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We all know why DARK SHADOWS became a cultural phenomenon.

Jonathan Frid famously saved the series from itself when he joined the cast in the spring of 1967, creating one of America's strangest pop icons with vampire Barnabas Collins.

The character was designed as a hail mary of sorts, the kind of creative decision rarely allowed by a healthy, thriving TV program (neither of which DARK SHADOWS was at the time.) And show runner Dan Curtis was acutely aware of the response the character provoked in his audience.

By the end of the year, the ongoing storyline had been carefully tailored to fit not only its new leading man, but his foil Julia Hoffman, as well.

But when did the mass media begin to pick up on the popularity of DARK SHADOWS?

Just about everybody, from the Saturday Evening Post to Famous Monsters of Filmland, didn't start to talk about the show until the fall of 1968 ... There are clues about this discovery littered throughout these early features.

The episodes discussed in the original Saturday Evening Post story were taped in May, 1968, while Time Magazine's "Ship of Ghouls" hit stands at the end of August that same year.

The timeline here suggests that it took a solid year for DARK SHADOWS to catch the eye of press.

Which essentially means that, when Victoria Winters returned from her trip to 1795, she found a small army of journalists camped out at Collinwood.

Below is the 1968 Time feature, which is among the first — and smartest — to address the newfound popularity of DARK SHADOWS.

But only since television has the soaper got right down to the nubby-grubby of everyday existence — suicide attempts (The Doctors), incestuous desires (Days of Our Lives) and various physical complaints, such as "uterine inertia" (Another World).

The trouble with such contemporary traumas is that no one does much about them onscreen; the folks just sit around talking about their problems and drinking black coffee in the kitchen.