Dark Shadows is perhaps the first successful series that circled around a family living in a haunted house. What made it so interested was the Gothic atmosphere and typical soap opera fare, but it would nearly have been forgotten if not the ghosts and assorted other supernaturals became the stars. Their success led to various other entities, but most memorable was the reluctant vampire played by Shakespearean-trained Johnathan Frid, the future star of the series. Joined by a talented, family-knit cast of fine actors and actresses, each of whom bringing a range of whimsy and candor to their roles, Frid also became a reluctant TV star, but with the considerable cast, there was more than enough to pick your favorites. I always loved the beautiful and whimsical Nancy Barrett while the scores of love-lorn males who watched the show also had their choice of Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker, Donna McKechnie, Kate Jackson and Alexandra Moltke. The girls had their choice of Frid, David Selby, Don Briscoe, Robert Rodan, John Karlen, Chris Pennock and a slew of others. Surpassed only by Star Trek as a cult hit, this series has inspired an endless parade of novels, collectibles and memoribilia. I guess you could say what Star Trek did for Sci-Fi, Dark Shadows did the same for Horror. Storylines were based on the horror-classics (and some not-so-classics), and actors often confusingly took on several roles, further abusing the whole soap opera cliches of multiple lookalikes. Unfortunately anything this good can't last, and toward the end, it was showing that even the on-air talent was getting tired in the series. Had the series creators bothered to let their characters mature and escape the sometimes claustrophobic setting, it might have lasted up to twelve years; at least, the spirit of this series lasts through the short stories of its fans.
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