With the passing of Jonathan Frid, I was wondering what do you remember most about him (he did one man shows of Shakesphere and was very influential in making Dark Shadows the phenomenon it was)?
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June 04, 2012
I was amazed at how he was able to turn what was supposed to be a short-term monster role into the heroic lead. Yet, by his own admission, he thought his own performance was terrible. Coming from a theater background into daytime TV wasn't easy for him, especially having to memorize new lines every day. I still get a chuckle from the scene where he's aiming a rifle at Adam (the show's resident Frankenstein monster), and ordering him not to harm...well, he was supposed to say "Julia," but he had to recite the name of every other female character in the show before he finally remembered! There was a time early on in the series where Barnabas was simply killing off everyone that he merely suspected of "getting too close" to discovering his secret. He even wanted to kill little David, but decided that scaring him witless was a better idea. Man, that did not work for me on two levels. First, I was around David's age, myself, so the idea that Barnabas wouldn't even spare a little kid (and a Collins, no less) was really distasteful to me. And, secondly, there is an unwritten law in horror show production which states that you never threaten the life of any youngster character in your script -- or, worse yet, kill off the kid. That's crossing the line, as far as the audience is concerned. Sure, there have been exceptions ("Jaws"), but they are few, because little kids really don't need to have death made so personal to them. It can be traumatizing, because they identify with someone their own age on the screen. And most of us feel that a child's death is more tragic because it is a life that hasn't really had a chance to live, so it kicks us right in our protective instincts. I wouldn't doubt that Barnabas became less cool to many of us at that time. :-( But when he was over his Josette fixation (or at least able to put her aside for the present), he could be a quite the champion for other causes. He really empathized with Chris Jennings' problems, and with Quentin's. And he became quite good at time-travel missions and missions into parallel time. With or without his vampire powers, he was a force to be reckoned with.