With its alluring tales of Gothic mystery and supernatural intrigue, Dark Shadows became one of the most popular daytime series of all time. Since first airing on ABC-TV from 1966-71, Dark Shadows has earned the reputation... more » as being one of the most unusual and enduring programs in television history. The character of Barnabas Collins, a guilt-ridden 175 year-old vampire, brought the show tremendous success. Barnabas' secret is threatened by David Collins' curiosity. Anxious to become human again, Barnabas orders Dr. Julia Hoffman to accelerate her treatments to cure him, but the experiment backfires, causing Barnabas to age rapidly and assume the appearance of a 200-year-old man. During a seance at Collinwood to contact the spirit of Barnabas' young sister Sarah, Victoria Winters mysteriously disappears and finds that she has traveled back in time to the year 1795. Bonuses: Exclusive interviews with series producer Robert Costello, writer Sam Hall, special make-up artist Dick Smith and actress Lara Parker. Starring: Joan Bennett, Jonathan Frid, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Louis Edmonds, Nancy Barrett, David Henesy, Clarice Blackburn, Anthony George, Grayson Hall, Joel Crothers, David Ford, Robert Gerringer, Jerry Lacy, Lara Parker, Sharon Smyth, Peter Turgeon, Vince O' Brien, Angus Cairns, Peter Murphy, William Shust, Dorrie Kavanaugh and Alexandra Moltke« less
E. Hornaday | Lawrenceville, NJ United States | 04/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For pure Dark Shadows at its classic best, this box set presents 40 episodes that portend the core brilliance of what has made this supernatural daytime series endure these past 38 years: Love, death, fear, longing, revenge, obsession, lies, secrets, loyalty and betrayal all played out against a compelling backdrop of Gothic sensibilities that include a 175-year-old guilt-ridden and love-lorn vampire, seances, time travel, ghosts, mystery, murder, intrigue and a constant dose of the unexpected.
This "soap opera" managed to transcend its genre by bringing a taste of Gothic horror and science-fiction fantasy to the hum-drum world of the afternoon drama, and DVD Collection 4 underscores that more than any of the previous Dark Shadows DVD releases. In fact, almost every important recurring Dark Shadows theme that was to take the series through its entire five-year run and into TV immortality is represented somewhere within the episodes of this amazing box set.
The vampire Barnabas Collins, portrayed brilliantly by the classically trained actor Jonathan Frid, was to be a temporary character that would be killed off following a reign of terror, but Frid's compelling characterization caused Barnabas to remain throughout the series as ratings sored and Frid became a national phenomenon among viewers.
In this box set, the "human side" of Barnabas is about to be revealed for the first time when governess Victoria Winters is transported back in time via a seance. The seance is an attempt by the Collins family to reach the ghost of a little girl named "Sarah," who has being appearing to aid those in Collinwood. Sarah is actually the 10-year-old sister of Barnabas, whom he loves deeply, and who died tragically.
During the seance, Victoria abruptly disappears from the Collins' drawing room and ends up in the Collinwood of 1795 where she eventually meets the Barnabas Collins of that time. This is Barnabas BEFORE a viscious curse had turned him into a vampire.
Viewers discover that Barnabas is about to wed the love of his life, Josette Du Pres, but a jealous servant of Josette's with whom Barnabas had brief affair, successfully plots to ruin their relationship. The servant, Angelique, portrayed with stunning ability by Lara Parker, is actually a witch born in Martinique who uses her supernatural powers to wreck havoc on the pair and almost everyone else in Collinwood.
The story of Barnabas, his love for Josette that ends tragically and his involuntary transformation into a vampire is the cornerstone for all of the later story arcs that are to come in the series. It also is the first of many stories that utilizes the core cast of this amazing series to play their own relatives or other people in the past.
This box set also provides some of the most compelling episodes in present-day Collinwood as Barnabas struggles to become human. Dr. Julia Hoffman, played by the Emmy-worthy actress Grayson Hall, has fallen in love with Barnabas and is willing to do anything to help him. To that end, she performs a series of experiments that result in a serium she injects him with to end his vampire torment. Unfortunately, the injections result in Barnabas beginning to age to his true years --- 175! Amazing makeup for Frid makes the transformation believable.
The production quality of these box sets are stunning considering the original source material did not make it through the decades as unscathed as did the reputation of this incredible series. In two words: Buy It!
Guilty Pleasures: Dark Shadows on DVD!
