The NBC Friday Night Mystery

Television Anthology Series
(1993-95, NBC)

In the fall of 1993, NBC made a valiant attempt to revive the mystery wheel format it had first introduced way back in 1971 with The NBC Mystery Movie, which had given the world such memorable series as McMillan and Wife, Banacek, and Columbo, among others. But this version was much less formal; picking up previously existing series (some from other networks), and using the space as a dumping ground for crime-related pilots that might need a boost. Among the shows (not always clearly) associated with umbrella show were:

  • HART TO HART
    (1993-95)
    5 movies
    A revival of the popular ABC show that ran from 1979-85, starring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as Jonathan and Jennnifer Hart, an insufferablly smug couple of amateur sleuths. Three more made-for-television movies were subsequently aired on The Family Channel
  • STAYING AFLOAT
    (1993)
    1 movie
    Starring Larry Hagman as a former millionaire who becomes a jet-setting government operative. Only one movie was aired, and the series sank without a trace.
  • PERRY MASON
    (1993)
    1 movie
    THE PERRY MASON MYSTERIES
    (1993-95)
    4 movies
    Planned to be a continuation of NBC’s popular series of TV movies, starring Raymond Burr as Mason, the defense lawyer who never lost a case, based on the character created by Erle Stanley Gardner. Unfortunately, Burr died after filming only the first of six scheduled films for the series. Undeterred, NBC plowed on, filming four more, replacing Perry Mason with Paul Sorvino as Anthony Caruso (one film) and Hal Holbrook as “Wild Bill” McKenzie (three films) in for Mason. 
  • MacSHAYNE
    (1994)
    2 movies
    Starring Kenny Rogers as John J. MacShayne, a gambler turned Las Vegas house detective to pay his debts.
  • JANEK
    (1994)
    2 movies
    The continuation of a popular series of made-for-television movies which originally aired on CBS starting in 1988, starring Richard Crenna as a New York City Police Lieutenant of Detectives. Based on the novels by William Bayer.
  • THE COSBY MYSTERIES
    (1994)
    1 movie
    Starring Bill Cosby as Guy Hanks, a criminologist who wins the lottery–and gets shot–on the same day. Given that the very first show was titled “The Cosby Mysteries,” (plural), it seems obviously there were plans to spin off into a regular series. And they did.
  • RAY ALEXANDER
    (1994-95)
    2 movies
    Starring Louis Gossett Jr. as Ray Alexander, a retired private eye turned restaurateur. Costarring James Coburn and Ossie Davis. 
Respectfully compiled by Kevin Burton Smith.

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