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 25th, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 12, Issue #1878
On the Cover (top to bottom): Jodie Foster, by Photofest; Melanie Griffith, by Andy Schwartz/Photofest; Gene Hackman, by David Appleby; and Dustin Hoffman, by Stephen Vaughan.
This week’s issue includes five articles:
- What TV Doesn’t Tell You About the Oscars, by Marilyn Beck
- TV’s Ideal Men: The Good Guys–and the Bad, by Harry Stein
- NBA Stars Are the Best Athletes in Pro Sports, by Richard Aregood
- Drew Barrymore in “15 and Getting Straight” by Elaine Warren
- Book Bonus: Sammy Davis, Jr. and the Trailblazing Years, by Sammy Davis Jr. and Jane and Burt Boyar
Harry Stein’s article about TV’s ideal men is the best of a weak batch of articles this week, mostly because it references television shows dating back to the 1950s. Yet like so many TV Guide articles, it’s meaningless fluff. It starts off with a look at TV heroes of the 1950s and early 1960s like Matt Dillon and Joe Friday. Next come the less macho heroes of the late 1960s like Napoleon Solo and Maxwell Smart. The 1970s brought in sensitive men like Alan Alda, “who probably would’ve had trouble getting dates back on 77 Sunset Strip.” Most men, Stein contends, aren’t that emotionally open.
In short, we in this culture find ourselves these days pretty confused about what makes for an appealing man. In what other era could Spuds MacKenzie (who’s not even actually male, for heaven’s sake) find himself a sex symbol? Or the Beast? “Vincent is exactly what a man should be,” as one woman I know recently observed of CBS’s hairy hero, “–kind, sensitive, strong. The only trouble is how to explain to your mother that he lives in the sewer.”
He then runs through a list of male characters on current TV shows, ranging from Hunter and MacGyver to Sam Malone (Cheers) and David Addison Moonlighting) to Michael Steadman (thirtysomething) and Michael Kuzak (L.A. Law). The “new male ideal” may be Stuart Markowitz of L.A. Law, Stein concludes. “In brief, he is a man at once every bit as worthy of respect as the heroes of old and far more accessible-the guy next door as role model.”
The article about the Oscars includes some interesting behind-the-scenes tales from previous broadcasts. The article about Drew Barrymore is depressing but was probably even more depressing to readers in 1989 who didn’t know how her life would turn out. I didn’t read the article about NBA players or the excerpt from Why Me? The Sammy Davis Jr. Story.
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 Jamie Lee Curtis and her happy yet flawed life, Richard Mulligan’s love for his dead dog, Stephen Furst’s previous job delivering pizzas, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Jim Wicek, Pamela Long, and Edie Lehmann in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles Tom Lasorda’s diet and the secret to success according to ABC bowling announcer Chris Schenkel.
Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Big ($89.98), The Chocolate War ($89.98), Heart of a Champion: The Ray Mancini Story ($59.98), Platoon Leader ($89.95), Track 29 ($89.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises Full House for improving this season, criticizes pop singers for guest starring on prime time shows, laments Moonlighting‘s “herky-jerky” season, and applauds WBBM-TV in Chicago for running a prenatal health care public service campaign.
Merrill Panitt reviews Mission: Impossible, the show with “the least believable plots and dialogue on television.” He spends the bulk of the review explaining the concept, characters, and plots. “Don’t even try to believe Mission: Impossible,” Pannitt concludes. “That would take the fun out of the fantastic things Jim and his people do–with straight faces. It’s all pretty mechanical and the baddies are played so broadly that they become caricatures, but who cares? This is pure escapism.”
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 long preview of the upcoming Academy Awards, with the expected predictions. The second is about Today weatherman Willard Scott, who expects to be fired because of his feud with Bryant Gumbel.
On the Grapevine contains four reports this week. Jesse Jackson will guest star in an upcoming episode of A Different World, Malcolm-Jamal Warner will guest star in the season finale of Tour of Duty, Barbara Walters insists she has trouble getting people to agree to an interview, and Joe Don Baker will temporarily replace Carroll O’Connor on In the Heat of the Night while O’Connor recovers from surgery.
According to The Ratings Race, changes to ABC’s Tuesday lineup, which included shelving Moonlighting, shifting The Wonder Years from Wednesday, and introducing new sitcom called Anything but Love, worked wonders for the network. Also, the national debut of Cops earned a 7.5/13 rating/share, the best result ever for a Saturday program on FOX.
[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.]
One of the seven letters responds to poor ratings for China Beach compared to Nightingales, as reported in March 4th issue:
I find it appalling, though not surprising, that ratings are higher for the NBC series Nightingales than they are for ABC’s China Beach [“The Ratings Race,” March 4]. It is unfortunate that the public would rather see nurses portrayed as sexy, unthinking bimbos than as the caring professionals that you see on China Beach. If you’ve ever been in the hospital, you’ll know which is the more accurate portrayal!
