The haunting, ethereal music and moody black & white setting--usually in that 40-room mansion, with a few mysterious wings locked off to everyone--and a creepy old cemetery nearby had me mesmerized. The mansion was situated on the precipice of a cliff, over an ocean view. The show was dark, rife with the odd character or two... and one vampire. Unheard of in a soap opera, especially in 1967.
In 1966, Dark Shadows came on the air with little fanfare. It lasted until 1971--a mere 6 years. Producer, Dan Curtis, had the idea for a dark Gothic style TV soap, after a dream he had about a dark-haired orphan girl riding on a train into a new England town, and she winds up gaining employment as a governess in the Collenwood mansion.
When low ratings threatened cancellation during that first year, they added supernatural elements to the plot. The first element was a ghost. But in April of 1967, they introduced Barnabas Collins, the vampire: Willie Loomis discovers a secret room in the family mausoleum and finds a chained up coffin. Naturally he opens it, and disturbs Barnabas from his eternal resting place (I don't believe we see who pops out of the coffin). Afterward, a grimly handsome man with dark hair (Barnabas Collins), appears at the front door of the Collinwood mansion and introduces himself as a long-lost cousin from England. He moves into the abandoned old house on the estate and it doesn't take long before the community is plagued by a "mysterious illness".
A history was developed and we learn about his long lost love Jossette DuPres--and the resemblance between Maggie Evans (a waitress in the local diner), and Jossette was not lost on him, and his desire to turn her into a vampire to replace his long-lost Jossette in his life became part of the plot. As the story continued, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Grason Hall), was called in to treat Maggie (Kathryn Leigh Scott), for her mysterious illness.
Dan Curtis took a gamble on introducing the vampire, and good for him for Bringing in Canadian Shakespearean actor, Jonathan Frid. The shows were still broadcast during the summer of 1967, and suddenly the ratings not only jumped, but Jonathan Frid became an over-night star. His fan mail soared, and was overwhelmingly from women and teenagers. Crowds became a regular thing at the entrances to the ABC studio where the show was taped. Then, Dark Shadow paraphernalia began to appear.