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3.7 out of 5 stars21
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 19 May 2012
Plenty of good reviews here of the series which helped me decide to purchase. Yes, the acting is sometimes unnerving but often excrutiating, it's done low budget soap style in single takes (great drinking game spotting fluffed lines), and the black&whiteness of it is a creepy atmospheric bonus. It's a bit slow, but they feed you plot increments each episode like a good soap should, and characters have a history and often a secret. Unfortunately, though, this is only the introduction to Barnabus. His mystery is paper-thin from the start, and you don't get to know him well beyond his leanings towards young women. Just as things seem to come to a head, and you feel the buildup was worth it, you realise this 3-disc set has only 2 discs (20 episodes) of Dark Shadows. This, then, is taster only, and all talk of ghosts and ghouls is by reviewers who've watched well beyond these episodes.
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on 3 May 2012
The entire series of Dark Shadows has been available in the US for some time now, with a lavish complete series box set of all 1200+ episodes released this year. Of course due to the Tim Burton movie interest in the original show is high enough for Metrodome to release this budget set in Britain.

You might have already read about Dark Shadows' wonky sets, stiff acting, flubbed lines and so on and so on - it's the usual things that come out whenever the show is written about. However, read anything by a fan of the show or someone who likes it and you should also learn about the tremendous performances (Frid, Karlen et al), the imaginative and at the time unprecedented use of the supernatural in daytime television, and the wonderful atmosphere of the show. It's also unafraid to use literary inspirations for the plots, and go not just to the edge but gleefully over it.

Make no mistake, this is niche cult programming (not the 'cult' of Lost for example), and coming to it from a modern perspective the pacing (don't forget, it was one of many daytime soaps in America and is very talky, many episodes utilising only one plotline or small group of actors) takes some getting used to.

The thing is though, if you get into it and let the feel and ambition of it take over it is truly magnificent comfort fare, and the enthusiasm and creativity of the cast and crew carry it across its five year run. Dark Shadows was big enough at the time to inspire a Canadian attempt at the same type of thing (Strange Paradise, 1969-70) and two motion pictures. Since then conventions, novels, merchandise, a revival in 1991 (also out on DVD and worth checking out), 2004 (which never made it to air) and fan passion have kept it talked about and revisited.

To the DVD then: the first two discs are exactly the same as the first two discs of MPI's US Collection 1 release. You get a roughly 20 minute summary of the show up to the point Barnabas is introduced (so you know who is who and also what other plots are running), and then 20 episodes of the show. These are great episodes and where the show started to really strike out in a new direction. Disc 3 is where the extras are. They are made up from the extras on the US MPI releases but actually it's quite impressive that you get almost three hours of it, covering behind the scenes through to the dream sequences and more. The picture quality is the same as the American releases and so varies but is generally good. It's also especially remarkable that they could release the whole thing when British studios (the BBC being a big culprit) ended up wiping half their archives.

In summary, if you knew about the show and have never wanted to spend on the expensive US sets this is a fine release that you will enjoy. If you're new to the series and are curious to try it, you won't lose out at this price, even if you don't like it. If you do like it then you'll find plenty to enjoy here, and should you wish to dig further into it, there's still those other 1200 episodes to go.
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on 8 October 2012
Dark Shadows came out in June of 1966. I left the US to return to Germany that winter, so I only watched episodes during summer and whenever I could when school did not interfere. Being a Gothic tales and Vampire fan, I never forgot this innovative, decidedly different, camp daytime series. Nothing else came near it at the time.

I have been very much enjoying the selection of episodes featuring Barnabas. There is plenty of background info to catch one up with the developing plot(s) and the third dvd is invaluable with the background and making-of and aftermath interviews of the actors long after the 5 year old series ended.

I am only giving 4 stars because I would have liked a few more dvds of episodes...not necessarily a full collection (is there one?). This set comes with two episode dvds and one dvd with the history and background of the production.

Very much worth the money adding to your collection or reliving nostalgia.
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on 9 February 2013
This first ever UK DVD release of the original TV series has proved to be somewhat contentious. Discs one and two each contain 10 complete episodes - actually the first 20 featuring Barnabas Collins, played by the late Jonathan Frid. The episodes are preceded by a summary of the story so far. Disc three contains 3 hours worth of featurettes, interviews and clips from the series.

Barnabas was not part of the original concept of Dark Shadows, and was only added as an attempt to boost ratings. The character captured the imagination of the audience, and creator/producer Dan Curtis had to abandon his original plan to kill the vampire off. Jonathan Frid quickly became the star of the show, and the rest is history.

