Barnabas’ Column #9: Whatever Happened to Quentin Collins?
“Dreams of Long Ago, Meet in Rendezvous,
Shadows of the Night, Calling Me to You……”
from Quentin’s Theme
In late 1968, DARK SHADOWS began one of its more daring storylines. 12 year-old David Collins (David Henesy) became possessed by the spirit of his malevolent great-Uncle Quentin (David Selby), who was murdered back in 1897. Quentin was based upon Peter Quint, the sexually charged ghost from Henry James’ brilliant 19th century ghost story “The Turn of the Screw.” Hence, Quint became Quentin.
As the possessed boy slipped into a deep coma, vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) traveled back to 1897. During the last few months of Quentin’s life, Barnabas tries to find out what the spirit wants. Miraculously, his trip through time prevents Quentin’s death, ending the possession and saving the boy’s life.
With life comes a price. Quentin, a werewolf, owes his continued longevity to a mysterious portrait painted by the artist Charles Delaware Tate. Thanks to a spell cast by the sorcerer Count Petofi, it’s the painting, not the man, who becomes a wolf when the moon is full. In addition, Quentin can no longer age.
For 72 years, Quentin wanders the earth. He returned to Collinwood in the autumn of 1969, as TV viewers saw. DARK SHADOWS devotees were never told what Quentin did during those years, until now. Thanks to the DS audio dramas currently being produced on CD by UK-based Big Finish Productions, we are learning that Quentin had some very bizarre adventures.
David Selby returns as Quentin for each of the dramas. The distinguished actor, who went on to appear as a leading man for stars such as Barbra Streisand and Jacqueline Bissett, still sounds as he did on daytime TV decades ago. Adventures like “The Skin Walkers” and “Blood Dance” find him in 1899 New York City and gangland Chicago circa 1929, respectively. He even fought in WWII.
In the wild, crazy, engagingly fun “Operation Victor,” Quentin is called upon by the British Secret Service to battle a mad Nazi scientist in a remote Bavarian castle. The government apparently has quite a file on Quentin. They’ve kept tabs on all the bizarre hocus pocus that goes on within Collinwood’s walls. Quentin accepts the Queen’s challenge. He goes after the mad doc, whose Frankenstein styled attempts to create a master race are a bit disturbing. This insane tale is so over the top, it becomes one of the series’ most enjoyable.
“The Creeping Fog” is one of the spookiest of all the Big Finish CDs. Set in 1941 London, the story finds Quentin trapped in the deserted British Museum during a bombing. As war rages on the streets outside, Quentin and a mysterious young man who’s also trapped within find themselves besieged by a mysterious supernatural fog.
“London’s Burning” continues the WWII saga as Quentin, still seeking shelter from the German bombers, finds himself trapped in an underground subway station with Rosie Faye (who’s related to an 1897 TV character named Pansy Faye). It’s his second meeting with Rosie: he recalls their first, terrifying meeting back in 1906. Louise Jameson is superb as the cockney Rosie. The actress is a popular fixture on British TV for her roles on EASTENDERS and DOCTOR WHO, and makes for one of several WHO cast members to appear on the DS CDs in newly created roles. This ingenious idea on the part of the Big Finish suits opened up the DS universe to all new storyline possibilities, and helps to tie up unresolved loose ends from the undeservedly short lived TV series.
One of the recurring themes of all the Quentin dramas is loneliness. It may seem nice to have eternal youth and beauty without the inconvenience of having to sleep in a coffin every day. But it’s an empty existence. Quentin can’t get too close to anyone. He has to move on regularly, lest people notice that he doesn’t age even as they do. And how is it possible to love anyone under such conditions? Selby, a superb, stage trained character player, beautifully conveys Quentin’s aching, breaking heart.
As with Big Finish storylines featuring other DS characters, the Quentin dramas stand as both a wonderful continuation, and a superb tribute, to a classic TV show.
For more visit Big Finish. The DARK SHADOWS audio dramas can also be found at Amazon.com