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When The Nights Were Deadly Wide World Of Mystery
Today “late-night television” means only one thing: hour-long comedy/ talk shows that are virtually identical in format.
Michael Mallory

By contrast, in the 1970s the 11:30 p.m. marketplace was wide open for experimentation, and one of the most notable ones was an exercise in thrills and terror called ABC’s Wide World of Mystery, which offered original 90-minute mysteries, horror stories, and science fiction tales.

Wide World of Mystery would never have existed had not Joey Bishop and Dick Cavett both failed at talking viewers into switching away from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Realizing it could not beat the rival network by aping it, ABC abandoned the nightly talk show format and instead took a chance on what it hyped as “a refreshing change of shows every week.” Dubbed ABC’s Wide World of Entertainment, it was an all-encompassing umbrella program that included drama programs, comedies, sports, and occasional talk. Wide World of Mystery served as the series’ anchor.

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Holiday #162, 2019