Music Fan-atic | Hogwarts | 06/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beginning with Collection 3 of Dark Shadows on DVD, we start some of the earlier color episodes. Although the black & white episodes hold an atmospheric moodiness that goes with the show, nothing is lost here in the color episodes. Instead, the color adds to the richness of the backdrop and sets and adds to the eerieness of the program. In Collection 4 the story of Barnabas further unfolds as the then evil vampire becomes impatient with Dr. Hoffman's experiment and orders her to accelerate his cure to human form. Desperate because his secret is ever increasingly being threatened by the curiosity of young David Collins and his anxiousness to be with Victoria Winters, the experiment backfires causing Barnabas to age rapidly to his true age of 200+ years! Carolyn, unwittingly stumbles upon the aged Barnabas who falls upon her for her much needed blood. Meanwhile a seance is performed to contact the spirit of Barnabas' sister,Sarah, but something goes wrong and Victoria Winters is mysteriously thrust back to the year 1795.....to the Collins estate, to relive the fateful days that lead up to Barnabas' fateful curse! This is a great volume filled with awesome storylines, an incredible way to outline Barnabas' back history! The picture quality on the DVDs is breathtaking for a show as old as this! Kudos to MPI for such an enormously popular undertaking! Worth the price of admission!"
Another solid set of episodes, this time spanning the centur
Joseph P. Menta, Jr. | Philadelphia, PA USA | 02/28/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Dark Shadows Collection 4 delivers forty more episodes of involving, effective gothic melodrama, made more potent by the inclusion of a couple of especially dramatic developments: Barnabas moving beyond his frequent empty threats of violence and actually killing someone to keep the truth of his existence a secret, and, later in the set, a sudden and unexpected trip to the past to show us the origin of the undead Barnabas. All great stuff.
But first, a playful, minor quibble. It's actually kind of cheesy that when we shift to the past, members of the 18th century Collins family are played by the same actors who perform in the present-day storylines. In actuality, only Jonathan Frid as Barnabas should have appeared in both time frames, due to the fact that he's playing the same (ultimately immortal) character in both storylines! But I guess budget limitations prevented the use of a fresh batch of actors for the earlier sequences. At least Victoria Winters, after she goes back in time, DOES think it is curious that everyone looks the same as their 20th century descendents, but then no further explanation is given as to why they look the same. Oh, well.
In any event, viewers quickly get caught up in the colonial-era proceedings as we meet a much more innocent and likable Barnabas and the love of his life, Josette. We also see the memorable introduction of Angelique, a servant of Josette's who Barnabas briefly had a dalliance with in the past but who isn't interested in just quietly stepping aside now that he's involved with the much more "proper" Josette. So, we learn that the pre-vampiric Barnabas wasn't COMPLETELY innocent, as we actually feel a little bad for the jilted Angelique, even though she turns out to be truly diabolical in her revenge.
The lion's share of episodes in this batch takes place in the present (well, the 1960's "present", but you know what I mean), with a small handful of episodes toward the end of the set shifting to the earlier era story, which will play out through all the discs of Collection 5 and a bit beyond.
Like the earlier sets, each disc in this collection concludes with an engaging interview, usually about 3-to-5 minutes in length, with a member of the cast or behind-the-scenes person.
I remained thoroughly involved in this offbeat series and look forward to soon reporting on Collection 5!
The "Origin of Barnabas" story begins -- after several other
David H. Downing | Psoli, PA | 01/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"DARK SHADOWS is the only daytime soap opera in TV GUIDE's "25 Top Cult Shows Ever." (1) DS made it into that list because of the 175-year-old vampire Barnabas Collins, played by Shakespearean actor Jonathan Frid, introduced a year into DS to save it from cancellation.
The first fifteen episodes in this set eliminate all traces of DS's original plan -- abandoned partly to satisfy the viewers -- to destroy Barnabas. For me, the most effective part of this segment is the murder of Dr. Woodard, in which DS's modern-day, female Van Helsing, Julia Hoffman, is forced to assist. This puts Dr. Hoffman in the position Barnabas has been in since he became a vampire -- that of needing to suppress one's conscience in order to do what's necessary to survive.
In contrast, I'm unimpressed by Burke Devlin's offscreen demise. I question whether a vampire could cause a plane crash -- a warlock, yes, but a vampire? -- and I feel Burke's an important enough character to deserve a nice shocking onscreen death. To be fair, though, Burke was significant in the pre-Barnabas episodes, which many viewers probably hadn't seen.
I'm ambivalent about Barnabas's discrediting of young David Collins. I'm glad Barnabas decides against killing David, and I feel David's growing horror, desperation, and frustration is effective. But I have trouble believing Barnabas could make his coffin disappear and sabotage the door to the secret room, especially on such short notice. Furthermore, the deliberate avoidance of the word "vampire" seems contrived in episode #335. I agree overall that avoiding the word adds verisimilitude and prevents campiness. However, I feel it would have come up in David's session with Dr. Fisher.
Dr. Hoffman's unrequited love for Barnabas -- the other reason for keeping Barnabas alive (2) -- descends into jealousy as she attempts to undermine his relationship with Victoria Winters. And IMHO her using the EXACT same ploy to hypnotize Victoria THREE TIMES IN A ROW verges on unintentional silliness. What saves it is the acting. Everyone on DS takes it very seriously and plays it with depth and sincerity.
