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Watching "Dark Shadows," the TV show
Published on August 15, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about the TV show "Dark Shadows," a cult classic.

Here's an excerpt:

I haven’t seen the 2012 Tim Burton film 'Dark Shadows.'

But I’ve been watching the cult TV show that inspired it.

The original 'Dark Shadows' aired from 1966 to 1971, and was initially a fairly traditional soap opera. But about a year into its run, creator Dan Curtis introduced a vampire character, Barnabas Collins, and the show transformed into something far more interesting: a supernatural Gothic soap opera. I opted to skip the first season and watch the second, and it was a good decision: Whenever Barnabas Collins (wonderfully played by Jonathan Frid) is onscreen, the show is riveting.

'Dark Shadows' is set in the fictional coastal Maine town of Collinsport, and largely takes place in the mansion inhabited by the Collins family. The show is told from the point of view of Victoria Winters, a young woman employed as a governess by Collins family matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, who has not left the mansion in 18 years. The household routine is disrupted when Barnabas arrives, having been released from his coffin and claiming to be a long-lost cousin, and takes up residence in an unused building on the estate.

'Dark Shadows' is very much a soap opera, and I quickly learned that it doesn’t lend itself to binge-watching the way more sophisticated and cinematic contemporary shows such as 'The Sopranos' and 'Mad Men' do. But when viewed one or two episodes at a time, it can be pretty entertaining. It’s atmospheric, unabashedly melodramatic, romantic and spooky. In season 2, which I’m watching right now, Barnabas has kidnapped local waitress Maggie Evans, bitten her and attempted to brainwash her into thinking she is his long-lost love, Josette. When Maggie briefly escapes and is glimpsed by her father as a fluttering, ghost-like presence outside the window, it’s a startling, beautiful and disturbing moment.

Click here to read the whole thing.

 

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