So I blogged about the soap opera, One Life to Live, going off the air. So I like soap operas. I like Italian operas, too –not German so much…but I digress.
One Life to Live had some unusual (for a soap in the 1970s/1980s) storylines: the lost underground city of Eterna and time travel to the wild west (the time travel plot was resurrected just a few years ago). But for all of those unusual diversions, OLTL was your normal angst-ridden, relationship battle-ground soap opera. In other words it was fun. But something was missing for me.
I love the paranormal. Poe had been one of the first “adult” writers I read. I wasn’t allowed to go to any horror movies while growing up. But I had a good friend, Susie Spence, who would go on Saturday and tell me the story, plot point by plot point on Monday. Of course back then neither one of us realized that there were things like “plot points”. We just enjoyed the twists and turns of the stories that would eventually lead to something frightening. And we loved frightening.
In 1997, as an adult working from home, I found a soap opera with paranormal elements and I was thrilled. What made it even better was that it was a spin-off from another soap I’d watched for years, General Hospital. The new soap was Port Charles and, even though it used several well-known GH faces, there were new, memorable characters, like the vampire, Caleb Morley, played by Michael Easton.
However, Michael wasn’t the first to portray a vampire on a daytime serial. That distinction went to Jonathan Frid as, of course, Barnabas Collins, the sympathetic blood sucker of Dark Shadows.
I was in nursing school when the original Dark Shadows first aired in 1966. Back then we couldn’t have a television in our rooms, so I had to watch the show in between classes in the front lobby of the nurses’ residence. It was a popular show with some of us—not so popular with others. Back then it was a different type of soap opera, more werewolves than doctors, more coffins then unwanted babies. But there was drama and, of course, there was Barnabas, eerily sexy like a refined, English Bela Lugosi.
I still love anything paranormal/supernatural, in fact that’s what I usually end up writing…something weird with weird happenings and characters. I still love Dark Shadows, the original. As I watch the black and white episodes now, after years of watching computer-generated special effects, the show seems awkward, not quite put-together—sort of what you would have done for your high school drama class—if you didn’t have an advisor.
But in the late 1960s it was innovative, cool and a necessity to anyone who loved gothic, suspense and the weird…like me.