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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
Cliffhangers! Episode 10

This was the final episode of Cliffhangers! shown in the U.S. even though it leaves all but The Curse of Dracula serial unfinished. However, Episode 11 did air in Europe and that study follows this one on PopApostle.

Chapter XV
Written by Myla Lichtman
Directed by Richard Milton

This is the concluding chapter of The Curse of Dracula.

Didja Notice?

With all the special effects that accompany vampire destruction in modern television and film, it's kind of refreshing to see here that a stake through the heart looks as simple, and therefore, horrifying, as killing a human being. With all the disintegration or flame effects that currently accompany a vampire's death it's too easy for the characters and viewers to see that they've merely ended the existence of an undead evil. The deaths of Amanda and Dracula presented here are more horrifying, poignant, and sad because it looks and feels like a human death.

After Mary turns against him, Dracula decides it is time to leave San Francisco and orders Antoinette and Christina to arrange for the transport of his coffins and native soil and to pack his papers under the travelling name of Matthew Dimitriov. I am unaware of any literary or other significance to this name.

How did Mary and Kurt gain entrance to Dracula's estate to search for his hidden journal? Shouldn't Antoinette and Christina have been on guard for such an incursion? Not to mention Dracula's dogs Desdemona and Othello!

Mary discovers Dracula's journal which has his name and the date of 1467 engraved on the cover. It looks too new to be that old; Dracula must have taken excellent care of it over the centuries!

When attacked by Christina, Mary and Kurt manage to overpower her and lock her in one of Dracula's coffins. Kurt comments that she will have to go through the same cleansing by holy water that Mary did to rid her of vampirism.

As they go throughout San Francisco destroying the coffin sanctuaries in all of Dracula's hideouts, Mary and Kurt finally find the one in which he is sleeping the daytime away in an old storage warehouse of museum mannequins garbed in historical outfits. Antoinette is also there and attacks them with a sword. As Kurt ducks under her swing, she, ironically, cuts the head off a mannequin dressed as a medieval executioner, head-chopping axe in hand!

Apparently electricity can be a weapon against a vampire...or, at least, a half-vampire such as Antoinette. She accidentally raises her sword into a light fixture and electrocutes herself, though it only knocks her senseless momentarily.

Besides costumed mannequins, the warehouse also apparently stores genuine artifacts, including a working crossbow loaded with a wooden quarrel which Kurt ultimately uses to finish off Dracula when he rises from his coffin.

As the serial ends with Dracula's seeming death, we are left with no explanation of how the count survived his original death at the hands of Kurt's grandfather Abraham Van Helsing as told in Bram Stoker's original novel.

As Kurt pulls Mary out of the burning warehouse, she calls out for Antoinette. But Antoinette stays put, her eyes fixed on Dracula's coffin, sobbing, "The flames will bind us forever!"

I am struck that as the final scene fades to black and the serial ends, we never see Dracula's body actually burning in the flaming warehouse. The fire is all around his open coffin, but not on it. If his body survived the flames, could he return? One of the old tenets of vampire tales is that if a vampire is killed by a wooden stake to the heart, pulling the stake out again can bring it back to life.

While Mary and Kurt watch the warehouse burn from a safe distance, we hear Dracula's own voice from Episode 1 (The Curse of Dracula Chapter 6, "LIFEBLOOD"), as his epitaph:

"When this curse was first placed upon my shoulders,
I thought I would go insane.
But gradually I grew resigned to my destiny.
The most potent addiction is the addiction to life.
To be alive.
However lonely it may be."
Memorable Dialog

I cannot so easily strike you from my heart.wav

Chapter 12
Written by Nona G. Tyson
Directed by Alan Crosland

Didja Notice?

During the narrator's review of previous events at the beginning of the chapter, Demeter is referred to as Prince Demeter. But isn't he the former ruler of Chimera? So shouldn't he be referred to as King or at least something more than Prince?

It appears that the Shadow Guards use a different type of weapon (the neutronic guns, as described in the Episode 9 study) than the Phantom Riders. The Shadow Guards' guns fire a visible beam with a high-pitched sound, while the Phantom Riders guns have a Battlestar Galactica pulse and sound effect.

At 28:55 in the episode, one of the technicians in the paratronic depot asks another if he saw "that game on the visilink?" The visilink must be the Chimeran equivalent of television. The second technician responds that it was one of the worst quartzball (or courtsball?) games he has ever seen and that one of the officials of the game in particular ought to be sent to the compression tube. The compression tube is the tube with the compacting ceiling in which Emperor Thorval almost killed young Billy in a previous chapter.

To create a diversion, Demeter makes an announcement over the public address system that an accident has occurred at one of the plants and that all manna synthesizers must be mobilized immediately. Manna is the name given to the divine food which miraculously appeared to the Israelites for 40 years during their exile in the desert as described in the Biblical Book of Exodus. Some proponents of the Ancient Astronaut Theory (the theory that human-extraterrestrial contact occurred in the distant past and was influential in the development of human culture) contend that some ancient writings seem to describe "manna machines" that produced food from an algal-like substance growing within. Perhaps the writers of The Secret Empire wanted to imply that the Chimerans had been on Earth for a long, long time (or had, at least, visited) and had interacted with human culture in the past?

Actor Geoffrey Scott as Jim Donner, does a great running head-over-heels flip over an onrushing Shadow Guard at 32:45 in the episode. It appears to actually be Scott and not a double performing the stunt.

The cliffhanger ending this week: Donner is hurled off of a catwalk into sparking and exploding electrical equipment!

Don't miss Chapter 13: PARTISANS UNCHAINED
Memorable Dialog
the bats of Chimera.wav
pretty as a speckled heifer.wav
Chapter Eleven
Written by Richard Christian Matheson and Thomas E. Szollosi
Directed by Reza S. Badiyi
Didja Notice?

One of Anthony Korf's newly revealed co-conspirators is played by Fred Ward, who will go on to be known for such movie roles as Remo Williams in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, Earl Bassett in Tremors, and Henry Miller in Henry & June.

The revelation of Susan's long-suffering editor Bob Richards as the mysterious trenchcoated figure who's been trying to kill her (and who killed her brother) is a nice one. The casting of Ray Walston in the role, long known for his role as the kindly Uncle Martin in the 1963-1966 TV series My Favorite Martian, makes the revelation a surprise.

The cliffhanger ending this week: Susan, Jack, and Nicolai are trapped in an explosion in a mine shaft!

Don't miss Chapter Twelve: CRYPT OF DISASTER

Memorable Dialog
who you been hanging around with?.wav
the scope of most men.wav
to the future.wav
not that it's a job with a future.wav
I'm allergic to mushrooms.wav
a regular guardian angel.wav

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