Most helpful positive review
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Prelude to 1840 Storyline
on February 7, 2006
This box set kicks off the last truly great story arc in the five years of this incredible series --- the best daytime drama ever made!
With only about 10 months left before Dark Shadows was cancelled in 1971, the writers returned to its roots with a fabulous story that featured plenty of supernatural twists and turns along with love, murder and madness!
Reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) and Dr. Julia Hoffman (Grayson Hall) escaped parallel time but overshoot 1970 and end up in the Collinwood of 1995 --- which has been almost destroyed! The Great House is in ruins (it is actually heart wrenching to see the magnificent interior sets of Collinwood converted to rubble) and the majority of the proud Collins family are missing, young David Collins (David Henesy) is dead, and Carolyn (Nancy Barrett) and Quentin (David Selby) have gone mad. (Special kudos go to actress Barrett for her bravura performance as the aged and demented Carolyn.)
A sinister ghost who causes others to connect with the dark side lurking within them and who controls minds, took over the estate 25 years earlier, in 1970, and brought about its demise. The estate has remained uninhabited but violently haunted in the succeeding years.
A distraught Barnabas and Julia manage to get back to 1970 but they try in vain to avert the coming catastrophe, which does result in the death of David Collins as well as Hallie Stokes (Cathy Cody), the young niece of Professor Eliot Stokes (Thayer David)!
Eventually, they learn that the evil spirit, Gerard Stiles (James Storm), and the ghost of a kindly governess, Daphne Harridge, had lived in the Collinwood of 1840, so the duo manage to travel back to that era via Quentin's "stairway in time" to try to prevent Stiles from returning as an obsessed ghost more than a century later to destroy Collinwood and all of its inhabitants.
Special effects are terrific, including the "head" of Judas Zachary, which is possessed of evil, supernatural powers, Rose Cottage, and ghosts, ghosts, ghosts!
(The introductory story, captured on this boxed set, is similar to the introduction of Quentin Collins as a non-speaking, menacing spirit who threatens the young children of Collinwood, as well as the ghost of Governess Beth Chavez (Terri Crawford), who was a non-speaking, beckoning presence of good. In that story, Barnabas and Julia also travel back in time to unravel the mystery and save the children.)
Of special note: Daphne is portrayed by Kate Jackson in her first professional role. It is also the last time that the core ensemble repertory cast portrays their original characters, as the final story arc (which is a couple of boxed sets away) of the series has some cast changes and focuses on a different Collins family, not the Collins family lead into TV immortality by the fabulous Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Joan Bennet).
Let us hope that MPI Home Video makes good on its promise to release the pre-Barnabas episodes on DVD after the primary series has been released. These 200-plus episodes are wonderfully compelling and a must have for all Dark Shadows fans --- past, present and future!