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 Fan Favorites, a
set of some of the most memorable events from the show's five-year
history. The other disc, The
Barnabas, is reviewed here.
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.
Episode 212: Barnabas
arrives at Collinwood after being freed from his coffin where he was
imprisoned. He claims to be the last member of the Collins family who
immigrated to England,
the rest having died off.
Episode 365: During a
séance that is held to attempt contact with the spirit of Sarah
Victoria Winters disappears and a woman in period clothing appears in
Episode 370: The
story has gone back to 1795 and Josette has fallen in love with
Barnabas. That's made Angelique jealous
and she uses
Episode 699: Barnabas
has to battle Chris Jennings (well, actually just hit him with a cane...
still it's sort of a battle) who is under the werewolf's curse. Later, he and Maggie find a secret passage
that the woman saw in a dream.
Episode 725: It's
1897, and Jamison Collins is possessed by the spirit of Quentin Collins.
Episode 1024: We
travel to a parallel time for this episode where Maggie is tricked into
Episode 1065: In the far off future year of 1995, Carolyn is
Episode 1102: David and Daphne perform a ceremony in
Episode 1115: This
time the show is taking place in 1840 and Gerard gets a supply of
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
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