Tuesday, March 17, 2015

NBC & Universal's Wheel

With Hollywood's reluctance to partner with television networks long gone, the networks began making special deals for programming. One of the more ingenious deals was between NBC and its future parent company Universal Studios. Together, the companies would produce a revolving "wheel" of programming that NBC would air in the United States and Universal could distribute as theatrical films internationally. The first package was called Four in One and featured the debuts of McCloud, Rod Serling's Night Gallery and the ill fated San Francisco International and The Psychiatrist. This deal allowed NBC to create higher quality shows than it could otherwise afford.

After the first season, Rod Serling's Night Gallery became its own show, San Francisco International and The Psychiatrist were canceled and McCloud lived to establish an all new block of programming called The NBC Mystery Movie.

The mystery wheel would become an excellent incubator for NBC, launching classic 1970's shows like Columbo, MacMillan & Wife, Banacek and Quincy, ME. By the end of the 1970's, however, NBC's detective dramas fell out of favor with viewers. The strongest programs were either spunoff into stand alone hour-long programs or occasional movie specials. Everything else was canceled.