Rich Handley Author and Editor

Dark Shadows: Oh, God, Not the Leviathans…

In my DARK SHADOWS re-watch, I’m about to reach the Leviathans arc, which drags incessantly, hurts the fabric of the show, and introduces several unenjoyable characters, while causing viewers to become stressed out and angry. It’s the Trump Administration of DARK SHADOWS. Thankfully, it also comes to an end.

All political snark aside, the Leviathans arc isn’t as terrible as it’s made out to be. Seeing a 1970 soap opera tackle H.P. Lovecraft is really quite astonishing, given that the genre was designed to sell laundry soap to bored housewives. It’s kind of like writing a Charlie Brown holiday movie involving Charles Manson. It’s not normally done. Plus, the storyline brought Christopher Pennock onto the show, and he turned out to be one of DARK SHADOWS’ greatest assets. It also finally introduced Paul Stoddard after years of the show merely discussing him in the past tense.

But good god, it drags. It’s around a hundred episodes long, yet it seems like three hundred. The characters of Philip and Megan Todd are incredibly dull. The entire cast acting out of character due to possession starts off fun and creepy but soon gets old. And the fact that the show never actually shows us a Leviathan (because Dan Curtis barely had enough budget to buy the cast a bottle of soda, let alone create a giant hellish serpent creature) meant that in the end, the entire thing was anticlimactic.

The biggest issue is simply that the Leviathans story takes forever to get where it’s going. The pacing is glacial–and mind you, we’re talking about a soap opera, a type of show on which glacial is actually pretty fast. A good soap opera can make a murder last for 12 episodes and a fight over breakfast cereals span two weeks. Had the Leviathans arc run for half its length, it might have turned out to be a strong one, because there is value to it. Still, hats off to Curtis for daring to bring Lovecraftian entities to housewives in 1970… even if they remained off-camera the entire time.

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