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.
April 1st, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 13, Issue #1879
On the Cover (clockwise from top left): Susan Ruttan, Susan Dey, Jill Eikenberry and Michele Greene, by Charles William Bush
This week’s issue includes seven articles:
- The Women of L.A. Law, by Andy Meisler
- Inside Cosby’s Closet, by Jane Marion
- This Week: The NCAA Finals, by John Feinstein
- Drugs on Television, by Joanmarie Kalter
- Guerilla TV in Panama, by Dave Marash
- Gary Coleman: From Child Star to Troubled Young Man, by Susan Littwin
- “The Case of the Hillside Stranglers” by Gordon Dillow
I enjoyed the article about the women of L.A. Law. It’s more than a collection of profiles about four actresses (Susan Ruttan, Michele Greene, Susan Dey, and Jill Eikenberry). They share how they researched their roles, how real lawyers have responded to their characters, and more. The article about drugs on television is interesting as well, exploring the difficulty TV shows face when trying to present an anti-drug message:
Producers say it’s hard to make a powerful point without being preachy, and harder still to train TV’s eye on drugs without unintentionally glamorizing them. They wrangle with network censors and struggle to reconcile the advice of treatment experts with the demands of good entertainment.
Poor Gary Coleman. The article about his troubled family life and financial issues is depressing, more so because unlike readers in 1989, I know how his life turned out.
I skipped the articles about Bill Cosby’s closet, the NCAA Finals, guerilla TV in Panama, and “The Case of the Hillside Stranglers.”
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 Pierce Brosnan in Thailand, an anxious Richard Lewis, Peter Scolari’s future on Newhart, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Susan Walters and new Loving actors Richard Steinmetz, Robert Tyler, and Todd McDurmont in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles Curt Gowdy’s trip to New Zealand and Billy Backer’s memories of calling his first NCAA Championship Game back in 1975.
Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Au Revoir Les Enfants ($79.98), Babette’s Feast ($79.98), Hellbound: Hellraiser II ($89.95), Love at Stake ($89.98), Mac and Me ($89.98). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises Siskel and Ebert, criticizes sitcoms that tackle serious social issues, laments age discrepancies on soap operas, and applauds Garrick Utley for rejuvenating NBC’s Meet the Press.
Merrill Panitt reviews Father Dowling Mysteries. “The plots are as full of holes as a bride’s pie crust,” he writes, “and the long, rubber arm of coincidence has never been stretched so far, but it’s all good clean fun.” He praises “the warmth and easy manner” of star Tom Bosley but criticizes the writing. Stories “follow a set pattern and create an impression of having been turned out by a computer.”
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 four In the News reports this week. The most interesting report describes how Meredith Baxter Birney used her “star clout” to get NBC to remove a taped segment from an episode of the network’s short-lived At Rona’s. Other reports include NBC News losing Connie Chung to CBS News, Brandon Stoddard stepping down as president of ABC Entertainment to run the company’s new production division, and NBC’s plan to strengthen its broadcast standards department.
On the Grapevine contains three reports this week, including one about Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy in Vienna and another about Jack Klugman and Tony Randall reuniting for an NBC telefilm reuniting The Odd Couple.
According to The Ratings Race, the first half of ABC’s The Women of Brewster Place easily topped its competition with a strong 23.5/36 rating/share. The second half did even better, earning a 24.5/38 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.]
Five of the seven letters respond to Dan Wakefield’s article about religion on television, published in the March 11th issue. Here are two:
I respect Wakefield’s opinion but disagree with his views. Had he written an article suggesting that we need more programs in prime time dealing with morality, I would have danced in the sky.
I want my religion in my house of worship and no place else. Occasional references to a person’s religion or observance of same are inevitable and quite acceptable on TV. But overall, prime-time TV has wisely chosen to stay clear of a very controversial subject.
See my review of the January 7th, 1989 issue for the Channel Directory to the Toledo-Lima Edition.
- [Cable Close Up] Movie: Biloxi Blues (HBO/Showtime/TMC, See Pay-TV Movie Guide for days and times)
- Women’s Golf: The Dinah Shore (NBC, Saturday at 4:30PM, Sunday at 3PM)
- Murder, She Wrote – “Truck Stop” (CBS, Sunday at 8PM)
- thirtysomething – “Michael Writes a Story” (ABC, Tuesday at 10PM)
- American Playhouse – “The Beginning of the Firm” (PBS, Wednesday at 9PM/10PM)
- Sesame Street 20th Anniversary (NBC, Friday at 8PM)
Do You Remember…?
Saturday, April 1st, 1989
9PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MAN CALLED HAWK (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
A tale of two violent brothers: one shows a jealous temper; the other is gunning for Hawk (Avery Brooks). Old Man: Moses Gunn.
10PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) WEST 57TH (CC); 60 min.
ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MEN (CC); 60 min.
Paul (Saul Rubinek) romances Steven’s old girlfriend, while her teenage daughter tempts Steven (Ted Wass); and Danny (Tom O’Brien) wears out his welcome at friends’ homes after his lover rejects his marriage proposal.
Monday, April 3rd, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) LIVE-IN (CC)–Comedy
Danny fixes Lisa (Lisa Patrick) up with his basketball coach (John Putch) in the hopes of getting additional playing time on the court. Danny: Chris Young. Gator: Lightfield Lewis. Ed: Hugh Maguire. Sarah: Kimberly Farr.
8:30PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) HEARTLAND (CC)
Johnny (Jason Kristofer) is singing “California Here I Come” as he plots a road trip to the coast, but Tom and Casey (Richard Gilliland, Kathleen Layman) have a different tune in mind. B.L.: Brian Keith. Gus: Devin Ratray.
Wednesday, April 5th, 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.
[Postponed from an earlier date.]
9:30PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (21) ROBERT GUILLAUME (CC)–Comedy
Debut: Robert Guillaume plays Edward Sawyer, a divorced marriage counselor who could use some kind of counseling himself in dealing with his very fatherly father (Hank Rolike) and his two teenagers (Kelsey Scott, Marc Joseph). In the opener, Edward tries to find a compatible secretary. Ann: Wendy Phillips.
10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) NIGHTINGALES–Drama; 60 min.
Bridget (Susan Walters) loses trust in herself after a good deed brings tragic consequences; Chris (Suzanne Pleshette) is none too happy over the relationship she observes developing between Paul and Dr. Chasen (Gil Gerard, Doran Clark); and the nurses contend with a lustful 13-year-old patient (Jason Marsden). Sam: Chelsea Field. Yolo: Roxann Biggs. Allyson: Kim Ulrich. Garrett: Barry Newman. Becky: Kristy Swanson.
Thursday, April 6th, 1989
10PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) HEARTBEAT (CC); 60 min.
Eve (Laura Johnson) thinks about starting a family, while Cory and Dixon (Lynn Whitfield, Robert Gossett) debate ending theirs; Joanne (Kate Mulgrew) treats a middle-aged woman with a difficult pregnancy. (Repeat)
Friday, April 7th, 1989
10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) UNSUB–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Westy (David Soul) lets a gut feeling dictate his actions as he probes the disappearance of two female followers of a charismatic bishop who runs a mission for the homeless. Part 1 of two. Ned: M. Emmet Walsh. Alan: Kent McCord. Norma: Andrea Mann. Jimmy: Richard Kind. Ann: Jennifer Hetrick.
The most interesting thing about this issue is the number of inserts stuck within the pages. There are at least five of them.
That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the April 8th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.