Our ongoing spotlight on sci fi and fantasy shows worth checking out on the streaming services.
What Is It? With its alluring tales of gothic mystery and supernatural intrigue, Dark Shadows became the most popular daytime series of all time during its run on ABC from 1966-71. Much like the show’s character Barnabas Collins, a guilt-ridden vampire released from his chained coffin after nearly 200 years, Dark Shadows retains an immortality that time steadfastly fails to erode. Amazon
Starring: Jonathan Frid, Joan Bennett, Grayson Hall, Nancy Barrett, Alexandra Moltke
The Skinny: This afternoon soap opera was the delight (and terror) of many kids coming home from school back in its day, as well as the adults who were able to tune in at the early hour it aired. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, witches, and more supernatural creatures populated the show, but most importantly it was carried by Jonathan Frid’s standout performance as the vampire Barnabas. His appearance changed the direction of the show when he arrived in its second season (it leaned more heavily to the soap opera side in its first year) and helped grow Dark Shadows into the legendary horror series it has since become.
Note to those going into the show for the first time: it was made in the 60’s on a soap opera budget and schedule, so adjust expectations accordingly. The special effects can be cheesy at times and their are plenty of gaffs with the props and lines, so it can be rough around the edges as well. But the stories and characters really stood out and this series delivers a very moody and creepy horror tale when it is at its best.
Amazon has the entire original run of the series (1,245 episodes!) available for streaming with Prime Video. The best place to start is with the second season which is when Barnabas joins the show. But if you do want to go back and watch the early episodes, those are under a separate entry referred to as Dark Shadows: The Beginning. Wherever you start (you can find a guide to the show’s main storylines at the show’s wiki site), it will be a fun (and sometimes campy) journey back to one of the greatest television horror series.
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