Hallmark's Sunday Solution: Classic Mysteries

Los Angeles— Hallmark Channel will create a block of mystery and crime programming on Sundays, featuring several vintage off-network series.

Beginning next month, Hallmark will add such 1970s series as Quincy, Banacek
and Columbo to its Sunday lineup, which already includes The Streets of San Francisco
and Hawaii Five-0, executive vice president of programming David Kenin said last Monday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour here.

Hallmark will supplement the block with a series of short programming vignettes, airing before and after each show, that will tout the network's mystery lineup.

"The wraparounds say we are a contemporary channel, that we're hip and we're stylish," Kenin said. "We're offering still-high-quality programming, and [the mystery block] fits in within our 'Great Stories' ideas."

While the acquired fare won't fill a full 24-hour day, Kenin said, the network eventually will add original mystery movies to complement the series offerings.

Hallmark's Sunday mystery block and its Saturday lineup of Westerns provide viewers with an alternative to sports-oriented programming from other broadcast and cable networks.

"There's a lot of sports activity on Saturdays and Sundays, so this will serve people who love stories and general-entertainment programming," Kenin said. "When you put a single program on the air, it's hard to find, but viewers will find a block of mystery programming or a block of Western shows."

In other Hallmark programming news, the network said it set a June premiere for The King and Queen of Moonlight Bay, a dramatic film about the reunion of an estranged father and daughter, starring Tim Matheson (The West Wing) and Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show).

The network will also rerun the landmark television miniseries Roots in February, during Black History Month. Last January, the six-part miniseries set a primetime ratings record for Hallmark, with numbers ranging from a 1.4 on Jan. 21 to a 1.8 on Jan. 22 and Jan. 24.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.