Friday, April 9, 2021

Dark Shadows: The Revival - Episode 1 (1/13/91)

We're sorry to say that the Revival series of Dark Shadows is not currently streaming on any service!

A train rolls by the coast as the sun sets. Riding aboard is Victoria Winters, who gazes out the window and has strange thoughts of introducing herself to an unseen audience:

My name is Victoria Winters. My journey is just beginning. A journey that I’m hoping will somehow begin to reveal the mysteries of my past. It is a journey that will bring me to a strange and dark place, to a house high atop a stormy cliff at the edge of the a house called Collinwood. To a world I’ve never known with people I’ve never met; people who tonight are still only vague shadows in my mind, but who will soon fill all the days and nights of my tomorrows. 

Mrs. Johnson informs Elizabeth Collins Stoddard about preparations she’s made for the new governess arriving from New York, as Elizabeth fixes a vase of flowers in the room where she will be staying. Elizabeth questions whether she’s done the right thing, inviting a stranger into the house, and Mrs. Johnson says that she’s sure she has, as Carolyn enters and agrees, saying she hopes she’s brought a whip and a chair, since it’s the only thing she hasn’t tried with David. Elizabeth’s niece, Daphne, enters and lets her know there are household checks in a folder downstairs in the study, and informs her she’s going to the Blue Whale to go over Sam’s books. Mrs. Johnson finds a shoebox under the pillow, and Carolyn cautions her not to open it. Elizabeth carefully lifts the lid and immediately drops it after seeing a bloodied, dead rat inside. She goes off in search of David, but Carolyn says she won’t find him, and says, “Poor Victoria Winters.”

Elizabeth tells Roger about the dead rat and he says they need a psychiatrist instead of a governess. He expresses skepticism over the 25 year old girl hired by their lawyer, but Elizabeth claims she’s highly qualified. As Roger pours himself a drink, he asks that they consider sending him to the town school since he’s been unable to convince her to send him to boarding school. She asks why he denies the fact that they won’t take him back after what happened. 

Victoria arrives at the deserted Collinsport station in the middle of the night and sees that nobody is there to pick her up. She shows up at the Blue Whale where Daphne is on the phone with Mrs. Johnson, informing her that she walked there from the station. Mrs. Johnson says she’ll take care of it and goes to inform Elizabeth and Roger. Roger is angry that Willie hasn’t picked her up and storms off in search of him. 

Willie is slowly decoding a text, repeating “lion looks at the dove” as he swigs from a bottle of booze in an untidy room. Roger bursts in asking why he’s not at the station, yanking the bottle from him and pouring the booze into the sink. Roger warns him to straighten up or he’s out of there. He asks what he’s up to and Willie claims he’s straightening himself up by reading from the old books. Roger pushes him out the door, telling him to get in the truck and pick up the girl.

Willie arrives at the Blue Whale and asks Sam to pour him a drink, but Sam refuses. Maggie says, “Why don’t you just blow, Willie!” and he responds, “Kiss off, Maggie!” Daphne rises from a table and tells him Miss Winters is there, but he says he’s going to have a drink first. When Daphne sarcastically comments on his charm he screams at her to sit down with her loverboy. Sam tells him to get the hell out and Joe walks over to back up his demand. Victoria steps up and says she’d like to go to Collinwood. Joe says she doesn’t have to go with Willie and that he’ll give her a ride, but she says it will be fine to ride with Willie, and thanks him and Daphne. As she exits, Willie flashes them a tooth rotting grin.

They arrive at Collinwood and Elizabeth meets them at the door, issuing a welcome and introducing herself and Carolyn. She instructs Willie to take her bag upstairs, informing him that his aunt would like to speak to him. Before he leaves the room he says, “Hope you like this freak palace, Miss Winters!” Carolyn says not to let Willie bother her and assures her that he is weird but harmless. Elizabeth informs her that Mr. Collins will be down soon and offers her a cup of tea. Victoria asks if David is asleep as they leave to have some tea.

