Dark Shadows Collection 3
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Dr. Julia Hoffman promises Barnabas that his secret is safe if he will allows her to conduct experiments to cure him of his vampirism. Jealous of Victoria Winters' engagement to Burke Devlin, Barnabas plans revenge against Burke, who becomes suspicious of Barnabas and begins to investigate him. While trying to hide from Barnabas, David Collins becomes trapped in the secret room of the Collins Mausoleum. The frightened boy pleads with the ghost of Sarah Collins to rescue him. Barnabas realizes that David my hold the key to finding his late sister's spirit.
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The best collection in the entire series.
At this stage of the series the characters seem to dwell in a kind of innocence. They’re unsure of themselves. Everyone is hemmed in by hesitations, including Barnabas the vampire, who is repeatedly dissuaded, by the efforts of Willie and Dr. Julia Hoffman, from killing off his perceived rivals and those who might expose his true identity. Accepting that he is new to this modern world, his would-be hasty excursions of death are thus replaced by more reflective options. There are exceptions though, as one or two characters are just too much for Barnabas to tolerate. This aura of innocence seems absent in the later episodes of the series, where everyone is emboldened to do their own thing. Too many cast members later on.
And it’s strange to say, that despite the constant intermingling of the characters, each one seems relegated to his or her own isolation. They’re trapped in separate personal dilemmas from which the vast shadowy depths of the great mansion Collinwood offers no relief. Hence, there are many subplots at work. The cast repeatedly joins up, they converse with each other, drink brandy before the flames of the fireplace, then one by one they leave. Alone. Past the big grandfather clock and through that ever-present front door. And nothing is ever really resolved; their problems just disperse into cobwebs after a time.
The sound of wind and thunder from without works so wonderfully with all the ongoing tensions within the house.
Stage Sets provide the perfect atmosphere. The settings are fitting…the dark, windy, foreboding atmosphere is everywhere. The fog enshrouded cemetery, which everyone seems to explore only at night, is notable, as is The Blue Whale, a quaint little tavern where all the characters meet and hobnob in varying combinations. More brandy.
Almost everyone smokes cigarettes, including Dr. Hoffman.
Everyone keeps drinking the brandy, except Barnabas; he fakes it, holds the glass but never drinks.
Some episodes are in black and white, some are in color, then it‘s back to black and white. For some reason I like this shuffling of old and new.
The candles throughout the Old House where Barnabas lives are blue. Their bright color seemed ill fitted with the gloomy rooms of the house…at first, but after awhile they seemed most fitting.
The seasons are never alluded to, and yet the characters are always attired for Autumn…I like to think the storyline is forever trapped in the month of September, never summer, never winter. The weather is just right to require the glow of fireplaces on the New England coastline.
Roger Collins is funny because he is so serious.
Glimpses of artificial trees and blurry horizons when the front door is opened.
Each of the four discs ends with an interview of an original cast member or crew member. Very informative talks are given. The collection comes with a fold out summary of each episode including the original airdate. Also a picture card is included with each set. Makes a nice bookmarker.
The last episode of collection 3, disc 4 ends with a cliffhanger. A bat flies through an open window. I had no choice but to order collection 4 to see
The main storyline in these episodes centers on Dr. Julia Hoffman who, having apparently skipped ethics classes at medical school, attempts to “cure” Barnabas of his vampirism and, by doing so, unlock the secrets of mortality and maybe win herself a Nobel Prize in the process. As the episodes go on she finds herself increasingly complicit in Barnabas’s efforts to conceal his secret identity, including trying to silence Maggie Evans, former kidnapping victim of Barnabas, and coming into conflict with Willy Loomis, who still retains a spark of conscience despite being enslaved by Barnabas. The culmination of this plot line provides the dramatic highpoint of these episodes. Other plot lines include Barnabas’s growing rivalry with Burke Devlin over the hand of Victoria Winters and David’s “friendship” with the spectral Sarah, which leads him closer to discovering Barnabas's secret.
While these episodes do not have the narrative fireworks of some other Dark Shadow story lines, such as the “Phoenix” storyline, or the more supernatural narrative arcs to come, overall they are effective as a long-form Gothic romance tale, with just enough scares and Hammer horror-style effects to let us know we are watching a TV show that wants to frighten us and keep us tuning in for tomorrow’s episode.
As with the other Dark Shadows DVDs released by MPL, this package includes an episode guide and modern day interviews with cast and crew members, all of whom look back on their Dark Shadows experiences with fondness. The sound and picture quality overall are good, especially considering the original broadcasts were nearly 50 years ago, during a time when taped TV shows were essentially considered disposable commodities. Also, it was during these episodes that the show began broadcasting in color.
Recommended for: Dark Shadows completists.