Save for a few nostalgic blog posts, the anniversary of the series has gone largely unnoticed in the straight world. It's seems a little weird to me that the standard bearers for the series are predominantly British because the show was never the phenomenon across the pond that it was here in America. It's also incredibly frustrating that Big Finish's efforts are sometimes casually dismissed by the Elder Fans, who treat them (and pretty much everybody else born after 1970) as interlopers in their personal thing. The same folks who say the "best part" of the 2012 movie were the cameos by the original cast are often the same people who have never given the Big Finish DARK SHADOWS releases their days in court ... despite the presence of those same actors.
Admittedly, the line of audio dramas had fallen into a rut a few years ago. When Joseph Lidster and David Darlington came about as producers, though, they began to experiment with the narrative in some interesting (if subtle) way, and really shook things up with last year's BLOODLUST. The 13-part serial managed to garner critical acclaim outside of mainstream fandom, which was thankfully interpreted as clearance for further experimentation. BLOODLUST will be followed up later this year with another extended serial (BLOODLINE), with an assortment of unusual releases peppering the landscape throughout 2016.
Coming in a few weeks is DARK SHADOWS: BLOOD & FIRE, which is a real gem. I've had a chance to hear this two-disc, multi-part epic and loved it ... but have been sworn to secrecy about the story until after it's released. I'll be shooting my mouth off about BLOOD & FIRE at later dates.
Also due out in 2016 are a pair of four-part anthologies. ECHOES OF THE PAST will help BLOOD & FIRE celebrate the 50th anniversary of DARK SHADOWS later this month, with HAUNTING MEMORIES following in December. Here's what we know about the anthologies so far:
ECHOES OF THE PAST
(Scheduled for a June release)
A tired and hungry Reverend Trask is summoned to perform an exorcism. But when he meets Penelope Bascomb he will face the Devil’s greatest weapon... temptation.
THE MISSING REEL by Ian Farrington
Los Angeles, 1958. The world is changing – but then again, it always does. Only people with short lives assume things stay the same. When you’re immortal like Quentin Collins, you realize that it all moves at a lightning pace...
LUNAR TIDES by Philip Meeks
Maggie Evans knows everything. She knows what Barnabas has done and has banished him from the town. But who will help her when a mysterious mist descends on the town and the people of Collinsport start falling ill?
CONFESSION by Paul Phipps
The witch Angelique sits alone in her cottage, writing a confession. But what is she confessing to? Any why can’t she stop writing?
HAUNTING MEMORIES features four new stories read by members of the original cast, with Lara Parker writing her first script for Big Finish here. While Parker has been content to let her character Angelique take supporting roles in her later DARK SHADOWS novels, it's reasonable to assume the two will be reunited in the December release.
Beyond that, details about volume two are a little sketchy. Thanks to some unanticipated changes in schedules we already know one of the tales that will be included in the next installment, a story titled OLD ACQUAINTANCE by DOCTOR WHO/DARK SHADOWS alumnus Matthew Waterhouse. ACQUAINTANCE has been replaced in the first volume by THE MISSING REEL.
"When the opportunity arose to pitch for a DARK SHADOWS short story,” said episode writer Ian Farrington, “I was in a phase of watching a lot of silent films – METROPOLIS, NOSFERATU, a great British film called PICCADILLY – as well as recent movies about that era such as SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE and THE ARTIST. So the world was in my head when I started to think of a story."
“OLD ACQUAINTANCE actually works better as part of the December release, so we hope the fans won’t be too disappointed at this unavoidable last-minute change," said co-producer Lidster. "Ian’s story is absolutely brilliant and David (Selby) gives one of his finest performances.”
You can listen to a trailer for ECHOES OF THE PAST streaming below.