Top positive review
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Complete, low budget, melodramatic, gothic, and addicting!
on July 9, 2002
... Basically, this first DVD set is VHS Volumes 1-4; in other words, 8 actual weeks of the programme, 2 weeks on each disc. The quality is better than the VHS tapes, but not greatly, as Dark Shadows was a very low budget soap opera, and through the years some of the original prints were lost, damaged, etc., and alternative prints were utilised in their stead; but it is a definite improvement over the quality of the VHS tapes. The programmes on this DVD collection begin at the same point in the series as the VHS videos begin: a synopsis of the earlier episodes and characters followed by the introduction of Barnabas Collins the Vampyre. As far as extras, there are three interviews approximately 5 minutes long each: Jonathan Frid (Barnabas), Kathryn Leigh-Scott (Maggie, Josette), and John Karlen (Willie, Kendrick), each interviewed several years ago. What really should be noted about the DVD collection(s) that differs from the VHS tapes is that ALL THE EPISODES ARE COMPLETE AND UNEDITED. The VHS tapes are actually edited. I didn't really notice this at first, until I realised I was seeing episodes and parts of episodes that weren't shown in the VHS volumes. (A clue to this being my former statement that the DVD collection, consisiting of 8 weeks, equals that of the VHS Volumes, 1-4; and as the VHS volumes only consist of approximately one week each, the math is incorrect.) By seeing the complete episodes, the viewer will find (after having watched the VHS tapes) the story to be fleshed out more, focusing more on all the characters and situations.
If you're new to Dark Shadows and are curious about this show and want a good starter sampler, this DVD collection is perhaps the best and least expensive way to start. For to begin with less than these 40 episodes will not give one a good idea of the scope of this programme. Quite frankly, even 40 episodes isn't enough to give anyone the idea of the scope of this show as there were so many changes in events and characters throughout the series. Keep in mind this is/was a five day a week soap opera (even if it is gothic), that it was on for approximately four to five years, that, as with all soap operas, it is mainly dialogue-based and moves at a snail's pace, and that, as such, can be very boring and tedious at times! And do expect low budget effects, bouts of melodramatic acting, and loads and loads of flubs and mistakes that made it onto film (due to the fact that the show was more often than not taped live and editing wasn't an option). However despite the many drawbacks, Dark Shadows is charming, addicting, imaginative, romantic, and eerie. And no matter how much one likes or dislikes a particular episode, one simply MUST see the next episode...and the next...and the next...and so on.
In a nutshell, Dark Shadows, with all its faults (probably more than any other show that ever aired on television), is pleasing because of the suspense and intrigue, and the imagination that propells it; because of the continuing story and the characters involved (who are portrayed by some very talented actors); and because of the romantic, supernatural escapism that draws us in. Watching Dark Shadows is very much like watching a play on a stage; and if one views it that way (no pun intended) all the mistakes, flubs, etc. will simply not matter.