Willie goes to the kitchen to see his aunt, Mrs. Johnson. She asks why he has to make things difficult. He says it’s not always his fault and that things were alright before Roger arrived. He tells her that he’s figured out where the jewels are and says they will be rich. He tells her he found books with codes and weird poems, and that he figured out the jewels are in a secret room in the family tomb. Mrs. Johnson chastises him, saying his schemes will lead to trouble. 

Willie makes his way to the mausoleum with a flashlight and sack. He pulls out a note where he has copied the text, “Three graces spin high above,” noting the matching frieze on the mausoleum. He enters, and after seeing the dove, rereads his note, “lion looks at the dove.” He locates the lion and pulls the ring in its mouth, causing the door next to it to swing open. Bats stream out of the room as he enters the room and finds a chained coffin. He is convinced he’s found the jewels, and lights a torch in the room. He removes a crowbar from his sack and begins to work on opening the chained coffin. 

Elizabeth tells Victoria that she’ll meet David at breakfast and school begins at 9. She wishes her a good night’s sleep and Carolyn leads her past ancestral portraits up the stairs to her room. She asks Carolyn how many rooms are in the house, but Carolyn doesn’t know and tells her many of them are closed off. 

Willie breaks the chains on the coffin and strains to slide the lid off. He peers inside and a hand shoots up and clutches his throat. 

Victoria is in her room unpacking, as she begins to investigate the room. As she pulls open the shower curtain, David leaps out and screams, running past her. She catches up to him and he confirms that he scared her. He tells her he doesn’t want her there and tries to run out of the room, but she blocks the door. She tells him she’s not there to hurt him and he warns her to open the door, giving her a menacing look. She suggests they go to his room.

He gets into his bed and resists her efforts to help him. He promises to scare her again and again. She says she’s there to be his friend and tells him she’ll see him in the morning. 

Daphne is going through Sam’s books while Maggie clears away glasses from tables at the Blue Whale. Daphne tells Sam that the government owes him and he praises her, saying he’d be in jail without her genius. Sam thanks her and she leaves. As she walks down the foggy, deserted street, she stops to listen to a dog howling. She quickens her pace as the howling becomes more insistent, and then breaks into a run until she reaches her car. She makes it inside and goes to lock the passenger door, but a hand reaches in and grabs her by the throat. She screams.

Daphne is on a gurney to be loaded onto an ambulance while Maggie stands horror stricken nearby. Sam tells her he called Joe and that Mrs. Stoddard is on the way. He asks how Daphne is, but Maggie is unable to answer. Sheriff Patterson arrives and sees Daphne’s gory neck wounds. He asks the paramedics if she’ll make it, who are unsure, noting she’s lost a lot of blood. The sheriff goes to look in her car and wonders where all her blood went, since there’s none in the car. 

Elizabeth and Carolyn arrive at the hospital and ask Dr. Fisher about Daphne’s condition. He says they’re pumping blood into her as fast as they can and he hopes she’ll be alright. They go into her room to see her. 

A caped figure enters the mausoleum where Willie is laid out on the floor with a bloody neck wound. The figure removes several small chests from a hidden compartment and digs his hands into a chest filled with gold coins and jewels. 

Sheriff Patterson goes to see Dr. Fisher, telling him he’s got trackers looking for the animal responsible for Daphne’s wounds. He tells the sheriff to stop looking for an animal because he found traces of human saliva in the wound. 

The sheriff consults with Professor Woodard about the madman responsible for attacking Daphne. Woodard is surprised to hear she lost half her blood volume. He shares that there are documented cases of people who believed themselves vampires. Sheriff Patterson provides the professor with a full report so he can help him find the person responsible. 

The caped figure approaches Collinwood with a cane. Mrs. Johnson greets the person at the door, who asks for Mrs. Collins, informing her that her cousin, Barnabas Collins from England, is there to see her. She invites him in and explains that the family is having dinner and she’ll inform them of his arrival. He follows her inside as he surveys the room full of sculptures and ancestral portraits. He walks to the stairs and gazes upon a full length portrait of a man in a cape with a cane at the base of the stairway.  

