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Old January 2 2009, 09:10 PM   #1
DigificWriter
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Re-imagining Dark Shadows

Hi. Years ago, back when we had satellite TV, I would get up early every morning to go in and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the Sci-Fi Channel, and, invariably, I'd end up catching part of the old 60s/70s gothic soap opera 'Dark Shadows'. Subsequent research into the series - combined with the parts of the show that I'd been able to see - garnered an interest in it that's persisted since. Independently of all this, I've ended up becoming interested in screenwriting, and have involved myself in several different projects that have helped me hone my skills as a script writer. However, with the project I'm currently involved in a period of rebuilding, I'm looking for things to do to occupy my time, and was recently struck with the idea of attempting an unofficial BSG-style re-imagining of an old television property. With interest in vampires pretty much at a new high right now, what with the HBO series Tru(e) Blood, Stephanie Meyer's Twilight novels (and the Twilight movie), and others, I figured Dark Shadows would be a good property to try and unofficially 're-imagine'. However, I've been having trouble figuring out how you could take what made the show what it was and update it, so I figured I'd start a discussion asking you guys for your opinions on how you could go about re-imagining the series.

Note: You don't necessarily have to have seen any of the series (or its accompanying movies) to contribute to this discussion, although having a knowledge of the show would certainly help.
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Old January 2 2009, 09:25 PM   #2
auntiehill
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Re: Re-imagining Dark Shadows

They tried to "re-imagine" the show back in--what was it?--1991? It had Ben Cross as Barnabas, and they were trying to make it Dynasty with vampires. It was not very successful, if I recall.

There have been rumors for years that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp were going to do a film version, but I don't know if that will ever happen. I don't see Johnny Depp as Barnabas, though. He's too pretty. Barnabas should, at first glance, seem very ordinary. His voice, his demeanor, his presence are what make him fascinating. There has to be that delicate balance of seeing him as likable, mysterious, tragic and yet also a monster. I also like the idea of setting it in the Northeast. If it's moved to the South, then it just sets itself up for a series of bad cliches.

I think it's also important to have David as a strong role. The boy's point of view is important. He can't be some weak mind little baby, nor can he be an stereotypical precious movie-brat.
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Old January 2 2009, 09:26 PM   #3
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Re: Re-imagining Dark Shadows

From what I have heard a Dark Shadows movie is in the works with Johnny Depp as Barnabas.
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Old January 2 2009, 09:26 PM   #4
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Re: Re-imagining Dark Shadows

Have you seen or read anything about this 1991 remake/reimagining? They nailed it as an 'ultimate' to the original series if you ask me, only lacking in the fact that it was canceled before they could delve into other plot lines. They also tried creating a reimagined pilot for the WB network a few years ago.

As you also see, Johnny Depp is producing a new movie version for Warner Brothers with John August writing the script and Tim Burton directing. So we could go the route of predicting how they will reimagine it. Apparently Depp was a childhood fan of the original. (We all know he's a vampire anyway.)

Well obviously Barnabas Collins has to be a 250 year old secret vampire. Do we keep all the other characters? I think Victoria Winters and Dr. Hoffman are must-keeps, as are David Collins and Angelique.

EDIT: I see others beat me to it. Having David Collins be so important is a fascinating idea, auntiehill, maybe as the main perspective secondary to Barnabas and Victoria?

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Old January 2 2009, 10:09 PM   #5
Jarrott2
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Re: Re-imagining Dark Shadows

Well I was there for Dark Shadows when it first came out on ABC.
It started out as a gothic soap opera that was floundering and one day a cousin showed up and just happened to be a vampire. Thus began the cult. My grandmother threw a fit because she thought it was going to warp her poor grandson.
I think the later version didn't do well because of poor casting.
With the right actors and some good story telling it could be a hit again.
Suspense is really what made it.
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Old January 3 2009, 12:42 AM   #6
DigificWriter
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Re: Re-imagining Dark Shadows

I was aware of the 1991 revival, the WB's 2004 pilot, and the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton movie project, but, while the concepts of DS are sound, I don't know if sticking to the original soap opera formula of the series would necessarily be sustainable.

