Why We Relate To The Collins Family

Every family has a blacksheep in it, a kooky aunt, crazy cousin or slacker brother. The Collins family of Collinsport, Main are no exception. The quintessential dysfunctional family, part of the allure to this Dark Shadows clan, is that fans can relate to the dynamics and undercurrents of their relationships. Consider Elizabeth Collins Stoddard and her daughter Carolyn. Every mother knows that wild teenage years can be tough with hormones raging, and teenagers full of angst will moan about parental constraints and dream of freedom from it. Elizabeth and Carolyn have this very relationship.

Carolyn has a penchant for mischief and causing her mother heartache and Elizabeth can be controlling at times. However, no matter how the tempers may flare between them, viewers are left with no doubt that Carolyn loves her mother and Elizabeth would die for her young. Sibling tension is seen as well in the family.

Roger Collins (Elizabeth’s brother) while born into this well to do family, is the blacksheep, ne’er-do-well brother, and is often seen drinking in the family home. This and his strained relationship with his young son David, is cause for stress between he and his sister Elizabeth. Barnabas Collins is known to have a close bond with his beloved sister, Sarah, and his cousins.

Carolyn’s relationship with her young cousin David isn’t strained nor closely bonded. Carolyn is genuinely disturbed by her cousin’s strange behavior and clues the new governess Victoria in on this. Whether done out of fear or concern we’ll never know, but these two cousins are alike in that both their fathers abandoned them. This is the common ground they share.

As tragedies and illnesses strike at the heart of the Collins family, they seem to ever endure. It is that we can all relate to in our own families. In the recent 2012 Dark Shadows movie, we can see these very interactions during the family meal scenes. Oh to be a fly on the wall at a Collins family gathering. Barnabas quotes an old saying, that blood is thicker than water. It is what defines us, binds us, curses us.

So the next time you are sitting next to cheek pinching granny or weird uncle Harold, remember you are not alone. A Collins family member has also been through it. A family with flaws and inner issues, that for all their supernatural elements, still remain completely natural to us. That is why fans can relate to them and more.

Why not tell us how you relate to the Collins family.


  1. Erin McRaven says:

    I can safely say I relate to the whole messed-up family, too! And, the thing is… as messed up as they are, I still loved them, because they stick together and support each other better than my family ever has!

    • MaryMRevis says:

      @Erin McRaven Very true! and dare I say that Barnabas might say “blood is thicker than water” but, could he say it without drooling? *smile*

  2. Robert Sharp says:

    Great observations. As viewers we all grew to love these characters. Even Roger had some nice moments with David. Ultimately, the all loved one another, despite the disfunction, and this made them strong so that they could weather the many storms that came their way. It is for this reason that I was really bummed with Dan Curtis for not giving us a satisfying ending to “Dark Shadows.” The last we had seen of the anchor characters was when Gerard and the zombie pirates ransacked the mansion, apparently murdering Elizabeth and David (along with Daphne and Hallie). Once the time trip to 1840 ended Judah Zachary’s curse over the family, we were only given a quick scene in which Barnabas, Julia and Prof. Stokes converse with Elizabeth about how happy and cozy the winter has been. One last storyline with the “anchor” family members of Liz, Carolyn, Roger, and David was in order for all of us fans who had been there since the beginning.

    Again, nice blog.

    Robert Sharp

    • MaryMRevis says:

      @Robert Sharp Yes it’s true. I also was left feeling that Mr. Curtis should have given the central characters a better “send off” for the loyal fans. To me it was akin to wanting a chocolate cake with strawberry icing and fresh strawberries on top, but getting just a plain old vanilla cake inside and out. It’s nice to have but nothing to rave about in the end.

  3. I think drawing all of these connections to the dinner table scene in the movie is brilliant. That’s the (very early) climax of what’s best about the movie and the finest (and most loving) satire in the movie.

