Warning: this post contains mad spoilers, if one can spoil a 46-year-old TV show.
So, on a lark, I started watching Dark Shadows on Netflix. It starts out quite slow--I watched a few episodes while I was home sick one day, and I found that I didn't actually miss a whole lot of plot if I dozed off in the middle of an episode. But it had a nice creepy vibe that I enjoyed, and I stuck with it. And at a certain point it went from langourous mood piece to ripping yarn.
I frequently watch an episode before bed. I just checked and found, somewhat to my surprise and I suppose embarrassment, that I've actually watched 140 episodes.
But damn, it's good.
Of course, you have to suspend your disbelief and just go with a lot of pretty loopy stuff. And I'm not talking about the existence of a vampire, here. I'm talking about the following stuff:
1.)All these people, especially Roger and Elizabeth with their highfalutin' ways, live in rural Maine (They talk at one point about "going into Bangor," which means this is definitely rural Maine). Actually Maggie's dad, the gruff, hard-drinkin' artist, is the only character who seems like he might actually be a Maine resident.
2.) Barnabas, after being entombed for over a hundred years, has no desire to see the world or even to go to a bigger city where he could pick off victims without anybody noticing they're gone. Nope, he wants to hang out in rural Maine. Forever. This is immortality?
3.)Barnabas kidnaps Maggie because she reminds him of his beloved Josette. Then when she's out of the picture and suffering from doctor-generated amnesia (don't ask), he decides, no, actually, it's Vicky who reminds him of his beloved Josette and whom he must have.
4.)Carolyn is briefly pissed at finding out that her mom killed her father, but then it turns out that her mom didn't kill her father, she just thought she did, and mom and daughter are both totally fine after this.
5.)Someone exists named Burke Devlin.
There's more, plus the flubbed lines that seem to come with a lightning-quick shooting schedule. The whole thing is really quite charming. And, I think, probably incredibly influential.
Because Barnabas, before Lestat, Edward or even Blacula, is an incredibly emo vampire. (He even wears eyeliner!). Sure, he can be vicious, but most of the time he just mopes around. I could be wrong, but I don't really remember this mopey, disaffected vampire struggling with the loss of loved ones and the ennui of immortality showing up much before this.
Afterward, though--gawd, it's one sad sack vampire after another (including Coppola's Dracula.) Now, I think this is actually kind of a crappy trend, but, like many crappy trends, the early practicioners are actually pretty cool. (Thus, the Beatles are good but most overproduced, studio-heavy pop music is horrible; Dylan has moments of brilliance while the batallion of earnest singer-songwriters who followed have far fewer, etc.)
So if you have Netflix and you've got an extra 45 hours, which I wouldn't have said I did, but here we are, I recommend checking out the first 140 episodes of Dark Shadows.