Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Dark Shadows

Two US tv series.

1. (1966-1971). Dan Curtis Productions/ABC. Pr Robert E Costello, George DiCenzo, Peter Miner, Lela Swift. Exec pr Dan Curtis. Dir Curtis and many others. Spfx Dick Smith. Writers Joe Caldwell and many others. Created by Curtis. Novelizations 34 novels by Marilyn Ross, plus 35 Comic books (1969-1976) released by Gold Key Comics. Starring Nancy Barrett (Carolyn Stoddard/ Charity/Millicent Collins/Letitia Faye), Joan Bennett (Elizabeth Collins Stoddard/Naomi Collins/Flora Collins), Betsy Durkin (Victoria Winters 1968-1971), Louis Edmonds (Roger Collins/Joshua Collins), Jonathan Frid (Barnabas Collins), David Hennessy (David Collins/Tad Collins), Alexandra Moltke (Victoria Winters, 1966-1968), David Selby (Quentin Collins), Diana Walker (Carolyn Stoddard). 1225 30min episodes. Colour.

Undoubtedly the most unusual soap opera ever aired, this dark and moody daily series was set in the small town of Collinsport, Maine. It was there that Victoria Winters was hired as the governess for 10-year-old David Collins, heir to the Collins family fortune. Unknown to Victoria and the townspeople was the fact that David was also heir to the Curses placed on Collinwood, the eerie family mansion that stood above town on Widow's Hills.

After a beginning that mostly featured a rather standard soap-opera story about plots on Virginia's life, things took an unusual turn. With the ratings falling, executive producer Curtis gambled on the introduction of a 175-year-old Vampire, Barnabas Collins, who quickly became the most popular character in the series. Seemingly overnight, DS became a hit. In the second season matters became even more complicated when DS jumped back in time, with the same actors recast, to 1796 and the ancestors of those in modern Collinsport. In due course the show also made use of alternate timelines and leaps to the future, with plots winding intricately through the various eras and settings. Many of the stories were loosely based on classics like Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891).

Much like Star Trek, DS spawned a long series of novels and conventions that continued after its cancellation. Two movies were also derived from this series: House of Dark Shadows (1970; > Marilyn Ross; Vampire Movies) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971). 20 years later, 2 brought Barnabas and his friends back to life – or what passed for it. [BC]

2. (1991-1992) MGM-UA/NBC. Exec pr Dan Curtis. Dir Rob Bowman, Curtis, Paul Lynch, Armand Mastroianni, Mark Sobel. Spfx Greg Curtis. Writers Jon Boorstin and many others. Graphic novelization Nine comic books (1992-1993) from Innovation Publishing. Starring Barbara Blackburn (Carolyn Stoddard/Millicent Collins), Ben Cross (Barnabas Collins), Stefan Gierasch (Professor Woodard/ Joshua), Joanna Going (Victoria Winters/Josette Dupré), Jean Simmons (Elizabeth Collins Stoddard/Naomi Collins), Barbara Steele (Dr Julia Hoffman/Natalie). 2 2hr and 9 1hr episodes. Colour.

This remake of 1 begins with a groundskeeper accidentally opened the Collins family cemetery vault. Out comes Barnabas, who promptly begins feasting on the local women. The hapless Vampire yearns to be cured, and finds help from Hoffman, who labours to create a suitable Potion. Both are endangered by Woodard, who determines to slay Barnabas at any cost – the scenario owes something to Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). Like 1, this short-lived series took place across different timelines. [BC]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.