I have heard it said that DARK SHADOWS, originally just a gothic—but standard—soap opera, didn’t become the supernatural tour-de-force for which it is known until the arrival of vampire Barnabas Collins, portrayed by Shakespearean actor Jonathan Frid in episode number 211 in 1967, some ten months into the series run. This isn’t true.
A phoenix is a supernatural creature, and David’s mother was a phoenix. (In the DARK SHADOWS universe, a phoenix is not a bird. Rather it is a supernatural humanoid creature who must periodically be burned to death and is then resurrected.) The phoenix was around well before Barnabas. The first ghost, that of Josette Dupree, showed up way back in episode 70. But from the beginning, there was talk of ghosts. The sad spirits of Widow’s Hill, for example. I would suggest that DARK SHADOWS was *always* a supernatural show. It just took a little while for the supernatural stuff to start happening onscreen. By creating a gothic setting, the show’s creators opened the door wide for any and all things supernatural to come inside. It really shouldn’t come as any surprise that some ghosts, witches, zombies, phoenixes, werewolves, and vampires took them up on their invitation.