Monday, October 20, 2014

Classic TV: Dark Shadows (1966)

Johnny Depp and the idiots that turned this classic soap into a movie got it wrong. Oh, did they ever!

Dark Shadows was not your ordinary daytime soap opera. Not by a long shot. They didn't even try this on radio back in the day, although radio was a haven for horror as well.

I will admit that I never watched the original series. How could I? I was a toddler when it started, and in school when it ended. Anyway, Dan Curtis' seminal drama spans three centuries, from the 18th to the 20th. Ultimately, it centers on Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid), who was converted into a vampire in the late 18th century, and is resurrected in the 20th century.

What I do know of the show was that it spawned a pair of TV-movies and a comic book series, published by Gold Key, that continued long after the series had ended. I read a couple of those books, and found them to be entertaining. Frid's portrayal of Barnabas as a, well, reluctant vampire might well have been the inspiration for Marvel developing a "living vampire", Morbius, about a year after the series ended. At least Morbius is still around, and if Marvel thinks of it, they may do a movie about him soon enough.

Some years later, Curtis revived Shadows, this time as a primetime series, but for NBC, instead of its original home, ABC, with Ben Cross as Barnabas. We'll discuss that another time, but for now, let's pay a call on the newly undead Barnabas..........

I didn't see Depp's attempt at crossing the Collins family with the Addams Family, though it's my understanding that it failed miserably, like that lame "Lone Ranger" reboot Depp big-footed last year. We'll use what I read in the comics, and what I saw in the above video as a template, and give Dark Shadows a B+.


magicdog said...

I had heard of DS and was told that it was quite popular during its time. The local PBS station in NY started airing the original series in the late 80s (starting from the color years, when Barnabas appeared, since the soap was originally not the supernatural themed show it became). I tuned in and was fascinated! Despite the silly special effects and occasional on screen blooper, it was a pretty decent show. The characters were well formed and having such strong actors like Jonathan Frid and former screen idol Joan Bennett just made magic happen!

My favorite storyline was the 1790s time travel one with nanny, Victoria Winters finding herself in Collinsport in 1795 and meeting Barnabas before his vampire curse befell him.

hobbyfan said...

Seeing as how I'd never seen the original series, I can only take your word for it.