A Year in TV Guide: 1989 is a year-long project to review all 52 issues of TV Guide magazine published during 1989. Every week, I’ll share my thoughts about the issue of TV Guide published exactly 30 years earlier. My goal is to examine what was written about television three decades ago while highlighting the short-lived and forgotten TV shows on network television during 1989.
February 11th, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 6, Issue #1872
On the Cover: J.R. Ewing and Larry Hagman, by Mario Casilli
This week’s issue includes the following six articles:
- J.R. on the Couch, by Larry Hagman
- Alyssa Milano of Who’s the Boss? by Mary Murphy
- Will TV Give Dan Quayle a Fair Chance? by Edwin Diamond and Jim Maroe
- This Week: The NBA All-Star Game, by Mike Littwin
- Survivors of the Achille Lauro Recall Their Ordeal, by Roderick Townley
- With a Hijacked Copter, She Rescued Her Boyfriend from Jail, by Leigh Murray
It’s hard to be sure at times, but Larry Hagman’s lengthy article about his Dallas character J.R. Ewing is a joke. “I like J.R. as much as you can possibly like a television character,” Hagman writes. He recounts meeting businessmen on flights who ask for his advice. They like J.R. Ewing. In fact, everyone Hagman meets likes J.R. Ewing.
He bends the law as much as society permits, which is a great deal. He realizes there are no hard-and-fast rules, that it is a jungle out there and that the weak perish. It is not corruption in which J.R. is engaged; that’s not what they call it anymore. It’s called “getting things done.” J.R. makes up his own laws as he goes along; whatever works–and it usually does. He’s the man that many men and more than a few women want to be. Men like the way he gets away with everything and women love his power; his power turns them on, believe me. Millions of viewers love him for it. He is, you have to admit, a very lovable villain.
Hagman defends the way J.R. Ewing uses women, but not before couching his defense as tongue-in-cheek. Consider the following: “While J.R. is using people, particularly his women, he is training them, by way of his example, in the art of exploitation. He is rendering a service, rising to become a great teacher, a guru.” If Hagman weren’t talking about a character on a TV show, this would sound disgusting. But Hagman goes on and on, praising J.R. Ewing to such an degree it’s obvious he’s being facetious.
The article about Alyssa Milano mentions an exercise video she made called “Teen Steam,” which of course can be found on YouTube in its entirety.
TV Guide asked a wide variety of politicians (and Yakov Smirnoff, for some reason) to offer advice to help Vice President Dan Quayle improve his image with the public. Some didn’t think he had anything to worry about. “I think the liberal media will do their best to keep hi down,” National Review publisher William Rusher said, “but he’s in the happy position f having nowhere to go but up.” Others insisted it was too late. “As an American,” Geraldine Ferraro offered, “I’ll pray nightly for George Bush’s good health.” Sonny Bono compared himself to Quayle (“You have to become assertive in every way you can get to get the real guy out.”) and offered to help put together a good PR program.
I skipped the articles about the NBA All-Star Game and the hijacking of the Achille Lauro. [NBC broadcast The Hijacking of the Achille Lauro on Monday, February 13th.]
TV Guide Insider
[TV Guide Insider includes the following features: Grapevine, Soaps, Sports View, Video Cassette Report, and Cheers ‘n’ Jeers.]
Lawrence Eisenberg’s Grapevine includes tidbits about shoulder pads created by Hollywood designer Nolan Miller, Marsha Warfield’s comedy act, the HBO movie about Alzheimer’s produced by Wayne Rogers, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Rosa Langschwadt, Jim Warren, and Faith Ford in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Farewell Grand Tour and sponsor overkill at the NBA All-Star Weekend.
Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Caddyshack II ($89.95), Elvira, Mistress of the Dark ($89.95), Murder Over New York ($19.98 each), One Down Two to Go ($59.95), Poltergeist III ($89.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises Megan Gallagher for her role on ABC’s China Beach, criticizes jerky camerawork on commercials, applauds TBS basketball analyst Rick Barry, and boos the offensive content of the HBO special “On Location: The Diceman Cometh” featuring Andrew “Dice” Clay.
