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DARK SHADOWS the original series


Chase - Posted on 06 March 2010

ep1-4

These four episodes detail VICTORIA WINTER'S first night in Collinsport and Collinwood. The first thing to note is that this is a soap opera and it takes time to unfold. Not that slow always equals bad or boring, in fact, these four episodes are far from boring. They set up all the mysteries and all the characters in fun and scary fashion and give almost nothing away, except that it is Roger haunting Victoria in ep 4. The first ep is rather strong with the filmed location stuff, Victoria on the train, at the train station, and her car pulling up to Collinwood and eariler to the Inn. She meets Maggie, has flashbacks to her friend Stacy ("Go out to Long Island and have a ball"---in fact a few characters--Carolyn for one--- talk about having a ball) and meets Burke Devlin. Maggie is played as a wise cracking blond and it doesn't really work. There is the hotel caretaker played by DIFFERENT STROKES actor Conrad Baine (wasn't he in MAUDE too?) who appears a few times in the first year or so and then vanishes, only to get killed by a werewolf a few years later! We meet Liz and Roger far before Victoria does and they are a brooding pair but say some funny things such as Roger's answer to Liz's inquiry about where David is, "The little monster's asleep and I for once couldn't be happier." In fact, we're introduced to David through others' chats about him before he appears at the very end of ep4 where David gives a great performance of "I hate you," with such venom. The old lady on the train and Vicki's friend and her foundling home lady add to the background of Vicki but it is kind of clear that Vicki is really probably Liz's daughter. They had planed on that for some time but the show took a different direction. I must admit the fog, the music, the camera angles, the filmed stuff, the brooding dialog and atmosphere all add up to a great shows and it's hard to see why the show was failing before BARNABUS or maybe that is just fan rumor, maybe it wasn't. It's also interesting to note a few mentions of Roger's wife and David's mother...in what will later be the first supernatural storyline and character...Vicki thought she was dead, Carolyn tells her she thought wrong, and David, when the creepy boy is smashing Vicki's intials off her suitcase in ep5 says, "Mother," three times or so as he looks out the window. There are creepy sobs (Liz crying over her past or ghosts?, talks of ghosts, and lots of dread, also the Widow's Hill cliff makes an apperance...in long shot and filmed sequence. Vicki goes out the back door of Collinwood in long shot and walks through the back parts of the patio...amazing stuff. We also see Roger drive to Maggie and Sam's cottage where he bangs on the door (despite later telling Maggie that he's not the banging type!). And we see the Blue Whale as Carolyn shakes her...well, her everything. The music she dances to is funny but the scene is kind of played straight as is almost all of DARK SHADOWS. We see the kitchen/breakfast room in Collinwood and the hotel kitchen/bar/grill. Maggie calls everyone in that house kooks. Carolyn and Vicki bond; Roger at first menaces Vicki about Devlin but later apologizes to her. Vicki, after David's "I hate you," prepares to leave. It all sets up the situations rather nicely and it's not boring but does move at a leisurely pace. And sometimes that's nice. Carolyn also tells Vicki that her uncle Roger does not turn into Dracula at night and that he does not bite...some nice foreshadowing unintentionally (?). The interior sets are well done. The scene where Vicki and Carolyn chat in Vicki's room contain shots of boom mikes and shadows of boom mikes, the unintentional ghosts of Dark Shadows that would plague the show almost to the very end...and which gives it much of its charm. Maggie gives us a flub when she can't seem to say the letter B or something in ep1and Vicki finally arrives at the house and enters at the very end of ep1. Mysteries include: the sobbing at 2am, the Burke Devlin return and why Roger is so nervous about it, Roger's advances to Vicki and why Liz does not want any, David being so strange, Carolyn's wanting to leave and her boyfriend Joe Haskell, Burke's investigations of the Collins family, and Vicki's past and why she was hired. The doors opening, the windows opening from wind, the doorknobs turning, and strange sounds have already started and it's just great.
5-9

