Episode 995: I’ll Bite Anything

“It is difficult to rechannel my thoughts after three years of thinking about nothing but you.”

So it’s not the late 60s anymore, is what I’m saying, and eventually a show that’s as adamantly late 60s as Dark Shadows is going to run into trouble when it tries to outlive its environment.

As you know, the difference between the 1960s and the 1970s is that in the 70s, America discovered the concepts of responsibility and safety. In late 1969, the innocent flower children of Woodstock met the lawless, murderous Hells Angels of Altamont, and the good trip became a bad one, to our lasting disadvantage.

At that point, the American people decided that maybe giving their children exposed metal hot plates as toys wasn’t such a great idea, and maybe we should try wearing seat belts, and using child-proof caps, and not letting the Manson Family stay in the guest house. You know, the whole actions have consequences, gravity is real, sometimes people are assholes thing that ruins so many promising utopias.

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We’re going to leave the show and go play outside today, because Dark Shadows always makes the most sense when you’re not watching it. Instead of today’s episode, we’re going to look at this week’s issue of Newsweek — dated April 20, 1970 — which features a final head-to-head cage match between Dark Shadows and its good twin, Sesame Street, as an influence on America’s youth.

Back in a November 1969 post, we talked about Sesame Street as an existential threat to Dark Shadows, especially in terms of its relationship with the young set, and six months later, we can see the results of this culture clash.

In 1968 and ’69, various licensees offered Dark Shadows merchandise aimed at middle-school kids — gum cards, board games, Halloween costumes, View-Master reels — even though the show is clearly not suitable for children, according to our enlightened post-1970 modern worldview.

Dark Shadows features black magic and werewolf attacks, stabbings and chokings and leaping off cliffs. The police are essentially nonexistent in Collinsport, a town where differences of opinion are settled through the medium of vampire bites. But kids loved the show, and the network responded to the juvenile interest in this macabre murder play by moving it to a later timeslot, so that middle schoolers could get their daily dose of vengeance and despair.

And then along comes Sesame Street, an educational show produced by the Children’s Television Workshop, a do-gooder organization bent on constructing a more healthy relationship between the children and the television. Dark Shadows didn’t actually injure the kids of 1969 in any noticeable way, but the Children’s Television Workshop isn’t satisfied with simply not harming children. They want to make a TV show that actively helps kids, making them better students and better people.

And Sesame Street’s rise coincides with Dark Shadows’ first big stumble. Sesame debuts in November 1969, just a week before vampire hero Barnabas Collins mysteriously turns against his family and friends, and starts working for a gang of murderous space octopi. The Leviathan storyline is definitely educational, but mostly in the area of how to make viewers not watch your show anymore.

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So we find ourselves on page 102 of the latest Newsweek, where an article called “Sesame Opens Up” is the direct lead-in to another titled “Turned-on Vampire”. Right from the start, it’s not a super flattering comparison.

Here’s the first sentence of “Sesame Opens Up”:

Although Sesame Street has been on the air only six months, it is already apparent that the widely acclaimed program for preschool children is not only an interesting experiment in educational television but a rousing popular hit.

And here’s the opening for “Turned-on Vampire”:

When ABC’s Dark Shadows — television’s first and only gothic soap opera — made its debut in July 1966, the concept behind the program seemed bizarre in the extreme. A kind of loosely plotted Macbeth with fangs, featuring a cast of monsters, ghosts and aging neurotics ensconced in a haunted mansion, the show drifted along for almost a year with increasingly bleak ratings.

Which is hardly fair. I mean, the ratings started out pretty bleak in the first place.

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Moving into the next paragraph in each article, the head-to-head comparison continues; it reads like Newsweek is deliberately drawing this contrast.

Sesame Street is the first public television venture of such vast appeal that commercial stations are running it regularly, too. Half of the nation’s 12 million pre-school children watch it, according to the Nielsen ratings. Housewives and teachers like it as much as the kids do. A Houston teacher reports that when a pupil’s mother turned off the program to chat with her, her kids “howled and screamed until she put it back on.”

Of course, there’s some howling going on at a nearby studio, too.

Each evening scores of teen-agers gather near ABC’s Manhattan studios in search of an autograph — and, in fantasy, perhaps even a bite — from their idol. And even though in recent episodes of Shadows Barnabas the vampire has been chained in a coffin offscreen, Frid continues to receive some 5,000 cards and letters a week from his fans.

