A Year in TV Guide: March 11th, 1989

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.

Week #10
March 11th, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 10, Issue #1876
Toledo-Lima Edition

On the Cover: Ken Olin and Mel Harris, by Craig Sjodin; Candice Bergen, by Bernard Boudreah; Corbin Bernsen, by 20th Century Fox

  • Scan of the front cover to the March 11th, 1989 issue of TV Guide magazine
    Cover to the March 11th, 1989 issue of TV Guide | Copyright 1989 Triangle Publications, Inc.

The Magazine


This week’s issue includes the following seven articles:

  • What’s In–and Out–on TV, by Stephen Birmingham
  • Jean Smart of Designing Women, by Elaine Warren
  • Commentary: We Need More Religion in Prime Time, by Dan Wakefield
  • Faith Ford’s Flaw? by Jane Marion
  • Ringo Starr: The Shrinking of a Legend, by Roderick Townley
  • Which College Stars Should Make Good Pros, by Hubie Brown
  • 53 More Cranky Opinions, by Andy Rooney

Stephen Birmingham rambles on for three pages in his cover article, presumably tongue in cheek, about which TV shows and personalities and sports are “In” and worth watching and which are “Out” and should be avoided. Except everyone knows even “Out” TV is still fun to watch. Just don’t tell anyone you watch it. Is this the sort of thing TV viewers wanted to read about in 1989?

I’ve never seen Designing Women, so I skipped the profile of star Jean Smart. I didn’t follow college basketball in 1989 (and I don’t now) so I skipped the article about which college players will make it in the NBA. The excerpt from Andy Rooney’s latest book contains a list of 53 things he doesn’t like. Maybe I don’t like them either but I didn’t read the article so I’ll never know. Not surprisingly, the article about Ringo Starr and Shining Time Station focuses more on Ringo Starr than Shining Time Station.

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 John Hillerman’s experience riding an elephant, how Marla Gibbs spends her time helping people, other acting roles Jere Burns would like to tackle, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Jessica Tuck, Frank Dicopoulos, and Nancy Giles in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles batter Mark McGwire, the International Skating Union’s new dress code for female skaters, and network sports analysts who spend too much time sharing stories from their glory days in sports.

Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: A Date With Judy ($19.95), Imagine: John Lennon ($89.95), Iron Eagle II ($89.95), I Wanna Hold Your Hand ($79.95), Neptune’s Daughter ($19.95), Spike of Bensonhurst ($89.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises new late-night hosts Pat Sajak and Arsenio Hall, criticizes late-night hosts in general for having exotic animals on their shows, applauds Robert Pastorelli for his role on Murphy Brown, and savages Diet Coke for its recent ad campaign featuring George Michael.


Merrill Panitt reviews CBS drama Almost Home, which uses flashbacks to reveal how a divorced couple met and fell in love decades earlier. He praises stars Timothy Daly and Eve Gordon as well as the use of music. He admits the show is a soap opera. “In this one, though,” he explains, “there is enough realism in the writing and imagination in the direction and performances to make it stand out.”

“Viewers will find a welcome change from the glitz, lack of realism and now-tired shenanigans of other nighttime soap operas in the appealing love story and musical nostalgia of Almost Grown,” Pannit concludes.

[CBS pulled Almost Grown off the air just weeks before this review was published. The network only aired nine of the 13 completed episodes.]

The Program Section

[The Program Section includes the following features: Letters, TV Guide Plus, This Week, This Week’s Movies, Four-Star Movies, This Week’s Sports, Channel Directory, Pay-TV Movie Guide, TV Crossword Puzzle, and Horoscope.]


[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.]

Five of the nine letters are about the CBS miniseries Lonesome Dove. Here are two:

The networks shouldn’t be surprised that Lonesome Dove did so well. We baby boomers cut our teeth on all those old TV Westerns. Let’s hear it for the Wild West–Rawhide, Death Valley Days, Wagon Train. Get along, little dogies… and make more good Westerns.
David J. D.
St. Clair, Mich.

Lonesome Dove was like a cattle drive: dusty, dull, and long.
V.L. S.
Sherman Oaks, Cal.

TV Guide Plus

[Beginning with this issue, a new section called TV Guide Plus replaces the Update section. TV Guide Plus includes the same categories: In The News, On The Grapevine, and The Ratings Race.]