See my review of the January 7th, 1989 issue for the Channel Directory to the Toledo-Lima Edition.
- Bob Hope’s Easter Vacation in the Bahamas (NBC, Saturday at 8PM)
- Learning in America (PBS, Monday at 9PM)
- Schoolbreak Special: 15 and Getting Straight (CBS, Tuesday at 4PM)
- Barbara Walters Special (ABC, Wednesday at 8PM)
- Oscar Awards (ABC, Wednesday at 9PM)
Do You Remember…?
Saturday, March 25th, 1989
9PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) TV 101 (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
Keegan’s partner from his gonzo-journalism days returns to recruit him for an exclusive story, but his old friend’s questionable journalistic methods fill Keegan (Sam Robards) with fear and loathing. Sherman: Andrew Cassese. Emilie: Brynn Thayer.
9PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MAN CALLED HAWK (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Hawk (Avery Brooks) repeatedly crosses paths with a determined reporter (Sharon Washington) as they walk the same mean streets in tracking the source of some strychnine-laced heroin.
10PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) WEST 57TH (CC)–Newsmagazine; 60 min.
Scheduled: An interview with Oscar nominee Edward James Olmos (“Stand and Deliver”); a report on a crime-ridden public-housing development in Chicago; a segment on “phone confession” lines; and a feature on “the oddities of the Oscars.”
ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MEN (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
Debut: A series about four Baltimore men, bound by a weekly poker game and a friendship formed in high school: surgeon Steven Ratajkowski (Ted Wass), criminal lawyer Charlie Hazard (Ving Rhames), reporter Paul Armas (Saul Rubinek) and cop Danny McDaniel (Tom O’Brien). In the opener, the pals are devastated by the death of one of the friend [sic] who kept them together through the years. Margaret Hazard: Candy Ann Brown.
Monday, March 27th, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) LIVE-IN (CC)–Comedy
Newly licensed driver Danny (Chris Young) anticipates the exclusive use of the family’s new second car, but it’s not the sports car he anticipated, and it’s not just for him. Lisa: Lisa Patrick. Rhonda: Katrina Caspary. Ed: Hugh Maguire. Sarah: Kimberly Farr.
8:30PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) HEARTLAND (CC)
B.L. and Tom (Brian Keith, Richard Gilliland) go at each other like bulls, and B.L. bolts from the house. Meanwhile, Johnny (Jason Kristofer) schemes to go skinny-dipping. Casey: Kathleen Layman. Marjorie: Diane Ladd.
9:00PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (21) B.L. STRYKER (CC)–Crime Drama; 2 hrs.
Stryker’s new secretary (Dana Kaminski) draws him into a complex case involving her jailed brother, her brother’s jailed lover, a murder, and the murder victim’s fiance, a wealthy detective buff eager to help B.L. (Burt Reynolds) find the killer. Oz: Ossie Davis.
Wednesday, March 29th, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) HARD TIME ON PLANET EARTH (CC)–Adventure; 60 min.
Another alien takes the form of a beautiful woman in its search for Jesse (Martin Kove), contributing to Jesse’s confusion about the relationships between males and females.
10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) NIGHTINGALES–Drama; 60 min.
Allyson (Kim Ulrich) is hesitant to report the doctor she’s dating after a patient almost dies because of his negligence; Becky (Kristy Swanson) is attacked by a mugger; and Chris (Suzanne Pleshette) goes apartment hunting. Garrett: Barry Newman. Yoyo: Roxann Biggs. Bridget: Susan Walters. Sam: Chelsea Field. Nurse Ritt: Fran Bennett. (Repeat)
Thursday, March 30th, 1989
10PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) HEARTBEAT (CC); 60 min.
While the doctors anxiously await a visit from an insurance inspector, Cory (Lynn Whitfield) does a little detective work when a cop comes to her with diagnosed pain; Joanne (Kate Mulgrew) dreads her inevitable surprise birthday party; Paul (Darrell Larson) feels the bite when he falls behind in paying a loan shark. Leo: Ben Masters. Eve: Laura Johnson.
Friday, March 31st, 1989
10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) UNSUB–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Tony (Joe Maruzzo) thinks his days with the unit are numbered when Wes (David Soul) keeps him in town for a funding hearing while sending Ann (Jennifer Hetrick) to work with Ned (M. Emmet Walsh), who brings a peculiar attitude to investigating a pyromaniac. Alan: Kent McCord. Norma: Andrea Mann. Jimmy: Richard Kind.
After a solid batch of articles in the previous issue, we’re back to normal this week. None of the articles are particularly interesting. At least the ad for the series premiere of Quantum Leap is nice to look at.
That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the April 1st, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.