Right, the fan mail. Everything that’s ever been written about Dark Shadows has to include the ritual counting of Jonathan Frid’s fan mail.

The estimates began in summer 1967 with 300 letters a week, jumping to 1,500 a year later, and skyrocketing to 6,000 letters a week by December 1968. The numbers have dropped slightly since then — 5,000 is typical, for articles written in early 1970 — but how many preschoolers are writing letters to Big Bird? Probably a lot, actually, now that I think of it, and guess which vampire taught me to count.

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But the fan mail ritual always takes a dark turn, thanks to the handful of degenerates who ruin it for everyone.

His mail ranges from sub-teen and teeny-bopper reveries to unsettlingly passionate cries from outwardly normal housewives in their 20s. “Where you are concerned I have no pride,” one ardent 24-year-old woman wrote Frid. “It is difficult to rechannel my thoughts after three years of thinking about nothing but you. You are the only man I have ever loved. I wake up in the night crying, ‘Jon, I love you! I love you!'”

So, I mean, that’s hardly even fair. Nobody prints letters from Cookie Monster’s creepy stalkers. But that’s just one person, it doesn’t mean that all Dark Shadows fans think that way.

Frid’s proliferating fan mail, however, is only the mere tip of the Freudian iceberg.

A young student of black magic in Houston solemnly declares that Shadows is fascinating for “people who go in for the dark religions.” A Chicago dabbler in the occult believes many practitioners of witchcraft take the show seriously as “a watered-down version of the real truth.”

And John Carroll, an editor of the rock paper Rolling Stone, describes himself as “a Dark Shadows freak.” The show, says Carroll, “is incredibly bad. That’s why it’s so good. It has no redeeming social value.”

Okay, great. Thanks a lot, dabblers. Meanwhile, the howling and screaming Sesame viewers are doing just fine.

Remarkably, while the show is candy to children, it is as good for them as spinach. Evidence is piling up that it is an unusual educational tool. The program is a mixture of cartoon, film and videotape, and is broken up into short segments — each of which teaches letters or numbers, or encourages children to solve problems or classify things.

Over the next couple years, they’ll do studies that compare the progress between kids who watch Sesame Street and kids who don’t, and guess what, it works. Sesame Street actually is an educational tool, while Dark Shadows is a problem that America is in the process of solving.

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Because this is the moment when America’s bemusement with Dark Shadows turns into a mild but genuine concern.

Many college students — and even a few professors — are also hooked on the Dark Shadows habit. Athough it’s no longer quite as “in” as it once was on campus — many students now dismiss the program as “teeny-bopper fantasy” — thousands of students still watch it fanatically, often after turning on with marijuana or drugs.

On the University of Chicago campus, one student reports: “I know five scag [heroin] freaks who watch it religiously. They shoot up in the afternoon to watch. The show’s supernatural, ugly vibes are just right for when you’re strung out on scag.”

Which, I mean. Honestly. All of a sudden we’re scag freaks.

But that’s the moment, right there, when America stops being amused and indulgent, and starts to get alarmed about this purportedly toxic television show. I’ve been reading contemporary magazine and newspaper articles about Dark Shadows as we’ve been going along, and as far as I can recall, this has never come up before. Nobody has ever mentioned drugs, even when the show was explicitly borrowing from psychedelia.

Here in April 1970, the Sesame Street devotees in Houston are howling and screaming for a fix, and nobody calls them addicts. But Dark Shadows viewers are “hooked on the habit” of watching a daytime television show that is honestly perfectly fine.

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Worst of all, Jonathan Frid seems remarkably blithe about this trail of destruction that he leaves in his wake, once every weekday.

All this leaves the 45-year-old Frid a bit stunned but thoroughly pleased. “I’ll bite anything they want me to,” he said last week in his spacious apartment in a luxurious Manhattan high rise. “I know which side of the bread my butter’s on.”

Indeed, Frid has ample cause to be content with his lot. He and the show’s cast are now making a feature-length film for MGM. And the Dark Shadows craze has led to an incredible number of lucrative spinoffs, including an LP record album, twenty paperback novels, a cookbook, five comic books, assorted puzzles and games, and a collection of ghoulish Barnabas paraphernalia — costume jewelry, T-shirts, trading cards, wristwatches and even a grotesque pillow for teeny-boppers to dream their dreams on.

