Rather than picking up where the old series had left off, the NBC version retold the original story, beginning again with Victoria's arrival at the strange mansion by the sea. The early stories from the 1960s version were skipped, however, and Barnabas was unchained in the first episode, this time portrayed by Ben Cross, best-known for his performance in the Oscar-winning movie Chariots of Fire. The cast, which included none of the actors from the original show, was again headed by a movie star: Jean Simmons as Elizabeth. Other cast members included Joanna Going as Victoria Winters, Roy Thinnes as Roger Collins, Barbara Steele as Julia Hoffman, and Lysette Anthony as the evil Angelique.
The new Shadows was marketed as a Gothic romance; a sexy ad in Rolling Stone magazine, for example, called it a a story of enduring love (and evil).
Early reviews for the updated Dark Shadows were good, with critics from TV Guide and USA Today heartily recommending it as ''campy fun.'' Ratings, however, were relatively low; the United States went to war only days after Dark Shadows' January 13, 1991, premiere, and viewers tuned into news programs in record numbers to watch developments in Operation Desert Storm.
In May, NBC announced that Dark Shadows would not be renewed. But once again, cancellation did not kill Dark Shadows. Months after the show left the air, several new collectibles were issued, including two wristwatches and an all-new comic book series.
The comic series, by Innovation Publishing, featured art which was far superior to the art in the 1960s and '70s Gold Key series based on the original series. (Click here for more information about the Gold Key comics.) The characters in the Innovation comics were clearly based on the actors who had appeared in the NBC version of the show. In fact, Lara Parker (Angelique in the ABC version) even made a "guest appearance" in the Innovation comic series. Although she did not appear in the NBC show, a character drawn to resemble her appeared in Issue #3. The character, named Lara Hoffman, was the great aunt of Dr. Julia Hoffman. Unfortunately, Innovation went out of business after only nine issues of Dark Shadows were published.
In addition to the comic books, Innovation released two posters -- one featuring Angelique and the famous music box; the other with Barnabas, Angelique and Victoria. (The art on the posters was also used as the covers of Issues #1 and #4.)
Abblare Inc. produced two wrist watches in 1992 -- one with Barnabas on its face (transforming from "normal" to vampire every minute); the other with Angelique and the music box. The watches came in distinctive boxes -- a coffin and a music box.
Another collectible based on the NBC version of DS was an officially licensed T-shirt featuring Ben Cross's Barnabas, produced by Logo-Tel.
The WB Version
For great coverage of the WB pilot, including future developments, check out Dark Shadows Journal Online.
The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Craig Hamrick © 2004