A Year in TV Guide: March 4th, 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 #9
March 4th, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 9, Issue #1875
Dayton Edition

On the Cover: Vanna White, by Mario Casilli

  • Scan of the front cover to the March 4th, 1989 issue of TV Guide magazine
    Cover to the March 4th, 1989 issue of TV Guide | Copyright 1989 Triangle Publications, Inc.

The Magazine


This week’s issue includes the following six articles:

  • Behind Vanna’s Seduction of America, by Susan Littin
  • Vanna’s Greatest Fear, by J. David Stem
  • William Styron Reflects on TV, by Roderick Townley
  • John Lennon: Good Guy–or as Bad as His Critics Say? by Chet Flippo
  • TV Moms and Dads to Learn From, by Dr. Joyce Brothers
  • Burt Reynolds of B.L. Stryker, by Pat Jordan

Sadly, the article about B.L. Stryker (a segment of The ABC Monday Mystery Movie) barely mentions B.L. Stryker. Instead, it focuses on how Reynolds squandered his popularity by refusing to take acting chances and derailed his career with a bunch of box office bombs. B.L. Stryker may be his last chance to turn things around, says writer Pat Jordan.

Novelist William Styron shares his thoughts on improving television, which range from no television during the morning hours to offering more documentaries and the occasional classic sitcom like Mary Tyler Moore.

The two articles about Vanna White may have been more interesting to readers in 1989, few of whom would’ve imagined Wheel of Fortune still being on the air in 2019. As far as I can tell, the article about John Lennon has nothing to do with television. But as a brief note points out, Warner Home Video released the documentary Imagine: John Lennon on VHS on March 8th, which makes the article little more than an advertisement.

Dr. Joyce Brothers offers her thoughts on parenting as seen on television, including Roseanne from Roseanne, Danny Tanner (and Uncle Jesse and Joey) from Full House, Suzie Long Foley from Almost Grown, Elliot Weston from thirtysomething, Clair and Cliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show, Tony Micelli from Who’s the Bos?, J.C. Wiatt from Baby Boom, and Marsha Owens from Mr. Belvedere.

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 Heather Locklear’s experience on Dynasty, a screenplay John Schneider plans to produce called Seven Ways to Sunday, Deborah Harmon’s love of golf, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Matt Crane and Ricki Lake in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles new Yankees second baseman Steve Sax.

Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Big Business ($89.95), Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam ($89.99), The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years ($89.95), Flipper’s Odyssey ($59.95), Horse Feathers ($19.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises CBS drama Wiseguy for handling the temporary loss of star Ken Wahl’s due to injury, criticizes the use of “time compression” to speed up movies, applauds a running joke on The Golden Girls about St. Olaf’s, and laments the “nightly screaming matches” on CNN’s Crossfire.


Merrill Panitt spends much of his review of CBS drama TV 101 explaining the obstacles facing the show before it debuted, like finding actors to portray high school students and having to face Growing Pains and Unsolved Mysteries. The competition is why the show moved to Saturdays from its original Wednesday time slot. Many of the characters are stereotypes and the plots aren’t much better, yet Panitt isn’t entirely negative. One episode that featured a predictable storyline also included videos of students answering questions about serious topics.

“TV 101 is light diversion, professionally written and slickly produced,” Panitt concludes. “It treats current teen problems and touches all the right notes of social consciousness. So far, though, it does not make us really care whether the journalism class overcomes all obstacles and gets its next show on the air.”

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 two In the News reports this week. CBS plans to air the March 8th episode of Equalizer despite protests (and a letter writing campaign) from the deaf community because a hearing actor (Cynthia Nixon) plays a deaf character. Over on NBC, a pair of flops (Tattinger’s and Baby Boom return in April. Tattinger’s is now a half-hour comedy, and NBC has ordered four episodes while the three new episodes of Baby Boom are funnier.

On the Grapevine contains just three reports this week. Growing Pains will address teen drinking with an upcoming episode in which Carol’s boyfriend Sandy (played by Matthew Perry) drinks and drives and, in the final moments of the episode, pays the price. Pat Benatar makes her acting debut in an episode of ABC Afterschool Special on April 20th. And Brian Robbins, who plays Eric on Head of the Class, will act alongside his father Floyd Levine in an upcoming episode.

