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1.1 - The House of Despair

Synopsis
After years of wandering the world, Quentin Collins is coming home. But the Collinwood that awaits him is no longer the sanctuary he remembers. As the town of Collinsport hides in fear from otherworldly powers, Quentin vows to unite old friends and reclaim his birthrightÂ…
Dark Shadows Reborn
For further information on the entire Dark Shadows range available from Big Finish, visit our dedicated Dark Shadows micro-site.
Starring
David Selby (Quentin Collins); Lara Parker (Angelique); John Karlen (Willie Loomis); Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie Evans); Jamison Selby (Ed Griffin); Ursula Burton (Susan Griffin); Andrew Collins; Steven Wickham; Kellie Ryan; Scott Alan Woodard
Written By
Directed By
Gary Russell

Ratings

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10
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8
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7
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6
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5
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8.1
19 rating(s) submitted

0% (0/2) of raters say this story requires listening to previous stories.

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Recent Ratings
Rated 9/10 on 4/7/14 10:40 pm
Rated 8/10 on 10/25/13 12:54 am
Rated 7/10 on 8/13/12 3:40 am
Rated 8/10 on 5/23/12 4:38 am
Rated 8/10 on 4/2/12 5:26 pm
Rated 8/10 on 2/16/12 11:27 am
Rated 8/10 on 1/7/12 3:09 pm
Rated 8/10 on 12/9/11 3:29 am
Rated 6/10 on 11/10/11 4:12 pm
Rated 6/10 on 11/9/11 2:10 am

Reviews

(Highest - Lowest)

8
Review By Eiphel
Rated 8/10 on 5/23/12 4:57 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
I'm another who came to this series without having seen any of its previous incarnations, but I was aware that the audio series had a resoundingly good reputation with fans and non-fans of the original series alike. Having heard the first of Big Finish's Sapphire and Steel dramas, I also knew they were fully capable of making a series accesible to newcomers. A very good value sale was all it took to sway me.

This story is indeed a fine introduction for a newcomer, wisely choosing not to exposit too heavily on details of the past, but merely to define the threads that will be important going forward, whilst making it very clear there is much history to this place. It's a wise move - often in any story aiming to introduce new fans, the temptation is to run through shopping list of previous plot points. Far better I feel to explain only that which is relevant to the ongoing story, and to refer to the rest only in allusion.

As an added bonus this tack thickens the already dense fog of mystery and dread that performers, producer and director have all imbued the tale with. Every action, every conversation, hints at a dark past going half-spoken. Collinswood is haunted, in the literal sense, but also in the figurative.

Having never seen Dark Shadows before, I was unsure what form, exactly, the stories took. I still can't judge if the House of Despair is a standard sort of plot, but it was certainly an amicable one, and well paced. Much of the story is given over to character and atmosphere scenes, with the more mechanical aspects of the narrative and the action kept fairly simple. It's far from superficial though, as the extensive dialogues add great richness to the world. Rather I'd call it an elegant and eminently satisfying tale.

The characters are delightfully rich. From Quentin Collins' first sombre tones, each performer is a joy to listen to. Like a classic screen villain, there's a twinge, just a twinge, of campness and pantomime which succeeds in rendering Collinsport and its people larger than life without undermining the drama. John Karlen makes Willie a pitiful creature, and Lara Parker is inscrutable as Angelique, but David Selby really owns the proceedings. What a fantastic voice he has. Every moment of Quentin is a joy.

Based on this opening, I second everything that has been said by others about this series. Certainly a suitable jumping on point, and well worth hearing even if you're not already a Dark Shadows fan. 8/10
8
Review By jolyon
Rated 8/10 on 12/9/11 2:26 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
Came to this knowing little about Dark Shadows. An interesting self-contained story that sets out a clear stall of what the series is. Strong plot, good balance between developing mystery and character. My only regret is coming to the series so late.