Elizabeth greets him and welcomes him to Collinwood. He thanks her and tells her he’s been looking forward to this moment for a long time. In the family room, Carolyn notes that he looks exactly like the man in the portrait. Barnabas acknowledges that the Collins blood has a persistent strength and admits he’s always been fascinated by his resemblance to the portrait. He acknowledges that they’ll recognize the ring and cane featured in the portrait, which are his most treasured possessions. Elizabeth acknowledges that they knew from the journals that the original Barnabas had traveled to England during the 1700s just after the election of John Adams, who Barnabas says he helped to elect, along with Thomas Jefferson as vice president. She asks what brings him to Collinwood, and he claims he had business in Boston and couldn’t resist coming, being so close. 

Roger asks him about his business, and he tells him he’s investing in a ship building firm and that he might stay on if it’s a beneficial business environment. He asks where he stayed in London, since he was just there on business, and then asks if he knew the Bromleys, but Barnabas interrupts to say he doesn’t, as his business has been ‘consuming’. He says he’s heard so much about Collinwood over the years, and that it’s just as he remembers. Roger asks what he means by ‘remembers’, and he explains that he heard vivid stories that it almost seems he had been there. He goes on to inform them of intricate details of the construction of Collinwood. Elizabeth is amazed by his expert knowledge of the family’s history. Roger offers him a drink, but he declines. He asks if he might have the opportunity to restore the Old House, birthplace of the original Barnabas, to its original condition. Roger scoffs, saying it will cost a fortune. Barnabas says that money is of no consequence, and Elizabeth and Roger give him permission to take on the restoration. 

David tears into the room with Victoria in hot pursuit. She apologizes for the interruption and  Elizabeth introduces David and Victoria to Barnabas Collins. David says that Barnabas is a ghost, and Elizabeth explains he knows the portrait in the hallway. She tells David that Barnabas is going to restore the Old House and he’ll have to find a new place to play. David says he can’t because it’s where Sarah lives. Roger says that Barnabas doesn’t want to hear that story, but Barnabas says he does. Carolyn says he claims to have a friend named Sarah who lives there, and David warns him that he’ll be sorry if he takes his house. Barnabas asks him about Sarah and David shows him a small portrait of her. Roger says he has an active  imagination and Victoria asks that they be excused, saying it’s so very nice to meet Barnabas, and he reciprocates the sentiment. As they exit, David turns to shoot Barnabas a nasty look, and Barnabas says he hopes he hasn’t upset him. Roger says he’ll get over it. 

Barnabas makes his way to the dilapidated Old House. Inside, he calls out to his father, saying he has come home. 

Victoria is fruitlessly trying to teach David the capitals as she points to a map, but he is not paying attention as he peers into a desk. She asks him to show her what’s inside and he  pulls out a cigar box that contains a tarantula. She asks where he got it and he says he found it in the woodpile. She dismisses him from his lessons, asking him to take it out of there. Before he leaves he says it would be awful if one found its way into her bed one night. 

Carolyn shows up and asks what David did now. She suggests that Victoria go for a horse ride to cheer herself up. She offers to drive her to the stable on the way to meet up with Joe at the hospital. Victoria makes friends with the horses when Willie sneaks up on her with a bandaged throat. She is startled, and says everyone is looking for him as they suspect he had something to do with Daphne. He asks what happened to her and Victoria explains she was attacked and is in the hospital. Willie says it wasn’t him and clutches his injured throat. She asks about it and he says he fell. Roger arrives and starts yelling at him. He grabs him and drags him out, saying the sheriff wants to talk to him.

In the kitchen, Sheriff Patterson interrogates Willie while Elizabeth, Roger, Victoria and Mrs. Johnson stand by. He asks where he’s been the past three days and Willie says he was working somewhere else. Roger scoffs, Victoria defends him, and Willie begins to cry, saying he is telling the truth. The sheriff asks where he was working and Barnabas enters, saying that Willie was working for him. Roger introduces Barnabas to the sheriff. Barnabas explains that someone in town pointed him out as someone who knew the property and could help. Roger says he doesn’t know what he’s taking on, but Barnabas says he believes Willie wants to make a new start, and Willie agrees. Barnabas says they have much work to do and the sheriff excuses him. On the way out, Barnabas says they have made a lot of progress and he has been able to move in. He invites the family to come see for themselves, pointedly looking at Victoria. Mrs. Johnson says Barnabas must be a wonderful man.

