Since its planned series based on the 1987 vampire flick ‘The Lost Boys’ seems stuck in development hell, The CW looks to have moved on… and back. The network is now developing a revival/sequel to the 1960s-’70s soap opera ‘Dark Shadows’, with Mark B. Perry (‘Revenge’, ‘The Ghost Whisperer’, ‘Brothers & Sisters’) writing and executive producing.
The original ‘Dark Shadows’ was created by Dan Curtis and aired from 1966 until 1971. Both the revival and the original were set in the town of Collinsport, Maine and followed the exploits of the wealthy Collins family. Jonathan Frid portrayed lead character Barnabas Collins on the original soap. According to its Wikipedia page, the original ‘Dark Shadows’ wove in “ghosts, werewolves, zombies, man-made monsters, witches, warlocks, time travel, and a parallel universe.” (Sounds kind of like the ’90s soap opera ‘Passions’, if anyone remembers that.)
Perry grew up as a passionate fan of the original ‘Dark Shadows’, as he stated:
“As a first-generation fan, it’s been a dream of mine to give ‘Dark Shadows’ the ‘Star Trek’ treatment since way back in the ’80s when ‘Next Generation’ was announced, so I’m beyond thrilled and humbled to be entrusted with this resurrection. And while I could never hope to fill Dan Curtis’ very large shoes, I do aspire to carry them a little farther into the future. I also want to reassure the fans of the original that this version will treat the show’s mythology with the same reverence given to ‘Star Trek’, but will also make the show accessible for audiences who aren’t yet familiar with the macabre world of the Collinses. My plan is to take as few liberties as possible with the ‘Dark Shadows’ canon, while bearing in mind a quote from a 1970s episode delivered by the inimitable Oscar-nominee Grayson Hall as Dr. Julia Hoffman: ‘The Collins family history is not particularly famous for its accuracy.’”
The original series retains a cult following to this day, despite not being readily available in syndication. In fact, it wasn’t until 1992, when Syfy (then known as the Sci-Fi Channel) that nearly the entire series was re-aired. However, even then, the network dropped the series shy of airing the last two weeks’ worth of episodes.
In 1991, NBC created a big-budget revival series, but even though it started off as a smash hit, the onset of the Gulf War wound up preempting subsequent episodes and after three months, it was gone for good. In 2004, The WB (which was later merged into The CW) attempted a reboot and had a pilot filmed. Unfortunately, it was not picked up to series.
In 2012, Tim Burton crafted a campy film adaptation, starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeifer, and Helena Bonham Carter, but it flopped. Jonathan Frid made a cameo in the movie, but died two months before its release. It also featured the 200th film appearance by horror great Christopher Lee.
Also producing the reboot are Amasia Entertainment’s Michael Helfant, Bradley Gallo and Tracy Mercer. Curtis’ daughters Tracy and Cathy Curtis are involved with the revival and actually brought the idea to Amasia.
As Tracy Curtis said:
“I knew Tracy [Mercer] was a die-hard fan of my father’s work and would protect his vision by bringing on someone who understood how special this property is. My expectations were surpassed when she introduced us to Mark and I heard his incredible take. I felt my father was watching from above and smiling down on us. Tracy and I couldn’t be happier to have Mark take viewers back to Collinwood. Mark has opened up our father’s universe with fresh storylines and new characters that will delight original fans even as they thrill younger viewers.”
As Mercer added, “Mark’s talent, unique take, and absolute fanboy love for Dark Shadows made him our ideal showrunner.”
As Helfant, another first-generation fan, stated:
“We were thrilled to be in a competitive situation with the pitch for DSR. Gaye Hirsch and her team have a stellar track record with smart genre programming, so The CW makes total sense for this new incarnation of the godfather of horror TV.”
Are you a fan of ‘Dark Shadows’? Are you excited to see what The CW does with it?