However, we can't blame Dr. Hoffman for what goes wrong with her attempt to cure Barnabas medically. It's because Barnabas insists on accelerating the pace that the treatments backfire, causing him to age. Dick Smith's old-age makeup is quite convincing, especially when combined with Jonathan Frid's acting. I agree with those who say the television version is more believable than the HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS version. The bonus interview with Dick Smith includes a fully illustrated presentation on how the makeup was done.
Another significant event is the long-awaited confrontation of Barnabas by the ghost of his little sister, Sarah. We have learned that Barnabas's love for Sarah is one of the few positive emotions competing with his bitterness over his fate. Barnabas knows that Sarah has appeared to others and has implored her to appear to him. But he dreads her appearance, because he's certain she's angry with him for his evil behavior. He is quite correct, and in fact, Sarah only appears to him to stop him from killing Dr. Hoffman. Sarah tells Barnabas that she'll never appear to him again until and unless he learns to stop being evil.
Alas, although child actress Sharon Smyth does a good job of LOOKING angry, she fails, on the whole, to pull it off. Her performance is just too flat and wooden for this extremely emotional and significant moment. Fortunately, Jonathan Frid and Grayson Hall's performances menage to sell the scene after the fact.
The question of whether Barnabas reforms is almost immediately put on hold because of what may be the most significant milestone in the series -- the "Origin of Barnabas" story. DS fans had kept Barnabas alive, but now they wanted the whole story of Barnabas's past. To comply, DS sends Victoria Winters, via a seance, back to 1795. Once there, we see the story of the entire Collins family of that time -- focusing on the human Barnabas and the events that led to his present-day condition.
A promo for the 1795 sequence is included, but placed between episodes 336 and 337 -- way ahead of where it belongs, given that it promises the sequence to begin "this Friday."
As the 1795 story unfolds, continuing through set 7, you'll see it's inconsistent with the accounts we've gotten from the present-day Barnabas, particularly in episode 345. I'm told this is because Anthony George left the show, forcing a reworking of the storyline.
This trip back in time seems a risky move because it breaks, to some extent, one of the cardinal rules of soap operas -- thou shalt not disorient viewers who miss episodes. If you missed 365, wherein occurs the seance that sends Vicki back to 1795, you're never going to completely understand how everything "went down," despite the verbal account that opens every 1795 episode.
And now, we meet Angelique, the witch who will be Barnabas's most significant adversary during the remainder of DS. We also learn that Barnabas isn't a completely innocent victim. In episodes 368 and 369, we learn Barnabas had an affair with Angelique, who is the maid of the woman he's now going to marry, Josette. The most charitable view is that Barnabas acted in a moment of weakness and wants to be let off the hook. If you're not feeling so generous, you might say that Barnabas decided the hot little servant was fine to have a fling with, but only her high-class mistress was worthy of a serious commitment. Either way, Angelique's anger is understandable --
-- although it certainly doesn't justify the pain and destruction Angelique will bring to the Collins family in general and Barnabas in particular. To find out more, you'll have to watch set #5.
(1) May 30-June 5, 2004 issue.
(2) In Sam Hall's interview, he says that Grayson Hall liked the unrequited love angle."
A must own collection !
Joe | Lynchburg, Virginia United States | 10/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can probably count on one hand tv series that I would buy on DVD...and Dark Shadows is one of them ! Yes...they borrowed storylines from classics including "Frankenstein"..."Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde"...and "The Wolfman"....they left in flubbed lines...had on camera miscues...many of the individual scenes dragged out way too long...and the cast probably earned plenty of frequent flyer miles with all of their trips back and forth into the past and future...but these things give Dark Shadows it's charm ! The sets were absolutely awesome...professionally designed and built by architects and craftsmen...the music soundtrack is very beautiful... the quality is great on DVD...and the interviews with cast members and others involved at the end of each disc are excellent additions! It was also the start for sucessful actors like David Selby (Quentin Collins)...Kate Jackson(Daphne Harridge)...John Karlen(Willie Loomis)...and Roger Davis(Peter Bradford)...it featured familiar faces like Joan Bennett(Elizabeth Collins Stoddard) and Dennis Patrick(Jason Mc Guire)...and actors who came out of nowhere to steal the show...like Lara Parker(Angelique the witch) Louis Edmonds(Roger Collins)....Thayer David (Ben Stokes)Jerry Lacy (Reverend Trask)...and Nancy Barrett(Carolyn Stoddard) ! Buy all of the sets...but I'm reviewing here because Victoria Winters' accidental trip to 1795 via seance' is the most well written and best acted segment of the entire series...as good as most of them were ! Enjoy...Dark Shadows truly is a classic...and my order is up to date through Collection 9 ! Start right now with Collection 1...the first appearance of last but not least...Barnabas Collins...played with all of his heart and soul by Johnathan Frid....a must own DVD collection that won't take too big of a bite out of your budget !"