life in and around NYC is insane

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dark Shadows, Johnny Depp and Johnny Rockets

1966 saw the premiere of three television shows that would become cult classics, three shows whose influence is still felt today.

The first was Star Trek.  'Nuff said.

The second?  The Monkees, of course.  A manufactured band in the mode of the Beatles, they turned out to be quite good.

With musical talent and comedic timing, they developed their own style and dominated the airwaves, at least for a time. MTV credits them as the fathers of the modern music video. I cried when Davy Jones died.

The last of the trilogy is Dark Shadows. An afternoon soap opera, a gothic melodrama that zoomed to popularity with the addition of the supernatural. Before the Twilight Saga, before Buffy the vampire slayer, before Harry Potter, we had Barnabas Collins, a tortured vampire who became an unlikely teen idol. We had Angelique the witch. We had a ghost named Quentin. We had time travel and parallel time.

The show was unintentionally campy and comic at times, with actors who flubbed lines, stage hands who walked across the set, boom mikes that appeared over actors' heads, and mishaps with scenery and props. But overall, it was dark and foreboding. And held our attention as it slowly built its story. I have to admit, although I watched the show and liked it, I wasn't a die-hard fan at the time. That happened after I met Drew and he dragged escorted me to a few Dark Shadows conventions.

Drew is such a fan that he just bought the ultimate collection. Every existing episode, plus outtakes and bloopers and cast interviews. The set comes in a box shaped like a coffin. When you open it, if the DVD's are in order, the images on the spine of each DVD case form a picture of Barnabas. We can all be Willy Loomis when we watch our favorite episodes.

When I heard Johnny Depp and Tim Burton were planning a movie, I wasn't sure what to expect. The original series was very popular on Scifi a few years ago, but an attempt to reboot the series in the 90's failed miserably. Well you know we simply HAD TO see the movie on opening night. We were not disappointed. You don't have to have been a fan of the old tv show to appreciate the movie. Tim Burton retells the story with his own perspective, his own sense of weirdness. On the other hand, it is also clear that Burton and Depp are huge fans of the show. Lots of inside references and jokes. It's played quite seriously, for the most part, though thete is humor in Barnabas' first encounters with the culture of 1972. Can't wait for the DVD.

Our evening ended, appropriately enough, at Johnny Rockets. It's an old-fashioned diner/luncheonette/hamburger joint. Very retro decor. Servers wear paper soda jerk hats. The music is pure nostalgia. Norman Rockwell-esque Coke ads adorn the walls. The food? I had a cheeseburger, served with fries and a smilie face made out of ketchup. Between the burger itself and the "special sauce", I must have used at least six or seven napkins. I love a juicy burger. Drew ordered grilled cheese with bacon. Marc had some sort of jalapeno mixture on his burger and chili cheese fries. Everything was fresh and tasty. We considered the shakes but I wound up with a Diet Coke, served in a real Coca Cola glass. Marc went with a Coke. Drew ordered a Coke with a shot of cherry syrup, so much better than the premixed Cherry Coke you get in the supermarket.

Overall another sucessful night. Johnny Rockets on Urbanspoon

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