Wednesday, September 19, 2012

TV in 1972: “The NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie”

In September 1971 NBC-TV launched The NBC Mystery Movie, a 90-minute “umbrella series” focused on strongly character-oriented (and sometimes lighthearted) crime dramas. The original rotation of three shows took in Columbo, starring Peter Falk; McCloud, starring Dennis Weaver; and McMillan & Wife, with Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James. Well, the Mystery Movie proved so popular, that a year later the network expanded its franchise. It moved the first three shows from their Wednesday evening slot to Sundays, creating The NBC Sunday Mystery Movie (which also included Richard Boone’s fine Hec Ramsey), and then introduced a second rotation on Wednesdays, comprising Banacek, starring George Peppard; Cool Million, starring James Farentino; and Madigan, which featured Richard Widmark.

Unfortunately, those new Wednesday shows weren’t as successful in drawing viewers as the original ones had been. In the fall of 1973, Banacek returned to the small screen, but it was joined this time by three different programs: Faraday and Company, starring Dan Dailey and James Naughton; Tenafly, starring James MacEachin; and The Snoop Sisters, starring Helen Hayes and Mildred Natwick. But even those changes weren’t sufficient. After an early 1974 move to Tuesday nights, what had been The NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie was cancelled altogether, though the Sunday rotation--which again became simply The NBC Mystery Movie--stayed on the TV schedule until 1977.

Right-click on the image below for an enlargement.

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