The iconic DARK SHADOWS. Tim Burton. Johnny Depp. A lavishly budgeted production enabling old fans to rekindle the magic of the TV classic they grew up with. A chance to attract new fans unfamiliar with the original. Cameo appearances by beloved original cast members. Pre-release advertising saturation. How could it possibly miss?
One of the producers admitted in Entertainment Weekly that he had never heard of the original “Dark Shadows” (the 1966-71 ABC-TV gothic/supernatural soap phenomenon that so swept the country that its star vampire was summoned to a Halloween party at the Nixon White House), so he simply “studied up” by watching DVDs. As if. The extent of the similarly clueless EW writer’s grasp of the original was that it “was notorious for its cheapo production values and campy melodramas.”
Such superficiality overlooks the 1225-episode original as an absorbing, magical fantasy. More than just a television show, “Dark Shadows” was a total experience. Its characters – whether conventional or other-worldly, good or evil – had compelling, often sympathetic, human appeal. You wanted to step into their world. You cared for most of them, even the evil ones. That’s why, like thousands of kids across America, I used to run home after school to watch it. That’s why I got hooked again when the Sci-Fi Channel resurrected it in the ‘90s.