Soap Operas don’t come much more bizarre than Dark Shadows, in fact its safe to say that it was probably the worlds first supernatural soapie. Intended to be that way from the start the series began with Victoria Winters arriving in the town of Collinsport, Maine to act as a governess for David Collins at the family home of Collinwood.
The show really picked up with the arrival of Barnabus Collins on 14 April 1967, Barnabus just happened to be a centuries old vampire of course and with his coming the show began to move into the realms of time travel with for months sometimes the action shifting to the 1700’s.
Big plotlines included Dr Julia Hoffman trying to rid Barnabus of his ‘curse’; Victoria Winters being transported back to 1795 and later going insane. Another vampire Angelique also arrived in 1968 to play a major role and then later in the year Werewolf Chris Jennings also appeared. In 1969 a major storyline involved Barnabus travelling back to 1897 to try and help a werewolf descendant Quentin Collins.
The last two years of the show featured many parallel time storylines showing what might have happened if the characters had made different choices.
The show was pretty popular for most of its run and even garnered a top twenty hit single in 1968 with ‘Quentin’s Theme’. There were also two feature film spin offs House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971) and also in 1991 the series underwent a brief revival on NBC with Ben Cross as Barnabus and Lysette Anthony as Angelique.
Dark Shadows was videotaped rather than broadcast live, so all of the episodes are still extant but one thing the show got a reputation for was its on-air bloopers or gaffes, this was because the ABC execs of the time were heavy into cost cutting and refused to allow retakes, also the show was pretty effects laden (effects which often went wrong it must be said).
The show ended on 2 April 1971, it had been getting lower ratings for awhile and it was decided to replace it with a revival of the quiz show “Password”. Many viewers were most upset and there were hundreds of letters of protest to TV Guide who took the step of commissioning Sam Hall to write an article tying up all the loose ends left by the ending of the show. There is still an active fan club and there have numerous books and websites devoted to the show too.
The show has been seen in syndication since the late seventies and is also a regular part of the scifi channel’s line up. In 2012 a big screen adaptation starring Johnny Depp was made which sparked something of a revival of interest in the show once again.
USA | ABC – Dan Curtis Productions / 2000+ x 30 minute episodes / Broadcast 27 June 1966 – 2 April 1971 and Broadcast Monday to Friday mostly at 4.00pm.
Creator: Dan Curtis
Over the shows run the actors often played many different characters (in time travel and flashback scenes and so on), listed below are the principal cast members and the characters they were most noted for playing.
JONATHAN FRID as Barnabus Collins
JOAN BENNETT as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard
ALEXANDRE MOLTKE as Victoria Winters (1966-68)
GRAYSON HALL as Dr Julia Hoffman
LARA PARKER as Angelique (1968-70) and also as Catherine Harridge Collins (1971)
DAVID SELBY as Quentin Collins (1968-71)
KATHRYN LEIGH SCOTT as Maggie Evans (1966-70) and also Josette DuPres(1967-70)
DAVID HENESY as David Collins
JOEL CROTHERS as Joe Haskell (1966-69)
DAVID THAYER as Matthew Morgan (1966) and also Prof Timothy Eliot Stokes
KATE JACKSON as Daphne Herridge (1970-71)
DENISE NICKERSON as Amy Jennings (1968-70)