What is STRANGE PARADISE?

STRANGE PARADISE was a television serial originally broadcast weekdays in the U.S. and Canada, debuting in the latter portion of 1969 and sustaining a continuing storyline for the span of nine months. Focusing on themes of the supernatural, modern witchcraft, and voodoo, the production was mounted in the wake of the phenomenal popularity of the 1966 - 1971 ABC Television serial DARK SHADOWS, the series which introduced the horror genre to daytime television. While never achieving the popularity of DARK SHADOWS, STRANGE PARADISE managed to explore some less traditional motifs in the realm of supernatural thrillers than its more mainstream predecessor, earning itself a cult status among enthusiasts of outré television in the process.

Co-created by long-time radio and television veteran Ian Martin and noted producer Jerry Layton, STRANGE PARADISE related the story of the eerie goings-on upon Maljardin, a remote Caribbean island plagued by its dark past and steeped in a heritage of voodoo. Up-and-coming Canadian performer Colin Fox portrayed the series’ central character, the fabulously wealthy and agonizingly tormented Jean Paul Desmond, as well the spirit of his diabolical ancestor, Jacques Eloi des Mondes. The supporting cast included stage and screen regulars such as Dawn Greenhalgh, Jon Granik, Cosette Lee, Bruce Gray, and a host of others, ably bringing to life the story of Jean Paul’s doomed efforts to retrieve his beloved wife from the grip of the grave.

At the close of the series’ first plotline, the story’s action moved from the Caribbean to the Desmond family’s ancestral estate in North America, the stately Desmond Hall, gradually jettisoning some of the trappings of voodoo for forays into straight-on witchcraft. Along with the shift in setting, STRANGE PARADISE’s Desmond Hall episodes also replaced the majority of the show’s supporting cast, bringing on such talents as Neil Dainard, Jack Creley, Pat Moffat, and Robert Goodier. Around this time, the creative team behind the series’ production also received fresh blood, recruiting the likes of former DARK SHADOWS producer Robert Costello and prolific DS scripter Ron Sproat.

In the final accounting, STRANGE PARADISE encompasses three separate thirteen-week story arcs, one on Maljardin and two at Desmond Hall. Each tells its own tale, but together all three recount the saga of the Desmond curse, and the family’s struggle to lay it to rest. Unfortunately, even the most engaging of stories must eventually end, and STRANGE PARADISE concluded its original broadcast run early in the summer of 1970.

But was this really the end? Paperback Library published a trio of SP television tie-in novels bearing the byline of prolific genre novelist Dorothy Daniels, one of which was later translated into a foreign language and distributed in Europe more than a decade after the television series ceased production. In the 1990s, many episodes of the series were released on video cassette, and the distribution company even flirted with the idea of producing a new STRANGE PARADISE movie. With the advent of the internet, message boards and websites have been devoted to the series. And most importantly, the show has remained available in television syndication since its debut in 1969. Elusive though the series may be at times, STRANGE PARADISE has never truly died, remaining blissfully undead now for almost 40 years..

 

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