(Warning: this post is going to piss off the hardline DARK SHADOWS fans.)
You can go mad trying to make sense of the film rating system at the Internet Movie Database. Numerically quantifying art and entertainment is a weird concept to me, but it's been a part of how we examine movies for almost as long as there have been movies. But evaluating a movie the same way you would grade a child's spelling test is not only reductive, it seems to entirely miss the point of art.
Today, all of these reviews, star ratings, letter grades, etc. are fermented at Rotten Tomatoes to create the ultimate binary grading system. Just to make things more complicated, that binary system is inherently uneven. In order to get a "fresh" rating, a movie needs to score 60 percent favorable reviews ... which predicts your chances of any given film being "fresh" is slightly better than a coin toss. Confused? Well, maybe you should be, because this entire system makes about as much sense as using a dipstick to decide if a piece of music is "good" or "bad."
|Goober Pyle says the new Ryan Adams album is about a quart low on oil. Also: it sucks.|
By comparison, the best-rated episode of DARK SHADOWS has a rating of 8.3. That might sound like a sharp difference, but places it comfortably above such films as RAGING BULL, DIE HARD and CHINATOWN.
And here's where the list gets pear shaped: Barnabas Collins is always cited as the hero of DARK SHADOWS, arriving on the eve of cancellation to save the show from becoming a really, really hard Trivial Pursuit question ("Name the soap opera that starred screen legend Joan Bennett.") Yet the character appears in only ONE episode on IMDb's top nine.
|The other eight episodes were later committed to Windcliff Sanitarium under mysterious circumstances.|
The funny thing is that this list doesn't change much if you rank DARK SHADOWS episodes by the number of votes they received. If you take a look at the episodes that received the most votes, the early, pre-Barnabas episodes still dominate the list ... although Barnabas' first three appearances are all in the top ten.
In case you're wondering, the answer is "No, users have NOT ranked all 1,225 episodes of the series." A great many of them have not been rated at all. See the entire list for yourself HERE.
No matter how you slice it, IMDb's ratings system is wonky and doesn't do justice to DARK SHADOWS. But it's a fascinating look at a segment of fandom that has absolutely no issues with embracing the series as a whole. And I'm totally down with that. Whether or not these specific episodes represent the absolute best of DARK SHADOWS, they're still pretty damn good.
Below is a list of IMDb's nine-best rated episodes. (I stopped at nine because there were nine episodes tied at the next lowest ranking, 8.0.) Click on the images to visit their summaries at the Dark Shadows Wikia.
Via: The Internet Movie Datebase