On Jeff's recommendation here, I bought Dark Shadows: The Greatest Episodes collection. This is the first time that I ever saw the show, though I always knew about it. Much like Doctor Who, I decided to see what all the hubbub was about. And watching Doctor Who was a rewarding experience except for a desire to meet Scottish gingers! I viewed the first two selections and immediately saw the appeal to children: an old mansion to explore, adventures at every turn and a mysterious man that befriends you. The pacing is pure soap opera as is the acting though Jonathan Frid rises far above that. Some questions/comments though:

  • Is Barnabas there to protect the Collins? What are his intentions?
  • Were there supernatural elements before Barnabas appeared?
  • Is there any significance to the black ring he wears?
  • Is there anything special about Victoria Winters?
  • Nice not to see cheesy special effects! There is much to say about lighting, shadows and set design to create a gothic atmosphere.
  • The one word not said in those two episodes was "vampire". Was his condition emphasized or was it downplayed?

Can't wait to see the other episodes!

Views: 79

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Ah! Another potential disciple! Welcome! I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

Is Barnabas there to protect the Collins? What are his intentions?

Initially Barnabas was introduced as the threat of a weeks-long story arc. At the end of the story he was to have been disposed of permanently, but when the ratings soared they found a way to keep him around. It was at this point the thrust of the show turned from gothic suspense to full-blown supernatural.

Were there supernatural elements before Barnabas appeared?

Originally, none at all. There were legends of ghosts and lots of inexplicably slammed doors and sounds of crying in the night, but noting outright supernatural that couldn’t be explained. Then about 35 weeks in (I think it was), just before the show was to have been cancelled, Dan Curtis decided to show a “real live ghost.” This was the ghost of Josette Collins, wife of Jeremiah and later revealed to be the paramour of Barnabas. The rating took a spike.

After that, they retconned Roger’s estranged wife Laura into a supernatural creature known as a Phoenix. (Chris Claremont would later “borrow” several ideas from Dark Shadows.) That was really the point the show turned, but they had to top themselves, and that’s when they came up with the idea to throw a vampire into the mix. Later developments would include time travel and parallel dimensions.

Is there any significance to the black ring he wears?

Like his wolf’s head cane, it’s one of his trademarks.

Is there anything special about Victoria Winters?

Originally, she was the central character of the show, an orphaned girl who accepted an invitation from a family she had never known to be governess to an eight year-old boy. As Barnabas became increasingly popular, the focus of the show shifted from her to him. When Alexandra Molke left on maternity leave she returned to the show. Two other actresses played Vicki briefly, but neither lasted in the role.

Nice not to see cheesy special effects! There is much to say about lighting, shadows and set design to create a gothic atmosphere.

I think of Dark Shadows as being the Tales from the Crypt to Doctor Who’s Weird Science. Both shows have their roots in the same era of black and white television and have a lot of things in common.

The one word not said in those two episodes was "vampire". Was his condition emphasized or was it downplayed?

They never used the word vampire early on, and very rarely later on. They would often use euphemisms such as “creature of the undead” or something. Very few ever learned Barnabas’ secret. Chief among them was Dr. Julia Hoffman, who came to Collinwood investigating the attacks on Maggie Evans but stayed to find a cure for Barnabas’ vampirism. He was eventually cured in the present, but when he time-travelled to the past, he became a vampire again.

I’m glad you took my advice and I look forward to more questions and discussion!

Is there any significance to the black ring he wears?

Like his wolf’s head cane, it’s one of his trademarks.

 

Sort of like the First Doctor's ring...

I know that Tomb of Dracula came out after Dark Shadows ended but there was the same theme of an ancient vampire's modern family with Frank Drake. Maybe on TV then you couldn't outright say "vampire" but they were showing Dracula movies on TV by then.

Dracula also wore a personalized ring in both the Universal and Hammer films. Bela Lugosi was buried with one of his as was Forrest J. Ackerman, I believe.

Did Barnabas display any of the traditional vampire powers like transformation or hypnosis? Did he have the usual limitations and weaknesses?

 

As far as I can recall, he didn't reflect in mirrors, and couldn't go out in sunlight. Don't recall if anyone ever pulled a crucifix on huim or not.

Yes, he could be kept at bay by a crucifix (and garlic). He could transform himself into a bat, but he was never explicitly shown transforminf into a wolf or mist. He could mentally control and summon those he had bitten, even from a distance. Other aspects of vampire lore (such as not being able to cross running water, etc.) were not dealt with. There was never a specific instance that I can recall of him not being able to enter a house because he wasn't invited.

Here's something to note: Dark Shadows reportedly used more sets than any other daytime soap opera, but the studio could only accomodate three at a time. Every episode (with a few exceptions) uses only three sets and five actors.

Were there supernatural elements before Barnabas appeared?

 

It's a funny thing, really - considering how much the show is now known for its "supernatural" elements - but when it started out, it was consumed with fairly conventional "soap opera" events before the real weirdness started kicking in.  In some ways I think that was a good thing - it built up the environment a bit, before things started going really nuts.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2017   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service