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Strange Paradise 1969 - 1970

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Nov. 22nd, 2016 | 09:46 pm
posted by: mystic_scribe in cult_tv_lounge

Strange Paradise was Canada's foray into the Gothic supernatural daytime soap opera, due, in part, to the success of Dark Shadows. Set on the private island of Maljardin in the French Caribbean, the story revolves around the troubled Jean Paul Desmond, an immensely wealthy businessman who is, essentially, lord and master of his island. The story begins immediately after the death of his beloved wife, Erica. Jean Paul adored her and, not ready to let her go, denounces God and has her cryogenically frozen, keeping her in the subterranean crypt of the mansion amongst his ancestors. Erica was pregnant when she died, and her sister, Dr. Alison Carr, is concerned when she hasn't heard from her for a month, so she, along with Desmond's lawyer Dan Forest, head to the tropics. Meanwhile, the grieving Jean Paul opens the grave of ancestor Jacques Eloi Des Mondes, who died 300 years prior, and removes the "silver sword" from an effigy's head, releasing the evil spirit of Jacques Eloi — who proceeds to torment his descendant from a portrait and occasionally take possession of him. Alison eventually arrives on the island and learns the fate of her sister, and a small group of others also come to inhabit the island of the "Garden of Evil." Among them are runaway heiress Holly Marshall and her selfish mother, Elizabeth; Rev. Matt Dawson, conflicted by his attraction to the just-shy of 21 Holly, and painter Tim Stanton. Add to the mix Raxl, the housekeeper who practices an ancient form of religious magic, and the lumbering mute Quito, a gentle giant servant.

The show ran for only a year, 1969 - 1970. I've watched about a month's worth of episodes on YouTube (the entire series is posted) and am really enjoying it. The early scripts by Ian Martin have some fun, snappy dialogue. Colin Fox, in the dual roles of Jean Paul and Jacques Eloi, is entertaining, and he seems to relish camping it up as the 300 years dead scandalous scoundrel. Whereas Dark Shadows did entire storylines set in the past, Strange Paradise has occasional flashbacks within an episode that only last five minutes or so. And speaking of Dark Shadows, after about 40 episodes, the writer and executive producer left the show, due to poor ratings, and DS producer Bob Costello came on board, leaving his show in the middle of its 1897 story arc. How Strange Paradise changes, I'll have to wait and see. For now though, it's a lot of fun.

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