Although emphasizing underlying societal social issues, I enjoyed watching the Dark Shadows TV series (episode one) from 1966, which is a soap opera about the Collins family.
To begin, we see an approaching train with a bright, beaming light. On the train, we see Victoria Winters. (main character) This opening never gets old, even though I’ve watched it many times.
However, one particular scene stands out; that is, the scene where Victoria is deep in thought. She’s thinking her
journey is beginning, and she says, “It will open the doors of life for me and link my past with my future.” Later, she says, “I really don’t want to go, but I have to. This could be the most important step I’ve taken in my whole life. To me, to finding me, to seeing who I really am.”
Furthermore, Victoria says in the background: “To a world I’ve never known. With people I’ve never met…people, who tonight, are still only vague shadows in my mind but will soon fill the days and nights of my tomorrows.”
While sitting on this train, Victoria continues to think, “It’s a journey that will bring me to a strange and dark place. To a house high atop a stormy cliff at the edge of a sea, a house called Collinwood.”
As the episode continues, we see Elizabeth Collins standing at a window. Mostly, she stands here. She stares into the dark night and waits, which we never learn why. In fact, she hasn’t left that house for 18 years.
Though always close to a window, we learn that Elizabeth has a secret: an illegitimate daughter named Victoria. It’s a secret that must be kept because if a woman had a child and wasn’t married in the 1960s, she could be charged with fornication and end up in jail.
At this time, a citizen’ right to birth control hardly existed–for better or worst. Until 1965, married women weren’t allowed to have birth control. Furthermore, single people had to wait to 1972 to get the right to birth control. Eventually, the right of abortion was extended to women in 1973. If you read between the lines, obviously, Victoria is the illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth Collins.
At the same time, we see Elizabeth dressed up. She’ wearing fine jewelry. She’s wearing pearls and necklaces. She’s wearing a dress, too. It’s strange because she never goes anywhere.
Also, we learn of Roger Collins. He’s Elizabeth’s brother. He’s an alcoholic. In most scenes, he’s drinking or has a glass of alcohol from the family bar.
While Roger is a main character, one notable character is Burke Devin. He’s framed by his best friends for killing a man while driving drunk. Apparently, Roger and his girlfriend Laura Collins blamed him when they did it.
Later, Burke tells Victoria something interesting. Burke states: “Welcome to the beginning and end of the world.” I always thought this was a interesting comment because people thought the world was ending in the ’60s. (various religious groups and war)
As this episode continues, one can’t help but notice camera mistakes. In one scene, Elizabeth gets caught off guard. She turns her head to readjust herself. Obviously, this is a camera mistake that was never fixed but aired. Of course, these were old filming techniques and episodes were done live. (similar to live streaming)
Finally, episode one ends; and we learned a little about social issues such as identity, illegitimate children, birth control, mental illness, alcoholism and drunk driving. Albeit a fictional setting, people were just acknowledging these social issues in the ’60s.