Friday, October 4, 2013

CLIFFHANGERS! (1979) NBC Promo


A year or more back, I shared a rare TV spot for 1979's Kenneth Johnson-produced NBC genre oddity, Cliffhangers!, but that vid has since been removed from YouTube (and thus this site, as well). Fortunately, I stumbled across a different, one-minute network promo today, and here it is - for as long as it stays available.

Cliffhangers! was a modern "take" on the theatrical movie serials of the 30s and 40s, composed of three, 15-minute chapters of three different ongoing stories in each episode.

The one that most fit in with the Space: 1970 aesthetic was "The Secret Empire," an update/rip-off of the 1935 Gene Autry vehicle, The Phantom Empire. Both dealt with cowboys battling the inhabitants of secret underground scientific super-cities. In the Cliffhangers! version, the leader of the villains was portrayed by none other than Mark Lenard of Star Trek and the Planet Of the Apes television series, and the cowboy hero didn't sing a song in each installment.

14 comments:

  1. Quite a few modern adventure shows have a long story format and end their seasons on cliffhangers these days. For the life of me I can't understand why a weekly cliffhanger style show id not being produced.

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  2. Nice! Excellent way to start my long work day. Sadly I either missed this show or just don't quite remember it. Wow, Susan Anton-always liked her, naturally Mark Lenard and many others just from your clip that I recognize but just can't come up with a name. Would love to see this even though it only lasted 10 episodes or so. I guess Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley were just to popular.

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  3. I was only eight when this show aired. Despite my young age (or maybe because of it) it left a HUGE impression on me, and was the beginning of my lifelong interest in all things pulp/retro/serial etc. If this was ever released on DVD I would buy it in a second.

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  4. Wow. I would certainly have watched this. Nice find Christopher. Maybe it will be the available someday thru dvd on demand.

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  5. This is one of those "shows I remember that few other people do" - thanks for posting this! I remember it lasting maybe a season and then disappearing forever. That Dracula in particular made an impression on me.

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  6. I had never heard of this show before, it looks like it would be really fun to see!

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  7. This made my day Chris! I was twitterpated by Susan Anton. Been trying to find a person whol remembers this show forever. Finally proof of its existence.

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  8. In case you didn't recognize it, the voiceover on that ad was by Saturday Night Live's own Don Pardo.

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  9. I was very into this series when it first aired and disappointed that it never took off. I was even more disappointed that it was cancelled midseason without wrapping up the storylines. Oddly, unless I am missing something, the series does not have a unified entry on IMDB as Cliffhangers, instead having individual listings for The Secret Empire, The Curse of Dracula, and Stop Susan Williams.

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  10. Totally watched this as a kid. I remember the "Dracula '79" segment the most...whoa, that's Michael "Flashdance" Nouri as The Count? I remember going to bed at night and pulling the sheets up around my neck in case Dracula came for me in my sleep. (Like that'd stop him.)

    Didn't one of the Cliffhangers promo spots featuring a stick of dynamite with a lit fuse quickly heading towards the explosive?

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  11. Great find! I had forgotten all about this one. I remember being really into the Secret Empire and Dracula 79, but was bored to death during the Susan Anton segment. Underground secret cities never get old. I seem to remember an episode where the cowboy took a piece of tech, like a ray gun, back to the surface and was walking around impressing all of his cowboy friends. Or was that Cowboys and Aliens...

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  12. Loved this show! I recently purchased a mint condition NBC promo poster for this show that I found at a flea market for a friend of mine!

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  13. This was a great concept that the public just wasn't ready for in '79. If the networks want to try something fun and exciting, they need to take a look at this approach. Heck, SyFy should at least check it out.

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  14. I remember this quite well but I only ever saw the ending of the Dracula segment. The night it aired both of the other two's voiceovers said "concluded" not "continued next week" but it wasn't on next week! I recall the cowboy falling off a balcony into some exploding consoles and Susan Williams heading towards Camp David. Never found out what happened. I suppose that's a fitting legacy to the show's title.

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