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.
March 18th, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 11, Issue #1877
On the Cover: Oprah Winfrey, Robin Givens and Jackee, by Mario Casilli
This week’s issue includes just five articles:
- “The Women of Brewster Place,” by Elaine Warren
- Umpires: Beware of Scoreboard Instant Replays
- Are Women Reporters Better Than Men? by Marlene Sanders
- John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted, by Jane Marion
- Rating TV’s Movie Critics, by Kenneth Turan
I expected the article about ABC’s The Women of Brewster Place to be little more than a joint profile of Oprah Winfrey, Robin Givens, and Jackee. Part of it is. But the article also offers details about the production, how changes were made to the story at the request of ABC’s standards and practices department as well as the NAACP. Likewise, I almost skipped the article about scoreboard instant replays because I thought it would be boring to someone who knows nothing about sports and doesn’t watch sports. I’m familiar with the instant replay, of course, but I didn’t realize showing instant replays on scoreboards at stadiums was controversial.
I never watched any of the movie review shows mentioned in the article about TV movie critics, although of course I’ve heard of most of the critics (Gene Siskel, Roger Ebert,and Michael Medved, among others). I also never watched America’s Most Wanted and didn’t realize how popular it was right off the bat.
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 Clifton Davis having to quit working as an associate pastor, Barbara Eden’s dream of playing Lady Macbeth, Billy Crystal in the Soviet Union, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Kristoff St. John, Stephen Nichols and Mary Beth Evans, and Jane Elliot in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles Larry Brown’s proposal to include all 293 Division I basketball teams in the NCAA tournament and Larry Brown’s thoughts on whether the best team usually wins the tournament.
Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Betrayed ($89.95), Imagine: John Lennon ($89.95), Crocodile Dundee II ($89.95), Messenger of Death ($89.95), Moon Over Parador ($89.95), Punchline ($89.95), Sullivan’s Travels ($29.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises Dan Lauria for his role on The Wonder Years, criticizes NBC’s UNSUB and 227 for stealing plots from movies, applauds Hubie Brown’s NBA analysis on CBS, and knocks ABC’s One Life to Live for a storyline involving Eterna, a lost underground city.
Merrill Panitt reviews late-night talk shows The Pat Sajak Show and The Arsenio Hall Show. Here’s what he has to say about Pat Sajak:
Host Sajak is both charming and witty–and of course, he’s cute and knows how to play to the camera. Sort of an unpretentious Jack Paar. His appealing, self-deprecating style works beautifully in a talk show. When actor Charlie Sheen admitted he once had some “serious involvement” with the police, Sajak promptly declared: “I certainly wouldn’t want to break a time-honored talk-show tradition and ask a follow-up question, so we’ll just let that go. No problem at all.”
And here’s what he has to say about Arsenio Hall:
Arsenio Hall is more of a stand-up comic. He makes faces and does little funny bits of mimicry to make his points, and that helps because the monologue material his writers have given him so far has been mediocre. In true talk-show form, he tends to overpraise his guests–especially Brat Pack movie stars and comics who come on with naive social comments and prompt screams and whoops from the most annoyingly loud studio audience in talk-show history.
Neither host is as entertaining as Johnny Carson, Panitt concludes. Not yet.
The Program Section
[The Program Section includes the following features: TV Guide Plus, Letters, This Week, This Week’s Movies, Four-Star Movies, This Week’s Sports, Channel Directory, Pay-TV Movie Guide, TV Crossword Puzzle, and Horoscope.]
TV Guide Plus
[TV Guide Plus includes the following categories: In The News, On The Grapevine, and The Ratings Race.]
There are two In the News reports this week. The first is a lengthy look at the downfall of actor Todd Bridges, behind bars and accused of attempted first-degree murder. The second reveals how three cable services (ESPN, TBS, and CNN) earned more profit in 1988 than CBS and ABC but less than NBC.
On the Grapevine also contains two reports this week. Don Johnson hopes to co-produce a spin-off of Miami Vice focusing on the Young Criminal Unit. An upcoming episode of Miami Vice will serve as a backdoor pilot for the untitled drama. [The proposed spin-off series never materialized.]
According to The Ratings Race, NBC’s Midnight Caller has overtaken ABC’s thirtysomething in the Tuesday at 10PM ET time slot. Also, a special Monday airing of Beauty and the Beast earned the show’s lowest rating ever. NBC’s made-for-TV movie Those She Left Behind, starring Gary Cole, earned a 25.1 rating and a 38 share, making it the third highest-rated telefilm of the season so far.
[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.]