Dark Shadows was never shown in Britain (to the best of my knowledge), and the set serves as an excellent introduction for UK viewers who may have had the misfortune to see that Tim Burton rubbish, and want to sample the real thing.

I was always reading about Dark Shadows in sci-fi magazines throughout the 70s and was intrigued. It wasn't until the 90s when I found a very old VHS tape of the first movie spin-off, House Of Dark Shadows, that I was able to sample the Collinwood saga for myself, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Naturally, I was thrilled when this DVD came out, even though the packaging is somwehat sullied by the references to that Tim Burton horror. At last I could watch some of the series itself.

Ay, and there's the rub. After 20 episodes, I was completely hooked and then....no more! Left hanging, and desperately wanting to find out what happens to Barnabas and Maggie, and the rest of the characters. It lived up to my expectations magnificently - I don't need CGI, fast editing or any of that rubbish to entertain me - and I was left with the same bittersweet feelings I had watching the first two episodes of The Quatermass Experiment, knowing the final four no longer existed.

To date, there have been no further volumes, and it seems there's not going to be. As I have a multi-region player, I could order the US versions, but they are a little costly for me at the moment. I'd prefer further moderately priced 3 disc sets like this, but it would appear that poor sales mean this is unlikely.

So - recommended, but with reservations. It'll get you hooked, then cut off your supply!
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on 21 January 2016
This is a very simple taster for the epic full Dark Shadows series, released in the UK to help promote the Johnny Depp spoof version released in 2012. As a massive fan of vintage TV shows and vintage horror films, all I can say is that I was sufficiently pulled into the creepy world of Collinsport and the house of Collinswood by this DVD to go the whole hog... I picked up the complete series set on a Black Friday import a while ago and am now in the early-100s in terms of episodes, long before the events seen on these discs, but boy! do I have a lot to look forward too!

If you like old TV shows and you have the patience with an often slow pace and batty (pun not intended) plotting, the series is tremendous fun, be it Louis Edmonds' fabulous, sneering Uncle Roger, for whom no level of putdown is taboo, to his psychopathic nine year-old son David to a very solid performance by Alexandra Moltke as the sort-of lead, Victoria Winters. Overseeing the ensemble is the great 'Old Hollywood' actress Joan Bennett. The episodes were recorded 'as live' a week or so before broadcast with little rehearsal time and no time for retakes, hence some, at times hilarious line-fluffs and camera/set accidents.

Jonathan Frid, arriving in the episodes in this collection makes an impact akin to dropping a meteorite in a swimming pool. I'm not one to consider the earlier Dark Shadows episodes boring (with actors such as the later-famous Mitchell Ryan starring, that's impossible) but probably Barnabas's arrival was at a good time to shake up the show. Also it gives plenty of screen time to the lovely Kathryn Leigh Scott as the object of Barnabas's vampiric obsession.

So take this for what it is: an introduction to the series. If you have the sense of patience, the right sense of humour and love old TV shows for all the bonkers things that can go wrong, you'll love Dark Shadows. Just kind of roll with the episodes here and see if you like it. There's great stuff before the Barnabas storyline begins and even greater events to come.
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on 25 October 2013
The series was poorly adapted to a motion picture by Tim Burton. These originals will probably be a little stiff if you are not a fan of the period and genre. Remember that these are television episodes.
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on 26 November 2012
excellent copy of dark shadows. I hope that there will be more series on sale soon. A quirky old fashioned and dated show, but very addictive once you get to the barnabas collins episodes.
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on 18 May 2012
Metrodome in the UK is trying to introduce the Dark Shadows series to a new audience in an affordable fashion. You don't just start with a full series box costing hundreds of pounds when the original 1966-71 television version is barely known in the UK.

Metrodome should be commended for attempting to bring the original to the UK, where it has previously aired only once on the European Sci-Fi Channel in the late 1990s. If the response is good, more UK releases on DVD are inevitable and even a complete series if support warrants.

But this is a nice way for curious people who have just seen the Johnny Depp-Tim Burton movie and want to get acquainted with a sampling of the first month (20 episodes) that featured vampire Barnabas Collins on the TV show in 1967. Plus there are bonus features including an introduction to the series and a documentary. This is well worth purchasing for first-timers indeed!
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on 24 April 2015
I saw these first time round, which marks me out as a wrinkly. Amazing to see them again. Pity there are only 20 on the disc. 30 would have been better….
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on 14 May 2012
I had never seen the show but knew of Barnabas collins by reading monster magazines which included stills from the show. I bought the first box set with no other knowledge of dark shadows. Yes it is at times rather stagey bit when the Barnabas guy appears especially in the early episodes he is unsettling.
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