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Serial Report
    - Chapter 112
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    - Chapter One Hundred
    - Chapter Ninety-Nine
    - Chapter Ninety-Eight
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    - Chapter Ninety-Six
    - Chapter Ninety-Five
    - Chapter Ninety-Four
    - Chapter Ninety-Three
    - Chapter Ninety-Two
    - Chapter Ninety-One
    - Chapter Ninety
    - Chapter Eighty-Nine
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Chapter One Hundred Eleven

"Cliffhangers!"

Large TV GUIDE ad for "Cliffhangers!".“The excitement of the chase! The lure of the exotic! The shock of the unexpected!” All that and more was promised and delivered by NBC’s short-lived 1979 serial-revival experiment “Cliffhangers!” Created by executive producer Kenneth Johnson, the series didn’t truly replicate the ‘30s and ‘40s Republic/Columbia/Mascot/Universal serials we so dearly love, “Cliffhangers!” was far slicker, but the writers remembered the style. The three continuing adventures were “Stop Susan Williams” starring Susan Anton, “The Secret Empire” starring Geoffrey Scott and “The Curse of Dracula” starring Michael Nouri.

The idea for the one hour “Cliffhangers!” came from the mind of NBC honcho Fred Silverman. Each of the three episodes was 20 minutes. Susan Anton was a globe-trotting magazine photographer who
Susan Anton as Susan Williams in "Stop Susan Williams". faced danger at every turn while investigating the death of her newspaper brother who was on the verge of exposing an international conspiracy. While her editor (Ray Walston) worried about her many perils, Susan was aided by a cynical mercenary with a decent streak (Michael Swan).

“The Secret Empire”, eerily reminiscent of Gene Autry’s “Phantom Empire”, featured Geoffrey Scott as legendary 1870s Western marshal Jim Donner who discovers a futuristic society beneath the earth’s surface commanded by the evil Emperor Thorval (Mark Lenard) whose Phantom Riders hijack gold shipments on the earth’s surface to power their Compliatrons, machines that turn people into slaves. Then the Riders disappear into their subterranean kingdom. Interestingly, the above ground scenes were done in sepia-tone while the hidden city scenes were filmed in color.

Cast picture from "The Secret Empire".

Michael Nouri as Dracula is about to have a bite of a lovely lady in "The Curse of Dracula".“The Curse of Dracula” revolved around the notion that after 600 years Dracula (Michael Nouri) was now living undercover as a urbane San Francisco college professor teaching Eastern European history—a night class, naturally. His nemesis, Dr. Von Helsing (Stephen Johnson) is similarly updated as a clean-cut young man who with his friend Mary (Carol Baxter) pursued Dracula around ‘Frisco destroying his coffins and upending his noctural escapades.

Geoffrey Scott as Marshal Donner in "The Secret Empire".Beginning on February 27, 1979, to add to the “in-progress” feel of the three serials, all three began with different chapter numbers. “Stop Susan Williams” began with Chapter 2; “The Secret Empire” started at Chapter 3 and “The Curse of Dracula” with Chapter 7.

Creator Johnson’s plan was for “Dracula” to end after 10 weeks and then start “Man in the Middle”, a sort of Hichcockian mystery story. Then, the week after that, “Susan Williams” would wrap and “The Panther and the Rose” with a sort of female early California Zorro character would begin.

Small TV GUIDE ad for "Cliffhangers!".However, “Cliffhangers!” was a ratings disaster from the onset. Viewers were glued to ABC’s “Happy Days” where Fonzie was apparently on his deathbed. Putting “Cliffhangers!” up against a ratings winner like that was, according to Michael Nouri, “like rowing a boat in front of the guns of Navarrone.” At least the series—which was filmed at Studio Center, the old Republic lot—usually came in second in the ratings—but a low second.

An expensive production due to three simultaneous production units being required, NBC cancelled “Cliffhangers!” after 10 episodes on May 1. By that point only “Curse of Dracula” had reached its conclusion. However, one hour long unaired episode did air overseas and featured the two concluding episodes of “The Secret Empire” and the final chapter of “Stop Susan Williams”.

American viewers later got a chance to see the conclusion of “Stop Susan Williams” in the TV movie “The Girl Who Saved the World” which edited the 11 installments into a two hour movie. “The Curse of Dracula” was also re-edited as two TV movies airing later as “Dracula ‘79” and “World of Dracula”.

List of the Chapters with their air dates for "Stop Susan Williams", "The Secret Empire" and "The Curse of Dracula".

What's Going On Here?

"The Miracle Rider"  original still with Edward Hearn, Tom Mix and Ernie Adams.

The modified still with a different man replacing Edward Hearn and other changes.

What’s going on here? Two original 8x10" stills from Tom Mix’s Mascot serial “The Miracle Rider” (‘35). The top still is marked MR-6-7 and appears to be the “original” from the film. So for what purpose was the lower still changed? The man on the left is no longer Edward Hearn. The chair to his left is changed and the legs of the man behind him are blacked out. Mix appears the same but now Ernie Adams’ hair is combed, he has on glasses and a mustache, a striped shirt and a badge. The box beside him is blotted out. Anyone have any explanation?

 

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