‘Dark Shadows: The Greatest Episodes Collection — The Best of Barnabas'
With “Dark Shadows: The Greatest Episodes Collection — The Best of Barnabas,” the most memorable character from the sprawling supernatural soap opera gets a DVD compilation dedicated just to him.
From 1966 to 1971, the cult favorite “Dark Shadows” aired on weekday afternoons on ABC, drawing 20 million viewers at the peak of its popularity. The forerunner of modern TV favorites like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Supernatural,” “Dark Shadows” also appealed to young audiences, who would rush home from school to see the innovative show, which merged the suspense,
Introduced a year into the show's five-year run, the 200-year-old vampire Barnabas Collins soon became the most beloved member of the expansive, secret-keeping Collins clan. Canadian actor Jonathan Frid, who died last month at the age of 87, played the undead patriarch as both menacing and sympathetic.
“Dark Shadows” has been revived and continued many times on television, in books and in films. Actor Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton, both longtime fans who grew up with the show, collaborated on the most recent revival, a big-screen remake that opened in theaters last week.
As any “Dark Shadows” devotee will tell you, the original soap didn't have the quirky humor Depp and Burton bring to their version — see, Mom, I was listening — but with its campy, over-the-top acting and cheesy shoestring production values, the original series is both unintentionally funny and oddly compelling.
“The Best of Barnabas” includes nine 22-minute episodes that revolve around the bloodsucking protagonist.
In a 1968 installment, Barnabas gets pulled into a dream curse cast by the crafty witch Angelique (Lara Parker), who transformed him into a vampire in the first place.
Two 1969 episodes are taken from an elaborate time-travel storyline in which Barnabas ventures back to 1897 and his scoundrel cousin Quentin (David Selby) greets him with suspicion and voodoo. Psychologist Dr. Julia Hoffman (Grayson Hall) experiments with a cure for Barnabas' vampirism that ages him to his true 200 years in a 1967 episode, and in what's billed as one of the show's most unusual story arcs — and that's saying something — Barnabas is ensnared by the enigmatic beings the Leviathans.
But the highlight of the collection is a chill-inducing 1967 episode, filmed in atmospheric black and white, in which Barnabas meets local waitress Maggie Evans (Kathryn Leigh Scott), who bears a striking resemblance to his lost love Josette.
Each episode comes with an optional introduction from Parker that helps to provide context.
For fans longing for the full “Dark Shadows” experience, a new 131-DVD box set that includes all 1,225 episodes, 100 hours of bonus material and a 96-page booklet is now available, but the retail price is nearly $600.
— Brandy McDonnell