Dark Shadows (1991 TV series)

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This article is about the 1991 remake soap opera. For the original 1960s ABC soap opera, see Dark Shadows. For the 2012 film based on the soap opera, see Dark Shadows (film). For other uses, see Dark Shadows (disambiguation).
Dark Shadows
Dark Shadows (1991 TV series).jpg
Title card
Also known as Dark Shadows: The Revival
Genre Soap opera
Gothic horror
Created by Dan Curtis
Starring Ben Cross
Lysette Anthony
Barbara Blackburn
Jim Fyfe
Joanna Going
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Veronica Lauren
Ely Pouget
Barbara Steele
Roy Thinnes
Michael T. Weiss
Jean Simmons
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 12 (list of episodes)
Running time 55 minutes
Production company(s) Dan Curtis Productions
MGM Television
Original network NBC
Original release January 13 – March 22, 1991 (1991-03-22)

Dark Shadows (later referred to as Dark Shadows: The Revival[1]) is a primetime television series which aired on NBC from January to March 1991. A re-imagining of the 1966–1971 ABC daytime gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, the revival was developed by Dan Curtis, creator of the original series.[2]

Series storyline[edit]

The 1991 Dark Shadows tells a streamlined version of the original storyline – the arrival of governess Victoria Winters at Collinwood, vampire Barnabas Collins being released from his coffin, Dr. Hoffman's attempt to cure Barnabas' vampirism medically, and, finally, Victoria's time travel back to 1790 to witness the events in which the still-human Barnabas is transformed into an undead creature.

Development and production[edit]

Having declined several previous inquiries about reviving Dark Shadows, Curtis was contacted by NBC's then-head of programming Brandon Tartikoff in the summer of 1987.[3] The reluctant Curtis was eventually persuaded by Tartikoff, who "wouldn't let up."[3]

Of the revival Curtis said, "The essential characters and relationships are the same, but the things they do are different. I thought I could rely on those old scripts, but I found that they were full of crazy plots that we couldn't use. So all the incidents are different; we arrive at similar points through a much different route."[4] According to Curtis, he co-wrote and directed the first five episodes himself, "to get it off in the style I wanted."[4] However, Curtis received co-writing credit on only two completed episodes, Episodes One and Four. The revival series was produced by MGM Television, whose parent company had produced the two earlier theatrical films (now owned by Warner Bros./Turner Entertainment). A majority of the series was filmed at the Greystone Park and Mansion in Beverly Hills, California, and some period wardrobe from the 1988 film Dangerous Liaisons was used.[3][4]


Ratings and cancellation[edit]

Dark Shadows premiered as a four-hour miniseries event on January 13 and 14, 1991, and then moved to a regular Friday night schedule.[3][4][5] Though the series debuted to great success, watched by nearly 1 in 4 households, ratings declined as the onset of the Gulf War disrupted the broadcast schedule. Part of the blame was also placed on NBC for promoting the series' horror and vampire themes rather than the more appropriate romantic and fantasy themes. [6] With the 12th and last episode of the season ranked 64th among 83 shows, Dark Shadows was canceled. [7] NBC received over 7000 letters of protest from disappointed fans, who also picketed network headquarters in both Los Angeles and New York City.[7][8]

Media releases and rebroadcast[edit]

The original VHS release from MPI Home Video features an extended pilot episode and extended final episode, and also presents the original one-hour versions of episodes 2 and 3 (for broadcast, NBC combined them into a movie-length version so they could air that and the pilot as a 2-night mini-series to kick off the series premiere), so the home video presentation of episode 3 restores the "I'm Victoria Winters" opening narration that was left out of the movie-length version (the one-hour versions of these two episodes are also the ones that were shown when the series was repeated on the Sci-Fi Channel).

The 2005 DVD release from MGM Home Video, although re-mastered in High Definition, contained alterations to the original image presentation. Firstly, the overall image was cropped from the original full-screen image to a 1.78:1 widescreen ratio. Secondly, after remastering, certain scenes that were shot "day for night" (shot in daylight, but meant to be altered in post-production to look like night-time) were incorrectly left untreated, presenting the problem of a vampire walking around in broad daylight. Also, this release presented the episodes the way they were shown on NBC, meaning episodes 2 and 3 were the "movie length" version and the unaired footage from the MPI release was not included at all (not within the context of the episode or even as a bonus feature).

The DVD version has been re-released since that time in different packaging, but the episodes are exactly the same as the 2005 version (the only difference is the package).

Dark Shadows has been shown in reruns on the Sci-Fi Channel and Chiller. Since 2009 the series has been available for viewing online on Hulu.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nutt, Shannon (18 October 2005). "Dark Shadows: The Revival – The Complete Series". DVDTalk.com. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Dougherty, Margot (18 January 1991). "The Vampire Strikes Back". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d Carter, Bill (9 January 1991). "NBC Puts New Blood In Old Vampire Series". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d Nemy, Enid (13 January 1991). "TELEVISION: Dark Shadows Returns to Haunt Prime Time". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  5. ^ The two-hour first episode aired on January 13, 1991 and Episodes 2 and 3 were presented as a two-hour block the next evening.
  6. ^ Dark Shadows Resurrected, Jim Pierson, page 20-21
  7. ^ a b Braxton, Greg (28 March 1991). "Pickets in Burbank Ask NBC to Revive Dark Shadows". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Pocharski, Susan (26 April 1991). "Mail-Order TV". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  9. ^ Djeljosevic, Danny (12 October 2009). "Watch Full Episodes Dark Shadows (1991) Season 1 Online". WebTVWire.com. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 

External links[edit]