Two of the eight letters respond to the second half of James Morrow’s report on children’s television, published in the February 18th issue. Here they are:
James Morrow terms Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies “twaddle.” What is his problem? Sure, some of the voices are loud and grating, but Muppet Babies’ simple themes, whimsical humor and offbeat encouragement of a child’s imagination make it one of the rare shows decidedly geared to smaller kids [“Parents’ Guide: The Best Children’s Shows on TV,” Feb. 18].
New Kent, Va.
Twaddle? This season The Chipmunks has aired quality episodes on a variety of social issues. If The Chipmunks were “twaddle” I doubt the show would be in its seventh season!
Thomas H. Watkins
See my review of the January 7th, 1989 issue for the Channel Directory to the Toledo-Lima Edition.
- Glenn Miller Band Reunion (PBS, Various Days and Times)
- Movie: Breaking Away (WGTE, Saturday at 8PM)
- [Cable Close Up] Comic Relief III (HBO, Saturday at 9PM)
- The Players Championship (NBC, Saturday at 4PM and Sunday at 2PM)
- Movie: Return of the Jedi (NBC, Sunday at 8:30PM)
- Movie: The Women of Brewster Place, Part 1 (ABC, Sunday at 9PM)
- Congress (PBS, Monday at 9PM)
- AFI Salute to Gregory Peck (NBC, Tuesday at 10PM)
- Movie: Calgary ’88: 16 Days of Glory (Disney Channel, Wednesday at 9PM)
- Mystery!, “Game, Set & Match, Part 1” (PBS, Thursday at 9PM)
- Peter Pan (NBC, Friday at 8PM)
Do You Remember…?
Saturday, March 18th, 1989
9PM ABC (24) (2) (7D) (21) MAN CALLED HAWK (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Repeating the series opener: Hawk (Avery Brooks) renews acquaintances with old friends and a former employer, who asks his help in locating a rogue Government agent. Old Man: Moses Gunn. (Repeat)
10PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) WEST 57TH (CC)–Newsmagazine; 60 min.
Scheduled: An extended segment on El Salvador includes an interview with Vice President Dan Quayle, who assesses U.S. policy toward the country; a preview of tomorrow’s elections; and footage of rebels fighting against the government.
ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MURPHY’S LAW (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Murphy’s trial weekend with his daughter proves a trial for both of them–and also for Kimi (Maggie Han), who hadn’t planned on being along. Murphy: George Segal.
[The series is going on hiatus. The drama series “Men” premieres here next week.]
Monday, March 20th, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) LIVE-IN (CC)–Comedy
Debut: A working couple with two teenage sons and a new baby daughter hire help in the form of a young Australian woman named Lisa (Lisa Patrick) who, in the opener, attracts the undivided attention of elder son Danny (Chris Young). Ed: Hugh Maguire. Sarah: Kimberly Farr. Gator: Lightfield Lewis.
[“Newhart” airs two hours later.]
8:30PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) HEARTLAND (CC)
Debut: Tom and Casey Stafford (Kathleen Layman, Richard Gilliland) head a strong-willed Nebraska clan trying to hold on to the family farm. In the opener, the Staffords dodge an offer from an agribusiness rep and wind up in the cellar when a tornado hits. B.L.: Brian Keith. Johnny: Jason Kristopher. Gus: Devin Ratray. Kim: Daisy Keith.
[“Kate & Allie” airs two hours later.]
Wednesday, March 22nd, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) HARD TIME ON PLANET EARTH (CC)–Adventure; 60 min.
Jesse (Martin Kove) tries to mediate between two parents and their teenage daughter, who’s in a burglary ring run by two cops out to make a big score off her father.
10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) NIGHTINGALES–Drama; 60 min.
The morning after a raucous party at Nightingale House, Becky (Kristy Swanson) regrets her actions, and the nurses are reluctant to reveal to a hospitalized Allyson (Kim Ulrich) the news about Phillip. Meanwhile, Chris (Suzanne Pleshette) has her own regrets about a weekend getaway with her ex (Gil Gerard). Garrett: Barry Newman. Bridget: Susan Walters. Sam: Chelsea Field. Yolo: Roxann Biggs. Nurse Ritt: Fran Bennett.
Thursday, March 23rd, 1989
10PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) HEARTBEAT (CC); 60 min.
Joanne’s pregnant and can’t decide whom to tell; Eve (Laura Johnson) keeps her own secret as she’s considered for a position with a prestigious practice; Marilyn (Gail Strickland) helps a dying friend put her affairs in order; accommodating Alice (Julie Ronnie) reaches the end of her rope. Joanne: Kate Mulgrew.
All five articles in this issue were interesting, to one degree or another. That was a nice change of pace. I hadn’t heard of either of the short-lived CBS sitcoms that debuted during the week (Live-In and Heartland).
That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the March 25th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.