As Victoria passes by David’s room, she hears him having a conversation with someone. She enters and asks him who he was talking to. He tells her he was talking to Sarah and she notes that no one is there, asking him where she went. He says she just went away. She suggests they walk over to the Old House tomorrow to see the work that’s been done. David says Sarah told him that Barnabas is evil. Victoria asks him to introduce her to Sarah some day. He says she doesn’t even believe she’s real. Victoria tries to give him a kiss goodnight, but he turns away.

Victoria and David arrive at the Old House where workers are cleaning up the dead foliage outside the house. They find Willie inside and she tells him they wanted to see how things were coming along. She asks for Mr. Collins, but Willie says he’s in Portland buying some stuff. As Vickie marvels at the transformation, David sneaks away. He goes down into the basement, but Willie catches him and yells at him. Victoria arrives and tells him to go upstairs. Willie looks in the direction where Barnabas’ coffin is housed before ascending the stairs. 

Carolyn is having a grand old time dancing at the Blue Whale with one guy, while she flirts with some other girl’s date. When he tries to put the moves on her, she gives him the cold shoulder. He returns to his date, who tells him to bug off and leaves. She runs into Barnabas on her way to her car. He says she’s very pretty and she says she he’s a real gentleman. She asks for a lift and he grabs her and sinks his teeth into her throat. Her date hears her scream and catches Barnabas in the act with bloody fangs dripping. He tries to fight him off, but Barnabas goes for a second helping with the guy.

Sheriff Patterson arrives to see the couple dead on the ground with bloody necks. Carolyn walks over, nervously clutching her neck. 


Professor Woodard and Sheriff Patterson consult Dr. Fisher, who notes that the same human saliva is present in the wounds. He tells them that he discovered a strange cell in Daphne’s blood sample. He says he can’t identify it, but it is present in the two new victims. Professor Woodard says he knows a blood expert at New York University named Julia Hoffman. 


Woodard meets Julia Hoffman at the station in the rain. He says he’s arranged a room for her at the Collinsport Inn. She asks when she’ll see the girl, and he says she’ll see her in the morning. 

Dr. Fisher tells Elizabeth, Carolyn and Joe that Daphne has improved. Dr. Hoffman comes out of Daphne’s room. Elizabeth asks for Daphne to be released and says she can arrange for Dr. Hoffman to stay at Collinwood while she continues her investigation into Daphne’s ailment. Dr. Hoffman excuses herself to run tests. 


At Collinwood, Dr. Hoffman finds Joe making out with Daphne in bed, noting the improvement in her condition. As Julia prepares a syringe, Daphne complains and asks how long it will continue. She asks if it can wait and after she leaves the room, she and Joe go back to making out.


Victoria arrives at the Old House. She enters and calls for Barnabas but receives no answer. She calls for Willie who comes running up frantically from the cellar. She says she’s looking for David but Willie says he’s not there. He says it’s almost dark and not a good time for her to be visiting as he looks nervously in the direction of the cellar. 


 Down in the cellar, Barnabas lifts the lid on his coffin.

Victoria is admiring the furniture and she tells Willie to call her Vicki. He thanks her for believing him when no one else did. She asks about Barnabas and he tries to rush her out when Barnabas arrives and welcomes her to the Old House. Barnabas kisses her hand and he excuses Willie. 


He tells her he wanted to show her something. He takes her to the third floor and says she’ll be surprised to see what he’s going to show her. He ushers her into a room with a portrait of a woman who resembles her. He says her name was Josette Dupres and tells her there’s much about her in the family journals. He says she came from Martinique and the original Barnabas met her there while on a business trip. They became paramours and intended to marry until her untimely death prevented it. He says she fell from the cliff at Widows’ Hill. He begins to say, “It broke my…” and finishes with, “ ancestor’s heart.” Vickie says she should be getting back and Barnabas walks her out. 


