Thursday, March 1, 2018

Dark Shadows fans are black and white and red all over, 1968

In early 1968, The Philadelphia Inquirer published a letter from a reader complaining about the content of DARK SHADOWS. The scary events of the daytime drama were giving her children nightmares, and the clear solution to her problem was to ask ABC cancel the program. I'm not sure what response she was expecting, but the fans of DARK SHADOWS responded in ways that sometimes border on brutal. (The "Popeye" letter below warms the icy cockles of my heart.) There are also a few responses that serve as a reminder that we are a long, long way from 1968 ... one reader asks for her name not to be printed because she didn't want her husband to know she watches DARK SHADOWS, while a fifth grader includes dozens of signatures endorsing their support for the show. There's not much need to reprint the original letter (the responses below hit the bullet points) so kick back, relax and bask in the snark.

'Rash Judgement' on 'Dark Shadows' Protested
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Feb. 9, 1968

By Harry Harris

A 'Viewers' Views' letter last week suggesting that ABC's "Dark Shadows," with its cast of witches and weirdos headed by Jonathan Frid as the vampire Barnabas Collins, be canceled as unfit fare at a time when children watch has triggered a plethora of protests.

"If the woman who complained about 'Dark Shadows' has children who have nightmares about coffins and vampires," writes Patricial Mconnell, "why does she permit them to watch it? Has she no control over what they look at?"

"I babysit for children 4 and 6, and they both adore Barnabas Collins and are certainly not frightened of him." "On behalf of the many, many intelligent people who watch this serial, writes Carol Stone and Patricia Burnell, of Lafayette Hill, "we want to object to some people's rash judgements."

"Your correspondent watched two days, knows nothing about the show and right away condemns it."

"You might think TV was made just for kids," sniffs Mrs. Maynard, of Woodbury, N.J. "There should be a little consideration for adults, too. We retire early because my husband gets up early, so I have to get my TV entertainment in the daytime. I don't think 'Dark Shadows' is any worse than such 'kid shows' as 'The Munsters,' with Grandpa hanging upside down and changing himself into a bat, or 'The Addams Family,' with its man-eating plants and a lot of unnecessary kissing. I have seen cartoons that are scary. She better look around the channels before worrying about the one my neighbors and I enjoy."

"Your children belong to me, now."
More on 'Dark Shadows':

"I, too, would like to propose the cancellation of a program," writes Mary Quindlen. "The other day I didn't turn off the set immediately after 'Dark Shadows,' and I had the misfortune to become 'morbidly spellbound' by 'Popeye Theater's' music. Transfixed, I saw the outrageous infidelity of Olive Oyl, the sadism of Brutus and the alternate cowardice and bravado of Popeye. Finally, I heard the medical profession maligned by those shining examples of clean-cut, intelligent American manhood, the Three Stooges. Afterwards I suffered nightmares from 'Aunt Sal's' raucous laughter and insincere simper."

"There is nothing obscene or filthy about 'Dark Shadows,' like some TV shows," comments Karen Muth, of Willow Grove. "I, a 14-year-older, and millions of teenagers and adults love this show. The actors are superb and the basic theme is terrific. It's intended for the maturer set, not the little ones."

I see nothing in 'Dark Shadows,'" opines Kathy Vincombe, of Villas, N.J., "that's any worse than the horror movies children go to see. Anyway, Sally Starr is now on at a latter time, so the lady's children won't have to watch accidentally."

"My whole fifth-grade class at Levering School likes ''Dark Shadows,'" writes Antoinette Leone, appending 29 signatures, "and we would not be happy if it was taken off. It is interesting and, in many ways, educational. It makes you think."

And still more:

"Please tell the lady," suggests Mrs. Charles Eckel, "that there are six more channels to choose from, if it isn't too much trouble to get her off the sofa. What are we who like 'Dark Shadows' supposed to do because she doesn't like vampires? Die? I think it's the BEST darn serial on the air and wish it were on on the evening, too. Jonathan Frid, as the vampire, is great. He's sure the right one for the part."

"'Dark Shadows,'" chimes in Mrs. R.M., of Pemberton, N.J., "is the only daytime serial I have ever watched more than once. I have three children of my own who watch occasionally, and I have yet to encounter one nightmare. In fact, they seem to have a certain sympathy for Barnabas Collins, the vampire, who's a victim of witchcraft. I admit many small children might be upset, but this is simply not a show for children. Please don't print my name. My husband thinks anyone who watches 'Dark Shadows' is nutty."

"Jonathan Frid," enthuses Beverly Ann Thrasher, "is unquestionably the best actor in the series and his role the most interesting. He's the one who makes the program unique."

"I enjoy watching 'Dark Shadows,'" adds Jane Darby, of Morrisville, "and especially Jonathan Frid."

"Barnabas Collins, played by Jonathan Frid, isn't the only good villain ever to appear on 'Dark Shadows,'" notes Carolyn Wile. "Before him, there as Diana Millay, who lived and died each century. Every time she looked at fire, someone was harmed somehow."

Not all 'Dark Shadows' discussers are in agreement.

"Anyone who can waste a half hour of his time, five days a week, looking at such drivel," growls John Lynch," needs psychiatric treatment. I notice that it's mostly giddy gals who are gaga about the show's ghouls. This is definitely not for children, but who else would care?"

" I would like to second the vigorous protest about 'Dark Shadows,'" adds Mrs. Russell Carty, Jr., of Woodbury, N.J. "This program should be on a much later time. I am also disturbed because so many of the morning programs, such as 'Happy the Clown' and 'The Bill Bennett Show,' are no longer being shown. I think 'Jerry's Place,' at 4 p.m., could certainly go back to Saturday. Perhaps 'Maya' or some other cleancut program that has been canceled could be put in this time. What has happened to TV censorship? Some of the so-called bikinis and the language are disgraceful. I'd like to be on the censorship committe. Do they ever use parents of females? I doubt it!"

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