MPI Home Video has always had an interesting perspective on the early episodes of DARK SHADOWS. The show was on the air almost a year before the introduction of vampire Barnabas Collins, but those early episodes were never repeated on television until the Sci-Fi Channel began to broadcast the show in the 1992. On home video, these episodes are almost marketed as a different series, sold as subset videotapes and DVDs titled DARK SHADOWS: THE BEGINNING. The company's disinterest in the early episodes is extended to how it handles online piracy: Complete episodes from the show's prime are usually taken down quickly from YouTube, yet the first 200 episodes have been streaming (illegally) there for years.
Now, it appears that DARK SHADOWS: THE BEGINNING has been added to Amazon Instant Video. Exactly when this happened is anybody's guess. Amazon has it slated as a "recent" release and, judging by the other products around it, these episodes look to have been added within the last few weeks.
So far, the pickings are slim. The "Beginning" catalog represents the first 35 episodes, none of which have received any customer reviews. I love these episodes and maintain that they're essential in understanding the rest of the series, but the business model for including DARK SHADOWS on Amazon Instant Video seems a little ... faulty. I'm delighted they're available, but at $1.99 multiplied 1,224* times, it's just cost prohibitive. The DARK SHADOWS: THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL SERIES DVD collection routinely sells for about $350, but buying the series on an episode-by-episode basis from Amazon will run you more than $2,400. Yes, there are "season" packages available, but those are still more expensive than any of the individual DVD sets.
(* The first episode is FREE.)