This Gothic Daytime offering has had many incarnations since its inception by ABC in 1966, yet somehow has never left fans of the cult classic fully satisfied. It was the first soap opera to use paranormal elements, which resonated with the teenage crowd of kids getting home from school each afternoon. But it wasn’t until vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) arrived a year into its run that "Dark Shadows" really took off. The overly dramatic performances, eerie and innovative music and crazy plot twists made it an innovator for the five years it ran. The 1991 return to NBC was a redo of the original, albeit at a much faster pace, but was produced again by Dan Curtis. A pilot was filmed for the WB in 2004, but was never picked up. In 2012, Tim Burton directed the film version starring Johnny Depp.
Original run dates: June 27, 1966-April 2, 1971
At the start of the show, orphan Victoria Winters (Alexandra Moltke) comes to Collinwood to begin her job as a governess to the disturbed David Collins (David Henesy). The reclusive matriarch, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Joan Bennett) has not left the home in 18 years. She resides at Collinwood with her brother Roger Collins (Louis Edmonds) and daughter Carolyn Stoddard (Nancy Barrett). Soon, a long lost relative from overseas, Barnabas Collins, arrives and with him comes mysterious and strange happenings.
Barnabas Collins and Dr. Julia Hoffman (Grayson Hall).
"Dark Shadows" scored right from the beginning by casting Elizabeth with venerable stage and screen actress Joan Bennett, who, along with Edmonds appeared in the first and final episodes of the series. Throughout its run a small company of actors each played many roles, with some characters played by more than one actor. The reboot in 1991 cast Jean Simmons in the role Bennett made famous and then-child actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Ben Cross tackled the role of Barnabas.
"Dark Shadows" had a very weak start in the rating game, and it wasn’t until ghosts, goblins, werewolves and vampires came on the scene did it pull away from the rest of the pack. Characters would often come back from the dead in the unprecedented use of parallel times and flashback scenes. The show also had no problem borrowing material from classic and creepy sources. Storylines can easily be traced to "The Crucible," "Jane Eyre," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Picture of Dorian Gray," "Rebecca," and "The Lottery."