Picks and Pans Review: Dark Shadows
NBC (Sun., Jan. 13, 9 P.M. ET)
It's poetic justice that this gothic soap opera from the '60s should be revived after nearly three decades. After all, the premise revolves around Barnabas Collins, a vampire untombed after 200 years who haunts his descendants in the foggy coastal town of Collinsport, Maine. Yet this sluggish, dramatically anemic entry doesn't look to be the savior for NBC's Friday night lineup. (After this four-hour miniseries, which concludes on Monday, the show will settle in on Fridays at 9.)
Barnabas is played with misty menace by Ben (Chariots of Fire) Cross. (Hmm, Cross—interesting name for a vampire.) Joanna (Another World) Going is the governess on whom he is fixated. Jean Simmons is the family matriarch and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Sean Lennon, her grandson.
The program has a phantasmal style, at least in this two-part pilot directed by Dan (War and Remembrance) Curtis, who created the original series. It also has an attractive younger cast, many of them recruited from daytime dramas, all of them with lovely long necks that beg to be ravished. But this is still a soap opera, a spooky, stupefyingly slow soap opera.
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