This box set, representing 40 episodes of the fabulous gothic soap opera Dark Shadows ironically concludes one of its most popular story arcs and begins one of its least popular ones.
For many episodes the core cast of the series has been portraying their own relatives and other characters in the Collinwood of 1897, after Barnabas Collins goes back in time using secrets from the mystical Chinese practice of the I Ching, or Book of Changes. Barnabas travelled back in time to save young David Collins living in modern-day (1960s) Collinwood who was being menanced by the ghost of Quentin Collins.
The introduction of Quentin, portrayed brillantly by David Selby, was a high mark for the show and rejuvinated its fan base. The story involving Quentin has all of the elements that made Dark Shadows a true classic, resulting in these DVD releases of its five-year run — the only soap opera in history to have such treatment.
The plot revolved around Quentin and a werewolf curse that was placed on him by a grieving gypsy, Magda Rocozzi (portrayed with memorable gusto in an Emmy-calibre performance by Grayson Hall), who blamed him for the death of her sister who was Quentin’s wife. The plot became more complicated with the arrival of the sinister Count Andres Petoffi (also protrayed with brilliance by core cast member Thayer David), who possessed supernatural powers and was being hunted by the gypsies.
To escape the gypsy threat forever, Petoffi, whose power primarily rested in one of his hands, plotted to travel to the year 1969, from whence Barnabas came, after forcibly switching bodies through supernatural means with Quentin.
In this box set of episodes, Petoffi is foiled and is apparently killed in a fire during a life-and-death struggle with the ghost of the warden of Dartmore Prison, who Petoffi brought to life to successfully dispatch his former servant, Aristede.
The witch Angelique, portrayed by Lara Parker, who placed the curse of the vampire on Barnabas 100 years prior, actually helps him defeat Petoffi in episodes included in this box set.
Quentin, whose curse is being held at bay by a supernatural portrait of himself, leaves Collinwood and moves to New York City to join his love, Amanda Harris. He is earlier devastated by the accidental death of Beth Chavez who falls from Widows’ Hill when fleeing from Quentin whom she erroneously believed was Petoffi.
Barnabas, who goes back farther in time to prevent the death of the love of his life, Josette, is suddenly captured by two robbed figures representing the Loviathan people who appear with an altar that depict a multi-headed serpent called the Naga.
Thus begins a story line that will consume far too many episodes. Similar to Damien in the Omen, Dark Shadows ends up with its own demon seed, an inhuman being that grows to adulthood in weeks and can change from man to beast and represents pure evil. The story introduces actor Chris Pennock, who portrays the adult demon, and who stays with the show playing other characters until its cancellation.
This box set also brings back talented character actor Dennis Patrick, who had earlier in the series protrayed Jason McGuire, a “friend” of the long-lost husband of the show’s matriarch, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (played by famed movie actress Joan Bennett.) In the classic Dark Shadows’ tradition of a notable cast twist, Patrick now portrays that long-lost husband, Paul Stoddard!
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These four discs are so hot they scream play me over! From this amazing serial these are some of the wicked and twisted highlights. Figuring out who is posessing this character in this time period while backstabbing the young man that now has his old eccentric gypsy body – and all the complicated motivations – this is a television joy ride. Until “Lost” – nothing on television ever commanded so much viewer faith. The writer’s took an icredibly large story arc and created an amazing and absorbing, time traveling, supernaturally romantic story – this set has some of the best episodes.
Dark Shadows remains my favorite television show. I watched it years ago but never got to see all of it because I was going to school when it was on. Now that I am a senior, I have purchased the DVD’s and totally got hooked once again. I highly recommend the entire run.