Five continues with David hiding and skulking, Matthew Morgan being introduced. Like the actor that played Sam, this actor would not be in the role of Matthew long (up to ep 22 I think). I also think this actor played in LAND OF THE GIANTS-SIX HOURS TO LIVE but I could be wrong. In any event, some scant location shooting of Vicki outside again and returning via the kitchen hall doorway! More about Devlin and how he's upset Bill Malloy, Liz's fishing company runner and how Devlin has upset Roger and Sam Evans.
There seem to be a few inconsistencies already as I think Maggie tells Burke that Sam is into 100 proof and then later Burke says, "I didn't know Sam drank," but this could just be his delayed reaction. There is more: Vicki decides to stay because she finds out the Liz has shut herself up in the house for 18 years...and 18 years seems to come into play about how long Vicki's money kept coming. Sam seems to flub his lines but also Matthew. We also get something like this exchange: Vicki to Burke: "You're a strange man," and Burke back to her, "I was going to say the same thing to you." And other lines that come out wrong or strangely, "...she fired everyone that last day her husband left." How could he leave on a last day? In any event, the mysteries continue and Carolyn continues to have angst and act strange; Liz and David get their first scene togethr and its emotional.
These five eps are not as strong as the first four but they still pack a slow hitting punch. Yes, the thing moves slowly but the story builds and the atmosphere continues. Joan Bennet is rather good in this but even she gets in some flubs, "I'll tell Mark...eh, Martin...Matthew..." All this is rather charming and not meant to slight the actress or actors involved. Vicki and Liz's near falling out over the phone call to the foundling home...where Vicki was an orphan and a teacher later, is interesting and makes Liz very scary in some ways. She seems to be lying to Vicki's face and upset that Vicki thinks so! Sam also flubs a great deal and almost doesn't make sense at times and gosh, his arms are hairy. He also seems to drool or miss his mouth when taking a drink at one point.
Burke seems both a good leading man and a villain at times. At this point anyone could be Vicki's father...Sam, Bill, Matthew, possibly even Roger maybe (?) or Liz's gone in action husband (later called Paul Stoddard). Or maybe the foundling home lady was lying or mistaken about the "contact" that wanted Roger to hire Vicki or get Liz to. None of the story really fits and it was intended to reveal that Liz was indeed Vicki's mother. At one point, it looks like Liz can't get the doors to the drawing room open.
Again, though, these episodes continue the nice atmosphere of spook and mystery that surround Collinwood. Another memorable line is Liz's, "There are no ghosts here." And of course, the haunting note left when Vicki was found in a cardboard box, "Her name is Victoria, I cannot take care of her." Which both David and Vicki repeat. Still haunting and still interesting, if a bit slow. Oh and one episode (possibly 6 or 7) has some real major issues with musical cue starts, stops, and continuations...at real inappropriate times a dramatic bit of music starts and stops, intrudes on other music, and then stops. One of the eps has the water wave hitting the rock sound start at least 7 seconds or more before the theme music duirng the credits, which is rather a nice change and gives a nice effect.
   
10--11

Okay this is probably why some people prefer the new DS over the classic better DS. These two episodes are tedious at best. The Burke stuff is already becoming monotonous and boring and slow moving...slower than possible. Here we get him manipulating Carolyn all the way and getting himself into Collinwood to have some sparring with Liz. We have David and his toy robot (which I'm sure also appeared in VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA-THE TERRIBLE TOYS). I think we also have Liz giving David a boy book about the ROVING BOYS or something like that. David hides on Liz who spots him earlier; David hides and overhears an important conversation between Liz and Roger about his mum, Burke Devlin, and how Liz made Roger leave Collinwood with his wife...we get little info but these bits are the best part of these two eps. Sam and the hotel guy (Conrad Baine) have a lot of conversation as Sam walks up to the hotel (GREAT LOCATION WORK) outside and looks for Maggie, he's drunk yet he makes more sense than all of his other scenes put together.

Sam phones Collinwood looking for Roger but get Liz and overhears that Burke is there and hangs up before revealing who he is. Then he leaves for the bar and then comes back to talk to the hotel man again. There's not even a huge moth or fly to liven things up as before. Then Carolyn explains all of what happened in ep 10 in ep 11 to Liz, telling her they do not have to fear Burke. Yeah, they kinda do.

Sam talks of Burke acting like a Trojan Horse and spreading his fear to everyone in the house. Vicki is, sadlly missing from these eps and it shows and it felt. When she's not around, the show loses its focus...something the makers of the show, the writers should have taken stock in. They realized it for when Alexandria M left, they tried to recast her but it just didn't work. Another thing they should have realized earlier than they did is that the supernatural stuff works better for a show like this. The crashed tea cup and the door opening must have been David even if the little liar insists they are not. There is brilliant supernatural type music but accompanying...in these episodes, phone calls, Liz going through a door, and Carolyn walking up steps.

Other than illustrating David's complicated non rapport with his cold father (who almost seems to say that he wishes he never had David) and the warmth between David and Liz AND Carolyn's stupidity and naivete, these two episodes are just really boring and watching this at the same time as watching eps of BUFFY are like watching a LOST WORLD silent movie with JURASSIC PARK. One has a fast pace, quick relationship issues without boring us over a season, and plots that just grab us and surprise us. The surprises might be in store for the Burke storyline but they take forever getting to us. And when they do, do we care?

It's helpful to remember that this is a soap opera and shown every day. Compared to other soaps of the day---where people just sit around talk in rooms---on hindsight THIS is very close to that---DS ranks higher. I would hate to see old reruns of those shows. In fact, I did once and once was enough...it was a half hour of GENERAL HOSPITAL with Roy Thinnis and someone else just sitting and talking and drinking coffee in a room with a curtain across it at a table...the entire half hour. Again DS ranks higher than those overall but these two eps, bar the location work and the sets, come close to that.
I also hate that later on the ghost of Jeff Clark/whoever else he was called tells Blair (?) I think, that Vicki is dead, died not long after being in the past, killed by Jeb! What a stupid thing to say in the series of a much beloved character.