After she leaves, he screams for Willie. He grabs him and throws him down the stairs, asking why he warned Vicki against him. He begins to thrash him with his cane. 

Barnabas returns to Josette’s room and gazes at her portrait as he calls to her, saying she has come back to him, promising he will not lose her again. 

The sheriff is at the beach with many onlookers while officers bring a woman’s corpse, whose neck has been torn up, out of the water. 

He meets with Dr. Hoffman who says they might be a way to get Daphne to remember who attacked her. 

She dangles a crystal in front of Daphne as she begins to hypnotize her. 


She asks her to think about the night she was hurt. Daphne says someone is following her and she has to get to her car. She gets agitated and says she recognizes the man who attacked her. Julia asks what he looks like and she says his eyes are red. She screams about his teeth. Julia calms her, saying no one will hurt her and tells her to sleep. They say they’ll try again tomorrow. The sheriff wonders what all the stuff about teeth and eyes are about. Woodard suggests the person who attacked her might come back and the sheriff says he’ll install some deputies to protect her.

Vicki is reading to David in the garden, when Willie approaches with a battered face. He tells her that he fell. He hands her an envelope addressed to her from Barnabas. He invites her to dinner at the Old House. She instructs Willie to tell Barnabas she accepts his invitation. 



Elizabeth is having items that belonged to the first Barnabas moved to the Old House. Julia comes downstairs and Elizabeth introduces her to Barnabas. She explains she’s helping with Daphne’s recovery, and Dr. Hoffman says they almost broke through her amnesia to discover who attacked her. 


Barnabas says that is good news. Daphne gets out of bed and begins to come down the stairs. As she looks at Barnabas, she faints on the stairs. Julia notes she’s upset over the sight of Barnabas and says to take her to her room. Elizabeth apologizes to Barnabas, who leaves. 


Barnabas opens a music box and hands it to Vicki, saying the original Barnabas bought it for Josette on the day they were to be wed. Vicki comments that the greatest gifts are given with love and Barnabas agrees as he takes her hand. Vicki says she hasn’t been able to stop thinking of Josette since seeing her portrait and feels connected with her. Barnabas says that souls can have eternal rebirth. Vicki says he’s optimistic and he tells her that to hope and to wait are the most rewarding virtues in life. She says it’s late and she should be going. He calls Willie and says he’s taking Vicki to Collinwood. Willie offers to do it, but he says it’s not necessary.


Barnabas walks Vicki home and comments on their likenesses to the portraits hanging at Collinwood and the Old House, saying it would be exquisitely romantic if they were their reincarnations. Nearby, a little girl in vintage clothing watches them walk past. 


At the door, she thanks him for a lovely evening and he says he looks forward to being with her again as he kisses her hand. She kisses him on the cheek and tells him goodnight. 



As she readies herself for bed, he observes her at the window from outside. He snarls and shows his fangs. 


A little girl’s voice calls to him from the woods and he turns to see the little girl. He calls her Sarah and she tells him he must stop. She runs away and he runs after her, begging her not to go away. He screams for his sweet little sister to come back and begins to cry, asking her not to hate him, saying he can’t help himself. 


Our thoughts:   

