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 22nd, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 16, Issue #1882
On the Cover: Kirk Cameron and Jason Bateman, by Tony Costa
This week’s issue includes eight articles:
- Teen Idols Kirk Cameron and Jason Bateman, by Susan Littwin
- The Verdict on Judge Wapner, by Judge Abner J. Mikva
- Farrah Fawcett is 42…and a Little Out of Sync, by Michael Leahy
- Background: Margaret Bourke-White, by Erskine Caldwell
- Mr. T of T and T, by Lawrence Eisenberg
- The Story of Nazi Hunter Simon Wiesenthal, by Lawrence Eisenberg
- The Boys Sent Engagement Rings, by Annette Funicello
- Kristian Alfonso of Falcon Crest, by Bill Davidson
The cover article seems quaint. Long before social media and messaging apps, young girls fell in love with the teenage actors they watched on TV and read about in fan magazines. According to UCLA psychologist Dr. Irene Goldenberg, “These young girls aren’t ready for sex on a personal or individual basis. They’re exposed to it on television and in the movies, and they want to deal with it without risk… It’s a fantasy way of having a boyfriend.”
Speaking of sex, the article about Farrah Fawcett insists she’s happy to be 42. “A part of Farah Fawcett has been looking forward to this day,” Michael Leahy writes, “when things as ephemeral as youth and a sex kitten’s feral beauty could not longer be regarded by Hollywood’s mavens as her stock in trade.” She’s sick of being asked to play characters in their youth and later in life. She wants to portray characters closer to her actual age.
The article about Mr. T mentions his syndicated TV series T and T just once. His gold chains come up several times.
Judge Abner J. Mikva’s thoughts on The People’s Court are fascinating. He’s not a fan:
I endured about a dozen shows. Most were even more boring than real-life trials of fender benders, landlord-tenant arguments and workplace disputes. So I suppose that The People’s Court could claim some points for realism.
But it is precisely this veneer of “realism” that troubles me most about the show. The People’s Court offers itself up as a slice of real law. It has real people with real controversies. It has a real judge–or at least a real former judge, sporting the real trappings of a judge: a high bench and a black robe.
But that’s where the similarities end. As soon as Judge Wapner brings “law” into his courtroom, we are transported to legal never-never land. Judge Wapner prepares his viewers for a knowledgeable discourse on American law about as much as the doctors on M*A*S*H prepared their audience to perform surgery.
The “article” by Annette Funicello, timed to coincide with the debut of The All-New Mickey Mouse Club on The Disney Channel, runs for just two brief paragraphs.
I skipped the articles about Margaret Bourke-White (a reprint of an article from 1977), Simon Wiesenthal, and Kristian Alfonso.
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 how much Linda Evans loves cooking, Carroll O’Connor’s showdown with Brandon Tartikoff and MGM/UA-TV president David Gerber after the first season of In the Heat of the Night, Heather Locklear’s reaction to fans asking her to take a picture of them with her husband Tommy Lee, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Boomer Esiason, Judith Borne, and Ted Danson in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles Ralph Miller’s retirement and how ESPN anchors Chris Berman and Tom Jackson are preparing for the NFL draft.
Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Child’s Play ($89.95), The Incredible Hulk Returns ($59.95), Crossing Delancey ($89.95), Memories of Me ($89.98), Running on Empty ($89.95), Tucker (Not Available). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers criticizes Brent Musburger for his basketball coverage on CBS, praises NBC’s Generations “for finally introducing a black core family to daytime TV,” laments the “mixed messages” sent out by Mattel’s Animal Lovin’ Barbie commercials, and applauds Richard Lewis for moving from stand-up to sitcom on Anything But Love.
Merrill Panitt spends much of his review of ABC’s A Man Called Hawk explaining the premise. He does, eventually, give his opinion about the show, praising the camera work and Avery Brooks for his “colorful interpretation” of the lead character. But he also criticizes the scripts:
As for the stories, we’ve been fed so many crime shows by the networks that nothing the writers come up with seems original anymore. Despite their efforts to balance Hawk’s propensity for violence by showing his more thoughtful and charitable side, he remains pretty much one-dimensional. While we may enjoy the way Brooks portrays Hawk, and watching the character swagger, search and shoot, if you’ve seen one episode, you’ve seen ’em all.
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.]
Two of the six letters respond to an article about TV’s “ideal man” published in the March 25th issue of TV Guide. Here they are:
Comparing MacGyver to the “Shoot first, question later” men like the Equalizer, Hunter and Wiseguy is a bit like comparing Benji to a pit bull. (Or Sir Alec Guinness to Pee-Wee Herman.) For the record, the character hates guns–a fact that makes the show so enjoyable to watch [“TV’s Ideal Men? The Good Guys, the Bad Guys,” March 25].
Huntington Beach, Cal.
Sensitive and caring, MacGyver loathes violence … and he eats tofu. He’s just like my husband (except MacGyver is handy at fixing things)!
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. One is a lengthy behind-the-scenes breakdown of the Cheers season finale that wasn’t, after the writers decided not to have Sam Malone marry Rebecca Howe’s sister. Also, Tom Brokaw is angry about leaks in the NBC News Division and Disney plans to release Bambi on video.
On the Grapevine contains four reports this week. Jean Smart is pregnant, so her character on Designing Women will get pregnant, too. And David Hasselhoff almost turned down the starring role in an upcoming NBC pilot called “Baywatch: Panic at Malibu Pier.”
