"THE SILENT ENEMY"
Written and Directed by Kenneth
Stop Susan Williams starts out with Chapter II to mimic
the concept of stepping into a theater running a weekly series
of serials, all of which would be on different chapters of their
stories. There is no Chapter I.
Michael Swan, who plays Jack Schoengarth
here, will go on to play the "bad cop" at the Visitor roadblock
on Kenneth Johnson's mini-series
The framed photo Susan accidentally knocks over in her brother
Allen's apartment, alerting the intruder to her presence, is a
photo of her.
When the intruder unintentionally steps on the photo frame of
Susan, the glass cracks into a spider-web of shards, symbolizing
both the intention of the people behind her brother's disappearance
to get her out of the way as well as her own entrance into a
web of intrigue.
At 4:12 in the episode, we see a ring with a blue stone set in
the center on the finger of the man on the phone. This will be a
recurring cue throughout the serial to indicate a member of the conspiracy.
While trying to justify to her boss, Dispatch newspaper
editor Bob Richards, a trip to Morocco to search for leads on
her brother's death, Susan rattles off the four cities/countries Allen
was in just before he was killed: Tokyo, Japan; Berlin, Germany;
Marrakech, Morocco; Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Susan (and we) will
visit these locations over the course of the serial.
Susan reveals to us that it was just last night that Allen was
killed when she says, "Bobby, you didn't hear his voice when he
called last night."
Susan also fills us in on the likely reason Allen was killed,
saying, "He said he was on the verge of breaking the biggest
story anyone ever uncovered. An international conspiracy to reap
a vast fortune by an event which would shock the world."
After her editor reluctantly agrees to send Susan to Morocco, he
tells her to fly coach. The next scene is of a supersonic
Concorde airliner taking off! Concorde's were an expensive way
to fly, especially in the 1970s when this serial was made.
When Susan arrives in Marrakech and meets with Jack Schoengarth,
she tells him Allen was killed four days ago. Allowing her a day
of travel, she waited three days to get on a plane to Morocco? I
guess she had to wait until there was a Concorde available! I
suppose she might have stayed home to attend a memorial service
for her brother but, convinced as she is that he was murdered
and that his address book could lead her to the culprits, you'd
think she'd take off immediately.
Jack tells Susan that he first met Allen in Algiers "during the
fighting", where he (Jack) had fought for both sides at different
times, whoever paid him more. I'm not sure what fighting he is
referring to. The War of Algeria for freedom from French rule
had ended in 1962 with Algerian freedom and Jack doesn't seem
old enough to have participated.
While speaking to Jack, Susan reveals Allen was killed in a hit
At the cliffhanger ending of this week's episode, as the cobra
strikes at Susan in her bath and the scene wipes to a shot of
the market at Marrakech, you can hear the sound of a gunshot!
This would seem to be a tipoff to the resolution of the
cliffhanger at the beginning of Chapter III which shows Jack
arriving just in time to shoot the snake as it strikes, saving
As the ending voiceover tantalizes the viewer to learn more of
the story in next week's chapter, we get a shot of Jack from
14:07-14:11. The same 1.5 second scene of him is run forward
and backward a few times to fill the 5 seconds, as evidenced by
the gyrating hips and tassels of the dancing girl in the
Don't miss Chapter III: JUNGLE DEATH TRAP
"PLUNGE INTO MYSTERY"
Written and Directed by Kenneth
The introductory voiceover tells us that U.S. Marshall Jim
Donner is investigating stolen gold shipments in 1880 Wyoming.
The futuristic guns of the Phantom Riders make the same sound as
the guns used by the Colonial Warriors on the original
Battlestar Galactica! Listen:
Phantom Rider gun
The western town is Cheyenne, Wyoming, as revealed by Marshal
Donner in his conversation with Millie Thompson. The
conversation also reveals that this is his first assignment as a
When young Billie runs into the doctor's office to tell Donner
he's seen the Phantom Riders, he says it happened while he was
hunting jackrabbits out at Vasquez Rocks. There is no place by
that name near Cheyenne, but it's obviously a reference
to the southern California location where many of the serial's
outdoor scenes were filmed!
