After jumping out of the frying pan and directly into the occult fire, Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis knew there could be no turning back. He knew his decision to accept his children's advice to "go supernatural" would either save or kill the first-ever gothic soap opera, and it did.
With the ratings at an all-time low, he unleashed his first ghosts (episodes included in Dark Shadows: the Beginning Set 3) then kept up the pressure cooker in the episodes included in this boxed set. Amazed, he watched as the ratings steadily and miraculously rose from the dead (much like the reluctant 175-year-old vampire Barnabas Collins would do about six months later.)
In this boxed set, the Collins family is turned upside down by recent events: the murder of Collins Plant Manager Bill Malloy, the unexpected return of Roger Collins' wife, Laura Murdock Collins, and the abduction of Collinwood Governess Victoria Winters.
Roger (Louis Edmonds) had told his young son David (David Henesy), that his mother was dead, but she had actually suffered a mental breakdown and was confined in sanitarium. Since being released, she apparently had been living in Phoenix, Ariz., unbeknownst to the Collins family.
Without warning, Laura (Diana Millay) returns to Collinwood late one night and demands full custody of her son. Roger and his sister, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Joan Bennett) refuse to allow her to see David, who is fast asleep and turn her away. Even so, that night David mysteriously dreams of his mother coming out of powerful flames to kill him.
Because of his dream, David doesn't want to see his mother, but eventually agrees. Sitting together in front of the fireplace in the Drawing Room of Collinwood, Laura tells him the famous legend of the Phoenix, a great bird who remains immortal, but only because it dies by fire and is reborn the same way every 100 years.
In Collinsport, Artist Sam Evans (David Ford) inexplicably feels driven, compelled to paint a portrait of Laura - flames encircling her image.
Meanwhile, Victoria (Alexandra Moltke) is kidnapped but finds comfort in an unlikely source: the ghost of Josette Collins. Later, Elizabeth tells Vicki that her great aunt had once told her that in her youth she had seen the ghost of Josette who at that time provided guidance to save a fishing crew feared lost at sea.
Several of these episodes span the Christmas and New Year season, so viewers are treated to a holiday greeting as the credits roll.
Millay and Curtis are interviewed in bonus material.
These early black and white episodes occurred prior to the arrival of the vampire, played by the gifted Jonathan Frid. Once Frid joined the cast, the show skyrocketed to iconic status. Many fans who began watching once Barnabas became a fixture on the show, never saw these early episodes, so it's wonderful to have them finally available on DVD, to see how it all began!