18th Nov: We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.
The NBC Mystery Movie (this did not have the definite title, in spite of the page heading) was a Wheel Program that ran on NBC from 1971-77.The most famous element was Columbo, which came to television in a Made-for-TV Movie in 1968 (Prescription: Murder, adapted by Richard Levinson and William Link from their stage play) before becoming part of the wheel in its initial season following a second TV movie (1971's Ransom For A Dead Man). McCloud (inspired by the 1968 movie Coogan's Bluff) began as an hour-long show as part of another Wheel Program, Four-In-One, in 1970; the following season, this and Night Gallery were "freed" from the wheel, Night Gallery for its own slot and McCloud to be in the new strand. (The other two elements, San Francisco International and The Psychiatrist, were cancelled along with Four-In-One itself.) McMillan and Wife, starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James respectively, was the only element to be directly created for the Mystery Movie lineup.Once this was an established success, NBC and Universal Television launched a second night, moving the three originals to Sundays (they initially aired on Wednesdays) as the rebranded NBC Sunday Mystery Movie and premiering the NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie; they also tried to find a fourth spoke for the wheel, but none of the new arrivals (see below for chronology) stuck, and neither did the NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie itself (which only ran from 1972-74) - in fact, it wasn't until the final season that they finally had an addition which was a real hit, in Quincy, M.E.. In 1977 all the elements were cancelled except for the crusading coroner, who in a reversal of McCloud was granted his own hour-long slot (although Columbo continued to make appearances in additional TV movies).The series was introduced for most of its run with an opening theme by Henry Mancini and visuals featuring a silhouetted figure walking across a landscape at sunset, using a flashlight to light up images of the elements of the wheel that season (the order depending on which one was airing that evening). Here are three examples, for Columbo, McMillan and Wife and The Snoop Sisters from the second season of the Wednesday Mystery Movie - the first one had a different theme by Quincy Jones, which you can hear here ("Tonight, James Farentino stars in Cool Million!").In 1989 ABC resurrected the concept; see The ABC Mystery Movie.
The Sunday Mystery Movie elements in order of debut (see individual pages for more details):
The Wednesday Mystery Movie elements in order of debut:
Tropes associated with this include: