2021 Classic Literature On Film Blogathon – Ebb Tide (1937, James P. Hogan)

The Ebb Tide (1894) is a novella written by Robert Louis Stevenson and his step-son Lloyd Osbourne. It’s set in the Pacific islands and follows an upper-class dropout called Herrick and his two wastrel companions who are living on the beach in poverty. They take charge of a stricken plague ship with the intention of stealing it and selling its cargo, only to find themselves trapped on a mysterious island ruled over by a religious fanatic. It’s a critique of capitalism, slavery, and christianity. Stevenson died shortly after publication. Osbourne was still alive when the movie went into production.

SynopsisThe Novel

Herrick, an Oxford educated underachiever now ekes out a living in the South Seas. Having given up on life Herrick drifts from port to port in the company of two other unfortunates. Davis, a disgraced sea captain responsible for the ruin of his last ship, and Huish, a criminal and a drunk. Having washed up in a Tahitian port they are penniless and hungry. A schooner carrying a valuable cargo of Champagne arrives in port. Most of the crew have died from smallpox and nobody else will take over captaincy. Davis gets the captain’s job and the trio hatch a plot to sell the cargo and vessel in South America. Once at sea Davis and Huish start drinking the champagne leaving non-seafarer Herrick in charge. Davis is too drunk to pilot the ship during a storm and the ship is badly damaged. Davis sobers up, but their plans to profit from the ship’s cargo are foiled when Huish discovers only the top bottles in every crate contain champagne. Davis realises the ship’s previous owner was planning to sink the ship and claim the insurance money.  

Drifting, they spot a small island and sail towards it. The island is owned by an extremely tall and powerfully build Englishman called Attwater. Smallpox has decimated the Native population leaving only Attwater and a handful of Natives. Attwater makes his living diving for pearls and has amassed a fortune. He is also a deeply religious man and expects the same devotion from others. Attwater is quite open with the visitors and strikes up a bond with Herrick. Davis and Huish want to kill Attwater and steal his pearls. Attwater seems aware of their intentions and quickly gets the truth out of Herrick. Attwater’s religiosity has a cruel streak and Herrick is terrified. At dinner Attwater tells a story about killing a thief who framed an innocent man for his crimes and caused his suicide. Herrick brands Attwater a murderer. Finally plucking up the courage to kill himself Herrick tries to drown himself but fails. Huish’s attempt to murder Attwater by throwing acid on him backfires when Attwater shoots the jar containing the vitriol setting his attacker alight. Davis begs for mercy and is forgiven by Attwater who demands he repents his sins. Davis undergoes a religious awakening and becomes Attwater’s acolyte. Herrick’s existential crisis has deepened after his experiences on the island and he decides to leave. 

Ebb Tide – The Movie

Ebb Tide (1937) is an early Technicolor film by Paramount Studios starring a young Ray Milland as Herrick, Oskar Homolka as Davis (here renamed Therbecke), and Frances Farmer as a new character Faith Wishart. Irish actor Barry Fitzgerald murders the cockney dialect as the vicious little criminal Huish. Lloyd Nolan plays the sinister Attwater. Bertram Millhauser adapted the novel into a screenplay and journeyman director James P. Hogan directs The film follows the essential narrative of Stevenson and Osbourne’s novel but makes a few changes that alter the overall tone of the piece. There’s not a lot of information about the film and the lack of availability now suggests it was not a success back in the day. For years it was difficult to find until a copy was uploaded to YouTube a couple of years ago. As you can tell from the screen-grabs it’s in dire need of restoration. Overall it feels like a second feature designed to try out potential stars. Paramount advertising from 1937 showcased Frances Farmer over Ray Milland calling her the new star of the season which is ironic as there is barely any female presence in the novel.


Screenwriter Millhauser has a difficult job adapting this novel. Unlike Treasure Island there’s not much action, and while Stevenson and Osbourne can go into depth about Herrick’s emotional state it’s a lot harder to show onscreen without using voice-over. Film can use montage though to convey information quickly through a series of images and Hogan establishes the idyllic nature of the island for those rich enough to enjoy it and its status as a French colony. This contrasts with the fortunes of Herrick and co who are first seen watching a fancy couple eating a slap up meal on the verandah of a restaurant. They are “on the beach.” A phrase meaning persona non grata, destitute, and living off the scraps they can find.

