“Killed? Revenge? We?”
Okay, one more lap around the track, and then we’re done with this forever, I promise. This week, we’ve been taking a break from Dark Shadows to watch the first week of the failed 1969 Canadian knockoff, Strange Paradise, and it’s even stranger than I expected it would be. This is the fifth episode — here’s the other Strange Paradise posts if you want them, and if you’d like to watch along, there’s a YouTube channel that can scratch that itch. But I have to warn you that there’s a strong possibility that the show does not actually exist. We may be experiencing a shared dream, and this is all an illusion.
Because when you think about it, the whole concept seems unlikely. Dark Shadows is on television every single afternoon, fifty-two weeks a year, minus a few days off for Thanksgiving and Christmas and Apollo splashdowns. And the people who like Dark Shadows really like it a lot; when Strange Paradise debuts in September 1969, it’s the high point of Dark Shadows’ popularity.
So if you’re launching a second half-hour daily supernatural soap opera at that time, then there are only four possible theories that might justify such a thing.
#1. The people who are currently enjoying Dark Shadows for 30 minutes every day would like it even better if there were 60 minutes of supernatural drama in the afternoon.
#2. There’s an untapped audience of people who don’t currently watch a daily spookshow soap opera, who might turn on your show by accident and get hooked on it.
#3. You think that you would be better at making Dark Shadows than the people who are already making Dark Shadows, very successfully.
#4. You have a television production company, and you know that Dark Shadows is popular, and you honestly can’t think of a single other thing to do.
So what we have here is the Shadow of Shadows, a muck-encrusted mockery of a mad-science duplicate, trying to capture somebody else’s lightning in a bottle. They’re tampering in Dan Curtis’ domain, with predictable results.