Dark Shadows was a TV show ahead of its time and was the precursor to all the more recent vampire themed TV shows like Buffy and the Vampire diaries. It ran in the sixties and early seventies and was basically a dark soap opera that ran for six seasons- a total of 1,225 episodes were produced.
Dark Shadows was originally aired on the ABC network and started off in black and white, moving to colour in 1967.
The show started off as a pretty standard soap opera, but after a year the writers introduced a vampire into the storyline who was played by Jonathan Frid. There was all sorts of beasts and ghouls in the show including ghosts, werewolves, zombies, witches and warlocks. It remains essential cult viewing to this day and ran for 5 years.
The action centred around a young woman, Victoria Winters, played by Alexandra Moltke. She´s an orphan employed by Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, a woman who had not left her house for almost 20 years. To begin with, the show was panned by the critics, but as is often the case, the storylines and characters developed and Dark Shadows took off. Dark Shadows became one of ABC´s most popular daytime shows appealing to a teenage audience (much like the newer vampire shows!).
By the late sixties Dark Shadows was pulling in an incredible20 million viewers. But following the launch of a film, interest waned and this proved to be the show´s high water mark. Times were changing, and the genre that was starting to pull in the numbers were science fiction shows like Star Trek and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. It was finally discontinued in the summer of 1971 when the viewing figures dropped to 5 million.
The show remains a cult classic- a plethora of sites and articles have sprung up about the show like this great piece listing out the top 10 Dark Shadows episodes. That´s dedication! Number one is episode 405 from 1968 which we feature below.
After an argument, Barnabas (the vampire) shoots Angelique. She puts a curse on him that anyone who lives him will die and then a bat bites him.
Dark Shadows #405- The Best Episode?
The TV show also inspired a 2012 film- also called Dark Shadows. Johnny Depp plays Barnabus Collins (who else!) in Maine in the eighteenth century.
He´s a rich and powerful playboy, who meets his match when he breaks the heart of a witch called Angelique played by Eva Green. She turns him into a vampire and buries him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas finally escapes and sets to work on a 1970s Collinsport.
It received mixed reviews from the critics and generally fared better overseas than in the US.