What Dark Shadows (The Original) and Dark Shadows (The Revival) Have in Common…And What they Don’t…

NOTE: My apologies in advance for the alignment of the pics with the text between further down. I tried my best to correct this but the text would keep showing up between the pictures of Lara Parker and Lysette Anthony

Earlier I wrote a post in which I described how certain people are telling me how I should not judge an entire movie by a two-minute trailer.  That is a statement made in ignorance (at best) because the trailers are the most important vehicle to make a viewer want to watch a film or decide to save their money.  I am going to describe what the two shows above have in common…I am also going to leave you with a question at the end to ponder.

Many people who know me personally know I ran home from school EVERY DAY so that I would see if “Barnabas was well yet”…I wanted him to be cured and that bully “Angelique” to get the royal ass kicking she deserved.  I have done a lot of reading and such and studying for the past few months.  This is what I PERSONALLY look for in any movie or show I watch, and if I don’t see it, I don’t view it again.  If the trailer sucks, it will result in more monetary loss than gain in the long run because those who came up with it failed to do their homework before filming the project.  Translated that means: THEY DIDN’T DO ANY MARKET RESEARCH FIRST.  If they had, they would have KNOWN that this was not a good thing they were trying to accomplish.

First off, what did Barnabas ever do to deserve being cursed and having his entire family tormented?  Bottom line, he screwed around with the WRONG woman…In today’s time, since he wasn’t married yet, it wouldn’t matter.  The man had a flaw and it got him in hot water–period.  Was this “hot water” truly deserved? No…It was not and that is what made us as children (especially if we got bullied) empathize with the Barnabas character…This was also played out in the Revival Series VERY well.

Then there is this element of “mystery”–which really was not a mystery to us in the 90’s when the Revival series came out, but while fans of the original series were looking for a “Jonathan Frid” many were not disappointed with Ben Cross‘s rendition of that character.  Dan Curtis‘s method of casting and directing ensured that BOTH actors were able to evoke and keep our attention.  The difference lies in that Frid’s rendition came across as more “human” than beast.  Cross’s rendition made him more menacing and flawed, but like Frid’s character,  he was still a good man with a good heart.  And in Cross’s rendition, the strong emotions his Barnabas experienced were portrayed very, very well.

The Two Best Men to Ever Play Barnabas Collins.  Sorry Johnny, but Mr. Cross raised the bar too high.  After the 2012 movie is released, I believe Mr. Cross will finally be more appreciated for his rendition of the role--and rightly so!

My apologies to Mr. Depp here, but after seeing that performance in the trailer, it proves that Mr. Cross raised the bar too high. No other actor since him has portrayed him as well.  It would be great if the original cast invited cast members from the Revival to take part in the fests also.  They are still part of that legacy–and are more recognizable now than they were then.  The Revival Series will probably now get the respect it so richly deserved. The Gulf War is what led to the show’s fate–not the writers, cast or crew.  They totally rocked and so did the direction of Dan Curtis in both series.  The formula Mr. Curtis had was not broken. Market research would have proven that had Mr. Burton or Depp done it and/or paid any attention to it. I find it no coincidence that Mr. Curtis tended to use actors with Shakespearean backgrounds in theater as well.  Look at Frid and Cross…Both carried the character very well.

In BOTH shows, our curiosity was aroused and our intellect was challenged enough that we responded!  Boy did we!

Now who is the visible villain in BOTH shows?  “Angelique” DUH! Really?!   Both had intense eyes.  For each time period–both were realistic–meaning that Lara Parker kicked ass at this part in the ’60’s but Lysette Anthony did in the Revival Series.  Ms. Anthony succeeded in doing an excellent portrayal of a voodoo witch with the correct (French) accent too since that character  came from Martinique.

There is one problem and that is the total lack of a hero or heroine.  That was not clear in either series really but Barnabas did show heroic tendencies at times.  The character of Barnabas Collins is also the first vampire to come across as romantic, despite the fact that a lot of women do not like the idea of a permanent hickey on their neck–oops! Sorry! Barnabas would say it’s just a “love bite”, I’m sure.  I am grinning here.

The reason this is an unknown is that the original series was intended to be a long running show and it was.  But what do fans want here?  I think they want a RESOLUTION to the dilemma.  Either cure Barnabas’s curse or put a stake in him and kill of Angelique so the rest of the family can live in whatever after may be–OR some enterprising writer needs to come up with new characters to cure him of his curse and make the story line so realistic that fans would accept any new characters brought in.  It won’t happen for this movie though. They are already talking about sequels–AGAIN–lack of true market research…They would have known this had they done that task. If they would resolve the Barnabas issue and move on to Quentin it might have fighting chance in hell of long-term success–but ONLY if they didn’t deviate too far from fans expectations.  It was never meant to have comedic schlock in it. That would work for the “Fearless Vampire Killers” but NOT for this one.