According to The Ratings Race, Hunter (NBC), Unsolved Mysteries (NBC), and Murder, She Wrote (CBS) have done well during February sweeps whule China Beach (ABC), Day by Day (NBC), and The Hogan Family (NBC) are struggling. NBC’s made-for-TV movie Swimsuit earned a 17.3/27 Nielsen rating/share on February 19th, winning its time slot. Also, the debut of Gideon Oliver on The ABC Monday Mystery Movie ranked second in its time slot with a 14.0/20 rating/share.


[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 eight letters respond to TV Guide‘s article about Davy Crockett, published in the February 4th issue. Here are two:

Davy Crockett may not always have been a model of military disciple, but whether he was killed during the battle of the Alamo or executed afterward, he died as he lived, bravely and for lofty principles. It is for this reason that Crockett should be considered a hero for our time, rather than for the reasons Hutton states, which make Crockett look self-interested.
Phil G.
Floral Park, N.Y.

As a descendant of Davy and his brood, my grandmother was not a fan of hi either. She always said if the Alamo had had a back door, Davy would have found it…
Joan B.
North Smithfield, R.I.

Channel Directory

Here is the Channel Directory to the Dayton edition of TV Guide:

Scan of the Channel Directory for the Dayton Edition of TV Guide magazine.
The TV Guide Channel Directory for the Dayton Edition, published in the March 4th, 1989 issue.

The Listings

Close Ups

  • College Basketball: Georgetown at Syracuse (CBS, Sunday at 12 noon)
  • Movie: Day One (CBS, Sunday at 8PM)
  • [Cable Close Up] Movie: The Milagro Beanfield War (HBO/Showtime)
  • Movie: Those She Left Behind (NBC, Monday at 9PM)
  • Unauthorized Biography: Richard M. Nixon (WXIX/WTTE, Wednesday at 8PM)
  • John Wayne Standing Tall (PBS, Wednesday at 9:10PM)
  • All-Star Salute to Elizabeth Taylor (ABC, Thursday at 9PM)

Do You Remember…?

Saturday, March 4th, 1989
8PM CBS (7) (9) (10) DOLPHIN COVE (CC); 60 min.
With a monsoon on the way and the estate on generator power, Didge (Ernie Dingo) welcomes two stranded fishermen, unaware they’re escaped convicts. David: Trey Ames. Trent: Nick Tate. Johnno: Marshall Napier. Noddy: Noah Taylor. Larson: Frank Converse. Katie: Karron Graves. Allison: Virginia Hey.

9PM ABC (2) (6) (12) MAN CALLED HAWK (CC); 60 min.
Hawk’s cousin Jesse (Keith David) comes to his most capable kin for help when a jealous mobster puts out a contract on Jesse for romancing his girlfriend. Meanwhile, a retired hit man also seeks Hawk’s assistance.

CBS (7) (9) (10) TV 101 (CC); 60 min.
Chuck (Matthew LeBlanc) alienates Jamie (Lisa Trusel) as he tries to face up to her pregnancy, and she reveals the secret to Amanda (Teri Polo), while Chuck looks to Keegan (Sam Robards) for advice. Dr. Joyce Brothers plays herself. Part 2 of three.

10PM ABC (2) (6) (12) MURPHY’S LAW (CC); 60 min.
Murphy (George Segal) jumps at a missing-necklace case that may allow him to see the daughter he’s never met, but to get the case, he must also take claims involving a vicious dog and a burly boat captain. (Repeat)

NBC (4) (5) (22) UNSUB (CC); 60 min.
Personal problems dog Ann (Jennifer Hetrick) as the team investigates the fourth strangulation death of strong and healthy men who apparently did not struggle with their killer. Westy: David Soul. Ned: M. Emmet Walsh. Alan: Kent McCord. Tony: Joe Maruzzo.
[Another episode airs Friday.]

CBS (7) (9) (10) WEST 57TH (CC); 60 min.
Scheduled: A conversation with Jodie Foster, a Best Actress nominee for “The Accused.”