According to The Ratings Race, prime time soaps Dallas, Falcon Crest, and Knots Landing were among the “most heavily recorded” TV shows during the first quarter of 1989, along with Roseanne, The Wonder Years, thirtysomething, and L.A. Law. The April 8th episode of ABC’s Men earned a 4.1/8 Nielsen rating/share, making it the lowest-rated network show that week.
See my review of the January 7th, 1989 issue for the Channel Directory to the Toledo-Lima Edition.
- Bowling: The Tournament of Champions (ABC, Saturday at 3PM)
- [Cable Close Up] NFL Draft (ESPN, Sunday at 12 noon)
- High-School Basketball All-Star Game (ABC, Sunday at 1:30PM)
- [Cable Close Up] Movie – Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wisenthal Story (HBO, Sunday at 8PM)
- Movie: The Littlest Victims (CBS, Sunday at 9PM)
- See Dick & Jane Lie, Cheat & Steal (WPTA, Monday at 8PM/WTTE, Monday at 10PM/WTVG, Thursday at 7PM)
- In the Heat of the Night, “Fifteen Forever” (NBC, Tuesday at 9PM)
- NBC News Special, “Black Athletes–Fact and Fiction” (NBC, Tuesday at 10PM)
- [Cable Close Up] Movie: The Forgotten (USA, Wednesday at 9PM)
- Richard Tucker Opera Gala (PBS, Wednesday at 10PM)
- A Different World, “Citizen Wayne” (NBC, Thursday at 8:30PM)
- Koppel Report, “Divided City” (ABC, Thursday at 10PM)
Do You Remember…?
Saturday, April 22nd, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) JESSE HAWKS; 2 hrs.
Debut: “High Mountain Rangers” Jesse, Matt and Cody Hawkes (Robert, Christian and Shane Conrad) scale the hills of San Francisco after Matt is injured in a drug raid, and Jesse Hunts for the traffickers responsible.
8:30PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) ONE OF THE BOYS (CC)–Comedy
Mike and Maria Conchita (Robert Clohessy, Maria Conchita Alonso) end up with less than their ideal escorts when Mike fails to pick up on Maria Conchita’s hints about going together to a banquet.
9PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MAN CALLED HAWK (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Hawk (Avery Brooks) provides protection and emotional support to a deaf Gallaudet University student (William Byrd) who witnessed a murder. (Repeat)
10PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) WEST 57TH (CC)–Newsmagazine; 60 min.
Scheduled: A report on efforts in several Florida counties to have women who give birth to crack-addicted babies prosecuted for child abuse; a follow-up to a November 1988 segment on problems between some United Airlines pilots who participated in a 1985 strike and colleagues who crossed the picket lines.
ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MEN (CC); 60 min.
Poker pal Harvey has been playing his personal life close to the vest, and his subsequent disappearance has the men closely examining their relationships with the women in their lives.
Monday, April 24th, 1989
8:30PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) HEARTLAND (CC)–Comedy
Matters of life and death occupy the Stafford household when Casey (Kathleen Layman) thinks she’s pregnant and Johnny (Jason Kristopher) gears up to bag his first deer.
[Postponed from an earlier date.]
NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (23) NEARLY DEPARTED (CC)–Comedy
Claire (Caroline McWilliams) waits till death to part with Grant (Eric Idle) who, she discovers, was still married to his first wife on their wedding day.
9PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) GIDEON OLIVER (CC)–Crime Drama
In the Caribbean, Oliver (Louis Gossett Jr.) champions a naive youth accused of murder after being swept into a caldron of racism, drugs, money and power.
Tuesday, April 25th, 1989
9:30PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) HAVE FAITH (CC)–Comedy
Mac (Joel Higgins) is repeatedly called to perform last rites for a lonely nursing-home resident (Eric Christmas); Father Gabe (Stephen Furst) is on the hot seat when an arsonist (Ian Patrick Williams) confesses.
Wednesday, April 26th, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) HARD TIME ON PLANET EARTH (CC)–Adventure; 60 min.
Jesse (Martin Kove) brings hope to a wrestling promoter trying to keep her area out of the hands of a real-estate developer. The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling appear as themselves.
9PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) ROBERT GUILLAUME (CC)–Comedy
Having more time than tasks to fill it, Henry (Hank Rolike) secretly starts laying shrink to Edward’s patients–and is no shrinking violet in the role.
9:30PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) NICK & HILLARY–Comedy
Spin (Chris Elliot), speaking out for the silent minority, asks for a raise for Marti (Anna Levine), but since Nick and Hillary (Stephen Collins, Blythe Danner) can’t agree on anything, it falls to Sid (Jerry Stiller) to decide the issue. Paul Shaffer has a cameo.
10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (23) NIGHTINGALES–Drama; 60 min.
[Last scheduled show. “Quantum Leap” moves here beginning next week.]
Friday, April 28th, 1989
8PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) JIM HENSON (CC); 60 min.
The music group the Nylons performs “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” for Kermit and the gang, and Fozzie Bear visits Jane Pauley and Willard Scott on “Today.” Also: John Hurt narrates “The Soldier and Death,” a tale about a hero (John Peck) who captures the Grim Reaper (Alistair Fullarton) in his magic sack.
10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) DREAM STREET–Drama; 60 min.
Joey (Thomas Calabaro) is forced to collect the protection money from Deni (Dale Midkiff), who refuses to pay up; and Eric (David Barry Gray) is having a hard time in English class, but Joann (Cara Buono) is there to ease his pain.
I enjoyed Judge Abner J. Mikva’s article criticizing The People’s Court and hope to see more articles like it in future issues.
That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the April 29th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.