I'm not sure where my love for the movie serial comes from-- simplest explanation could be that I just love old movies period, which is true.
People often confuse Movie Serials with Movie Series-- a series of films like Charlie Chan or Sherlock Holmes constitute a series, a serial is a different animal.
Shown over the course of anywhere from 12-15 weeks a movie serial was from 12 - 30 minutes each chapter and they would en on what has become known as a cliffhanger-- which comes from the literal way some of these episodes would end with the hero hanging from a cliff with no possible escape. The idea was to get you to come back to the theater next week to see the conclusion. Serials began in the pre-sound era and lasted all the way up until 1956-- it seems no coincidence that TV grew to prominence at this time and the episodic nature of the serial became something familiar to TV audiences.
Serials had many genres; horror, adventure, sci fi, mystery, western and detective. While there were no outright comedy serials some of them had degrees of comedy to them.
The first serial I ever saw was one of the Flash Gordon serials which was shown on Channel 56 Friday nights before Dark Shadows at 11pm or so. My friends and I would often have a sleepover and we'd catch Flash's latest exploits. We thought they were simply old tv shows, having no idea how they fit into the scheme of movie outings.
Back in the day when you went to the movies you would see a preview of coming attractions, a newsreel showing the days events in moving pictures (remember this is before TV), a few cartoons, a comedy short starring The Three Stooges if you were lucky and a whole host of their inferior competitors if you weren't, TWO feature films (an A picture and a B picture) and an episode of a serial.
As WWII came about serials soon were relegated to the Saturday Matinee crowds and become more and more kiddy fare.
Many serials were so popular they warranted multiple sequels. DICK TRACY debuted in a 15 chapter serial in 1937 and was so popular he returned in new serials in 1938 (Dick Tracy Returns) 1939 (Dick Tracy's G-Men) and 1941 (Dick Tracy Vs Crime Inc). Tracy eventually made his way over to RKO studios where they made a Film SERIES starting in 1945 and running for four pictures ending in 1947.
Flash Gordon was nearly as popular appearing in three serials FLASH GORDON (1936), FLASH GORDON'S TRIP TO MARS (1938) and FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE (1940), a fourth was planned but scrapped and BUCK ROGERS (1939) was made instead.
Batman made his film debut in 1943 in Columbia's THE BATMAN which pitted the DC Comics hero against Japanese spies and Zombies in a World War II setting.
One of the best and most highly regarded serials was 1941's ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL which represented the first time a superhero was ever adapted to film from the pages of a comic book. Saying SHAZAM! Young Billy Batson was transformed into the mighty hero who rivaled Superman in popularity in the early 40s.
Other serials worth noting include CAPTAIN AMERICA (1944), SPY SMASHER (1942), THE PHANTOM (1943) which was based on the newspaper hero who thought Purple looked good in the jungle, THE LONE RANGER (in 1938 and 1939), THE GREEN HORNET, THE SHADOW, THE SPIDER and several ZORRO serials.
In the early 80s I belonged to THE SERIAL COLLECTORS CLUB OF AMERICA which was basically eight old guys and me who pooled our money together to buy VHS tapes of these serials from several sources and then make copies for our own collections.
Many serials have been released commercially on DVD and some are even free on YouTube-- so check 'em out.