Massive "Dark Shadows" Problem

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During the run of "Dark Shadows", the series was pre-empted or skipped 20 times causing several episodes to be double or triple numbered. For example, episode 108 was numbered as "108-109-110". This led to the last episode being numbered "1245" while in actuality being the 1225th episode produced. These episodes are standard in every way (not specials or double length) except for the numbering. Unfortunately, IMDb lists 1245 episodes of "Dark Shadows" listing even the episodes which don't exist. For example, single episode numbered "108-109-110" is listed as three separate episodes. This screws up the plot synopses and cast/crew lists on most of the episodes since they are more often than not entered correctly into an incorrect system. For example, episode listed as "109" actually contains the plot synopsis for episode "111" etc. This seems to me to be a far too great problem for a user to correct. Here is a list of all double or triple numbered episodes in the series:

108-109-110 (actually 108)
130-131 (actually 128)
225-226 (actually 222)
368-369 (actually 364)
390-391 (actually 385)
532-533 (actually 526)
633-634 (actually 626)
652-653 (actually 644)
801-802 (actually 792)
823-824 (actually 813)
894-895 (actually 883)
913-914 (actually 901)
919-920-921 (actually 906)
1134-1135 (actually 1119)
1154-1155 (actually 1138)
1174-1175 (actually 1157)
1179-1180 (actually 1161)
1207-1208 (actually 1188)

This means you have 20 episodes listed on IMDb which simply don't exist and yet very often contain information pertinent to other episodes. There are also 3 episodes listed under "Unknown Season" which also don't exist or are duplicates of episodes already listed.
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Mateja Djedovic

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Posted 2 years ago

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J.

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Something must be done, but I pray that the duplicate episodes won't simply be removed, thereby re-numbering the entire series. The episodes are numbered on DVD releases, and if IMDb's numbering differed from the numbering on the DVDs, chaos would ensue.

Maybe the "empty" episodes could include a note in the plot outlines that they are merely reruns; and further submissions to these episodes could be blocked.

Whatever is done, I can't stress enough that if IMDb's numbering differed from the DVDs, contributors would get confused and submit information to the wrong episodes. The result would be a permanent mess. Please, IMDb, keep the numbers the same as they are on the DVDs.
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Mateja Djedovic

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I think the best route to take would be to delete the extra episodes but rename the existing ones. Thus the preempted episode 108 would be titled "108-109-110" etc.
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J.

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That would make the episode list for the series unlike any other on IMDb; but if it could be done, it might be a good solution.
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Will, Official Rep

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Hi all,

Unfortunately there is no easier fix for this internally as there is externally for users, especially given that some of the episodes have the incorrect information assigned to each episode. Given your knowledge of the series you would be better placed to make amendments to the titles as opposed to the IMDb data editors who have no prior knowledge of the series in question.

Apologies that we cannot be of more assistance this time.
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Will, Official Rep

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Hi all,

Just to clarify the policy the episodes listed on IMDb should correspond to the episodes as they were initially released and not any later DVD re-numbering, this can differ and does so in a number of cases. For example please see our most famous case http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0303461/episodes?season=1&ref_=tt_eps_sn_1 where the episodes were initially released out of order by Fox which was amended in later DVD releases to be listed as the creators intended.

In the case of Dark Shadows 108/109/110 this is also listed as one episode here with the same release date which suggests that this may be correct to align with the initial airing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dark_Shadows_episodes
It could be that the three were shown back-to-back without any end credits in-between in the same way as certain episodes of cartoons are aired http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0206512/episodes?ref_=tt_ov_ep therefore a combined episode is the best way to list the content. If any episodes were later re-run as part of the original series running order then we would allow a shell episode to be added e.g. a blank episode with no credits with a movie connection and trivia item linking to the original episode.

Looking online there aren't many reliable sources available for the series which could help to shed light on this situation. Without knowing more details about the original release structure it is difficult to comment any further and I would avoid making any further edits without a full understanding in how the episodes originally aired.

I hope this helps.
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gromit82, Champion

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Will: While I don't have personal knowledge of the situation (and have never watched "Dark Shadows"), looking at the Wikipedia article you linked, it appears that the combined episode numbers reflect the fact that the show would have been preempted on what would have been the following scheduled airdate. As the lead of the Wikipedia article says, "A total of 1,225 episodes were produced, but during the course of its run, the show was pre-empted 20 times ago. ABC would compensate for this by occasionally skipping, double numbering and, in one case, triple numbering episodes in order to keep a show ending in a 5 or 0 airing on Fridays." This is consistent with what Mateja wrote above.

