This year marks the 50th anniversary of Dark Shadows, which first aired back in 1966 (before I was even born!). I fell in love with the show when I first watched it back in the 1980s as reruns on NBC and later PBS, and that love has never faltered, even after a failed revival (which was exceptionally well done, I thought - just not given a proper time slot to garner ratings) and a horrific film by Tim Burton (not even going to discuss). While Lara Parker has written several books and has a new one coming out later this year, it is the audio dramas that is really keeping the show alive for me these days.
The next one in the series, Dreaming of the Water, tells the story of Sebastian Shaw after he takes poor Maggie Evans to Windcliff Sanitarium. Actors Christopher Pennock (Sebastian) and Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie) reprise their roles from the show, and they do an outstanding job of stepping back into characters that they have not played in who know how many years (although, to be honest, Scott has been doing audio dramas for some time as Maggie now, so I guess she was probably a bit more comfortable playing the part).
The story follows Sebastian as he drops Maggie at the mental asylum, only to be struck down by a vision of a "blond" Maggie in very real danger. When he awakes, he discovers he is a patient at the institution, but he cannot remember the past six months since he had the vision and was admitted. His new doctor, Laurie Norris, arrives, and in grand Dark Shadows tradition, she has an uncanny resemblance to Maggie Evans, except she has blond hair (just like his vision). Sebastian realizes he must convince this woman she really is Maggie Evans and save her life from the events in his vision.
The writer of this drama keeps the supernatural elements present, as Sebastian relates to the doctor how he first discovered his abilities to see the future, and how the vampire Roxanne Drew took control of him and is the reason Maggie was brought to Windcliff in the first place. Sebastian discovers, while in the care of the doctor, that his abilities are growing, and he finds he can now enter the dreams of the doctor, who he firmly believes is Maggie, despite her protestations to the contrary. The suspense builds to a very tense conclusion, told in true Dark Shadows style, and Sebastian's future is left open, leaving listeners (and me!) to wonder if we will get future stories about where Sebastian goes from here.
I can't stress enough how much I enjoy these dramas, and how so episodic they are. Listening to them (and I know I say this every time but it is so true!) is just like sitting in another room while the TV is airing the episode, and you can hear the dialogue and action, you just can't see the screen. I give so much kudos to Big Finish Productions on the high quality of these audio dramas, and since the stories continue to come out, I hope that means sales are remaining successful for them to continue the series for a long time to come!
RATING: 10 fateful horoscopes out of 10 for a tense, dark story that surprises you by not leading you where you think it's going.