Dark Shadows Returns To DVD
Dark Shadows, outside of its silly and redundant name (aren’t shadows inherently dark?), is a property that has managed to transcend the decades. Originally an afternoon soap opera, Dark Shadows was translated into a film, a remake series, comic books and into the hearts of many fans around the world (to say nothing of Tim Burton’s upcoming big screen interpretation).
The tale of the Collinswood Estate, the Collins family, and their struggles with all manner of supernatural ghoulies still reverberates with modern audiences. Sure, it was filmed in the late 60s and early 70s, but the basic themes are ones that we’re still seeing in film and television today.
Of course, it’s been a long time since Dark Shadows has been available (except maybe the far recesses of cable) widely to audiences. The last DVD collection that existed has been out of print for a very long time. It was sold in volumes spread out over several years of releases, and never compiled as a complete series collection. Which makes sense; even as a half-hour program, the series’ 1225 episodes would take up an absurd amount of disc space.
Now, MPI Home Video has brought Dark Shadows back to shelves for a new DVD release. On May 8 they will release Dark Shadows: The Complete Original Series on DVD. The collection spans 131 discs and will include all of the original series’ episodes: a whopping 457 hours of television. It also includes bonus features such as interviews with the cast, bloopers, and a behind the scenes documentary. The entire thing is housed in a coffin shaped case.
Reportedly, only 2500 copies of this collection will be printed. But consider the hefty price tag; the collection will cost consumers $599.98. Considering the shrinking home video market, that price might be tough swallow. If you just want a taste of Dark Shadows, MPI has also released Dark Shadows Fan Favorites and The Best of Barnabas.
These two single-disc collections retail for $14.98 and include 9 episodes each. I had a chance to check out these collections and came away generally impressed. Each episode includes an introduction and the episodes span the course of the series, giving a good taste of what Dark Shadows has to offer. For someone like myself who remembers the series, but isn’t willing to swallow the high cost of the complete collection, these “best of” discs are a good trade.
I do have concerns with some of the video quality of the episodes included. Ostensibly, as a show from the late 60s and early 70s, Dark Shadows was probably filmed, yet I noticed several tracking errors during at least one episode, like something you see on VHS tape. It’s possible that the original versions of this series aren’t in the best shape since it’s so old, but I can’t help but feel like something like that should be rectified before the disc is put on sale. I only noticed the issue on one episode.
Regardless of the small issue, I found the Fan Favorites and Best of Barnabas discs to be pretty awesome. If you’re a long time fan of the series, or someone just looking to see what it was all about these collections are worth checking out.