The early part of the novel has a lengthy sequence in which the trio reveal more about themselves including their real identities which up until now they have kept secret from each other. In the film this moment is whittled down to them each sharing something they’d like to do if they were back at home. Their choices are abridged versions of longer stories told in the novel. Herrick telling of a dream where he walked through he streets of London and found himself facing the door of the woman he loved, Therbecke returning home to his family with gifts, and seeing his daughter Ada again, Huish wanting something to drink. The big revelation though is Therbecke revealing he’s the disgraced Captain of the Sea Ranger, a ship which went down with all souls onboard save for his. Huish has heard the name and as soon as it’s uttered the heavens open and rain thunders down upon them as if the natural world is turning against them.

Their way of the island arrives in the form of a schooner flying a yellow flag, a maritime signal for a medical emergency onboard. The French are presented as comic caricatures with the doctor pratfalling into a rowing boat, and the governor gesticulating wildly and talking in an exaggerated Clouseau accent when he discovers a plague ship has dared to enter his waters. In the novel Davis is brave enough to offer assistance to the island’s doctor who must board her and finds the bodies of the Captain and his mate who have been ravaged by smallpox. Here Therbecke stays ashore and tries to cadge breakfast from a ship, but in an exchange taken directly from the novel the ship’s Scottish captain send them packing. “I’ve heard tales of you three.” In the novel Herrick is so upset by this encounter he leaves the others and makes a half-hearted attempt at slashing his wrists. Ray Milland is cast as a more conventional Hollywood hero, offering to teach the captain some manners even though they are clearly in the wrong. Therbecke is taken away by the authorities after the incident and Herrick and Huish both assume he’s under arrest, but he returns with food and beer and a commission to captain the Golden State to deliver its cargo, once it’s been fumigated.


Once they are safely at sea Therbecke makes plans to re-direct the Golden State towards Peru where they can sell the cargo. Herrick is against the idea but goes along with it when he hears the true story of the Sea Ranger. Therbecke was incapacitated by drink when the Ranger went down and he it to blame for the deaths of passengers and crew. With no papers he can never captain a ship again. For him there is only another beach to live off, wherever he ends up. Then comes the wild card, the addition of Frances Farmer as Captian Wishart’s daughter.

A new addition from the book, Faith Wishart has been hidden onboard by the crew who remain loyal to her. Herrick’s internal monologue in the novel is often directed towards Emma, or rather the version he’s created of her in his own mind. “Be done with the poor ghost that pretended he was a man.” Here Faith functions as his conscience, as well as becoming a conventional Hollywood love interest. The type the Herrick of the novel, a timid sort whose defining characteristic is a physical and emotional weakness would never encounter. There are hints about Herrick’s upper-class background mentioned in the film, notably Huish confronting him and asking what a man like him could have done to end up here, but this is never answered. The novel opens by telling us Herrick abandoned his position as a clerk in New York and headed for the Pacific Islands because it seemed like the best place to destroy himself completely. “Let it be a pleasant failure.”

The rest of the ill fated sea journey follows the novel. Huish begins to sample the cargo and tempts Therbecke to fall off the wagon. There’s a nice touch when Therbecke forcibly takes a bottle from the drunken Huish and slams it down on a table, only for the champagne to bubble up and pour over the captain’s hand. It’s not long before he’s joining Huish in drunken singalongs and worse still he’s got an accordion from somewhere. The storm when it hits is beautifully rendered by old-school Hollywood set-design and stunt-work as the full-sized model ship is battered by waves of water. Afterwards Therbecke sobers up and reveals the truth about his family. They’re all dead, even little Ada. The discovery of the mysterious island, spotted by a lookout, but not mentioned on any map. There is one change. Huish discovers a large jar of vitriol, an explosive liquid akin to acid which Wishart was going to use to sink the ship. In the novel the thuggish Huish has carries a small jar of this in his belongings.