So hang on a second. Wristwatches? Who the hell made Dark Shadows wristwatches?

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The answer is nobody, as it turns out; Sesame Street was the one that made wristwatches. But the point is that Dark Shadows is turning the nation’s youth into scag freaks, and they don’t even care, because look at all the money they’re making off the occult-dabblers and the outwardly normal housewives.

They mention that Barnabas is currently chained up in a coffin, but besides that, there’s not a single mention of any storyline or plot point. Dark Shadows appears to have no cast of any consequence, except the passing mention of monsters, ghouls and aging neurotics. There’s no engagement at all with the actual content of the show. But there’s an endless list of merchandise, real and imaginary, which pays the rent for Frid’s spacious apartment in his luxurious Manhattan high rise.

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And frankly, even the monster himself doesn’t realize what he’s wreaking.

Frid is still unable to understand the phenomenon competely, but he does offer a few speculative explanations for the popularity of the phantom he plays. “Youngsters today are looking for a new morality,” he observes. “And so is Barnabas. He goes around telling people to be good, then suddenly sets out and bites somebody’s neck. He hates what he is and he’s in terrible agony. Just like the kids today, he’s confused — lost, screwed up, and searching for something.”

That’s the wicked spell that Dark Shadows casts over its impressionable audience, as of April 1970, and it’s a technique that’s going to start grating on the nation’s increasingly sober grown-ups. It turns out moral relativism doesn’t age well, once fantasy meets reality, and people would prefer that their screwed up children don’t look to the self-hating undead as a role model. If those kids are searching for something, then they might find it on the public TV channel a few notches down the dial. So, Mr. Frid, if you notice any more lost children, can you tell them how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?

Monday: Love Potion No. 9.


Footnote:

Speaking of Altamont and the end of the sixties, I just read an amazing new book called Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock’s Darkest Day. It’s got lots of newly-unearthed material on what led up to Altamont, what happened that day, and what happened to the survivors. It’s funny and sad and scary, and I recommend it very highly.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Sabrina presses Cyrus for answers about the IOU, some studio lights are visible above.

Cyrus says, “Bruno, I cannot let anyone stay here, as long as I’m working on this experiment, including Sabrina! I have to be — for a while!”

The first time Cyrus drank the potion, it was just some red liquid in a beaker. This time, he adds dry ice to the red fluid, and it bubbles and foams up. Then there’s a close-up on Cyrus while they hand him a different beaker, which has much less liquid in it, and is the wrong shade of red.

When Cyrus feels the transformation pain, he bumps into a brick pillar, which moves. Also, I’m not sure anybody ever builds a brick pillar for inside the house.


Behind the Scenes:

After recording this episode, the Dark Shadows production paused for two weeks, to kill time while most of the cast is away filming House of Dark Shadows in Tarrytown. This episode was taped on March 31, and the next on April 13.

Monday: Love Potion No. 9.

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Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

43 thoughts on “Episode 995: I’ll Bite Anything

  1. No one ever mentions the 6 deaths that occurred at Woodstock — I’m sure a “sober post-1970” frame of mind would consider the 4 miscarriages as such. Someone got run over in the night by a tractor while sleeping in a field, and there was also a heroin overdose.

    It’s sort of a funny contradiction that parents and the culture in general are becoming more stuffy and overprotective, when I always got the impression that the older folks of the early seventies were just starting to let their hair down a bit (in many cases literally). There was a That Girl! episode from around this time that shows the middle-aged parents generation suddenly taking a fancy to rock music, and to compete with other eating establishments Lew Marie auditions a rock band (really more of a jamming jazz-rock fusion trio) to perform in his restaurants while patrons dine. There was a movie from that time, I forget the title, when a group of parents, who like to drink socially, are at one point discussing marijuana and speaking positively of the fact that at least it doesn’t give you hangovers.

    But here’s a funny thing that flew under this new radar of concern. While Rita Moreno was in the children’s show The Electric Company, she was also playing a prostitute in the movie Carnal Knowledge. I always get a chuckle out of that.

