It is a common knowledge nowadays that a successful TV series needs to have various arcs which span over several episodes, as many subplots as possible and good character development. And, as much as some hate to admit it, this is also the line followed by many soap-operas.
While the term soap-opera is usually used with a pejorative meaning, I can say that this is a common prejudice met with all those that say that these kinds of shows aren’t their cup of tea. Doesn’t a soap-opera also try to make you watch the next episode? Doesn’t a soap-opera rely heavily on character development? And don’t they have so many sub-plots that you don’t even want to imagine?
From this point of view, Dark Shadows was the perfect soap-opera, since it tackled with the same usual problems an unusual family has in the everyday life. This genre was combined with the gothic one to great success, since the series has become a cult favorite since it was first aired.
And the success came with the introduction of Barnabas Collins. Otherwise, if you would have watched just a single episode of Dark Shadows without knowing anything about it, you might have dismissed the series as being too soapy.
Questions would have risen, such as why the family lives in a gothic mansion, or why there are so many subplots, or even why you do actually need to see the next episode. But when the supernatural is introduced into a series you immediately believe that the show is worth the while, even if it does respect the same principles a soap-opera does.
But the general feel of the shows is still the same. The plot advances very slowly, it is rather bumpy at times, and the acting (at some moments) is so over the top that you might think that the actors are really bad at what they’re doing.
Then again, this is also what has made Dark Shadows become a classic among classics. The cheesiness and the in-your-face actions/reactions make the series the perfect medium in which the whole soap-opera genre can be analyzed.
So if you have about 612 hours to spare, put on the Dark Shadows CDs and enjoy! You might even like it!