc.) . The 1992 released Blooper VHS was released on DVD as Bloopers and Treasures and any of the standalone not included set 26, were released prior to the DVD release of the series in 1999 on a disc called "Special Edition". Both of these discs as well as 35th Anniversary Reunion of the cast released on VHS in 2002 (DVD in 2003) are included in the coffin shaped mega set. After the release of the 26 sets, MPI rereleased episodes 1 through 209 (with extras to fill in space) in their own 4 disc sets called "Dark Shadows: The Beginning". The original plan (if you watch the coming attractions on Set 26 disc 4, aka disc 128 of the coffin set) was to continue the number sequence of the previous sets (27 through 32). However, after pressing this short but before the street date, someone must have thought if they did that some irate fan would email them asking something to the effect of "WHAT? YOU MEAN I HAVE TO BUY SET 27 TO WATCH EPISODE 1?". Thus these episodes were released as "The Beginning" and given their own number sequence from 1 to 6.
- The secret room inside Collins mausoleum containing Barnabas' coffin appears for the first time.
- The following names and dates are seen on memorial plaques in the Collins mausoleum:
- These will change in later episodes as it will be established that Naomi dies in the year 1796, not 1821. Naomi's birth date of 1761 should also be called into question as that would make her thirty-five years old at the time of her death. Given the age of actress Joan Bennett who plays the part of Naomi in later episodes, this is a very complimentary birth date indeed.
- TIMELINE: 11pm: Elizabeth and Victoria in the drawing room.
Bloopers and continuity errors
- When Willie first enters the crypt and walks around the first corner, we see a tangle of cords in the back corner of the room.
- The shadow of one of the crew members falls across Willie's back while he is arguing with Jason in the foyer of Collinwood.
- A door can be heard slamming and feet shuffling about as Victoria has a conversation with Elizabeth in the drawing room at Collinwood.
- In this episode, Barnabas' trademark black signet ring is shown on his left hand. In later episodes, as well as his portrait at Collinwood, he wears the ring on his right hand.