Those of you who are regular readers here know that I've been watching every available episode of the original Gothic daytime serial from the 1960's, Dark Shadows, in chronological order. I've been taking my time about it, because when you consider that the series ran from June, 1966 until April, 1971 and consisted of 1,225 episodes, there is a risk of suffering burnout. So, I have not been trying to watch the show on anything near a daily basis and instead, put on an episode when the mood strikes, which means that I usually watch a couple of episodes per week.This way, every viewing is a special treat and I always have another episode to look forward to.
This past Tuesday night, I crossed a threshold as I took in Episode 209. Why is that significant, you might ask? Well, the first 209 episodes are categorized as "The Beginning." These original installments took place before the arrival of the Vampire Barnabas Collins and the many supernatural twists and turns that made Dark Shadows so popular during its later broadcasts. As a matter of fact, the serial's story line during its first few months revolved mostly around human conflict and only vaguely suggested the presence of supernatural forces. Over time however, the program began to fuse more occult aspects into the story line and eventually, the arrival of Laura Collins at Collinwood brought the preternatural to the fore. Overall, not many are familiar with what took place during Dark Shadow's first ten months. Since mid-September, 2012 I have been watching these nearly forgotten episodes.
During the last dozen or so installments the program has begun taking an exciting turn. The original theme and conflict upon which the serial began has been resolved. Now, a couple of unwelcome visitors have arrived at Collinwood. One of them, Willie Loomis, a dangerous and sociopathic young man, is fascinated with the Collins Family's jewels and a particular portrait hanging on the wall outside the reading room. In episode 209 we find him outside the Collins family mausoleum in a nearby cemetery. He hears a loud heartbeat as he stands, perhaps considering some despicable deed.
The stage is now set. The appearance of the Vampire Barnabas Collins is at hand!