Vasquez Rocks, well-known as a site
for shooting television, movies, and commercials, is probably
best known as the location of Captain Kirk's fight with the
reptilian Gorn in the "Arena" episode of the original Star
At 24:18 in the episode, as Donner looks out through the glass
of the elevator at the underground city below, we get a glimpse
of the top edge of the matte painting used to depict the city!
It is convenient that (in typical Hollywood sci-fi fashion) the
citizens of this secret civilization just happen to speak
English so Donner can understand everything said!
The security personnel in the underground city are called Shadow
Donner uses a whip he just happened to be carrying to trip up
one of the Shadow Guards and rescue the princess. Why was he
carrying a whip? It may have been inspired by Lash La Rue, a
star of 1940's-50's B-movie westerns known for using a whip; his
first role was as the Cheyenne Kid, brandishing a whip as a
The cliffhanger ending this week: Donner has been shot by one
the shadow guards' strange handguns, falls from a balcony and
lands in a comatose state with a white frost or coating covering his
body. Is this the end of Marshal Jim Donner?
Don't miss Chapter IV: PRISONER OF THE EMPIRE
what is this place.wav
Written and Directed by Kenneth
At the beginning of this chapter, it is not clear (at least in
my low quality video copy) how Dracula is able to start the fire
in which he attempts to trap and kill Kurt Van Helsing and Mary
Gibbons. Does he throw a gas lamp down at them? Or does he have
the ability to generate and hurl a ball of fire from his hands?
As the fire spreads, Mary says, "Kurt, it's gasoline!" But is
she referring to gasoline having been poured around the barn
ahead of time as part of a trap or does she mean that Dracula
has thrown down a Molotov cocktail?
A shot of the Golden Gate Bridge tells us the story takes place
in San Francisco.
Mary says that Dracula brought 20 coffins of his native soil to
the U.S. that they know of and she and Kurt have destroyed 13 of
them. She also says Kurt's grandfather would be proud of them.
Presumably said grandfather is Professor Abraham Van Helsing,
the character in the original Bram Stoker novel Dracula, who leads the
group that hunts and (seemingly) destroys him.
From the conversation between Kurt and Mary at the university,
we learn that Kurt is using the university's computer to track
down leads on Dracula and his hideouts.
Dracula has taken a job teaching night courses in Eastern
European History at South Bay College. Since he has lived
through 500 years of European history, it's an appropriate job!
The night course also allows him to take advantage of his
mandatory night time existence. Although there are a few
colleges going by the name South Bay College, there does not
appear to be a real one in the San Francisco area.
As we enter Dracula's classroom, he's speaking somewhat
uncharitably about Princess Stephanie of Belgium, implying that
he'd met her. She was a real person (1864-1945), wife of Crown
Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary and generally considered (like
Dracula's description of her) to be rather conservative, boring,
After his class lets out for the evening, Dracula identifies a
constellation in the sky for one of his students: Cygnus, the
swan. Mary, who has attended the class in disguise, comments
that Cygnus is also known as the Northern Cross. Dracula
responds that he prefers to think of it as a swan. Of course,
crosses are anathema to him as a vampire!
As Dracula drives a few of his students to his home for some
after class discussion, notice that as he watches Kurt's car
following him in the rearview mirror, he casts no reflection.
Also the mirror appears to be upside down!
Dracula confides in Mary that he
misses the sun, not having seen
it for 512 years. Going back
through the scenes of the
interior of his mansion, it
seems as if Dracula may have
placed ersatz suns as lights
within. Notice the sun-like orb
at 39:57 in the episode and the
"rays" of lighting above the
spiral staircase at 45:52.
In the scene at 47:23-47:24 in the episode, as Kurt's car has
flames spewing from under the hood, a cable or something can be
seen dragging behind the vehicle. Perhaps it is an electrical
cable rigged to blow the special effect explosive that destroys
The cliffhanger ending this week: a double-cliffhanger! Dracula
is about to put the bite on Mary and Kurt's car has just exploded
due to a cut fuel line!
Don't miss Chapter VII: BLOOD STREAM