I’d like to start this continuation of the Dark Shadows discussion from the old board with a look at some of the new and upcoming Dark Shadows audio stories from Big Finish Productions. There aren’t nearly as many Dark Shadows audio adventures as there are Doctor Who ones, but the Doctor Who series has been around longer. The Dark Shadows audios are a mixed bag. The first release was a full-cast sequel titled “Return to Collinwood”. Later they began to release a series of interconnected sequential stories grouped in short “seasons”. More recently they’ve been going back to the timeline of the original television show and telling interstitial one-shots. As the Dark Shadows series seems to be catching on, Big Finish seems to be ramping up their production schedule. “Curse of the Pharaoh” was released in September, and the next four are set for monthly release beginning in January at a special subscription rate.

CURSE OF THE PHARAOH:

“Curse of the Pharaoh” stars Nancy Barrett (reprising her role as Carolyn Stoddard) and Marie Wallace (perhaps best known as “Eve” on the TV show) in a new role, famed Egyptologist Dr. Gretchen Warwick. The story doesn’t specify, but I assume it takes place shortly after the end of the series original TV series, circa 1970 or so. Both actresses are kind of rusty and sound as old as they are, not as young as they (Caroline, anyway) are supposed to be. Barrett was always a better actress than Wallace, and that remains true. Wallace’s shortcomings are spotlighted in this “dramatic reading” in which she plays other bit parts, most of the male (Bob the bartender at The Blue Whale, Eliot Stokes on the telephone, Carolyn’s father in flashback), which she performs in a gruff kind of storybook voice as if reading aloud to a child. The story itself is a sequel to the unpopular “Leviathan” television storyline. If you’ve never heard a Dark Shadows audio and thinking of trying one out, there are better ones to start with than this.

KEY: OB = Old Board; UR = Un-Reviewed

Return to Collinwood - 169

SEASON ONE:
S1.1 The House of Despair - 1
S1.2 The Book of Temptation - OB
S1.3 The Christmas Presence - OB
S1.4 The Rage Beneath - 7

SEASON TWO: Kingdom of the Dead - 7

DRAMATIC READINGS:

1. Angelique’s Descent-Pt. 1 - OB
2. Angelique’s Descent-Pt. 2 - OB
3. Clothes of Sand - OB
4. The Ghost Walker - OB
5. The Skin Walkers - OB
6. The Path of Fate - OB
7. The Wicked & the Dead - OB
8. Echoes of Insanity - OB
9. Curse of the Pharaoh - 1
10. Final Judgment - 1
11. Blood Dance - 1
12. The Night Whispers - 1
13. London’s Burning - 2
14. The Doll House - 30
15. The Blind Painter - 87
16. The Death Mask - 88
17. The Creeping Fog - 89
18. The Carrion Queen - 89
19. The Poisoned Soul - 96
20. The Lost Girl - 96
21. The Crimson Pearl - 114
22. The Voodoo Amulet - 129
23. The House by the Sea - 170
24. Dress Me in Dark Dreams - 154
25. The Eternal Actress - 162
26. The Fall of House Trask - 163
27. Operation: Victor - 166
28. Speak No Evil - 166
29. The Last Stop - 166
30. Dreaming of the Water - 167
31. The Haunted Refrain - 167
32. A Collinwood Christmas - 167
33. The Phantom Bride - 167
34. Beneath the Veil - 167
35. The Enemy Within - 167
36. The Lucifer Gambit - 167
37. The Flip Side - 167
38. Beyond the Grave - 168
39. Curtain Call - 168
40. The Harvest of Souls - 170
41. The Happier Dead - 168
42. The Carriage Damned - 168
43. The Devil Cat - 168
44. The Darkest Shadow - 173

SEASON THREE: Bloodlust - 170-172

45. Panic - 173
46. The Curse of Shurafa - 173
47. In the Twinkling of an Eye - 173
48. Deliver Us from Evil - 173
49. Tainted Love - 173
50. ...And Red All Over - 175

Echoes of the Past - 176

Blood & Fire - 176

Haunting Memories - 177

Phantom Melodies - 178

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Jeff of Earth-J said:
Speaking for myself, I love the first nine (pre-Barnabas) months of the show!

Yeah, but everyone knows you're a nut.

Seriously, though, I think this is a YMMV issue. I haven't watched the Phoenix storyline yet -- my big "Watch the Whole Show From Episode 1" project got derailed last year when I took a new job -- what I have seen of the pre-Barnabas errors leaves me pretty cold. All the pacing of a 1960's soap opera with none of the spice of a supernatural storyline. If I never hear about Roger's lost pen again, it'll be too soon. I think there's a reason that the pre-Barnabas storylines were the very last DS material to be released on DVD. (Were they ever released on VHS?)

But you make a very valid point -- this is a matter of taste, It's not my cuppa, but it is yours, and more power to ya! And we're both big fans of the show.

The "right answer", of course, is that Cav should give it a try and make up his own mind.
Yeah, but everyone knows you're a nut.

Well, that's true.

Were they ever released on VHS?

Yes, in a separate 54-volume set titled "Dark Shadows Collector's Series." Because the VHS collection started with the introduction of Barnabas in a series beginning with Vol. 1, a new series was required for the early months (in a sort of reversal of the "new number one" trend of comics). The problem with the early VHS tapes of the regular series is that they were edited to remove all sub-plots which didn't directly involve Barnabas. these omissions were corrected in the "Collector's Series" but I don't know about the DVDs. I would HOPE they used the complete versions but I don't know for sure.

I find the early episodes moody and I think the first week of the show offers a better introduction to the characters and setting than the spoilery recap of the first volume of the Barnabas era does.

