The transition from b/w to color on Dark Shadows has proven jarring and arduous for me. Long accustomed to the crisp picture in black and white, with its accompanying and fitting chiaroscuro facilitated by purposeful lighting (a rarity for soaps in the sixties), I found the dark, Gothic images to meld perfectly with my mind on the verge of sleep. It’s hard to fathom Dark Shadows providing me with a natural Barnabas-Barbituate, but that has indeed been one of the unintentional benefits.
However, the summer of ’67 changeover to vivid color wakes my sleepy ass up. The supremely soporific soap loses its homeopathic sleep-aid potency without the added layer of gloom provided by black-and-white photography.
Yet, on the bright side, and the picture is indeed bright – dungeons and crypts included – is Joel Crothers’ Joe Haskell character. Crothers is the series’ one bona fide hunk, and while in b/w he presented as a handsome tertiary player, it’s in color where he really shines – sometimes literally. The softer image has smoothed away Crothers’ acne scars, and his looks, stunning enough to land him in the fucking Sears & Roebuck catalogue, really pop from the screen to reach the full potential of his gorgeousness. So worthy of the zoom!