It used to be standard practice for networks to reuse the tapes they used to record their programs. I don’t know how it’s done today; doubtless everything is different, what with it all being digital and such. Back in the earlier days of television, though, such taping over of programs was the norm, and this was especially true where the daytime “soap operas” was concerned. There were numerous soaps on the air during the 1960s. Most of those episodes are now lost to posterity. When you’re airing five programs per week, every week, there’s no thought given even today to preservation. You won’t find any episodes of DAYS OF OUR LIVES, for example, being released in comprehensive DVD sets. Special episodes, maybe, but all of them in sequential order, no. Not that I know if they’ve ever done that for DAYS OF OUR LIVES. Is DAYS OF OUR LIVES even still on the air?
Anyway, how is it that every single episode, with only one exception, of DARK SHADOWS was preserved? It would have been in keeping with standard practice if those episodes had been taped over, now lost to us. We owe it all to series creator Dan Curtis. He insisted that the recordings be kept, with an eye towards syndication. I don’t think he ever imagined just how pervasive DARK SHADOWS would become or how important it was, no, but he did envision a future in which people would want to watch those old episodes. We’re so glad he did. His ego guaranteed a genuine pop culture phenomenon was maintained for posterity.