Cliff Hangers – Attempting to Bring Back TV Movie Serials

Accomplished film and television producer and director Dean Zanetos of Burbank, California, started working in the industry more than three decades ago. Dean Zanetos, who is today chairman of Broadcast 3TV, Inc., and a producer-director with New Show Media, Inc., earlier in his career worked on the NBC drama series Cliffhangers, which attempted to bring back movie serials in a made-for-TV model.

Cliffhangers premiered on NBC in February 1979. The hour-long program consisted of 20-minute chapters of three story lines that continued week to week. The story lines included Stop Susan Williams, a murder mystery starring Susan Anton as a journalist investigating the death of her brother, and The Secret Empire, which followed a U.S. marshal (played by Geoffrey Scott) who comes across an extraterrestrial city in the Old West. The last story, The Curse of Dracula, starred Michael Nouri as Count Dracula posing as a college teacher in San Francisco.

Each segment of Cliffhangers ended with a shocking cliffhanger (giving the show its name) and was picked up at that point the following week. Critics praised the originality of the Cliffhangers programs; however, the show aired on Tuesdays opposite the most popular sitcoms on television at the time. Cliffhangers was cancelled after 10 weeks.

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