Monday, March 6th, 1989
10AM NBC (22) AT RONA’S–Interview
Debut: Interview Rona Barrett invites celebrities into her home for impromptu conversation. Scheduled guests in the first installment include Jill Eikenberry, Christine Lahti.

9PM ABC (2) (6) (12) B.L. STRYKER (CC)–Crime Drama; 2 hrs.
Stryker’s childhood playmate, now a Middle Eastern queen, is stalked by assassins after her husband, an arms supplier, is blown up aboard the royal yacht. Stryker: Burt Reynolds. Oz: Ossie Davis. McGee: Harry O. Smith. Oliver: Alfie Wise.

Tuesday, March 7th, 1989
10AM NBC (22) AT RONA’S–Interview
Scheduled: Pat Riley, Dyan Cannon. Rona Barrett hosts.

Wednesday, March 8th, 1989
10AM NBC (22) AT RONA’S–Interview
Scheduled: Lee Grant, Cicely Tyson.

8PM CBS (7) (9) (10) HARD TIME ON PLANET EARTH (CC)–Adventure; 60 min.
Realizing the necessity of having money, Control manipulates several ATMs to spew out a small fortune, which Jesse (Martin Kove) shares with a con man before seeing the error of his ways–and winding up in jail.

Thursday, March 9th, 1989
10AM NBC (22) AT RONA’S–Interview
Scheduled: Sara Gilbert (“Roseanne”), Mayim Bialik (“Beaches”), Tannis Vallely.

8PM ABC (2) (6) (12) FINE ROMANCE (CC)–Comedy-Drama; 60 min.
In Dublin, Michael (Christopher Cazenove) is at a loss when Louisa (Margaret Whitton) uses his paycheck to buy a horse with a partner, who suddenly disappears and then reappears the next day, only to be killed in front of her–apparently. Meanwhile, Louisa’s Aunt Grace tries to reunite the former couple. (Repeat)

10PM ABC (2) (12) HEARTBEAT (CC); 60 min.
Joanne (Kate Mulgrew) investigates a Soviet doctor friend she thinks is performing unnecessary hysterectomies; a feisty patient (Rennee Taylor) says she’s cured herself using psychic powers and even predicts Cory’s argument with Dixon (Robert Gossett). Cory: Lynn Whitfield. Leo: Ben Masters. Paul: Darrell Larson. Marilyn: Gail Strickland.

Friday, March 10th, 1989
10AM NBC (22) AT RONA’S–Interview
Scheduled: Fred Dryer, Geraldo Rivera.

NBC (4) (5) (22) UNSUB (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
The team differs on how to handle a 6-year-old boy who apparently slept through the latest in a series of murders of middle-class couples whose bodies are removed from the scene. Westy: David Soul. Jimmy: Richard Kind. Ann: Jennifer Hetrick. Tony: Joe Maruzzo.

Final Thoughts

I’m now into the third month of A Year in TV Guide: 1989. It’s probably time to admit there won’t be many articles examining the state of television or offering an in-depth look at a specific TV show. I had high hopes for the article about Burt Reynolds and his new show B.L. Stryker but was once again disappointed. It was more a profile of Reynolds than a behind-the-scenes look at B.L. Stryker. I decided to include listings for NBC’s new daytime interview show At Rona’s because I’d never heard of it and because it only lasted two weeks.

That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the March 11th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.

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3 Replies to “A Year in TV Guide: March 4th, 1989”

  1. Well, we all know now BL Stryker didn’t end Burt Reynolds’ career. He would star in Evening Shade and get an Oscar nod for Boogie Nights. That film certainly was a stretch for him!

  2. Vanna White sure was a looker when she was young. Gosh she sure has changed. It’s sad how time marches on and we all get old and wrinkly. The splendor of youth is such a fleeting time in our lives, yet the ravages of old age carry us into oblivion.

  3. I decided to include listings for NBC’s new daytime interview show At Rona’s because I’d never heard of it and because it only lasted two weeks.

    This was Rona’s last shot in the entertainment news business. The year before? she did a guess spot on “MOONLIGHTING” as a reporter in a combo fake documentary/clip -best of-show . After her show’s cancellation she quietly retired from all things Hollywood to provide housing and comfort for the elderly.

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