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The Secret Empire 

In this homage to the cliffhanger serials of the '30s and '40s, 19th Century Wild West Marshal Jim Donner stumbled upon a secret underground city known as Chimera while chasing a gang of ... See full summary »


Kenneth Johnson




1979   Unknown  


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Series cast summary:
Geoffrey Scott ...  Marshal Jim Donner 2 episodes, 1979
Carlene Watkins ...  Millie 2 episodes, 1979
David Opatoshu ...  Hator 2 episodes, 1979
Stepfanie Kramer ...  Princess Tara #2 2 episodes, 1979
Tiger Williams Tiger Williams ...  Billy 2 episodes, 1979
Pamela Brull Pamela Brull ...  Maya 2 episodes, 1979
Peter Breck ...  Jesse Keller 2 episodes, 1979
Sean Garrison ...  Yannuck 2 episodes, 1979
Peter Tomarken Peter Tomarken ...  Roe 2 episodes, 1979
Mark Lenard ...  Emperor Thorval 2 episodes, 1979
Duncan Gamble Duncan Gamble ...  Jaks 2 episodes, 1979
Jay Robinson ...  Demeter 2 episodes, 1979


In this homage to the cliffhanger serials of the '30s and '40s, 19th Century Wild West Marshal Jim Donner stumbled upon a secret underground city known as Chimera while chasing a gang of robbers. Chimera is lorded over by an evil despot named Thorval. Donner teams up with the resistance rebels in their effort to overthrow Thorval's cruel reign, while simultaneously investigating the gold robberies on the surface. Written by Marty McKee <mmckee@wkio.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

cliffhanger | serial | See All (2) »


Fantasy | Western







Release Date:

27 February 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cliffhangers: The Secret Empire See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(12 episodes)

Sound Mix:



Black and White | Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This series was essentially a remake of the 1935 matinée serial, The Phantom Empire (1935), starring Gene Autry. See more »

Alternate Versions

Originally broadcast as part of the series "Cliffhangers". See more »

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User Reviews

Pre-dated Raiders of the Lost Ark
16 November 2001 | by sgspiresSee all my reviews

This was a great escape for me as a teen in the late 70s. Although the mists of time may tempered this somewhat, but I remember the production values and scripts were of a higher quality than some TV shows at the same time (CHIPS and SuperTrain). Part of the Cliffhangers television show, The Secret Empire was kind of like The Wild Wild West meets The Fugitive and Star Wars. At the time it was novel to have each show end in a cliffhanger, ala Saturday serials. If I remember right, three shows, one about Susan Anton (Stop Susan Williams) and one about Dracula were given 20 minute segments in an hour long show. Each one ended in a cliffhanger and was resolved the next week.

It was the right mix of sex appeal (Susan Anton) science fiction (Lost Empire) and horror (Dracula), and it came about two years before Raiders of the Lost Ark made it to the silver screen. Too bad it hasn't made it to DVD/VHS yet. With the current "release anything" mentality perhaps this show will make it to tape/DVD soon.

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