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Series: Darkroom The Complete Series

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I was a complete sucker for anthology series when growing up. The Twilight Zone is the most famous of them all, to this day people still imitate the “doo-do doo-do” part of the opening theme to indicate something strange or supernatural(ish) has occurred. The original Twilight Zone series aired back in the early sixties (well before my time), but was revived in the mid eighties and again early in the new millennium. Typically, whenever something is successful there are an endless number of duplicates. Some were better than others. DARKROOM was a short lived horror / thriller focused anthology which lasted for all of sixteen episodes in the early eighties. Hosted by James Coburn, Darkroom differs itself from The Twilight Zone by focusing far less on the supernatural and is more interested in creepy twists.

Like any series created back in the early eighties, Darkroom looks extremely dated, but that only adds to the nostalgia which makes shows of this vintage so much fun. Plots and production techniques that are clunky and often laughable by today’s standards were cutting edge at the time of the original broadcast. And you also have to keep reminding yourself that all the clichés you’re seeing were far from common plot elements when these shows were written. To be honest, there are very few truly horrifying moments in this series, but it still manages to be quite entertaining.

Fortunately none of the stories in this anthology take themselves too seriously either. Most give a solid wink to the viewer, even those which attempt to be suspenseful. Just about every episode employs a twist of some kind, in fact there are more twists on this two dvd set than in a balloon animal demonstration given by M.Night Shyamalan. Fortunately, despite the out dated look of the series, most of these twists are a little hard to see coming, which makes for a nice payoff at the end of each episode.

Across the sixteen stories told in this series there is a seemingly endless parade of young actors who were just starting to make their mark, and a number who, like Coburn, are clearly involved in the production for the fun of it: Helen Hunt, Billy Crystal, Brian Dennehy, David Carradine, Rue McClanahan. In addition, many of the names working behind the scenes have gone on to work on shows like Star Trek, Stargate: Atlantis, Life on Mars (US), Veronica Mars, Buffy.

Despite looking dated and cheesy, Darkroom still manages to be entertaining and fun. If you’ve enjoyed revisiting shows like Kolchak or Alfred Hitchcock Presents then you’ll probably get a kick out of Darkroom too. [source]

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