Twilight. The Vampire Diaries. Supernatural. Buffy The Vampire Hunter. Ask any viewer is they know these franchises. Odds are that the majority of those asked would know at least one of these franchises, if not more. But ask them about a little gothic daytime drama by the name of Dark Shadows, and the number of people who know of it would likely be far less. Next month though, that number may start to rise, as Tim Burton and Johnny Depp reteam once again for a big screen adaptation of the classic vampire drama. Wait. There was a vampire drama before all those others? That’s right. And in celebration, MPI home video is offering quite the treat for fans of this classic tv show.
MPI Home Video has released a pair of collections of classic Dark Shadows episodes, alongside a full series set with the full five year run in a special coffin shaped box. Being that the full box set boasts a hefty six hundred dollar price tag, we’ll focus more on the new single disc sets, as they’re more affordable at roughly ten bucks a pop. With any luck, next month’s resurrection of this classic series to the silver screen will also mean its re-birth on television, too. It used to run on Syfy at one point many years ago. Before that, it originally ran on ABC on weekday afternoons. And it had more than its share of gripping episodes. Nine of those episodes are included in the first of the two sets on which we’ll focus, “Dark Shadows: The Greatest Episodes Collection. Fan Favorites.”
The “Fan Favorites” collection includes episodes from 1967, 1969 and 1970. One of the best fo this collection is Episode 212, which opens the set. Episode 212 is one of the black and white episoeds from early in the show’s run. In this episode, Barnabus returns to Collinwood for the first time and meets Elizabeth and a then young David. At first Elizabeth and David are welcoming to Barnabus, despite the fact that he still looks the same as his picture that hangs in the house. He does a good job keeping the pair from knowing it’s really him. But eventually Elizabeth becomes very suspicious of Barnabus, and wishes she hadn’t let him in. Meanwhile, as he looks around, Barnabas states that he was home and that he’d make Collinwood his again. It’s a great start to the collection.
Episode 212 is just one of the great episodes in the “Fan Favorites” collection. In what is considered one of the odder episodes, Episode 1065 sees Barnabas and Julia travel to 1995. That in itself is what makes this episode such a standout. It’s not the first tv show to wonder what the 1990’s and beyond would look like. So seeing how the show’s heads decided to take that story was interesting. In this episode, Barnabas and Julia discover that Collinwood in 1995 was in ruins and that both Carolyn and Quentin had gone insane. Doctor Stokes is apprehensive at first about admitting this to them. But he finally breaks down and tells them. Though he adds he doesn’t know what drove the pair crazy. While he tries to get in to Carolyn’s mind for answers as to what happened, Barnabas and Julia encounter Quentin, and try to get answers from him. Neither side results in answers in this episode.
The “Fan Favorites” compilation also includes another important favorite in Episode 370. This episode aired November 24th, 1970. This time out, audiences what really happens when the spurned Angelique unleashes her fury on Barnabas and Josette. Angelique uses a voodoo doll of sorts and wraps a cloth around its neck, strangling it. This causes Barnabas to be strangled. He’s checked out by a doctor who determines that Barnabas is fine, and can’t figure out why he’s choking. Ultimately, when Barnabas is about to die from the strangulation, Angelique realizes the error of her ways. So she runs to the doll and unwraps it just in time. But she still vows to find a way to get revenge without killing him. What makes this episode important is that Angelique is the one that turned Barnabas to a vampire. She also plays a role in the new upcoming big screen adaptation of this classic show.
According to most of the material that’s out there, the big screen adaptation of Dark Shadows essentially takes a bunch of the show’s various episodes and mixes them together. Bits and pieces of these are seemingly included in the overall plot for the new movie remake. However the reviews turn out for the new movie, this “Fan Favorites” compilation is a great re-introduction for fans who haven’t gotten to see Dark Shadows in ages, and an equally impresive first impression for those audiences who’ve never seen it.