Ah, Barnabas Collins. The 175-year-old vampire who was inadvertently set free in 1967 and spent 4 years of the gothic daytime series Dark Shadows, in search of love and acceptance, and finding murder and mayhem. He was an evil blood-sucker, a member of the undead, but yet you could feel empathy for him.
Dark Shadows began in 1962, and when the ratings began to fall and the writers knew that the show was going to be canceled, they decided to do something drastic. They added new characters and a new story-line. Why not have a little fun, ‘eh?
Jonathan Frid, a Canadian actor, portrayed the tortured and lovelorn vampire Barnabas Collins from 1967 to the time the show ended in 1971. Amid all the expectations of a daytime drama (love, sex, murder, theft, kidnapping, etc.) were the strange and macabre stories of ghosts, vampires, werewolves and witches, and even a Frankenstein-like creation! It was quite entertaining, although corny as hell by today’s standards!
I used to race home after school just so I could watch Dark Shadows! My mom started watching before the addition of the undead and scary characters and I was right there with her with about as much understanding as a 5 – 8-year-old could have possibly had! I loved the spookiness and the anticipation of Dark Shadows. I knew that vampires were make-believe and I wasn’t afraid when I watched as many kids might have been. Dark Shadows was one of my favorite shows right alongside The Monkees, Gilligan’s Island, The Munsters, Lost In Space, and The Partridge Family, like most kids my age.
I was absolutely devastated when my mother started coming ‘undone’ and decided that I couldn’t watch Dark Shadows anymore. She said I was having nightmares. I never had nightmares. The only time I ever had a nightmare in my life was when I was sick with a very high fever (around age 8) and dreamt there was an evil fat penguin under the sheets by my feet. I remembered that, wouldn’t I also remember if I was having nightmares about witches and vampires, etc.? My heart was just broken.
I have just recently begun to watch Dark Shadows again, starting with episode 210, when Barnabas first appears. So corny, so funny… That was back when television was entertainment and not a cesspool of reality shows, Trump tv, and other mindless crap. Don’t get me wrong. I still watch tv. I have some favorite shows, but choosing something to watch these days with over 200 channels is getting more and more cumbersome.
Ah, the good ol’ days!