|Cast of Dark Shadows, the original ABC-TV series
You think I've had enough Shadows for one lifetime? Well, of course not.
Actually, it's been over 15 years since I've watched any significant number of the original series episodes. When I was working on the novel(s) and audio dramas, I put on a few now and again to refresh my memory, but mostly I referred to Pomegranate Press's rich library of Dark Shadows books and various online resources to get the details right. Frankly, during the time I went whole hog into the creative work, I was too caught up in the business end of things to think much about the franchise from the perspective of a mere fan — a fact I've often lamented, despite the joy I took in the writing. After I watched the Burton film, I realized just how vague many of my recollections of the old series really are. Thus, I decided, it was high time to give the show another look from a very much refreshed perspective.
Yep. A few months back, I started running Dark Shadows from the very beginning, with the intent of watching all 1,225 episodes, however long it might take. Yes, I know... for many diehard fans, that means big whoop, since they've been watching, discussing, critiquing, and deconstructing the show over the course of many complete runs. That kind of devotion hasn't been my lifelong desire, although I do admit to believing that if you've lived a good life and said your prayers every night, when you die, you'll go to Collinwood. That's the way it ought to be, anyway.
So, I'm a few hundred episodes in, during the early period when Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) is at his most evil. When I was a kid, of course, it was the whole vampire business that excited the living crap out of me, but watching it now, Barnabas Collins — cold, two-faced, murderous predator — is really quite disturbing. Naturally, being daytime television in the 1960s, there wasn't much graphic about it, and though the actors played it very seriously, you could safely let your kids watch it without fear they'd be damaged for life (although, back then, some particularly sensitive souls did persist in attempting to get the show banned because it just might have ruined your young'uns forever and forever). Later on, of course, Barnabas became far more even-tempered and sympathetic, even heroic. So much the better, I suppose, but even now, I find Barnabas, dark, powerful, and unrepentant, far more fascinating than brooding, tortured, sometimes wishy-washy Barnabas.
|Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Joan Bennett), Roger Collins (Louis Edmonds),
Jason McGuire (Dennis Patrick)
I manage to catch a few episodes here and there, so this full run may be a couple of years in the making, who knows. In any event, an awful lot of that old Dark Shadows excitement, which fell by the wayside while I was involved in the business of writing Shadows, has come rushing back. Warts and all — and yes, there are many of them, oftentimes hilarious — Dark Shadows retains much of the sheer imaginative power that enthralled me all those many years ago. Indeed, it has been one of the constants of my creative life. It's magic, that's what it is.