To tie in with their remake of The Wolf Man, Universal will be releasing their short-lived 1990-1991 series She-Wolf of London next year on DVD (arriving February 2nd on a four-disc set). While I have no grudge against this minor series making it onto disc, this news only serves to remind me of another short-lived series in Universal's care that they haven't seen fit to release to DVD yet - the blink-and-you-missed-it 1981 anthology Darkroom.
Airing on ABC from November 27, 1981 to January 15, 1982, Darkroom didn't even enjoy a full season. Lasting only seven episodes, the series followed the Night Gallery format of containing multiple stories of varying length within an hour-long program. James Coburn made for an adequate master of ceremonies, conducting his on-camera host segments from within a darkroom (natch!). Although it had an abbreviated on-air lifespan and enjoyed no critical acclaim, for young Gen-Xers in their pre-or-early teens who were home during its brief stint on ABC's Friday night schedule, Darkroom has proved to be memorable. Its limited run may have made a successful afterlife in syndication impossible (although the Sci-Fi Channel did air the series a few times during the mid-'90s in day-long marathons) but Darkroom's handful of episodes were enough to earn the show a devoted set of fans.
Most notable among its stories were "Closed Circuit," in which a veteran news anchor (Robert Webber) is in danger of being replaced by his own ageless video image; "The Bogeyman Will Get You," in which a young girl (Helen Hunt) suspects her new boyfriend is a vampire; "The Siege of 31 August," in which a Vietnam vet (Ronny Cox) is tormented by his young son's toy soldiers (a story many fans believe to be an adaptation of the Stephen King short story "Battleground," but isn't); "The Partnership," in which a wily old man and his unseen 'partner' outplay a cocky drifter (David Carradine); and "Catnip," a story of a war between a violent thug and an elderly witch that builds to a punchline that'd make the Cryptkeeper chuckle. The remaining stories were a grab-bag of ok-to-poor tales (including a retelling of "Guillotine," a Cornell Woolrich story that was originally adapted in 1961 for the Boris Karloff-hosted anthology series Thriller) but none overstayed their welcome (many stories clocked in at less than ten minutes).
Even though Darkroom can't boast anything on the quality level of the best of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, it's generally on par with Night Gallery and I believe its run deserves to be seen and (hopefully) appreciated by more than just a handful of fans. Besides the aforementioned names, Darkroom was also host to appearances by R.G. Armstrong, Whit Bissell, Claude Atkins, Billy Crystal, Brian Dennehy, Samantha Eggar, June Lockhart, Rue McClanahan, and Esther Rolle - not bad for a mere seven episodes! - and its behind the scenes talent included directors Curtis Harrington (Night Tide, How Awful About Allan), Rick Rosenthal (Halloween II), Paul Lynch (Prom Night), Jeffrey Bloom (Blood Beach, Flowers in the Attic) and writer Robert Bloch (who penned three episodes - "The Bogeyman Will Get You," "A Quiet Funeral" - on which Avengers' writer Brian Clemens also contributed - and "Catnip").
While I realize that with much bigger shows in their catalog vying for their attention, Universal likely doesn't feel the need to invest in a DVD release of Darkroom, I don't believe that the show's modest accomplishments should be left to fade away like an old photograph.