The main title card for Dark Shadows.
|Run dates||June 27, 1966 to April 2, 1971.|
|Genres||horror, vampire, soap opera|
|Country of origin||USA|
|CollinWiki: The Dark Shadows Encyclopedia|
Dark Shadows was a Gothic soap opera created by Dan Curtis that aired weekdays on the ABC television network, from 27 June 1966 to 2 April 1971. The story "bible" does not mention any supernatural elements; and it was considered daring (and unprecedented in daytime television) when ghosts were introduced about six months after it began. However, the series only became truly popular when it added a vampire to the storylines. This was swiftly followed by werewolves, ghosts, zombies, man-made monsters, witches, warlocks, time travel (both into the past and into the future), and a parallel universe.
The series opens with Victoria Winters (Alexandra Moltke) arriving at Collinwood to be governess to young David Collins. She encounters strange goings-on in the old mansion. Most significant among these are the attacks on several Collinsport residents that occur in a story line running from episode 211 (March 22, 1967) to 365 (November 17, 1967). These occur shortly after a vampire, Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid), is released from his coffin. When Maggie Evans (Kathryn Leigh Scott)—a Collinsport waitress whom the vampire believes to be the reincarnation of his long lost love, Josette du Pres—is kidnapped, Doctor Julia Hoffman (Grayson Hall) is called to investigate.
The character of Barnabas Collins was introduced to the serial in a last-effort attempt to resurrect the flagging ratings. The role was originally intended to be a brief one, to run but a mere 13 weeks; but the popularity of the character and the quick spike in ratings resulted in his retention. He quickly became virtually the star of the show.
Barnabas's history was explained in the next major storyline, in which a séance causes Victoria Winters to travel back in time to the year 1795, when Barnabas was still an ordinary human being. Although engaged to a beautiful heiress from Martinique named Josette du Pres (Kathryn Leigh Scott), he has a one night stand with her maidservant, Angelique Bouchard (Lara Parker). Unbeknownst to him or Josette, Angelique is actually a powerful witch, well acquainted with voodoo and the black arts; and, when Barnabas refuses to resume the affair, Angelique casts a spell on Josette to make her elope with Barnabas's uncle. Barnabas fatally shoots him in a duel. Then, when he discovered that Angelique is responsible, he shoots her, as well. With what she believes to be her dying words, she takes revenge on Barnabas by summoning a vampire bat from hell to attack him. Shortly thereafter, Barnabas rises as a vampire.
After being released from a chained coffin in the twentieth century, Barnabas introduces himself to the modern Collins family as a cousin from England. The family accepts this story, even though they have never heard of him before, because of his resemblance to a portrait of the "ancestral" Barnabas (actually one and the same).
Dark Shadows was distinguished by its vividly melodramatic performances, atmospheric interiors, memorable story lines and an unusually adventurous music score. It had only a small company of actors, who each therefore played many roles. Furthermore, as actors came and went, some characters were played by several actors. Perhaps one of ABC's first truly popular daytime shows, Dark Shadows found its demographic niche in teenagers coming home from school in time to watch the show. Now regarded as somewhat of a camp classic, the series continues to enjoy intense cult status among its followers.