Christine: It's been quite some time since I've seen this series, and with my spotty memory, I don't remember much of what's to come, but seeing this first episode again has me excited to see how the story will be retold. Of course it wouldn't be Dark Shadows without Bob Cobert's familiar music cues. 
John: The show originally aired 30 years ago during the original run of Twin Peaks (which is my all-time favorite show), and like that show, it was one we were always in front of the TV for each week when it aired. I do recall how quickly things happened in the show compared to the original weekly soap — Vicki and Barnabas both arriving in the first episode, and the Josette connection already firmly in place (albeit through Vicki instead of Maggie), and already an introduction of Sarah's ghost... If memory serves, the entire series moves along at a similarly brisk pace. For better or worse, I also remember exactly how the first (and only) season ends... just when things were getting interesting!
Christine: All of the characters seem to be perfectly cast. I love that David is back to being the wicked little boy we saw at the beginning of the series, and Willie is playing the slime ball to the hilt. Jean Simmons, Roy Thinnes, and Barbara Steele lend star quality to the cast, and Ben Cross provides just the right balance of sex appeal and brutality to Barnabas. 
John: I agree that much of the casting in brilliant... but the one character that just doesn't work for me in the revival is Ben Cross as Barnabas. It's almost as if he's acting in a different show than everyone else. Willie plays things a bit broadly for my tastes, but he still meshes with the rest of the cast better than I think Barnabas does. And for my money, Joanna Going was a perfect choice for Vicki. She brings beauty and naivete to the role, and they were smart to link her to Josette DuPres.
Christine: I wonder how Maggie will play into this story now that Vicki has assumed the role of the reincarnation of Josette. Will she be next on Barnabas' bite list? While Vicki says in the intro that she hopes her journey to Collinwood will help reveal mysteries of her past, we do not yet have any inclination that she is seeking out her parentage as she did in the original series. It remains to be seen if Victoria Winters has further ties to Collinwood that will be unveiled as the series continues.

John: The home video transfer has some issues with day-for-night footage not being color timed correctly (lest you ever think Barnabas is standing around in the daylight!), but overall, the show looks fantastic, with pretty amazing production values. No tripping over tombstones or cheesy green-screen effects here. Not even cheap sets (okay, Barnabas' current coffin looks pretty low-rent). There are lots of impressive  locations used throughout the show. With the notable exception of the Collinwood exteriors. They built themselves an elaborate model, to be sure, but it sure screams SCALE MODEL every time it's shown onscreen...


William said...

A great job as always. I have not seen this version of Dark Shadows since its original run, despite having bought it on dvd several years back. So I was undecided as to watch first and then read your take on it or to just read your take and decide whether or not to watch. I ended up watching the first episode last night. It felt an odd combination a familiar story, but also at times of not being sure of who was who. (for example, Maggie.) Or maybe because the story was so familiar, I didn't pay close enough attention. I am glad that you were able to keep the characters straight for me. I don't know why, but I don't really like Ben Cross as Barnabas. But I am happy that they hired Barbara Steele as Dr. Hoffman. Thanks again for all the work you put into this blog.

Jeff Baker said...

When I first saw this, first-run, the hyphenated name of the kid playing David stuck in my head. I would see it again on screen. Who'd have thought? I'll disagree and say I loved Ben Cross' portrayal; like everyone else, he had a hard act to follow! Enjoying this bloody trip down memory lane! (Oh, take note of the name of the character of the Sheriff's Deputy who shows up in later episodes, maybe the next one!)

Unknown said...

I was that 12 year old kid who ran home from school every day to watch DS - in my case it was 1976 and the series was in syndication. The local TV station stop airing DS right when things were getting tense with Barnabas and the Maggie kidnapping plot. Flash forward to January 1991 - I'm married with two children - and finally a Friday night TV watching escape! The Dark Shadows Revival is what renewed my interest in this crazy cult-like phenomenon. I recently purchased the DVD set on eBay after Amazon Prime stopped streaming it.

My thoughts on episode 1:

Ben Cross - totally love him as Barnabas Collins.
Barbara Blackburn - not a bad choice for Carolyn, but I didn't like the how her 90s character was portrayed. Too sleazy for my tastes.
Jim Fyfe - At first I thought, "who is this goofball?" Turns out he added some much needed humor.
Joanna Going - She was absolutely perfect! Maybe not in the traditional Vickie portrayal, but certainly as the reincarnated Josette.

1990s culture observations:

Does anyone else besides me think it very odd that Roger insists that an intoxicated Willie DRIVE to the Blue Whale to pick up Vickie?

Daphne's little lacey nighties. Enough said.

Favorite scene:

When Barnabas returns to Collinwood. The camera is seen through his eyes as walks through his home he hasn't seen in almost 200 years. I thought this was very compelling.

For those who don't own the DVD set, there's a chance you might be able to stream some of the episodes on YouTube. And if you're nostalgic like me, you'll enjoy this short video - an NBC promo for Dark Shadows the Revival