Wednesday, May 20, 2015


This weekend, as part of their “Countdown to Decades Binge,” a new television channel, Decades, ran 130 episodes (about six months worth) of the 1966–1971 gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows.
As someone who studied the show, but had never actually seen it in any kind of systematic fashion, I felt like an archaeologist transported back in time to witness people and events I previously knew exclusively from artifacts and the reports of others.

And there Dark Shadows was in all it’s glory. The blurry camerawork, the shaky sets, the actors stumbling over their lines due to being given only one take, and the famous boom mics dipping in and out of shots.

It was fantastic. Not in a campy way, but in a truly engrossing one. Somehow—even with cardboard tombstones, costumes from a mishmash of historical time periods, and rubber bats on strings—the show managed to convey both a genuine sense of eerie menace along with sympathy for the characters, be they vampire, werewolf, witch, unethical doctor, or simpering heroine. Dark Shadows had everything a soap and a horror story should.

They did it all on a budget that would make Tim Burton (director of the 2012 theatrical remake) and Joss Whedon (who many mistakenly believe invented the tortured-demon trope on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) weep.

When I interviewed actress Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie) for my book Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama’s Greatest Moments, she had quite a lot to say about working conditions on Dark Shadows … and the dedication of its cast and crew.

Read an excerpt from my interview with Ms. Scott, as well as my thoughts on what all cancelled soaps can learn from Dark Shadows about never saying die (how appropriate for a show with a vampire) at:

And read the entire interview FREE by borrowing Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments via Amazon Prime. (Kathryn Leigh Scott is featured with dozens of other actors, writers, producers and directors who created the moments soap fans voted best of all time.)

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