There are three In the News reports this week. TV Guide asked a wide variety of experts, ranging from 1984 Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Geraldine Ferraro to Tufts University Asia specialist Donald Klein, to share their thoughts on how President Bush handled his Far East trip and how the TV networks covered the trip. Also, Victoria Principal is hard at work on two proposed shows for CBS, an hour-long drama and a half-hour comedy. A pilot telefilm for the drama, Sparks, will begins shooting in June. [Sparks: The Price of Passion, aired in February 1990 and did not lead to a weekly series.] Finally, Hollywood Squares will not return in the fall of 1989.

On the Grapevine contains two reports this week. Tim Woodward will guest star in an upcoming episode of The Equalizer, playing the father of Robert McCall in a flashback. Who plays Robert McCall? Edward Woodward, Tim Woodward’s father.

According to The Ratings Race, The Pat Sajak Show has seen its once-promising ratings fall nearly every week since it debuted in January.

Channel Directory

See my review of the January 7th, 1989 issue for the Channel Directory to the Toledo-Lima Edition.

The Listings

Close Ups

  • [Cable Close Up] Movie: Good Morning, Vietnam (Showtime/TMC, Various Days and Times)
  • [Cable Close Up] Movie: Dead Man Out (HBO, Sunday at 10PM)
  • Movie: Aliens (CBS, Tuesday at 8PM)
  • Movie: Stand and Deliver (PBS, Wednesday at 8PM)

Do You Remember…?

Saturday, March 11th, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) DOLPHIN COVE (CC)–Adventure; 60 min.
Larson’s visiting in-laws lend a sympathetic ear to David’s discontent with Australian living while casting a critical eye on Alison’s work with Katie (Karron Graves). Meanwhile, Didge’s grandfather begins a ritual for departure. Larson: Frank Converse. Alison: Virginia Hey. David: Trey Ames. Didge: Ernie Dingo.
[Last scheduled show.]

9PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) TV 101 (CC); 60 min.
Conclusion. Chuck (Matt LeBlanc) remains committed to his marriage proposal to Jamie (Lisa Trusel), but she forces herself to look past his dreamy optimism and decide whether to terminate the pregnancy. Keegan: Sam Robards. Marty: Stewart Goddard. Penny: Mary Ward. Amanda: Teri Polo. Emilie: Brynn Thayer. Monique: Stacey Dash. Vance: Andrew White.

ABC (24) (2) (7D) (21) MAN CALLED HAWK (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
A family gets caught in the cross-fire when gunmen attack a neighbor, a Federally protected witness. Hawk: Avery Brooks.

10PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) WEST 57TH (CC)–Newsmagazine; 60 min.
Scheduled: A profile of Chevy Chase (“Fletch Lives”); a report on Michigan lawyer Noel Keane, who specializes in surrogate-parenting agreements; and a segment on teenage runaways in Hollywood.

ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MURPHY’S LAW (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Murphy (George Segal) finally gets rights to see his daughter, providing he keeps his job–and that depends on his nailing a slippery fraud artist who marries illegal aliens and stages car wrecks on their honeymoon. Kimi: Maggie Han. Wes: Josh Mostel.
[Time approximate on Ch. 6.]

Monday, March 13th, 1989
10AM NBC (13) (35) (4D) (22) (33) AT RONA’S–Interview
Scheduled: Geraldo Rivera, Fred Dryer.

9PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) GIDEON OLIVER (CC)–Crime Drama; 2 hrs.
Gideon (Louis Gossett Jr.) fears that his brilliant protege, an estranged member of a tong family, may be drawn into a war for power in Chinatown. Zina: Shari Headley.

Tuesday, March 14th, 1989
10AM NBC (13) (35) (4D) (22) (33) AT RONA’S–Interview
Scheduled guests include Susan Sullivan, Katey Sagal, Anna Maria Horsford (“Amen”).

Wednesday, March 15th, 1989
10AM NBC (13) (35) (4D) (22) (33) AT RONA’S–Interview
Scheduled guests include Malcolm Forbes, Valerie Harper, Michael Tucker.

