Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Review: Barnabas and Company

When it comes to researching Dark Shadows trivia, Barnabas and Company makes the Internet Movie Database obsolete.

It's a difficult book to summarize. Essentially a collection of well-researched essays on the individual cast members, Barnabas and Company lacks the narrative structure usually associated with these kinds of books. The chapters are presented in alphabetical order by the cast member's name, and not their significance to the television show, with each actor given (more or less) the same amount space to tell their story.

At almost 600 pages, Barnabas and Company might also be the longest book written about the Dark Shadows phenomenon. Because of its lack of narrative, I found myself skipping around a lot, first reading the items about the actors I was most interested in before moving onto the support cast members. From a research perspective, the book's format is incredibly accessible.There might not be a lot of new information for hardcore Dark Shadows fans, but I still found a lot of surprises throughout the text.

Included in each chapter are short biographies, interview samples, an explanation of how they came to (and sometimes left) Dark Shadows, and a detailed summary of their credits on stage, screen and television. These credits are also cross-referenced to highlight when Dark Shadows actors worked together outside of the show, which happened more often than you might think. It even helped me to verify the identity of a "David Ford" that appeared in a stage play with Jonathan Frid some years before Dark Shadows aired (it was the same actor that played Sam Evans.)

Speaking of Ford, the book is still unable to clear up one of the most notorious mystery from the set of Dark Shadows, specifically how the hell he and Nancy Barrett wound up married. But I digress.

Barnabas and Company is a revision of a book published a few years ago, and includes updated information and a more handsome package. The book is crisply designed and, though it lacks the visual supplemental material usually found in "authorized" publications, you'll find there's no need to see the same old Dark Shadows promotional photos again. It's a well-made product that would fit nicely on the shelf of any Dark Shadows fan.

Barnabas and Company is available from Amazon in print, as well as for Kindle. The review above is for the print edition.


Erica said...

This is interesting! I have the first version, which was just 252 pages. Sounds like they nearly tripled the information. Plus, the original was riddled with typos and repeated trivia (I don't mean trivia repeated from other sources, I mean that tidbits of trivia were stated more than once within the book); it was in desperate need of a proofreader/copy editor (raising hand). I would assume that's all been cleaned up for the new version; sounds like it's worth re-buying.

Anonymous said...

I thought your readers might like to know the Kindle version is now $3.03. Amazing.
Great Book. I'm only up to Joan Bennett now, but have learned much already.

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