12

This episode is much better, mostly due to Vicki being back. Sorry to say that Maggie, although another much loved character and actress is not my favorite. I think Kathryn is not very good throughout the series with some exceptions. At this time, the show became more like a stage play. The enlivenening thing here is Widow's Hill scenes with great sound effects, great music, and good acting from Roger and Vicki. The Burke stuff is not downplayed but is not totally the focus. Roger's mentions of the Widow's is mostly grim and grisly. There are some real good outdoor scenes of Vicki on the hill and approaching. Other than that, ther'e is not much more to this ep. There's more of Sam and Maggie, Sam not wanting to answer Roger's phone, Sam wanting to go lie down, Sam wanting to leave and truthfully Sam and the whole Burke thing drag the show down. It SHOULD have focused on the other mysteries and ghosts...but that is in hindsight. Even so this ep is much better than 10 and 11.

13-14

A lot of interesting things to note in these two episodes. Let's get Burke out of the way. I wish the show thought like that. Burke seems to be a hero but then again in these two episodes he seems to be embracing this kind of nice menace. It gives an added difference to him and to his storyline...when Vicki finds him in the garage seemingly tinkering about Roger's car...he seems almost threatening but in a nice way, a subtle way and a way that seems like he almost isn't. Which of course he isn't as we find out MUCH later. David in 14 tells us that he thinks he could be good friends with Burke and this is foreshadowing. Yes, there is a large Collins' garage with a few cars in it and tires and what seems like a stereo and other things. It should be noted that this seems like it is both on film location and interior set...also of note is that Vicki walks across a great deal of Collinwood and moves to Matthew Morgan's cottage which seems attached to Collinwood. This might be Lyndhurst in upstate New York near Sleepy Hollow. Some of the exteriors for the Old House (not yet seen) were filmed there but this seems like part of it. It is either that or the house that they used for other exteriors in Rhode Island I think. Which was a girl's school at one point in the 1980s or 1990s. It's all very atmospheric. Matthew's door is HUGE, almost two people's length upward. Inside it is sort of...bare...the cupboards seems like they have cardboard over them from the inside.

Matthew is a strange character and Liz is stranger for keeping someone on that can become as she says, violent. Everyone on DS lies, even Vicki and for some reason she tells Matthew that Liz knew of her being there. In any event, she doesn't tell Roger that Burke was in the garage and doesn't tell Liz either. Why?

Carolyn: there's a nice person under there somewhere and I suppose in a long long time she comes out in the show later on...only to have it all switch to a parallel time or the past. Frankly, Joe Haskell (who here meet Vicki for the first time as she answers the door---in such a big house how do they hear the banging?) should dump her NOW as he does later. She treats him terribly, sets up their date to the Blue Whale instead of going to the movies...one of the first and only times someone in Collinwood mentions something normal and a normal activity...we also get Joe talking about spooks...in a few eps before Liz was admonishing someone about talking about goblins. Ghosts are almost always discussed and here they are too. David believes in them, Joe does not. We leave Carolyn and Joe in the Blue Whale with Devlin joining them at their table...as they await Roger!    

Roger: his loyalty to the family is a nice touch and makes him at least somewhat likable and less cowardly.

Vicki finally gets to...it's only been about two days since she arrived in ep1!!!?!??!!!...get to bond with David somewhat. He seemed to be hiding a spark plug in her drawer but then he fakes that he was giving her a seashell as a gift and he's so strange in these two ep, he might just be. He's nice and he's not. He talks alot about people hating each other and ghosts hating everyone in the house. Vicki, like Joe, does not believe in ghosts. She tells David so, feeling sorry for him. David also reads Mechano Magazine which is 35 cents! We see his room for the first time. Also for the first time, I think there is a thunder/lightning storm.

The start of ep14 has the moon in it, either it's stock footage, location work or a studio light...it's hard to tell but it's effective. The openings are almost always stylish and effective. Vicki narrates each episode at this point in character.

What else? Unless David is very good at magic or something else...there ARE ghosts in this episode. The locked door to the closed off part of the house (east wing? but not mentioned as such in this ep) opens by itself, makes noises from within, and then closes again by itself...! And David appears in the hall. Perhaps we find out later...I can't recall...that a secret passage from his room leads to the closed off wing...but I'm not sure about that.

There's some really relaxing,nice music...no REALLY...in this stage of DS...and it and all the music have been released on various CDs and ALL OF THE MUSIC was re-released with stuff that was never released in one big pack a few years ago and it has everything on it. Some of it is really nice to listen to.         

We also have a closing credit blooper (the first?) as in ep 13 or 14, the screen goes black and then comes back on as the credits roll...eps 12-14 are much better as things seem to move a bit more...and Vicki might start tutoring some time this century! 

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