Merrill Panitt begins his review of Midnight Caller by lamenting how real-life radio stations “spend their money on hosts who say outrageous things on any topic to stir up listeners rather than on experts who can provide facts and guidance for their audience.” He references the controversy of an episode in which a bisexual man with AIDS intentionally infects others. “The protesters thought it was irresponsible,” Panitt writes. “But to most viewers, we believe, it was a gripping show that managed to avoid sensation while presenting an unusually honest treatment of one way AIDS is spread.”
Midnight Caller, Panitt concludes, “is a thoughtfully produced series, well written and believably acted. It’s quality television, well worth sampling.”
The Program Section
[The Program Section includes the following features: Update, Letters, Sports Calendar, Pay-TV Movie Guide, Channel Directory, and TV Crossword Puzzle.]
[Update categories include the following: In The News, On The Grapevine, and The Ratings Race.]
There are three In the News reports this week. 1) Diana Sawyer is moving from CBS to ABC, where she’ll co-ancher a new prime-time news hour in the spring. 2) Stars like Dan Aykroyd, Nell Carter, Michael J. Fox, Eddie Murphy, Richard Chamberlain, and Barbara Eden are among the stars developing network TV pilots as producers. 3) Starting March 6th, ABC will test a live, late-night show called Day’s End on stations in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, and Tampa.
On the Grapevine contains four reports this week. The most interesting? Dallas will film multiple episodes overseas next month, including in the Soviet Union. Plot lines have yet to be determined nor have producers revealed which cast members will be involved.
According to The Ratings Race, ABC’s Roseanne is now 2nd in the season-to-date ratings, behind The Cosby Show on NBC. Roseanne‘s 22.6 season average is the closest any non-NBC show has been to The Cosby Show (25.6 season average) since the 1985-1986 season.
[Although TV Guide published the first and last names of those who wrote letters, for privacy reasons I will only be sharing the first name and the first letter of the last name.]
Four of the nine letters respond to the January 21st, 1989 article about rock and roll television. Here are two:
Finally, someone has taken a stand in favor of Elvis in this age of hard rock and heavy metal [“Rock Stars on TV: The Greatest Ever? Forget Springsteen, Jackson and Madonna. Elvis is Still King!” Jan. 21]. You’ve given him his due, and we, his fans, have been vindicated.
Granada Hills, Cal.
Elvis Presley is not “the King.” He’s dead. Michael Jackson is the greatest entertainer in the world. He’s broken records Presley only dreamed of.
See my review of the January 7th, 1989 issue for the Channel Directory to the Toledo-Lima Edition.
Starting this week, for programs either delayed on certain stations (mostly PBS programs) or repeated (mostly cable movies and specials) I’ve decided to only list the initial broadcast.
- Wide World of Sports (ABC, Saturday and Sunday at Various Times)
- College Basketball: Arizona at Oklahoma (CBS, Sunday at 12:45PM)
- NBA All-Star Game (CBS, Sunday at 3PM)
- [Cable Close Up] Movie: The Last Emperor (HBO, Sunday at 8PM/Wednesday at 8AM and 11PM)
- Movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark (ABC, Sunday at 9PM)
- Masterpiece Theatre, “Talking Heads: Bed Among the Lentils” (PBS, Sunday at 9PM)
- Movie: The Hijacking of the Achille Lauro (NBC, Monday at 9PM)
- Secret Intelligence, “The Enterprise” (PBS, Monday at 9PM)
- [Cable Close Up] College Basketball: Ohio State at Iowa (ESPN, Monday at 9:30PM)
- Almost Grown, “Jersey Blues” (CBS, Monday at 10PM)
- Nova, “Back to Chernobyl” (PBS, Tuesday at 8PM)
- Movie: Babycakes (CBS, Tuesday at 9PM)
- National Geographic, “Elephant” (PBS, Wednesday at 8PM)
- Wiseguy, “White Noise” (CBS, Wednesday at 10PM)
- Dear John, “Stand By Your Man” (NBC, Thursday at 9:30PM)
Do You Remember…?
Saturday, February 11th, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) DOLPHIN COVE (CC)–Adventure; 60 min.
