While there are many television series, I could have chosen to be my choice for this month’s theme of Vampires the one that I chose is one of the beginning series.
Dark Shadows came to the TV screen back on June 27th, 1966. When we think of soap operas, the first thing we think of is not Vampires. For me, I tend to go to Days of Our Lives, Young and the Restless, or something in that vein.
However, the series Dark Shadows, which aired weekdays on ABC, lasted in the original series from 1966 through 1971. By the end of the original airing, the show had 1,225 episodes. Quite a run for a series I think.
Taking A Bite
The series revolved around the lives of the wealthy Collins family and was set in Collinsport, Maine. While the series was about Vampires, these were not the only creatures to make an appearance in a town that was a homing beacon for the supernatural.
The series had quite some firsts for its time including the use of an unknown actress named Alexandra Isles (at the time Moltke) playing the lead character of Victoria Winters. Victoria was an orphan who arrived in Collinsport to find out more about her past.
The series had many veteran actors including Joan Bennett cast as Victoria’s employer Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, a woman who had not left her home in over eighteen years.
Stage actor Louis Edmonds was cast as Elizabeth’s brother, a widower, Roger Collins. Another stage actress, Nancy Barrett, was cast as Elizabeth’s headstrong daughter Carolyn Stoddard, and child actor David Henesy was cast as Roger’s troubled son David Collins.
Chance Of Rain
The series was not well received by critics and honestly didn’t reach its paranormal acclaim until later episodes. The paranormal elements were only hinted at until episodes 52 and 70 in which the viewing audience was finally able to catch glimpses of ghosts.
The show featured many overturns and changes from the cast to transitioning from black and white to color. It faced time slot changes and varying target markets along the entire series.
By 1967 it had reached an astounding amount of viewers ranging from 7 to 9 million. It sparked imagination, and the writing drew viewers in to see what was happening in Collinsport that day.
1969 was the year that pulled some of the best episodes of the series; the problem was that writers were pressured to maintain the viewership after the 1957 storyline arc closed. Their next storyline entitled “The Leviathans” was the beginning of the end to the series.
ABC at that time was already trying to weed out the series losing them or costing them money, the ones that were not bringing in the viewers. Unfortunately for Dark Shadows, their viewership at the time was mainly the 18 to 25 demographic.
These were not the ones who usually bought goods which is what supplied the money to gain airtime. That was one of the many points that brought ABC to their decision to remove Dark Shadows off the air after a 5 year run in 1971.
While the series ended, it indeed wasn’t the end for Dark Shadows by any means. There have been Movies, revamped TV series, merchandise. There are still many fans that hold this series close to their hearts.
It was a something that fascinated audiences, and it was in good company with series like The Munsters and Bewitched. The paranormal has always held us fascinated in its embrace, tenderly showing us things we hadn’t dreamed of until then. Always finding new ways to tantalize and bring us back wanting more.
There has been an influx of paranormal shows since that time, but I believe that each and every one of them owes at least a hat tilt to the series who paved the way for them even coming into existence and that is why I chose Dark Shadows rather than a more recent show like True Blood.
Not that True Blood isn’t a fantastic show, but it indeed follows the Dark Shadows archetype featuring Vampires as well as all manner of fantastical like the Fae all in what feels like a soap opera at times.
I wanted to pay homage to the beginning, and I hope that I have. What are your thoughts dear readers?
Have you seen Dark Shadows in any regard whether the original or the newer movie? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.