In the novel they observe the island from onboard the ship. Attwater, a tall impressive figure of a man over 6’5″ in height and wearing a white suit rows out to meet them. He’s polite and asks them all to dinner, but really he’s sizing them up. Herrick he recognises as being an educated man and invites him to meet him on the island before for a chat. Stevenson’s stories often feature a strong bond between protagonist and antagonist that makes them more than mere adversaries. Spiritually lost, Herrick is drawn to Attwater’s charisma and listens intently as he’s shown the island. Gradually though Attwater’s religiosity begins to unsettle Herrick with its intensity. Despite their shared background and their status as exiles, they are very different. Herrick believes in nothing not even himself, while there is no doubt present in Attwater. Like many of his class Attwater believes he was born to rule, and like the Old Testament God he worships he would offer forgiveness as easily as he could strike somebody down.

In the film there are a few differences that alter the tone of the story from its source. Firstly the presence of Faith Wishart means Herrick has somebody to care about and protect. There is only a brief conversation between Herrick and Attwater and the latter’s Christianity is played down with only a mention of “infinite grace” making sound more overtly crazy than in the book. Attwater’s appearance is more devilish, dressed in black with a warlock’s beard, he looks like a bad guy right from the start. The dinner party which functions as a war of wits between the host and his guests is taken almost word for word from the novel including the anecdote about killing one of the natives, but while Herrick reacts with the same outrage he does not try to drown himself afterwards. Huish’s attempt to murder Attwater does indeed end with him being burnt alive by liquid hellfire and is surprisingly graphic for a film made only 3 years after the Hays code came into effect. Therbecke gets a nobler send off than Davis begging for his life and becoming a convert to Attwater’s religious mania. Instead Therbecke stares down Attwater and insists “I don’t beg” before being shot and joining little Ada in death. In the novel Attwater, the imperialist who’s made a fortune by exploiting another culture wins. Here he’s left to live alone in perpetual disgrace on his island, while Herrick and Faith recruit the natives as crew and sail off into the sunset. A true Hollywood ending with everything resolved and no uncertainty, unlike the novel which leaves Herrick as lost as he was at the beginning of the story.

Many thanks to Paul at Silver Screen Classics for letting me contribute to the 2021 classic literature blogathon.

7th Annual Favourite TV Show Blogathon – Dark Shadows – Episode 702 (1969, dir. Henry Kaplan)

I’m 759 episodes into Dark Shadows so there’s only another 470 episodes, two movies, a 90s’ reboot done by the original show’s creator Dan Curtis, and a failed 2003 pilot to go. It’s been quite the journey. What started as a black-and-white small-town soap opera has morphed into colourful tales of Gothic horror. There was always a hint of otherness present in the show right from the beginning, but it was there in the background in the hallways of the big house called Collinwood and the feeling that the family that lived there were hiding some terrible secret.

The main storylines which dominated the early days of Dark Shadows were relatively simple and revolved around two strangers who met on the same train to Collinsport. Victoria Winters (Alexandra Isles) has recently been hired as a governess to look after young David Collins (David Henesy), but there are hints somebody might have an ulterior motive for bringing her to town. Victoria was brought up in a children’s home and has no memory of her real family. Burke Devlin (Mitchell Ryan) is returning home having left in disgrace some years ago after serving time for manslaughter after causing a fatal car accident. Now he’s made his fortune and returned to take revenge on the man he blames for his imprisonment, Roger Collins (Louis Edmonds).

By the time we get to 702 both characters are long gone having both been recast then eventually written out completely. Their initial storylines were never finished and it seems unlikely they will be resolved in the remaining episodes. Dark Shadows main protagonist now is the vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid), whose first appearance was slowly built up to with references to a creepy painting of him as a young man in 1797 which hangs in a hallway in Collinwood, Then when he’s inadvertently freed from his coffin by petty thief Willy Loomis (John Karlen) he returns to his former home claiming to be a cousin from the London branch of the Collins family tree.