    1. Four miscarriages and a tractor accident are nothing compared to the insane savagery of Altamont. 🙂 I recently read an amazing new book about Altamont, which I just added as a footnote above. Huge recommendation, if you want to understand the sixties, or my blog, or both.

      1. Oh, sure, I know, I was just mentioning the Woodstock stuff in jest. 🙂 I just found about those fatalities a few days ago — funnily enough from the autobiography of a Dark Shadows actor who actually attended the Woodstock festival.

        The book you’ve noted, by Joel Selvin, is one I haven’t read, but I am aware that he blames the Stones, and Mick Jagger in particular, for the outcome with Altamont.

        You might be interested to know that their 1969 tour manager, Ron Schneider, has also written a book on the Stones and Altamont called Out of Our Heads. In the movie Gimme Shelter you see Schneider sitting in the office of San Francisco attorney Mel Belli and he is also in the Stones’ hotel room, seated on a dining table, while Brown Sugar is playing and Mick is dancing about the room, like a funky chicken.

        Schneider has been posting about this endeavor on a European Rolling Stones forum, and in one of the threads he has created, he has this to say about the events surrounding Altamont:

        “Now that my book is done..(Out of Our Heads). I can start stating facts that I have documented.

        “First Altamont:

        “The details: The tour ended on November 30; The Stones were in Muscle Shoals until Dec.5. I was in NY until called to come to SF to deal with Sears Point on Dec. 4. The free concert was on Dec.6 with mostly west coast groups: the Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Grateful Dead (who set up all their security?)-The Rolling Stones were the headliners. The promoter and the venue are responsible for the security. The promoter was John Jaymes and the venue was Altamont Raceway, represented by Dick Carter.

        “Nothing has changed…the press blames the immigrants and it’s a west coast-east coast thing.

        “Rolling Stone magazine and the SF Telegraph found it better to blame the Rolling Stones even though the entire event was organized by the west coast: Rock Scully and Emmet Grogan with the Grateful Dead organization. The west coast press – Ralph Gleason- were trying to bring prominence to the west coast bands after the great reception acts got from the east coast via Woodstock.

        “Rather than using the facts to blame the west coast organizers it was easier to blame the Rolling Stones as they were no longer in the states..
        And it was all based on Ralph Gleason’s lie that we were overcharging for tickets…”

        Posted January 20, 2017 from:

        https://iorr.org/talk/read.php?1,2401043

    1. Thanks Bob, that was fun. I’d forgotten that she was in Alan Alda’s movie The Four Seasons. A great movie that I watched many times on cable in the early eighties. She’s a versatile talent for sure!

      The one thing I disagree about is when she says it’s great for children to have parents watch TV with them. As an only child, I preferred to just soak up the viewing experience myself, crouched on the rug with my face just 2 feet from the screen, just slipping into my own little world.

      Besides, sometimes watching TV with my parents would get me in trouble. One time when I was 5 or 6 and The Andy Griffith Show was on, during the credits I did a wordplay with one of the actor’s names. When Don Knotts’ name came up, I said out loud, “Don Snots” — my father, offended, reacted in a tone of warning, “Hey!” I was such a little wiseguy.

      1. LOL! My parents didn’t watch TV with me when I was a kid, except for “Dark Shadows.” I think Rita was just encouraging parents to watch with their kids because that’s what the Children’s Television Workshop was hoping parents would do.

        I’m glad you liked the interview. We shot the interview with one camera and didn’t have time to go back and reshoot my questions, hence you see very little of me. But then again, it was about Rita Moreno, not me.

        Thanks also for calling me “Bob.” How’d you know that’s what I go by?

    1. In comparison to DS’s hokey violence, I mean. Things are way more graphic on post-DS TV. (I should coin that phrase–Post-DS TV. It sounds academic.)

      1. Don’t need a TV; video games give lots of graphic mayhem, with the player as the aggressor. But it’s okay, because there’s a warning on the box…just like the “R” rating on movies kept the kids from watching!

    2. The gun violence in Hollywood films is horrendous but none of those liberal Hollywood film makers will take any blame for the increase in shootings in the US. Hey – it’s not THEIR fault – they’re just entertainers after all. Shut up and buy your ticket.

      1. Samantha–I couldn’t agree more! Hollywood abhors violence, including violence toward women. Meanwhile, their products glorify both things! What can we say.

