With a high-profile Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie version of
the classic gothic daytime soap opera Dark
Shadows scheduled to be released in a couple of months, MPI has
release the entire series in one impressive boxed set [read my
review here] as
well as two single-disc collections featuring some of the best episodes
the series. This disc is The Best of
Barnabas, with some of the star vampire's greatest moments. The other disc, Fan Favorites, is reviewed
This compilation has nine episodes, taken from various times
in the series. If you don't have a
pretty good understanding of the show, the characters, and the various
that occurred over the 1225 episodes you'll have a bit of trouble
just what's going on. Yes, Barnabas is
in all of them, but they take place in different times, and even
universes, so things can get a bit confusing if you're not pretty
The episodes included in this collection are:
Episode 221: Soon
after arriving in Collinsport, Barnabas goes to the local diner where
Maggie Evans, the waitress. The new
visitor takes an unusual interest in the young lady, and later, when
home, she feels like someone's watching her.
Episode 349: After
Julia gives Barnabas her treatment, he starts to revert to his true
age. Getting weaker, he knows that he has
blood to survive, and the only person around is Victoria Winters.
Episode 418: Back in
1795, Barnabas vows not to see his true love, Josette for fear of
but Angelique conspires to bring the two together.
Episode 535: Barnabas
undergoes Angelique's dream ordeal and is attacked!
Episode 703: Now the
story has traveled back to 1897 and Barnabas introduces himself to the
residents of Collinwood as a cousin from England, but Quentin
so sure about the new visitor.
Episode 718: Still in
1897 Quentin attempts to cast a voodoo spell on Barnabas.
Episode 915: The
Leviathans have Josette, and are using her to control Barnabas.
Episode 982: Now we
zip over to the parallel dimension.
Loomis chains Barnabas into his coffin.
Episode 1133: This
time the show is taking place in 1840 (confused yet?) and Angelique
voodoo doll on Roxanne to wound her, possibly fatally.
The problem with this collection, and with the other one
too, is that it doesn't really give you a feel for the show. Presenting nine assorted episodes from
various parts in the series, the narrative jumps around so much that
it's hard to
get a handle for what's going on.
There's not time for the viewers to get to know the characters. More importantly people only get a small
taste of the mysteries that are the show's strongest point. Being a 5-day-a-week soap opera, the series
moved slowly and no one episode can really bring new viewers up to
even if one of these did succeed in catching someone's imagination, the
episode jumps somewhere else in the series with a different set of
often characters. It's a nice attempt to
introduce people to the show, but it doesn't quite work.
There are nine half-hour episodes on a single disc.
It comes in a clear case with the episode
list on the inside of the cover. The
first printings of the collection feature a slipcover.
Though the full frame video hasn't been restored it doesn't
look too bad at all. Due to the sheer
number of episodes the cost and the time that it would take to do even
rudimentary cleanup pushes it outside of the realm of the realistic. As it is, the image is a bit soft, details
tend to get lost in dark areas, and there is some print damage. The spots and scratches aren't very bad, and
they never become a distraction, but they are present.
Some of the installments only exist as
Kinetoscopes (where they filmed the image on a TV screen) and these
lack the detail that the others have but there's only a few that are
that. If you go into the show with
realistic expectations for an unrestored show from the 60's, chances
won't be disappointed.
The show comes with the original mono soundtrack which, like
the video, hasn't been cleaned up.
There's some hiss in the background and while some episodes
than others, none of them that I screened had horrible audio. The extraneous sounds were never distracting
and dialog was always easy to hear.
There are no subtitles.
There are introductions to each episode by Lara Parker who
played Angelique, but they're not as effective as they could be. Running only about half a minute each, she
doesn't really set up the situation or relate the events leading up to
episode as much as tell viewers, in general terms, what happens in the
they're about to watch.
In addition there are some commercials for current Dark
Shadows merchandise and web sites devoted to the show.
If you've seen the show in the past and just want to refresh
your memory or revisit some of the high points, then this collection is
you. Otherwise, I can't really recommend
it. These nine episodes don't really
give you an accurate feel for what Dark
Shadows is like. If anything, I
think it would discourage potential viewers since there are so many
plot lines that are touched upon in these almost random episodes. It's almost like giving someone your favorite
chapters from the Harry Potter series.
If they don't know what's going on already, they'll just be
confused. Instead I'd save up for the