Dark Shadows

I have lots of crafty stuff I could write about today. Quilts, a new sweater on the needles, some embroidery I am fixing to start. But I really want to talk about Dark Shadows.

No, I don't mean the movie with Johnny Depp. I haven't seen that yet. Oh sure, at some point I will but I'm sort of disappointed in the way Tim Burton made it into a 70's spoof. I thought this subject matter was ripe for something spooky and ethereal like Sleepy Hollow and that's why I'm bummed about the fact it's a comedy. But I digress...

The cast of the original Dark Shadows.
The Dark Shadows I love is the Gothic soap opera that aired from 1966 to 1971. By some stroke of luck, the original tapes of the show were not destroyed (or taped over) as was the custom for that sort of program back in the day. All of the episodes are available on DVD, including the pilot where the main protagonist (Victoria Winters) first comes to town.

Victoria on the train from New York to Collinsport, Maine.
The story is set in a fishing village in Maine called Collinsport. The biggest business in town is a fish cannery owned by the Collins family (yes the town was named after them 200 years ago) and they sort of run the show in Collinsport. Thus, due to class envy, everyone in the town hates the family who lives in the spooky house on the hill.

Victoria gets into town and is advised to "stay away from that house" by the locals.
And a spooky house it is. There are ghosts, vampires, con-men, time travelers, etc. in residence at one point or another. The house and the host of (mostly) supernatural crazy is really the star of the show. All of the madness is sort of seen through the eyes of Victoria Winters. She is a governess (of mysterious parentage) who is brought in from out of town to tutor the youngest member of the family in the big house. We sort of see the goings-on through her eyes. She helps bring perspective to the odd story lines.

The breakout star of this series is the character Barnabas Collins. He is a 150 year old vampire (and actual Collins) who passes himself off to the rest of the family as a cousin back from England. He has a fancy walking stick and a family resemblance so they welcome him to the estate with open arms.

I'm Barnabas, your cousin from abroad.
The whole show is great fun. So many of the characters are likable. Even though the show is dated by way of fashion, the story lines are still intriguing. I think I gravitate to this show for some of the same reasons I do to the movie Rosemary's Baby.

This show has quite a cult following. I even belong to a chat group about Dark Shadows on Ravelry.

I am fortunate enough to have this DVD series available here in our library system. But I know it is also available on Netflix rental (there are some episodes on Netflix instant streaming but they do not start at the beginning). I encourage you to give it a look. Start with The Dark Shadows: The Beginning, Volume 1, Disk 1 though so you can watch them from way back to the pilot. This show is a serial so if you miss the beginning you don't get all the back story. If you want to skip right to the episodes that stream on Netflix, get caught up with this recap first:

My geek is really showing today, isn't it?



  1. You know, you put your finger right on it for me!! That is exactly how I feel about Tim Burton's version and no, I haven't seen it either. I love a good thriller drama especially the supernatural kind. A remade of the original could have really grabbed me. I'm passing on this one.
    Sorry Johnny...I love you but....

    1. @Carol: I know, I love Johnny too. It's a shame.

  2. I was curious why they made the new movie a comedy, too. It looks good, but wonder why not make it like the original show?

    1. @Angela: I'm sure I will eventually see the movie, and it will be fine. But I will stick with loving the original.

  3. My mom loved this show back when it started and some of my first memories were stuff that happened on the show. I was born a few months before it started and probably 5 when it ended, so it burned itself into my subconscious. I've started watching it on Netflix, not having seen it since the 60's and wow, what a bizarre feeling. That opening gives me chills and yet, it's strangely comforting. Heh. Anyway, enjoying the heck out of it even though it isn't all of it. Maybe someday I'll check it out before Barnabas shows up but we'll see. I also wish they'd treated it seriously and skipped the fish out of water stuff. When Barnabas shows up in the original, he's actually ahead of everyone and Jonathan Frid just nails the civilized on the outside yet ferocious in the middle with a but a few lines. Great stuff. I could blab more, but gotta stop somewhere. :)

    1. @Jim: Oh man! I totally know what you mean about it being strangely comforting. I have vague childhood memories of the show too.