  2. I can still remember my disappointment at the transformation scene when it aired, what with Yaeger appearing five or six inches out of alignment with Cyrus. I guess they didn’t lock the camera in place while Pennock was off getting his make-up job–probably didn’t have the luxury of time. And/or no spare video camera.

    1. Gurlitt, I think the best transformation scene was one time when Chris turned into the werewolf. They did a still image of Chris, and that way they were able to line up the shot of Alex Stevens’ werewolf face and it worked.

      They should have done the same thing with the Cyrus Longworth character. Had him pass out completely so that they could have gotten a still frame (using the frame storer that was available back then) and dissolved to the John Yeagar character. If only they’d had me around back then to tell them how to do it! LOL!

      1. Exactly! Btw, was that the first Chris Jennings transformation? I agree that it worked superbly (much better than in my original memory!), but I didn’t realize they’d used a still. That would explain the near-perfect alignment….

        Memory is a funny thing. I was sure they’d shown Chris’ entire form in front of the radiator, and that the dissolve was several inches off. Of course, it was a facial close-up and very nicely done.

        They did use a still frame (of Yaeger) for the final Yaeger-to-Cyrus transformation, and it came off just as well as the Chris scene. I missed it the first time around and wish I’d seen it–I’d have been in heaven. I wish I had the episode # handy.

  3. I agree with Prisoner, parents of the 70’s were becoming more relaxed. My mother let me watch Sesame Street AND DS! I was only 5 in 1970 and ever since I can remember I had always loved watching DS. I don’t know who began the comparison between the two shows but I find it quite ridiculous.

    I thoroughly enjoyed today’s post and comments!

    ✌🏼I am not a scag!✌🏼

    1. Ah, but we only have your word on that. (Smile face.)

      Absolutely agree–there was a new permissiveness in pop entertainment (because parents were lightening up–though my mom loved to diss DS, whereas my dad laughed at it). But the news people, then as now, were on the hunt for controversy, for a conflict narrative. SS vs. DS is about Nesweek’s speed. Sad that we (in the U.S.) have a media so based in playing one aspect of culture against another instead of, oh, critically comparing things. Someone or something has to be the bad guy.

      Lazy reporting is what it is.

      Another thing–by 1970, youth pop culture was here to stay. I think grown-ups had given up on the hope that Broadway, jazz, Steve Allen, et al. would have their mainstream comeback. (Then, oddly enough, we saw Broadway, ragtime, etc. revivals, though on a relatively small scale.)

      1. Oddly, my siblings and I didn’t let our parents watch Monty Python’s Flying Circus for exactly the same reason.

  4. Aside from the one offered in 1991 by Abbaire, there actually WAS a Barnabas Collins watch, briefly offered in 1969-70 by a company called Edward Roberts and Co. It had a face with the same drawing of Barnabas that was on the Western Publishing glow-in-the-dark poster. If you own a copy of Craig Hamrick’s guide to DS collectibles, it’s on page 54.

  5. Apropos of this posting;
    Noticed today that a jar of cashews has the warning label ‘MAY CONTAIN NUTS – MADE IN A PLANT THAT PROCESSES NUTS’.
    A dozen eggs had a similar notice – ‘CONTAINS EGGS’.
    Okay, is there such a thing as too safe?

  6. Actually about this time the group Parents for Children’s Television started making a lot of noise about violent kid shows. My mother and i often wondered if they had a hand in killing DS. For an interesting account of this group read Saturday Morning Live. Their first victim was a show called Herculoids-a Star Wars type thing that I recall was pretty good. Well PCT were convinced that it was turning young boys into crazed killers. If i recall right it did not do that to me!

    Well they got it cancelled and next season it was replaced with Perils of Penelope Pitstop. Universallly considered to be the “kinkiest kids show in history”. Quite a statement considering how kinky kid’s shows are! That sucker must have created a whole generation of Bondage freaks and sex offenders! Careful what you wish for PCT!

  7. Was anyone a fan of an 80s TV series, Friday’s Curse (Friday the 13th, the Series). It had nothing to do with the movie franchise, but had cousins Micki and Ryan tracking down cursed antiques. This blog post reminded me of that show because it was canceled after three seasons. Some people believe it was because John D. LeMay left the show at the end of season two, but I’ve also read that some parents groups objected to the dark, violent content and petitioned to get it off the air.

