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A disgruntled Sci-Fi Channel viewer vents about a classic British thriller.

"Dark Shadows of Spookiness?" by Tom Bastian

 The Sci-Fi Channel has been showing Dark Shadows, the British-made horror show from the days of 2 color television (that’s black & white, kiddies), and one has to wonder why. I wondered why, so I decided to wonder with words. These words.

So what is the deal with this show? It looks like it’s from the Kinescope days of television (unless this is the farthest British TV quality has gotten so far?), and from what I can gather, it’s supposed to be scary. Of course, like most Americans, I find the British inherently scary with those unsettling accents and the…teeth. But that doesn’t explain this show.  Does the simple fact that it looks so dark and dreary make it scary? Or is it the endlessly long camera shots that follow the actors all over the one-room set? What is that all about?? Save some film, get a second camera! The Honeymooners was a classic show, with basically one main set, and they had another camera, but that was a comedy. I guess British “horror” like Dark Shadows uses the following camera shots to build suspense, which probably worked in those days, but to us modern folk who’ve been spoiled by fancy editing, it’s like waiting for a red light to change!! Get on with it! Quit pacing around, yacking about the moors, and wondering about who done it, and show some action! Action other than fake lightning showing through the windows and frequent visits at the front door by the local chimneysweep or gravedigger (with shovel in hand naturally) looking for work. Guy needs to dig a hole for this show and spare the 21st. Century the trouble.

I’m surprised Sci-Fi doesn’t show Doctor Who. That’s British, with lots of talking and cheesy sets, and the infamous Daleks rolling around looking for something to “exterminate” with those threatening toilet plungers! (Let loose a couple of these Plungerdroids on the Dark Shadows set, mate!)  Plus the show had that evil gnarly dude in the armored wheelchair. What was his deal? Roids? Bad teeth? Or just cranky? Although if Sci-Fi hasn’t shown it yet, it must mean PBS is still clutching their Doctor Who load. Just in case Sam Raimi or Tim Burton make a feature film based on it! (starring Keanu Reeves of course) It’s like when an old song is remade and the oldie stations play the original into the ground. But until then, we’re stuck with Dark Shadows; just cause some geek-ball programmers at Sci-Fi love it, or more likely, cause they got a “killer deal” on the rights. The only good thing about Dark Shadows is that videotape doesn’t last forever. God help us if it’s been saved on DVD. How many future generations might have to watch this show, and still not get scared? “Be bored, be very very bored.”         


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