Episode 2 of THE RETURN OF CHANDU ended with our master mystic’s jalopy hurtling towards a ravine, the weakest cliffhanger I had seen until I saw episode 4… The really professional serials knew that the way to ensure your theater-full of kids returned the following Saturday was to show the car plunging INTO the ravine. Then, in the following episode you simply recycled the footage and spliced in a “mercy shot” showing the hero rolling free before his vehicle nosedived.

Now read on…

Chandu gets out of trouble here by simply applying the brakes, not really the kind of staggering mystic power I was expecting of him. But then he uses his magic decoder ring and goes into a trance and speaks to his spirit guide, or answering service, or something, and asks for assistance in rescuing the missing Princess Nadji. The disembodied voice tells him to have faith, which is rather unhelpful, but then sure enough he locates the house by the dead tree where the Princess has been shipped in her sarcophagus.

The really terrific thing about the dead tree is that the production apparently only had access to a couple of seconds of it — possibly a stock shot — so they repeat it, in slow motion, with the deathbirds flapping from its branches with laborious strobing motions, like the cartoon “pterodactyls” (actually flamingos) in CITIZEN KANE…

I think it was around this time that Fiona began to lose faith in THE RETURN OF CHANDU, and despite my exhortations in the role of her own spirit guide, she could not be persuaded to continue.

But then, after a week had passed, I talked her around, based on the very exciting glimpses I had caught of episode four…


2 Responses to “Cliffbanger”

  1. bensondonald Says:

    For real moxie, try “The Shadow”. On a regular basis buildings collapse on him. The next week he picks himself up, dusts himself off, and starts all over again with appropriate serial urgency.

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