Wheel series

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The terms wheel series, wheel show, wheel format or umbrella series are applied in the broadcast television industry to television series in which two or more regular programs are rotated in the same time slot. Sometimes the wheel series is given its own umbrella title and promoted as a single unit instead of promoting its separate components.

The most successful example of a wheel series on American television was the NBC Mystery Movie, which debuted in 1971 on NBC and ran for seven seasons. Three of the shows in the rotation, Columbo, McCloud, and McMillan & Wife, were among the most successful shows on American television in the 1970s.

History[edit]

The concept debuted in 1955 with ABC's Warner Bros. Presents.[1] Warner Bros. Presents was a one-hour show rotating three series based on the movies King's Row, Casablanca, and Cheyenne, with the last 10 minutes set aside for the segment, Behind The Cameras at Warner Brothers. Warner Bros. was inspired by the Disneyland anthology series to do the series for publicity. The series lasted for one season.[2]

NBC began working with the wheel format in 1968 with the 90-minute The Name of the Game.[1] Based on the successful 1966 telefilm, Fame Is the Name of the Game, the first of the long-running World Premiere Movie series, it featured three main characters who worked for the same media corporation in different capacities, each character serving as a springboard for a different type of story.[3]

NBC launched a wheel show each year for the subsequent three years: The Bold Ones, Four in One and The NBC Mystery Movie. McCloud became part of the foundation for the NBC Mystery Movie after the cancellation of Four in One. It was joined by two new shows, Columbo (derived from the 1968 NBC telefilm Prescription: Murder) and McMillan and Wife. The success of this wheel on Sunday nights eventually led to a sister wheel show airing on Wednesday nights; the original was retitled NBC Sunday Mystery Movie with the addition of a fourth program, Hec Ramsey, and the new wheel, NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie debuted with four other new programs. None of the newer programs were as successful as the original three Sunday shows, except for the Wednesday program, Quincy, M.E., which was spun off as a standalone hour-long series in 1977. Rival programs ABC's The Men, and The New CBS Tuesday Night Movies did not last long either.[1]

Attempts at reviving the format were made in 1989 with the Mystery Wheel of Adventure, a series of made-for-syndication TV movies including six installments of a new version of The Saint),[4][5] in 1989-1990, with a format that rotated new editions of Columbo and Kojak on ABC,[6] and in 1993-1994 on NBC, with a format that rotated A Perry Mason Mystery and new installments of Hart to Hart, without lasting success.[7]

Crown Media had success with its Mystery Movie wheel, first on Hallmark Channel from 2005-2008, but didn't fare as well in the ratings as the channel's romance telefilms.[8] In 2015, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries launched a new mystery wheel.[9]

List of wheel series[edit]

CBS[edit]

Syndication[edit]

  • Action Pack (1994-1995) initially a wheel series of telefilms before becoming a programming block of action series[10]
  • Mystery Wheel of Adventure (1989-[4] ) six The Saint telefilms along with three telemovies featuring Dick Francis's detective David Cleveland[4]

Hallmark Channel[edit]

  • Mystery Movie, also known as Hallmark Channel Mystery Wheel (2005-2008)[8]

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries[edit]

  • Mystery Wheel (2015-present)[9]

NBC[edit]

ABC[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Gunzerath, David. "NBC Mystery Movie, The". In Newcomb, Horace. Encyclopedia of Television. Fitzroy Dearborn. Retrieved February 1, 2018 – via The Museum of Broadcast Communications. 
  2. ^ Anderson, Christopher. "Warner Brothers Presents". In Newcomb, Horace. Encyclopedia of Television. Fitzroy Dearborn. Retrieved February 1, 2018 – via The Museum of Broadcast Communications. 
  3. ^ Anderson, Christopher. "The Name of the Game". In Newcomb, Horace. Encyclopedia of Television. Fitzroy Dearborn. Retrieved February 1, 2018 – via The Museum of Broadcast Communications. 
  4. ^ a b c Letofsky, Irv (October 13, 1989). "TV Review : 'The Saint' First Up on the Mystery Wheel". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 1, 2018. 
  5. ^ "A Sainted Circle Of Private Eyes". Chicago Tribune. October 13, 1989. Retrieved February 2, 2018. 
  6. ^ a b Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (2009). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Random House Publishing Group. p. 4. ISBN 9780307483201. Retrieved February 3, 2018. 
  7. ^ Lawler, Sylvia (May 23, 1993). "Nbc Aims To Reverse The Trend". The Morning Call. Tribune Publishing. p. 2. Retrieved February 2, 2018. 
  8. ^ a b "Another Cable Network Turns to Crime". Ad Age. Retrieved January 19, 2018. 
  9. ^ a b Lewis, Hilary (March 13, 2014). "Hallmark Movie Channel Rebranding". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  10. ^ Cerone, Daniel (January 16, 1994). "Television : There's Action Off the Beaten Path". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. pp. 1–2. Retrieved June 8, 2017. 
  11. ^ Lawler, Sylvia (May 23, 1993). "Nbc Aims To Reverse The Trend". The Morning Call. Tribune Publishing. p. 2. Retrieved February 2, 2018. 
  12. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (2009). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Random House Publishing Group. pp. 176–177, 585. ISBN 9780307483201. Retrieved February 2, 2018.