Why choose episode 702 over all of the others I’ve watched? There’s been a lot of good storylines in Dark Shadows and some really unsettling moments, notably the whole of the Laura the Pheonix story arc in which the mother of young David Collins (David Henesy) returns after many years to reclaim her child, but she’s not what she seems, “That’s not my mother.” But 702 is the episode when I realised how much of an influence Dark Shadows has had on Twin Peaks. The strange occurrences in a small town and soap opera elements of the early episodes had already alerted me to this, but later on we get actors playing several different roles, buddhist mythology, demonic possession, haunted paintings, a ring that carries meaning, and the protagonist travelling back in time to try and avert a tragedy. I don’t know if David Lynch or Mark Frost ever saw Dark Shadows but it must have been on in the background when they were kids.

In the episodes leading up to 702 David Collins and his friend Amy (Denise Nickerson) have been playing in the old abandoned west wing of Collinswood and disturbed the ghost of Quentin Collins (David Selby). In one of the show’s most terrifying moments they answer an antique telephone that rings despite not being plugged in. The children become possessed by the spirits of Quentin and former servant girl Beth (Terry Crawford), and David becomes seriously ill. Barnabas discovers I Ching wands Quentin used for black magic and attempts to use them to contact his spirit but instead sends himself back into his body in 1897, meaning he’s trapped inside a coffin, and Quentin and Beth are alive. The episode ends with a scene mirroring his first appearance on the show, a grave robber looking for spoils but finding only the hand of a vampire clasping his throat.

This time the intruder is Sandor, played by Thayer David who so far has been the busiest actor on the show playing four different parts. Dark Shadows had a half hour run-time and typically they would deal with around two or three storylines in the short time available. Here we have Barnabas finding himself in 1797, Quentin forming an alliance with Magda (Grayson Hall), and the fragmented nature of the Collins family as it’s matriarch lies close to death.

Scene 1 – Barnabas Awakes

Sandor has broken into the Collins family mausoleum looking for jewels he believes could be hidden there. Seeing the chained up coffin he assumes something must be hidden away in there, something nobody wants to be found, and he’s right. A hundred years ago Barnabas was entombed by his father Joshua Collins (Louis Edmonds in his 2nd role) who was horrified at his son’s transformation into a vampire. Having awoken Barnabas the terrified Sandor draws his sword only to realise there’s no point trying to fight a dead man who’s just climbed out of a coffin.

Scene 2 – The Inheritance

Magda visits Collinwood to see the dying Edith Collins (Isabella Hoopes) for what she assumes will be the last time. Quentin surprises her and offers an alliance. Magda’s a tarot cards grifter and Quentin assumes she’s been fixing her readings to swindle Edith. He offers her 1/10th of his inheritance should she able to use her influence his grandmother into forgiving him for his past indiscretions.

Scene 3 – A New Familiar

Having bitten Sandor Barnabas has now brought him under his control. He’s perplexed when Sandor tells him he lives at the Old House, which in 1969 is his home. Then it dawns on him. He wanted to communicate with Quentin and I Ching magic sent him to a place where he can. He resolves to find out all he can about Beth and Quentin while he’s back in the past. Sandor wonders why Barnabas keeps talking about time. “There are many times. You only have to find them.”

Scene 4 – After Edith

The longest scene follows on from scene 2 with Quentin quizzing Magda about her offscreen meeting with Edith and if she mentioned anything about a terrible family secret. “I have no prejudice against your kind.” For a reprobate who practices black magic and is planning to defraud his family, Quentin does at least have not being a bigot in his favour. Their talk is interrupted by Judith (Joan Bennett, in her third role), Quentin’s sister, who’s not best pleased to see her errant younger brother return to the fold, nor Magda visiting her grandmother. After practically pushing the gypsy woman out of the door Judith offers her brother money to leave town but Quentin wants something else, to see his young nephew Jamison Collins (David Henesy again).

Scene 5 – The Future Past

A brief scene taking Barnabas back home to the Old House. Barnabas is hit with a weird sense of nostalgia having grown up here in the late 1700s’ and lived here again as a vampire in 1969.

Scene 6 – Meet Jamison Collins

Quentin has a gift for his nephew, an expensive-looking model ship. There is a powerful bond between Quentin and Jamison and Judith disapproves thinking he will lead the boy to ruin. Judith wants Quentin gone, but the boy is adamant he must stay. Quentin’s possession of David in 1969 seems related to his affection for his nephew. Amy claimed in an earlier episode Quentin intended to turn David into Jamison.

