It all started 50 years ago today...
In the first episode, Victoria Winters arrives in Collinwood. We don't yet know why Elizabeth Collins Stoddard has hired her to be a companion and take care of her nephew David.
Along the way we also meet Burke Devlin, who's apparently got history with the Collins clan, and not a good one. We also meet Maggie Evans (looking so very different than I remember her!), who tries to warn Victoria away from the strange house on Widows' Hill.
But Victoria won't be so easily dissuaded. Even if her new employer acts strange...
My initial thoughts...
I had previously embarked upon a journey through Dark Shadows, starting (as was the only choice at the time) with the summary recap and introduction of Barnabas Collins. I was able to get several dozen episodes in, and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I had to bounce from one Blockbuster Video to the next to try and find the next volume in the series, and it soon became apparent that none of the stores were going to stock the entire series.
So when they started to release DVDs, I decided to go whole hog. And when they finished the run, and announced they were going to release the full pre-Barnabas run, I knew I had to pick them up, too. Of course it's been years, and I'm only now using the excuse of the 50th anniversary of the series to start working my way through them. We'll see if I can keep it up. Though I plan to post daily (on each episodes anniversary), I'm actually watching them in larger batches (like potato chips, it's hard to have just one).
For anyone worried if the show was worth watching before Jonathan Frid joined the cast, I can say the answer is absolutely yes. The cast is great, and for my money, Robert Cobert's music give every episode the right mood. I can't imagine what folks were expecting from this show at the time it originally aired, but I can imagine being excited to find out about the strange goings on in the town of Collinwood... and the strange members of the Collins family.
I hope if you've watched the show, or if you're following along at home, you'll leave your comments about what you think of each episode.
As Burke Devlin says to Victoria Winters, "Welcome to the beginning and the end of the world."
This first episode is a good beginning to the show. Viewers are left wanting to know why Burke Handsome Devlin has got such a big chip on his shoulder, why he's investigating the Collins family, and why he advises Victoria to get the next bus and head home.
Also, why has Elizabeth Stoddard specifically requested foundling Victoria--someone apparently unknown to her--to be a companion and governess? Vicki has reason to suspect the Collins may have some connection to her parentage. Could she be Elizabeth's daughter?
Why does Roger Collins describe his son as a little monster and why is he so upset about having a stranger in the house that he breaks a brandy glass with his bare hand?
And what's up with Maggie Evans' blonde wig and hard attitude? Is she a doppelganger? Having also seen the Barnabas entry episodes before these initial ones, the difference in this original Maggie is striking. Her first conversation with Victoria, which she begins by calling Vicki a jerk is awkward, but helps to create a sense of unease. All signs point to Vicki getting herself into a creepy bad situation, which makes us want to tune in tomorrow to find out more.
Evidently they originally wanted Maggie to be a wisecracking character with a tough girl quality (an Eve Arden type, as the Dark Shadows Companion puts it).
Amazing start to a series. The cimetography and atmosphere for a daytime soap is brilliant!
I was there for that first episode. Our local ABC affiliate decided not to carry this "goofy" soap opera, opting for Merv Griffin instead, so a local UHF station ran it for much of that first year. I was fascinated more with the UHF station picking up a network show, but soon got hooked on the series and its wild turns through ghosts and phoenixes, long before the vampire stuff started.
John C, Houston TX: I did not get to see much of Dark Shadows when it first aired. Living in the central time zone, it came on while I was still in school. I only got to see it on days I was home from school. Then, when we moved to Atlanta, Ga., for nine months beginning in June 1968, it was not shown on the local stations. When the show moved to 4:00 EST, 3:00 CST, even my mom could not watch it as she was busy picking up my sister and I at school and we all eventually forgot about it. A few months ago I bought the complete dvd set (now I have a pet-sized coffin sitting in my living room which is a bit creepy). I wanted to finally see all that I missed the first time it aired. Some of the characters are familiar to me: Barnabas (of course), Julia Hoffman (with her initial hair style), Mrs. Johnson, Liz Stoddard, and David and Roger Collins. I must not have seen enough of the first two years for characters like Vicki Winters, Maggie Evans, Joe Haskell, Carolyn Stoddard and Burke Devlin to be familiar. My older sister watched it more than I. I remember her having a crush on Quentin. She remembers enough to remember when the "cousin from England," Barnabas, arrived. She felt that the show was better before that point. Having watched over 500 episodes so far, I have to agree. In 1969, I thought Barnabas was kind of cool. Now that I see how selfishly evil he was as a vampire in the first year after he arrived, I've changed my mind about him. Anyway, on with the show!
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