Monday, August 1, 2011

Sink Your Teeth into This!

Oh, yeah. Netflix Streaming has Dark Shadows, every last episode except for the first season, which most people think was pretty sucky anyway. Things didn't really get started until the second season, when Willie Loomis accidentally released Barnabas Collins from his coffin.

When I was a wee nipper, this afternoon spooky soap opera used to scare the beejeebus out of me. What was I, five? Six? Seven? Every afternoon after school, I'd be over at the Cipriani's house to play, but come time for Dark Shadows, everyone gathered around the television set (with the inevitable tinfoil on the rabbit ears) and we all fell silent. I, of course, followed very little of what was actually going on, but I knew enough to look away, terrified, whenever the creepy music started. Once the girls were on to me and started in with the teasing, I bucked up. I learned to watch and not watch, blurring my eyes on purpose so I couldn't see what I appeared to be watching. I tuned out so often I never really did get a handle on all the storylines in that show.

They tried revitalizing Dark Shadows briefly in maybe the late 1980s, early 1990s, and it bombed. All I remember of it was that it starred Ben Cross and was mildly interesting. It just didn't capture the flavor of the original soap opera.

For the past week, I have been devouring these 20-min episodes with relish. It's so bad it's good. The spooky techniques have been parodied so often that now they come off as total camp. I've come to love True Blood in all its goriness and humor so much (and even The Vampire Diaries is a guilty pleasure) that Dark Shadows isn't even remotely scary. But! It does lay down all our expectations of what the quintessential vampire should look like, be like, and do--and that is be tormented, lethal, sexy, and impeccably mannered. Oh, and be rich and live in a nasty, dusty, spiderwebby old mansion.

Throw in some more supernatural beings like witches and ghosts, and time travel and such, and the storylines can go on forever.

Much recommended for teenagers and adults--probably not so much for five year-old kids with big imaginations. Oh, and one more thing: stay tuned. Tim Burton's now remaking Dark Shadows with Johnny Depp as Barnabas.

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