Why?  This is simple.  This show had been established for decades.  The comedic schlock only lowered the plausibility of it at this point. It also put a mar on the credibility of the franchise and it isn’t even out yet. Fans of the original and the Revival are in an uproar.  The humor that came about came naturally when it occurred in the original series and in the 1700’s flashbacks of the Revival.  That is how it was meant to be written.  Dan Curtis did show that Barnabas did have a “life”.  To add the type of humor in the new film shatters the audience expectations  of a show they love–and this all from a 2 minute trailer.  Never tell a viewer not to judge a movie by a trailer. That is what trailers are DESIGNED to do–enable a viewer to make a decision.

One great thing about BOTH shows is that either Barnabas and/or some other character is always in danger…There was that element that it wasn’t only Barnabas that could be destroyed in a given moment if found out–but Angelique had a pendulum swinging over the heads of his entire family.  One didn’t really know where that was going at times.

Then you have that “love story” aspect…It is there. It is tragic.  However if it had been kept in the spirit of the original–even with a surprise twist by adding a new hero or heroine to resolve it, it could have worked whether or not Josette Dupres remained part of the equation.  There were clashes of wills between the vampire Barnabas and Josette when she became frightened and jumped from the cliff. Clashing of wills was present throughout the original. In the Revival it was there also–even between Barnabas and Willie at the point where Willie had tried to dissuade Victoria from coming there and tried to get her to leave the old house before it got dark.  This was the result:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_zoTfRmm9o

In the original series, Victoria left Collinsport for good.  This would have been a perfect opportunity to bring in a character or two to resolve the issue.  Had that been done, I think the viewers would have been left with a sense of closure by the end of the series.  If it were me writing it, I would want the audience to feel closure at the end–whether it’s tragic or the “fairy tale” ending the women would LOVE…In the original series, Barnabas declaring his “love” for Angelique is not credible.  It was–for lack of a better word–bullshit.

Angelique would destroy anyone or anything to have control over Barnabas. That is obsession–not love. After all she had done to his family, I seriously doubt that he could “love” her.  To continue with that unrealistic expectation would be insulting to the fans as well and they are not going to buy into it.  At best, Angelique COULD be considered mentally off-balance.  AT worst, a psychopath OR a sociopath depending on which version one watches.

Just from the trailer, the things I mention do not appear to be present.  The new movie looks more like a Beetlejuice type of film.   I think those who watched that movie or “The Vampire’s Assistant” and liked them will love this movie.  Those who know what was meant to be in both the original and the Revival series will probably hate it–despite the names of Depp/Burton being attached to it. Big names do not always equal box office success either.  We will know soon, won’t we?  I’ll wait for the dvd myself.

There is one thing that the original Dark Shadows does not have in common with the Revival series and that is longevity.  Had it not been for the Gulf War, I’m sure the Revival series would have picked up and taken off eventually.  NBC really screwed up by not giving it a second shot…Those who watch it now tend to agree with that assessment.

3 comments on “What Dark Shadows (The Original) and Dark Shadows (The Revival) Have in Common…And What they Don’t…

  1. Holy Mackerel, Tina. I think maybe you’re overthinking the whole thing, or maybe taking it too seriously. I know its annoying, even infuriating at times in a film or TV series when certain issues aren’t resolved, but its meant to be entertainment, is it not? I’ll most likely see the Depp-Burton film to be entertained knowing that it will be very different and knowing that it certainly won’t be able to top the Revival series. And as I said before inre Johnny Depp, he’s good but Ben Cross he ain’t!

    • Arlene, I am also coming from the standpoint that there are certain things any film or TV show (or book) should have present. Had they done their market research before releasing this trailer, they might have realized that a lot of audience members were going to be turned off by it. They didn’t do any research involving a focus group. Warner Bros. is KNOWN for having pictures with big names attached to them tank after only a week or two. Had they simply put this in front of random focus groups they would know what the reaction would be prior to release. What both the original series and the revival series have in common is important because some of those elements do not appear in the movie trailer. The trailer is what will make viewers decide to see this film or not. Right now on IMDB it’s numbers are dropping and it is not even released yet, but a lot of that is due to current cast members making comments they shouldn’t be making. The behavior makes people reading their commentary think they have little faith in THEIR OWN project. More on that later.

  2. ” If it were me writing it, I would want the audience to feel closure at the end–whether it’s tragic or the “fairy tale” ending the women would LOVE…In the original series, Barnabas declaring his “love” for Angelique is not credible. It was–for lack of a better word–bullshit.”

    I agree with you. The original series was cancelled before the story was resolved.

    “Angelique would destroy anyone or anything to have control over Barnabas. That is obsession–not love. After all she had done to his family, I seriously doubt that he could “love” her. To continue with that unrealistic expectation would be insulting to the fans as well and they are not going to buy into it. At best, Angelique COULD be considered mentally off-balance. AT worst, a psychopath OR a sociopath depending on which version one watches.”

    Yes, she knew not what love is! She was an evil psycho!

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