One of the few ideas that I had for possibly re-imaging the series was to change its nature from that of a gothic soap opera to more of a serial mystery drama (ala that FOX series 'Vanished' from a few years back). I'm just not sure what the key character relationships would need to be, or even which characters would need to be included (aside from Victoria Winters and Barnabas, of course).
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Old January 3 2009, 01:53 AM   #7
Jan
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Re: Re-imagining Dark Shadows

I loved the original Dark Shadows and I loved the '91 revival even more, I think. Whatever you do with it, I think what's crucial is the characters. Each of them were extremely individual - Barnabas as the monster who was in love and tormented by his nature. Quentin, a ne'er-do-well with a secret. And so on.

My feeling is that it would be best as a show with an arc or series of arcs but it could definitely lose the constant re-telling of other classic horror/occult tales.

I'll always be fond of the original, though, practically filmed live with all of the falling sets, insects and stuck doors that entailed.

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Old January 14 2009, 02:57 PM   #8
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Re: Re-imagining Dark Shadows

I just got the Revival series used for pretty cheap. It's not as special to me as the original, but I like it. I keep hearing about Johnny Depp and Tim Burton doing an update but nothing solid.
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Old January 14 2009, 04:39 PM   #9
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Re: Re-imagining Dark Shadows

I love the original -- it scared the bejeezus out of me in elementary school and convulsed me with laughter later in life... I like the Depp/Burton idea, never seen any of the remakes.
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Old January 14 2009, 08:20 PM   #10
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Re: Re-imagining Dark Shadows

Another Dark Shadows fan here. Even bought the whole thing on DVD - which was EXTREMELY expensive, BTW, because of the way they released/priced it.

By far my most expensive DVD investment.

I am also a HUGE Johnny Depp fan. But honestly, I don't see Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins. He's WAY too pretty. And WAY too young.

In truth, I think the best person for the job of Barnabas Collins, at this point, would lead to a perfect 'hook' for fans of the original: David Selby!

He's about the same age now as Jonathan Fried was back in the 60's...and lord knows, David Selby knows the story and has detailed personal experience with the feel of the show. And with what? 8 or 9 seasons of Falcon Crest under his belt in addition to the time he spent as Quentin Collins on the original DS, he knows how to do soaps!
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Old January 14 2009, 08:41 PM   #11
AJBryant
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Re: Re-imagining Dark Shadows

Ummm... David Selby is SIXTY-SEVEN now. When Frid did Barnabas, he was FORTY-TWO.
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Old January 14 2009, 08:55 PM   #12
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Re: Re-imagining Dark Shadows

^ Well, he looked 67 then. I've always thought of him as fairly old.

Not just in 'vampire years', but in physical appearance years.

NEVER would I have pegged him to be in his 40's. I always assumed he was in his late 50's.
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Old January 14 2009, 11:37 PM   #13
Jan
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Re: Re-imagining Dark Shadows

When I was originally watching DS all of them looked old to me! But then...I was all of about 13 at the time.

Last I saw, David Selby is still a very good looking man but nowhere near young enough to play Barnabas.

I envy your DVD purchase. I subscribed to the VHS tapes for some time but never got any of the DVDs. I did get the entire '91 revival on DVD though.

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Old January 15 2009, 02:48 AM   #14
Procutus
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Re: Re-imagining Dark Shadows

Yet another DS fan here who's been hearing the same Depp/Burton rumors, and hoping that it will eventually come to pass. I must say that Ben Cross did fairly well as Barnabas, and I was sorry that the 91 revival never got a second season.
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Old January 15 2009, 04:47 AM   #15
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Re: Re-imagining Dark Shadows

Fan of the originals, saw them 1st run, the movies,the revival et al.

Please don't forget Nicholas Blair in league with Angelique...HAH was my favorite.
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