I don't think there were any "back-to-back" episodes of the series. The entire series was preserved (unlike most soap operas), except for one episode where only an audio recording survives, and has been released on DVD in its entirety. If there was a double-length or triple-length episode, the fans would certainly know about it.

For example, the first "combined" episode, "108/109/110", aired on Nov. 23, 1966. The following two days, on which the show did not air, were Thanksgiving and the day after Thanksgiving, on which different television programs aired (for example, a football game preempted "Dark Shadows" on Nov. 24).

Or to take another example, "801/802" aired July 22, 1969. No episode is listed as being aired on Monday, July 21, 1969 -- the day that the Apollo 11 astronauts were on the moon and regular programming was preempted.

Unfortunately, as Mateja indicates, there are nonexistent episodes entered into IMDb. For example, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1269815/, #1.109, is listed as being broadcast on Nov. 24, 1966, when as mentioned above, it was Thanksgiving and a football game was shown in place of the regular programming.

I suspect it will take a lot of work to fix this problem, but it would make sense for the Nov. 23, 1966 episode to have the title "108/109/110", as shown in the Wikipedia article, but the IMDb episode number #1.108, as standard. The following episode, broadcast on Nov. 28, 1966, would then have the title "111" but the IMDb episode number #1.109. Hence, the production numbering (also used on the DVDs) would be preserved in the episode titles but standard IMDb numbering would be used for the IMDb episode numbers.
(Edited)
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Will, Official Rep

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Hi both,

Just to clarify then the only thing that was combined in the episode was the name (numbering it 108/109/110), it still had a 22 minute running time as opposed to 3 separate 22 minute episodes airing on the same day, is this correct? If this is indeed the case then gromit82 is right and the name of the episode should reflect the production number but the IMDb episode number should be the episode running order.

Regards,
Will
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gromit82, Champion

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... the only thing that was combined in the episode was the name (numbering it 108/109/110), it still had a 22 minute running time as opposed to 3 separate 22 minute episodes airing on the same day, is this correct?
That is my understanding. At https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=oPBRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=YXQDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6537%2C1281709 you can see a TV schedule for Nov. 23, 1966, the day of episode "108/109/110". At 4 pm, "Dark Shadows" is shown with a single half-hour episode running until 4:30 pm.

As I said above, I have never seen one episode of this series, but this is what I understand to be the situation.
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Will, Official Rep

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Thanks gromit82 for the confirmation. In that case then it seems like this is an extensive clean-up project which sadly we do not have the capacity to undertake on behalf of users given our limited resources. Our internal tools would not help us rectify this issue any better than a well informed user who has an in-depth knowledge of the episodes.

Hopefully this thread can help steer a well intentioned contributor in the correct way to fix the series.

Regards,
Will
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Will, Official Rep

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Unfortunately this is not the case, this fix would still involve individual episode updates in a similar manner to the way that a user would using the front end submission interface.
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Tony Moran

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The whole entire thing is totally confusing to me--to the point where I wish I could make sense of it and understand it all--but I don't.

Has anyone else noticed that this "problem" seems to have been brought to us  WITHOUT AN EXPLANATION--which I guess is okay if you ALREADY UNDERSTAND what the problem is and why it exists--but is (trust me on this one) totally befuddling and frustrating if you don't.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I feel an Excedrin headache coming on.....
(Edited)
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gromit82, Champion

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Tony: The problem should be fairly easy to explain.

There were 20 dates when "Dark Shadows" was pre-empted by the network and not broadcast, for reasons such as Thanksgiving, the moon landing, etc. 

However, someone has entered episodes into the database for those dates anyway. See https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1269815/ (should not be listed, no broadcast that day) and https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1269816/ (the IMDb plot outline even says the episode does not exist), for example. 

Thus, many episodes are misnumbered in terms of IMDb's episode numbering system (which does not match the production company's numbering system anyway).
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J.

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The big trouble is that if we eliminate the false episodes, IMDb's numbers won't match the numbers on the DVDs.

Contributors look at the numbers on the DVD, match the episodes in the database, and make their updates on that basis. If we remove the false episodes and re-number the series, bad updates will start pouring in.

One solution may be to remove numbers for this series and refuse any attempts to add them back. That way, contributors will be forced to match the date, rather than the number.

DARK SHADOWS is a unique problem and needs a unique solution.
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J.

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Another solution would be to leave the twenty false episodes up, and explain in the plot outline for each that the episode does not exist. Other updates for these episodes should be refused.

I know that runs radically counter to IMDb's usual way of doing things. But again, DARK SHADOWS is a unique problem, and needs a unique solution.
(Edited)