Season 7 – An Unwelcome Guest

In the final scene Magda returns to the Old House to find her husband Sandor with Barnabas. She recognises him from the portrait in the hallway at Collinwood, but Barnabas deflects her questions. He’s a bit OCD about the house though, complaining about the mess and wondering where the painting of Josette (Kathryn Leigh Scott) has gone. A knock at the door and Quentin turns up wanting to finish the conversation Judith interrupted earlier. Barnabas gets a look at Quentin for the first time as he hides behind a door watching as Sandor and Magda try and get rid of this unwanted visitor. After Quentin leaves Magda quizzes him about Barnabas. They both believe in the supernatural and seem to have encountered such creatures before. “He has the mark of death on him..” and then she notices the bite marks on her husbands neck. Episode 702 ends in true soap-opera style with a cliffhanger.

I will have to continue my journey through Dark Shadows to see how these storylines will develop over the course of the show. At the moment I’m still in the 1897 time period so I have no idea how these storylines will be resolved, or if they will. Maybe Barnabas never returns to 1969, maybe I’m a few episodes away from it happening. Or maybe he ends up somewhere else or becomes someone else. At this stage anything seems to be possible.

This post is an entry in the 7th Annual Favourite TV Show episode blogathon run by Terence Towles Canote at his site A Shroud of Thoughts.

Sins (1986, Douglas Hickox) – The Joan Collins Blogathon

This post is a contribution to the Joan Collins blogathon run by Gil at RealWeegieMidgetReviews. Somehow despite her busy Dynasty schedule Collins found time to produce this glossy mini-series set in Paris. I’ve wanted to see Sins for ages, partly because I love these late 70s’/early 80s’ big-budget events and partly because this has a wonderfully eclectic cast. These kind of shows were designed to dominate an evenings viewing back in the day when there was a limited choice of networks available to people, so they’re bold and brash and there’s plenty of high drama. They feel like the natural successors to the woman’s pictures of the 1950s’, a genre that got waylaid by the breakdown of the studio system, and all that melodrama seems to have gone into TV and the prime-time soap opera. Two of my favourites are Bare Essence (1982, Walter Grauman) set in the world of professional perfume-making and A Woman of Substance (1985, Don Sharp), both of which tell underdog stories about young women trying to make it in the world of business despite their backgrounds being against them. Sins tries to tell a similar story but something’s not quite right. The frequent jumps between time-frames are disorientating and some of the narrative choices are quite frankly nuts.

What makes it worthwhile is the cast who all do their best to rise above the material. Sins is notable for being the final onscreen appearance of Gene Kelly. Some of the other names have fallen out of cultural memory as the years have passed. I am ashamed to say I don’t know the work of Jean-Pierre Aumont at all. I almost didn’t recognise Kraken-bait Judi Bowker with short brown hair, Capucine will be used to starring in French farces having appeared in The Pink Panther (1963) and What’s New Pussycat! (1965). Steven Berkoff was action cinema’s go-to psycho in the early 80s’ in films like Octopussy (1983, John Glen), Beverley Hills Cop (1984, Martin Brest), and Rambo: First Blood Part III (George P. Cosmatos), and he brings his own brand of swivel-eyed crop-headed lunacy to his role here, while Lauren Hutton makes for a glamorous love and business rival. And then there’s Sins has Timothy Dalton just a few months before he would be cast as the new James Bond.

Although the production is sold on the Dynasty connection it’s unusual seeing 80s’ era Joan Collins playing against type as some a kind-hearted soul whose strength is being a survivor rather than outmanoeuvring her opponents. Alexis Carrington-Colby-Dexter-Rowan would have wiped the floor with everybody on this show. Collins has brought onboard fellow Dynasty alumni James Farentino to play the best of her lovers, a soldier who goes MIA in Vietnam, and might have had a hand in bringing Neil Dickson onto Dynasty for a short-three episode run towards the end of season 7. This felt like an introduction for a major new character, but this went nowhere, save for a bizarre montage scene where he took Alexis on a date to a burger bar on a motorcycle while a cover of Berlin’s Take My Breath Away played on the soundtrack. I do wonder if Dickson’s character Gavin Maurier was initially intended to be the character played by James Healey in season 8. The mysterious stranger routine and the initial interactions with Alexis are very similar.

