Here's the second Dark Shadows audio drama I listed to during my recent trip to Tampa. The Phantom Bride brings back Tony Peterson and Cassandra Collins (a/k/a Angelique), who have quickly become my favorite pairing in this CD series. Jerry Lacy and Lara Parker bring these characters back to life with such relish, it's hard not to picture the two of them together, solving mysteries as they do. A modern (sort of) take on Nick and Nora, or maybe even a kind-of Scarecrow and Mrs. King of the Dark Shadows realm. Either way, these two play so well off of each other, and it works so naturally, it's a shame that the television show never picked up on it.
This time around, our detective couple is boarding a cruise ship to help the Captain discover what is causing the haunting by a vengeful spirit intent on destroying any newlywed couple's happiness. Posing as husband and wife, Tony and Cassandra board the ship, and one it sets sail, they each try to solve the mystery before anyone else turns up dead and the Captain's ship is shut down permanently.
While the story definitely takes place away from Collinsport, there is nevertheless a true Dark Shadows-feel to the story. We have Tony Peterson fighting to remain professional and put a stop to the killing spirit while starting to realize he may have feelings for a centuries-old witch; we have Angelique continuing to pose as Cassandra (Peterson, this time), acting human and experiencing human emotions, all the while utilizing her witchcraft and supernatural powers to bring an end to the hauntings; and we have a mean-spirited ghost that is hell-bent on destroying the happiness of anyone who dares to enter her stomping grounds,
It's so easy to get caught up in these audio dramas and forget I'm listening instead of watching. My mind goes on automatic, and before I realize it, I'm "watching" the story unfold in my head just as sure as if I were watching it on a television set before me. I can see Tony's tall, lean frame, his slicked-back dark hair, and his brown trenchcoat. I can see Cassandra's dark wig, her wide sparkling eyes, and that evil grin of hers. And I can see all of the other elements that made Dark Shadows what it was. The cardboard sets and cheesy special effects that gave the show its charm. The writer of this audio, Mark Thomas Passmore, definitely needs to stay on board (no pun intended) and keep writing more audio dramas. He definitely has the feel for Dark Shadows.
RATING: 9 life-stealing succubi out of 10 for confirming the Tony/Cassandra pairing as my new favorite characters from the show!