Slim and Delbert seem to be suspicious of a visiting reporter (Karen Austin), who plants suspicion in Larson (Frank Converse) about Trent’s interests, and whose desire to do a story about Larson’s research may be just a story. Trent: Nick Tate. David: Trey Ames. Katie: Karron Graves. Didge: Ernie Dingo.
9PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) SMOTHERS BROTHERS; 60 min.
Appearing: singers Kenny Rogers and Maureen McGovern; sportscaster Chick Hearn; magicians Ed Alonzo and Fielding West; comic guitarist Michael Davis; bubble maker Tom Noddy; comic Andy Andrews; storyteller Geoffrey Lewis and Celestial Navigations; the Canadian Brass classical musicians; several yo-yo masters; and the Barry Lather dancers.
ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MAN CALLED HAWK (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
A deaf Gallaudet University student (William Byrd) witnesses a murder and Hawk (Avery Brooks) is hired to protect him, along with his roommate, who’s having a hard time adjusting to worsening hearing-impairment.
10PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (15) WEST 57TH (CC)–Newsmagazine; 60 min.
Scheduled: A segment on former New Jersey state senator David Friedland, who was sentenced in December to 15 years in Federal prison for fraud. Friedland had tried to avoid prosecution by staging a scuba-diving accident in the Bahamas in September 1985, but he was captured in December 1987 in the Maldives. Also: director Henry Jaglom.
ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MURPHY’S LAW (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Murphy and Kim (George Segal, Maggie Han) scheme to get Wes (Josh Mostel) back to the job he chucked because of the obnoxious new acting vice-president.
[Time approximate on Ch. 6.]
Monday, February 13th, 1989
9PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) B.L. STRYKER (CC)–Crime Drama; 2 hrs.
Debut: Burt Reynolds plays B.L. Stryker, a former New Orleans cop who returned home to Palm Beach to enjoy life and forget a past plagued by the murders of too many young women. But the present begins to look all too familiar when once again young socialites are being attacked by a rapist. Oz: Ossie Davis.
[“Gideon Oliver,” the third crime drama in the “ABC Monday Mystery Movie” trilogy, premieres here next week.]
10PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) ALMOST GROWN–Drama; 60 min.
Norman finds a little bit of soul in “Jersey Blues.” See the Close-up on p. 143.
Wednesday, February 15th, 1989
10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) NIGHTINGALES–Drama; 60 min.
The dance bug bites Sam (Chelsea Field), luring her back to the stage; a painful memory from her past catches Chris (Suzanne Pleshette) off guard during a hospital emergency; Allyson and Becky (Kim Ulrich, Kristy Swanson) seek revenge on a duplicitous boyfriend. Bridget: Susan Walters. Garrett: Bary Newman. Yoyo: Roxann Biggs.
Thursday, February 16th, 1989
8PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) FINE ROMANCE (CC)–Comedy-Drama; 60 min.
On crutches after an encounter with a mule cart, Louisa (Margaret Whitton) is pursued by an assassin called the Jaguar (Tim Roth)–who’s after her crutches. Michael: Christopher Cazenove. Friday: Dinah Lenney. George: Ernie Sabella. Miles: Kevin Moore.
10PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) Heartbeat (CC); 60 min.
Joanne and Nathan (Kate Mulgrew, Carmen Argenziano) clash over his prescription of shock treatment for a patient with severe post-partum depression; Marilyn (Gail Strickland) has an appendicitis attack; Leo and his brother (Ben Masters, Duncan Gamble) unearth some buried hostilities. Cory: Lynn Whitfield.
Friday, February 17th, 1989
10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (23) UNSUB (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
In Seattle, Tony (Joe Maruzzo) is on the scene when a serial bomber strikes again a day after Tony’s goddaugher is injured in a bombing. Westy: David Soul. Ann: Jennifer Hetrick. Ned: M. Emmet Walsh. Alan: Kent McCord. Norma: Andre Mann.
Another week of February sweeps means another week of movies and specials on the networks and another issue of TV Guide packed with advertisements. I’m glad to have the Update and Letters features back this week. They provide the only useful information about the state of network television in 1989.
That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the February 18th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.