    1. Oh, yeah–Chiler Channel used to run it all the time. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if it was John’s departure led to the cancellation–he was sort of like Richard Coyle was to Coupling. His replacement was terrible, imo. I thought the quality slipped noticeably, too, come the third year. The exception would be the beautifully creepy episode in which the new guy’s father was resurrected.

      I do think the show’s violence was unnecessarily graphic, but I just figure that was just the requirement of the day. It was post-Nightmare on Elm Street, after all. It was the show’s ingenious format and the super-creepy atmosphere that made it exception, not the violence. I would never have campaigned for its cancellation, though. To get John back, yeah.

      Louise Robey’s looks had nothing to do with my fanship. Okay, a lot.

      1. OH, I totally understand. I had a crush on John D. Lemay’s character, Ryan, back in the day. I loved the show. Season three had several episodes that I liked, but when Ryan was gone, the show lost the special vibe it had. The camaraderie between Jack, Micki, and Ryan was gone, and and I lost interest. But I own the whole series on DVD and watch it now and then.

        I also read that parents objected to the occult content. While the violence on Dark Shadows was NOTHING compared to this show, Friday the 13th the Series was tamer than what kids saw watching Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween. In some cases, it was maybe a more disturbing kind of violence? After all, the cursed object was supposed to make you want to do absolutely anything to get the reward it offered.

        1. Good point. Though, in some instances, the cursed objects amplified the evil already present in the owner (those were, perversely, the more fun eps!). In other instances, it was a kind of entrapment, with the owner suddenly finding him or herself with power he or she never imagined and simply couldn’t morally manage. Loved Michael Constantine playing John’s dad, and the way he turned the curse on himself out of love for his son. That was quite moving!

          (Michael’s still around–89!)

          1. Yes! Also, I thought it made for great tension and suspense when some of the objects would give diminished rewards as time went on, and the owner had to “feed” it more and more to get anything in return. I wonder if we could convince Danny to do a blog for that show as well??

    2. I remember watching that series… I was a young adult and newly married at the time I believe. As for parents, I had the greatest set of parents ever. I think I’ve stated before that my mom–though never the superfan I was–watched DS with me and discussed it, and liked it. She’s the one who noticed that Julia was in love with Barnabas, Oh, and though a sometimes stay-at-home mom and sometimes a working mom, she never liked soap operas–except One Life to Live, which we started watching when we turned on DS early. My parents and I were/are strong Christians, and though I occasionally heard DS berated from a pulpit, my mom thought that was ridiculous & ignorant. I loved the way she talked about what was happening in the show, and the lessons we could learn from it. She taught me a lot about being a critical thinker. Nowadays, it’s the kind of stuff that happens with Harry Potter. Personally, I think the Care Bears are a lot more damaging, because they teach ideas like “There’s nothing worse than a kid being unhappy at camp!”

      1. My Catholic material grandmother loved DS! She also believed in ESP, UFOs, and demonic possession. (She did the Catholic thing to the hilt!)

        I turned DS on during a weekend stay, expecting my grandparents to hate it, and the opposite occurred. Meanwhile, my agnostic mom thought watching it was bad for me….

      2. Same here. My mom was in her late teens when Dark Shadows was on, and she was a fan. I was in my late teens when Friday the 13th the Series began. My mom liked it, too, and we watched some episodes together.

    3. As I recall, there were several shows like Friday the 13th that were controversial for pushing the envelope. There was one loosely based on War of the Worlds that was particularly gruesome and was prefaced with a warning on WTOG.

      1. I’m going by memory, too, but I believe it was the influence of cable on pay TV that inspired the increase in violence. Pay TV had to show it wasn’t square, and not-square always means sex and violence–“adult subject matter.” It’s never Meet the Press….

        Friday the 13th works so beautifully without the gory stuff, it’s too bad they went there, but I love it anyway. Ditto for the brilliant but almost instantly gone “Strange” with Richard Coyle. Seven episodes, and the BBC decided to can it. It’s not even on DVD. I’d call and complain, but who would I call?

  8. A note about one of today’s bloopers: No dry ice is used in the mad science drink. This trick is instantly recognizable as adding a mild acid solution, such as vinegar, to sodium bicarbonate powder (baking soda). The acid/base reaction produces lots and lots of CO2 effervescence.

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