    • MaryMRevis says:

      @Danny Alexander I agree with your comments here! The dinner scenes in Burton’s movie version, gives new meaning to the words “laying it all out on the table”. It’s an open invitation into the dynamics of the family.

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  5. Tammy says:

    Very good perceptions and especially how the new movie brought all that into context in just one line. I loved the new movie because it gave us a beginning, middle and an end. All some of the naysayers can do is see there was some humor added to it, as if that ruined it. But if they watch it closely and don’t try to look for the humor, but the true storyline, I don’t think they would be as disappointed as they try to be. It’s easy to be a critic when you aren’t the one given the project to try to bring in new fans, use new technology, and make it enjoyable for everyone, without boring people to death. yes, the people who grew up on it, saw it as very serious, but it’s not a piece of literature that can’t be changed, even the original writer changed story lines all the time, and I thought Tim Burton found a way to bring it all together wonderfully and at least have an ending. :)

  6. Randy S Kessler says:

    When I got Netflix I started at the beginning and watched the entire show. I took over a year for me to complete. I’d like to do that again. I remembered watching it occasionally as a child but didn’t really remember much of any details.

    • MaryMRevis says:

      @Randy S Kessler Have fun reconnecting with this classic series. You will no doubt have memories sparked, by the details you rediscover viewing the episodes.

  7. Hidoll22 says:

    I always thought Carolyn to be a poor little rich girl. Her dad in the show was a crook who planned to steal her money when she was a baby. From what I could tell he didn’t want to be a father. The night he was leaving he and Liz were into a heated argument he wanted her to give him money she refuse to do so( good for you Liz) when he went to try and take the Collins money she’d willed to Carolyn for when she grows up my girl Liz picked up a poker by the fire place and told him she’s not going to allow him to take Carolyn’s money. Like a foolish greedy man he didn’t listen so Liz ended up striking him.

    I never thought Liz was too controlling she was just making sure things go the way they should. After all it was her house, Roger was bestfriend’s with Sherrie and Brandy( and I don’t mean women but the drinks Sherrie and Brandy) he needed to spend more time with his brat of a son David<<< was home schooled and really needed to be around kids more then always around the adults. Poor Vikki from the moment she stepped foot in Collinsport and Collinwood her life never really got any better. But it's not as if she wasn't told by a blonde waitress by the name of Maggie Evans. Maggie is another one who was a woman who had more then she share of problems when she met Barnabas. He was very VERY attracted to her and made his mission to turn her into her beloved Josette

    • MaryMRevis says:

      @Hidoll22 Ah ha…and THERE is a wonderful insight into the thinking of our Barnabas. Indeed he did make it a mission to make Maggie into his Josette. Of course, we all know he had nothing but..*ahem* time on his hands LOL.

  8. Hidoll22 says:

    I love Johnny Depp since his days on 21 Jumpstreet. And while I think he’s a great actor. I knew when it was said he was to play Barnabas Collins I knew that even he couldn’t pull it off. Jonthan Frids was born to play Barnabas Collins, much like Yul Brenner was born to play the King in the King and I. And NO ONE can or has even top him in the remake. Jonthan Frids played the hell out of Barnabas Collins as no other actor can copy.

    I don’t know that if Jonthan could have given Johnny Depp lessons in how to caption the true essence in of how to play Barnabas that Johnny could have been any better.I love Johnny Depp he’s a cutie and cracks me up when he’s Jack Spade. But I sorry him playing Barnabas Collins he did not pull it off

    • MaryMRevis says:

      @Hidoll22 Mr. Depp certainly does have a the gift of drawing in the female viewers LOL and you brought up a great point here. The general public tends to feel that if viewers are fans of a series or show…that everything about that show will be accepted. You prove a point in that, while you are a fan, you feel free in saying “hey this didn’t quite work for me”. This very thing occurred with the original series during the Leviathans plot line. By all accounts it hastened the demise of the series. Your post was insightful!