8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) HARD TIME ON PLANET EARTH (CC)–Adventure; 60 min.
A reporter tries to help Jesse (Martin Kove) find the power-depleted Control after he suffers a misadventure at Disneyland and is taken home by a youngster, whose father thinks Control may be a threat to national security.

10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) NIGHTINGALES–Drama; 60 min.
Becky (Kristy Swanson) fights conflicting emotions over a visit from her parents, who don’t believe in hospitals; Sam (Chelsea Field) prepares to tell the truth about her daughter; Chris’s ex may end up being more than a guest lecturer at the hospital; and Yolo (Roxann Biggs) regrets her offer to type a report for Allyson (Kim Ulrich).

Thursday, March 16th, 1989
10AM NBC (13) (35) (4D) (22) (33) AT RONA’S–Interview
Scheduled: Authors Kitty Kelly, Iris Rainer Dart (“Beaches”), Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey.

8PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) FINE ROMANCE (CC)–Comedy-Drama; 60 min.
Michael (Christopher Cazenove) is not Rappaport, but smugglers in Budapest think he is, much to Michael’s peril. Meanwhile, Michael may be barking for a Japanese dog food if Louisa (Margaret Whitton) can get him to heel.

10PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) HEARTBEAT (CC); 60 min.
Cory (Lynn Whitfield) goes out on a alimb when she accuses a hospital administrator of beating his pregnant wife (Angela Bassett); Joanne (Kate Mulgrew) finally comes face to face with Leo’s ex; and Eve (Laura Johnson) may be under the wrong impression when she thinks she’s found Mr. Right. Leo: Ben Masters. Nathan: Carmen Argenziano. Paul: Darrell Larson. Marilyn: Gail Strickland.

Friday, March 17th, 1989
10AM NBC (13) (35) (4D) (22) (33) AT RONA’S–Interview
Scheduled: Debbie Allen, Sandy Duncan, Ann Jillian. Rona Barrett hosts.
[Last scheduled show.]

Final Thoughts

This week’s article are perhaps the weakest batch yet. The changes to the program section may have helped readers keep track of what to watch (and what to record using their VCR) but it doesn’t make any difference to me.

That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the March 18th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.

10 Replies to “A Year in TV Guide: March 11th, 1989”

  1. I noticed a typo in the TV Guide Plus section. Victoria Principal ‘s pilot telefilm Sparks will begin “hooting” in June. I’m guessing that was meant to be “shooting.” (Unless it was going to be a film with lots of hoot owls …)

  2. I appreciate these TV Guide reviews telling me about “Dolphin Cove” — a show I didn’t know existed in 1989. I’ve watched all 8 episodes on YouTube and, though I wouldn’t rank it as an excellent series, it was entertaining. Since it was filmed in Australia, it was probably expensive to make, but it’s good to know that — at least 30 years ago — a network was willing to take a risk with a show that was a little different than everything else being scheduled.

    And since I’ve admired Frank Converse since his days on Moving On, it was good to see him in another series.

    1. A lot of CBS stations abandoned Pat Sajak in favor of Arsenio Hall , who got better ratings against Carson! I really can’t believe a self-proclaimed fan of classic TV never saw a single episode of “Designing Women”. It ran for 7 seasons and still runs on GetTV!

      1. WJW in Cleveland showed Arsenio Hall, but it originally aired at 1:00 A.M. It was later moved to Midnight. WJW had a poor record of showing CBS Late Night. It showed David Letterman on a Half Hour Delay for a year until WOIO acquired the CBS affiliation in 1994.

      2. You’d probably be surprised to learn how many long-running “classic” TV shows I’ve never seen. While I appreciate and enjoy classic TV broadly, my interest is and always has been short-lived and obscure TV shows.

  3. Ok, so I suspect your station went with syndicated reruns, a common backup since the station would collect 100% of commercial revenue. The Letterman vortex was quite common, and he even made fun of it on the air. Today, Stephen Colbert has no problems getting nearly 100% clearance!

    1. This is true. The programs were generally ones that weren’t airing across the country at the time. Examples are “Maude”, “Taxi,” and “Newhart.” These aired at approximately 11:30 P.M.

  4. Here’s an ideal for the next “Share your memories”:

    What classic TV shows you never seen and won’t see or shows you seen and don’t plan on ever seeing again.

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