Friday, 15 February 2008

Barnabas and Me: Part One

One of my favourite things in the world is the 1960s TV series Dark Shadows. I just love it. This is the story of my relationship with the show and my ongoing quest to watch all 1,225 episodes.


Part One (of probably quite a few!)

 At the Bristol Comics Expo in 2004 I bought a shedload of cheap (and mostly rubbish) comics from one of the dealers. One of them was Dark Shadows no. 1 by Innovation Comics. I bought it mostly because by then the painted covers and licensed comics Innovation used to publish were making me feel nostalgic for my early days as a comic fan. It's a truly rubbish comic, but in the back was an article about the original TV series (the comic itself is based on a 90s remake) which was pretty interesting. I began to get more and more intrigued by the show. The very idea of a daytime soap opera about vampires, witches and werewolves seemed crazy but somehow inspired. So one day I took a chance and bought the first DVD collection off eBay, hoping for the best...

 After a few episodes I started to realise it was something special. The beautiful 60s black and white cinematography and amazing Gothic sets,  coupled with the haunting theme tune and incidental music, soon had me hooked. The character and sheer drama of it, and the bloody audacity to do a soap opera about a 200 year old vampire. It's like they made it just for me, I remember thinking. I was a hopeless Dark Shadows addict within a few days!

 The DVDs actually start at episode 210 (I'll explain later) but contain a 15 minute segment giving the story so far. Orphan girl Victoria Winters gets a job as a Governess to the wealthy and mysterious Collins family, so influential the town of Collinsport, Maine is named for them. There she gets caught in the middle of a feud between the Collins family and the debonair Burke Devlin, who has served time in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Then she encounters the supernatural entity that is Roger Collins' ex-wife, and is kidnapped by crazy Matthew Morgan, only to be rescued by a ghost, all at the same time as trying to discover details about her mysterious past.

It was one nutty ride, but not a great success on original transmission. With cancellation looming, creator Dan Curtis and his team decided to change perspective. The supernatural elements of the show had until that point been relatively low-key compared to the more traditional soapy storylines. All of that was to change, however, with the introduction in episode 210 of Barnabas Collins, the vampire...

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