Sins takes place over four decades and follows the rise of fashion magazine editor Helene (Joan Collins) from her childhood during WWII, through her time as a fashion model in the 50s’, to her time as a journalist and the eventual launch of her flagship title Woman of Today in the 80s’, as well as a series of disastrous relationships, and the search for her brother Edmund (Timothy Dalton) who has been missing since they were separated during the war. Every decade brings a new powerful adversary who eventually all come together to form a cabal determined to destroy her. There’s sadistic former Nazi officer Von Eiderfeld (Steven Berkoff) who raided Helene’s home and killed her mother for sending messages to the Allied forces. Whiny Count Hubert Du Ville (Neil Dickson), who killed her ex-husband (Gene Kelly), her former boss Marcello (Giancarlo Giannini) seeking revenge for her taking his company and ending his career, and finally love-rival ZZ (Lauren Hutton) who blames Helene for the death of her husband. All of the ingredients are here for a decent mini-series but even with an old pro like Douglas Hickox (Theatre of Blood) directing it doesn’t come together. Sins is based on a novel by Judith Gould, a pseudonym for co-authors Nicholas Peter Bienes and Rhea Gallaher, and there’s two people’s worth of ideas in here. All of the money’s onscreen, Collins has 85 wardrobe changes, there’s lavish parties, fancy locations, but it still feels cheap. I can see now why it was difficult to get hold of for a long time.

Baywatch Nights – Night Whispers



At the height of its mid-90s’ success Baywatch producers Douglas Schwartz, Gregory J. Bonnan, and star David Hasselhoff decided to create one of the oddest spin-offs to a hit show ever made. Baywatch Nights had initially started out as a private eye show for its first season with Hasselhoff’s Baywatch co-star Gregory Alan Williams reprising his role as Garner Ellerbee and newcomer Angie Harmon rounding out the team as fellow investigator Ryan McBride.

Ratings were poor however and by the time season 2 came around Baywatch Nights had mutated into a low-rent X-Files knock-off which usually ended up with the cast running around an empty building while some kind of supernatural entity chased after them. Gregory Alan Williams left the show and was replaced by Dorian Gregory as untrustworthy government official Diamont Teague. Some of the more unusual storylines included viking warriors resuming hostilities after being thawed out in modern-day Los Angeles and Eddie (Billy Warlock) mysteriously returning to lifeguard duties with no explanation despite him having left his job two years earlier. The most entertaining episode though is Night Whispers, in which a vampire who dresses like Magenta Devine decides the Hoff is the most fascinating thing she’s ever seen in her 400-year existence.


Ryan and Griff (Eddie Cibrian) are jogging through a park at night. She’s out of breath and has to stop while Griff tries to encourage her to run just a little further to a nearby bridge. Listening to their conversation from the penthouse suite in a nearby hotel is Francesca (Felicity Waterman) who uses her vampire senses to locate the source of the noise. Then she leaps off the balcony and flies through the air, an effect rendered by the use of the Evil Dead-style shaky-cam. A young fit guy jogs past Ryan and Griff and reaches the bridge same time as Francesca who does a fly-by eat and greet. Ryan discovers the body and Griff phones 911. Weirdly when the police turn up it is now daylight, so they must have been waiting all night in a park with a corpse and a killer on the loose. Detective Korris (Scots-born actor Arthur Taxier) lets them tag along to interview Francesca who matches the description of a woman seen in the area at the time Ryan notices something rather unusual.


Having noticed Francesca casts no reflection Ryan searches out Mitch Buchanan (Hasselhoff) and finds him down at the marina fixing his boat. Ryan is very much the Mulder in this show while Mitch functions as the sceptical Scully figure. Francesca has no address, does not appear on any electoral records, and but did once receive a credit card in 1951 which would put her well into her 60s’.“Mitch, she wears gloves. In California. In August!” He’s not buying this story at all. So Ryan brings out a bundle of books on vampirism to prove her theory, one of which I kid you not is a pop-up book.