      • Tammy says:

        For one thing in response to the persons comment about Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Barnabas, Jonathan was there to give him pointers, and Johnny was excellent. I think Jonathan Frid was impressed with JD as well. They may not have like the make up or the humor, but as far as Johnny’s acting ability, it was spot on. While some old fans refuse to accept JD as Barnabas, I think because of JD and Tim Burton, there are many new fans.
        I was an original viewer from the time it came on television, and even watched the last episode. I missed a lot in between as I had grown into an adult during it’s run, but I enjoyed the new movie, and hope Tim and Johnny listen to the positive comments about the movie, and it’s success worldwide, and go on to give us more of the Collins Family saga. I think they garnered the essence of the series, and made it even better, with the music and technology they possess today. Would love to know more about Barnabas in his younger days. :)

        • Patrick says:

          In making the comparison between Johnny Depp’s Barnabas and Jonathan Frid’s, one element that I think has been missed is the time differential. Mr. Depp had to create the character for a 113 minute movie. Mr. Frid, on the other hand had what turned out to be years to develop the character. Whilst I did find Depp’s character entertaining, he had none of the gravitas of Frid’s. Depp’s was not a Barnabas tormented by a curse, but a vampire and didn’t mind telling the family so. What also got lost, again I think partly due to the time issues was the love/hate relationship between Barnabas and Angelique. Lara Parker’s Angelique was a Witch, Eva Green’s Angelique had more of a “B” rather than a “W” in front of the “itch.” In all I thought the 2012 version was light entertainment, greatly lacking the depth of the Gothic soap that gave it birth. Still it was good to watch with the popcorn,

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  10. Cheadle says:

    Speaking of families I’m wondering if any one has identified these surprising “family ties” between several actors in the Latest Dark Shadows Movie and the James Bond Films. If you have not, then read on:
    1- Eva Green……. was also leading lady in “Casino Royale”
    2- Christopher Lee…… was the Villain in The “Man with the Golden Gun”
    3- Shane Rimmer .. ….I think he said a couple of lines in the board meeting scene you missed him if you blinked…. He was in three Bond films “You Only Live Twice”, “Diamonds are Forever” and “The Spy Who Loved Me”
    4- Alice Cooper……Yes! His version of the title Song “The Man with the Golden Gun ” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R500VKA9-Zo was passed up for Lulu’s
    5- And now for our winner with actual family ties to James Bond films its Johnny Lee Miller……..He is the grandson of Bernard Lee (Maternal Grandfather) who Played the original “M” in the James Bond series.

  11. Norma Harris says:

    I would love to see Dark Shadows come back on these local stations that have syndicate TV shows. Especially on the weekends.

  12. Evelyn Carter says:

    As a young girl, I too was a huge fan of the soap! I remember my sister and I running home from school so we wouldn’t miss a moment of the show! When the buzz got around that Johnny Depp had bought the rights to the TV show and was making it into a movie, I was excited! I had read where Depp was a huge fan of the show and I thought he would do the series justice with the technology not available in the 1960′s! I later found out that Tim Burton would direct the movie and my heart dropped! I knew he would make it into a cartoon of the old series and then I saw Johnny Depp’s make-up online and knew it was true! The movie was going to be a campy version of the series I had loved so long ago! I resolved to ban the movie then and there! Plus, I knew Helena Bonham Carter would be in it, she’s in most all of Burton’s movies and I’m not a fan! When the movie came out on video, my husband rented it and out of my infernal curiousity, I watched it! To my surprise and delight, I actually liked it! Sure Depp camped it up and chewed the scenery quite a bit, but I loved the storyline and the fact they left the ending open for another movie! I even wrote a critique on my Facebook page for my doubting family and friends to read! I hope they are as curious about the movie as I was and watch it with an open mind!

  13. becky says:

    They lived in Maine.

  14. D.W. says:

    My list is so long of how I relate to the Collins Family it’s terrifying. But if you’d like to discuss it with me, I’m totally up for the dialogue. Eep!


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