Happy to announce the upcoming publication of a star-studded ANTHOLOGY ON SOAP OPERAS co-edited by blog-mistress Elizabeth and stellar author Suzanne Strempek Shea— the book will be out in MARCH of 2017 from McFarland Books. Among the acclaimed authors who will hold forth on Soaps is the fabulous Nancy Holder, with her own distinctive take on DARK SHADOWS…the book will also feature dark and shadowy thoughts from Susan Lilley (see her own DS essay)…
Nancy Holder is a New York Times bestselling author and recipient of five Bram Stoker awards for her horror fiction. She has also received a Scribe award for Saving Grace: Tough Love based on the TV show of the same name, and a Young Adult Pioneer Award from RT Booklovers. In addition to her original horror and dark fantasy, she writes licensed “tie-in” novels, short fiction, and episode guides for TV shows and movies including Crimson Peak, the new Ghostbusters, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Beauty and the Beast, Teen Wolf, Hellboy, The Rocketeer, and many others. A dedicated Sherlockian, she is creating a Holmes world for a new gaming system. She also edits and writes comic books and teaches on the popular fiction faculty of the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing program offered through the University of Southern Maine. Forthcoming in June is the teen thriller, The Rules. Socialize @nancyholder.
DARK SHADOWS: Look Homeward, Vampire
by Nancy Holder
The Internet Movie Database describes Dark Shadows like this: “The rich Collins family of Collinsport, Maine is tormented by strange occurrences.” To which I reply, “No kidding.” The Collinses were hung as witches, chained in coffins, dragged backward in time, committed to asylums, left on the doorsteps of foundling homes, and bedeviled by curses.
This Gothic soap opera came on the air in 1966 and lasted for 1,225 episodes in its original five-year run. Dark Shadows games, novels, comics, a comic strip, audio plays, fan conventions, and two motion pictures fed the enormous fan base, which at one time numbered over twenty million viewers. It had a rocky start, credited to a slow pace and the presence of an unknown, relatively untested, ingénue named Victoria Winters as its protagonist. The series was saved by the introduction in episode 211 of Barnabas Collins, a vampire and the ancestor of the Collinses who reside in (and bicker in) the ancestral home in Maine. Victoria Winters’s last episode was 665.
A prime-time reboot occurred in 1991, which lasted only one season, and another reboot was attempted in 2004 but was not picked up. Most recently, Johnny Depp starred in a 2012 remake. Big Finish, a UK company, continues to produce DS audio plays; Lara Parker, who played Angelique, writes Dark Shadows novels for Tor Books, and mystery and chick-lit writer Kathryn Leigh Scott, who played Josette DuPrés, Barnabas’s ill-fated fiancée, keeps the flame alive with DS memoirs and behind-the-scenes “making of” books.
What makes Dark Shadows so eminently watchable, and so beloved? Why does it continue to come back from the grave of cancelled shows and rejected pilots? To answer this question, I decided to do something I’d never done before—watch the first two years of episodes, and many others I had missed. And I found my answer.
When DS came on the air, I was living with my family on a US Navy base in Yokosuka, Japan. We had no TV in English, and our newspaper and radio station were produced by the military. The Viet Nam War was raging, and our base was one of the places where sailors came to get patched up so they could go back to hell. We got news about the States from the new kids, but they forgot to tell us about all kinds of things. Anti-war protestors. Hippies. And Star Trek. And Laugh-In. And Dark Shadows. (more…)
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