 With Mitch more interested in fixing his boat and quite possibly finishing the rest of the vampire pop-up book Ryan calls in Teague. Blood belonging to the victim found on her shirt turns out to be uncoagulated, an impossibility as blood normally coagulates within seconds. I have no medical training and no idea if this is true but I trust implicitly the science on Baywatch.


Ryan wants to interview Francesca who is now in police custody,  “Why” asks Korris. Police headquarters are being closed down and this is the final day they will be in operation. Coincidentally Police HQ’s  looks suspiciously like the set Mitch and Ryan get chased through every other week. None of them realise Francesca has already escaped and is wandering the corridors. Mitch bumps into her and is taken aback by her otherworldly presence. She’s impressed by his old world politeness. “Fascinating…and attractive.”

Everybody’s left headquarters already except for Korris, two prostitutes Chantal (Elise Muller) and Rosie (Michelle Bonilla) who are refusing to sign their release papers, and their smarmy lawyer Pantalone (Joe Maruzzo). There’s also a young uniformed cop Doretha (Monica Allison) who’s clearing up and putting files into boxes.

Korris goes to check on the cells and never returns. Mitch goes to investigate and finds Francesca feeding on the detective.

There follows a shaky-cam chase through the building and veteran director Reza Badiyi throws in a few expressionistic camera angles as Mitch tumbles down a flight of stairs and finds himself at the mercy of the vampire.

Francesca has no interest in feeding on Mitch though. She’s too impressed by him. “What do you want?” he asks. ‘That is the question I’ve been asking myself for 400 years and now, for the first time I think I may have the answer.”

Meanwhile Chantal and Rosie have split from the others preferring to go it alone despite not knowing how to get out of the building. Farewell then Chantal. Rosie will have to walk those streets alone now. Francesca sends Rosie back with a warning. Everybody dies unless Mitch gives himself to her willingly. “How do I get myself into these places?” says Rosie as if this has happened to her before.

So Mitch gives himself up but it’s a trap. The old bait a vampire using David Hasselhoff routine every vampire falls for. Ryan has jammed a broken stick into a door and all Mitch has to do is break free from the vampire’s embrace and make sure she chases him towards the doorway. Rosie slams the door shut impaling Francesca.

There’s a melodramatic final moment between Francesca and Mitch as she holds her hand out towards her betrayer. Then she falls to the floor and is surrounded by rats. One of which walks over Waterman’s face and I do hope she got paid extra for that. After a moment she dissolves into nothingness.

Then a brief final epilogue in which Mitch pretends to have been turned into a vampire. “The light’s so bright. I feel strange.”

I’ve always been quite fond of the low-key first season of Baywatch which gave a prominent role to cult hero John Allen Nelson (Killer Clowns From Outer Space, Deathstalker III). NBC initially cancelled the show due to poor ratings but after proving to be a success abroad the producers rebooted it as a TV version of a Sports Illustrated photo-shoot and it just wasn’t the same. Baywatch Nights is something else though. Like the sceptical Mitch Buchanan every time Ryan brings him evidence of supernatural activity I can’t quite believe it exists.

This post is a belated entry in Terence Towles Canote’s 6th Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon hosted on his site A Shroud of Thoughts. 


Chris Isaak in a World of Blue – Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

With their matching rockabilly haircuts and their love of 1950s’ Americana you can see why Chris Isaak and filmmaker/musician David Lynch ended up working together. Lynch used two tracks from Isaak’s debut album Silvertone on the soundtrack to Blue Velvet (1986) and an instrumental version of Wicked Game in Wild at Heart (1990). The latter helped bring Isaak into the mainstream and Wicked Game was re-released with a fancy new Herb Ritts video showing the crooner writhing about in the surf with supermodel Helena  Christiansen.

Despite his promotion to best-selling artist status it was still a surprise when Isaak was cast in a prominent role in Lynch’s movie prequel to his hit TV show Twin Peaks (1990-1). The singer had appeared in small roles as a hitman disguised as a clown in Jonathan Demme’s Married to the Mob (1988) and as a SWAT team leader in the same director’s Silence of the Lambs (1991), but here he would be carrying the first part of the film in place of the show’s leading man Kyle McLachlan who initially turned down an offer to return as the eccentric FBI agent Dale Cooper.