The "right answer", of course, is that Cav should give it a try and make up his own mind.

Agreed.
The problem with the early VHS tapes of the regular series is that they were edited to remove all sub-plots which didn't directly involve Barnabas. these omissions were corrected in the "Collector's Series" but I don't know about the DVDs.

That's a very good question. I own those DVDs, but I haven't actually watched them. (Yes, I am ashamed of that.)

I find the early episodes moody and I think the first week of the show offers a better introduction to the characters and setting than the spoilery recap of the first volume of the Barnabas era does

I would agree wih that.
LONDON’S BURNING:

1941: As bombs fall on the city of London, Quentin Collins is reunited with his old friend, Rose. Trapped in a Underground station, she claims to have no memory of him. So he tells her how they met…
1906: Music Hall star Rosie Fay is the talk of the town. But what connects her to the cases of spontaneous combustion plaguing London’s ladies of the night? Andy why is Quentin so interested in the song she sings?


Quentin Collins was originally introduced in the 1897 storyline before moving to the present day, but other than the audio adventure “Blood Dance” (set in Prohibition-era Chicago, discussed above), his story for most of the 20th century remains unexplored. In the second of what could prove to be a series of Quentin Chronicles, “London’s Burning” fills in two gaps by telling parallel stories set in 1906 and 1941. Louise Jameson (“Leela” of Doctor Who fame) has been cast in the new role of Rosie Faye, Pansy Faye’s sister. A unique method of death, death by song which causes women to burst into flame leaving only their unburned dresses behind, makes “London’s Burning” an interesting addition to the Dark Shadows canon.
Thanks, Bill! Starts shooting in January, eh? this film has been in some stage of negotiotion or production for so long, I'm optimistic but at this point I'll believe it when I see it.
MPI is running a "40% Off Blowout Sale" of all their Dark Shadows DVD collections until September 1 (regularly $5998, now $35.98). Each set collects seven weeks of continuity, approximately 35 half hour shows each. New to their catalogue is "The Curse of the Vampire" and "The Haunting of Collinwood", each a 180 minute retrospective of Barnabas and Quentin respectively, priced @ $19.98 each. I haven't seen them so I can't speak as to how"spoilery" they may be, but MPI always does a good job compiling such specials. I have half a mind to order one for myself.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
MPI is running a "40% Off Blowout Sale" of all their Dark Shadows DVD collections until September 1 (regularly $5998, now $35.98). Each set collects seven weeks of continuity, approximately 35 half hour shows each. New to their catalogue is "The Curse of the Vampire" and "The Haunting of Collinwood", each a 180 minute retrospective of Barnabas and Quentin respectively, priced @ $19.98 each. I haven't seen them so I can't speak as to how"spoilery" they may be, but MPI always does a good job compiling such specials. I have half a mind to order one for myself.

Over at Amazon, the DS DVDs (other than the "special compiliation" DVDs) are currently on sale for about $25 a pop.
Huh!

BTW, "The Collector's Series" on VHS is "The Beginning" on DVD.
“The Curse of the Vampire” and “The Haunting of Collinwood”

Both of these special compilations are 180 minutes long, so each is almost like a (rather lengthy) Dark Shadows movie… almost, but not quite. These stories were never intended to be edited together in this fashion, so the story is rather relentless in both cases because it’s scene after scene of the same characters advancing the main plot, with no sub-plots at all and little character development. Having said that, these special releases do have their uses.

THE CURSE OF THE VAMPIRE: This “movie” is condensed primarily from the 19-week “1795 Flashback” story, from the arrival of Angelique through Barnabas being chained in his coffin, plus a few scenes from 1967 showing his release and settling into the Collinwood of the 20th century. I won’t say that Dark Shadows “jumped the shark” with this storyline because it was on its way up in the ratings and the show’s most popular period still lay ahead, but it did turn a corner from straightforward gothic horror into “weird science fantasy” (to borrow a phrase from EC comics).

Although it contained some significant developments, the 1795 storyline was never a favorite of mine and could have been told in about half its length as aired. I would not recommend that anyone watching the show for the first time start here, but I would recommend slotting it in after the séance which sends Vicki to the past. You won’t get anything about Vicki’s witch trial or her romance with Peter Bradford or anything about Nathan Forbes, but you will get everything you need to know about the origin of Barnabas’ vampirism in one fell swoop.

THE HAUNTING OF COLLINWOOD: Given that “The Curse of the Vampire” was told chronologically in the order the events happened (eighteenth century followed by twentieth century) and not the way the episodes originally aired, one might expect the same from “The Haunting of Collinwood” but no. Then again, it would be extremely difficult to condense Quentin’s entire story from the 37-week into even a three hour tape! This “movie” condenses about 14 week’s worth of episodes concentrating, like the other DVD, on just the main plot. Also like the other DVD, this one is a bit “relentless” when it comes to scene after scene with the same characters, but because many of those scenes concentrate on David and Amy rather than Angelique and Barnabas (child actors instead of the series’ big guns), “The Haunting of Collinwood” is a bit more tedious than “The Curse of the Vampire”.

The DVD takes place intire in the present day, from the “haunted telephone” right through the abandonment of Collinwood. Because Quentin appears as a ghost throughout, don’t watch this expecting David Selby to do anything other than laugh. (He doesn’t get any actual lines until after the story shifts to the past to resolve the curse.)
"My name is Victoria Winters. Wow, did Conrad Bain ever have hair?"
I now have a mental image of Diff'rent Strokes being set at the Collinsport Inn, haunted by the ghost of Gary Coleman.

I've often wondered: does she write "My name is Victoria Winters" every time she makes an entry in her diary?

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