To emphasise Chester Desmond is a very different special agent to Cooper he’s first shown putting two teenage girls in handcuffs in full view of a school-bus filled with weeping children. FBI Chief Gordon Cole (Lynch) partners Desmond with Sam Stanley, played by Kiefer Sutherland (cast against type as a dweeby twitching bundle of nerves) and sends them off to the small town of Deer Meadow to investigate the murder of a young woman found wrapped in plastic. It’s one of Cole’s “blue rose” cases, code word for weirdness.

Isaak’s music videos usually focused on his brooding good looks and he certainly has enough screen presence to hold the attention. All that’s required of him is to react to the unusual events going on around them and he proves more than capable. When something really out of the ordinary happens he tilts his head like a dog wondering if his owner is about to take him for a walk.

While the opening of Fire Walk With Me mirrors the pilot everything that happens is inverted. Cooper finds a vibrant community all of whom have been affected by the murder of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). Desmond and Stanley find only hostility. Nobody cares about the victim. Unlike the overly friendly deputy Andy (Harry Goaz) and receptionist Lucy (Kimmy Moran) their counterparts at Deer Meadow police station are obnoxious. Sheriff Cable (Gary Bullock) is a thug with no interest in co-operating with the FBI.

Special Agent Desmond is different too. He’s colder than Cooper, and a bit meaner. He tricks Stanley into spilling scalding hot coffee onto his groin. Chester Desmond seems to expect the worst from people whereas Cooper looked for the good. Isaak’s physicality and his college background as an amateur boxer makes him a more imposing figure than McLachlan and Lynch uses this to great effect. First in a scene where the mouthy deputy Cliff (Rick Aiello) tries to block his path. Isaak calmly lifts his hand then grabs the guy’s nose and tucks him neatly under the receptionist’s counter. There’s even a sequence cut from the film which appears in The Missing Pieces showing Desmond boxing Cable in a brutal fist fight. “This one’s coming from J. Edgar” as he delivers a final knockout punch.

The most glaring disparity between Twin Peaks and Deer Meadow is the local diner. A drab empty place devoid of atmosphere with a snarling owner called Irene (Sandra Kinder) who chain-smokes while serving food and calls the customers “toeheads.” Teresa like Laura also worked as a waitress but unlike Norma (Peggy Lipton) her boss seems unmoved by the girl’s death. Laura’s predilection for drugs and sex were a well kept secret in Twin Peaks, but here Teresa’s lifestyle is known to her boss who writes her death off as a “freak accident” and seems to imply she brought it on herself.

The one likeable person in Deer Meadow is Carl (Harry Dean Stanton) even though he is an old grouch. “DO NOT DISTURB BEFORE 9AM – EVER!” says the sign on his door and Chet and Sam pull their badges straight away when they realise their error in waking him up. They bond over coffee though. Coffee is one of two things in Lynch’s world that can truly bring people together, the other being music. Though there is a broadly comic feel to the opening act there’s an underlying menace. Electricity crackles from pylons and lights flicker ominously. Carl is visibly shaken by the appearance of a tiny mute stranger holding a walking stick and clutching a cloth over their eye. “I’ve already gone places. I just want to stay where I am” says Carl. Though he must have changed his mind because Lynch/Frost relocate the trailer park to Twin Peaks for the third season.

Chet leaves Stanley to drive back to Portland on his own and returns to the trailer park just before dark. Carl directs him towards Deputy Cliff’s red pickup truck but Chet is drawn instead to a brightly lit small caravan. Nobody answers the door , but underneath he finds the unusual green ring belonging to Teresa Banks. As he reaches out to touch it the screen goes black and that’s the last anybody sees of Special Agent Chester Desmond.

Cooper follows up on Chet’s disappearance but finds only questions coupled with a strange feeling that this case is far from over. I hoped during the summer of 2017 when the new series aired that we might see a return for Isaak as Special Agent Chester Desmond but two missing FBI agents coming back from some other place was probably too much to hope for.

This post has been a contribution to Gil’s Pop Stars Moonlighting at her site Realweegiemidget Reviews