A Year in TV Guide: April 29th, 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 #17
April 29th, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 17, Issue #1883
Toledo-Lima Edition

On the Cover (clockwise from top): Robert Mitchum and Victoria Tennant, by Jim Globus; Brigitte Nielsen, by Sven Arnstein; Holly Hunter and Ali Grant, by Bruce Birmelin; and David Keith, by Tony Esparza.

  • Scan of the front cover to the April 29th, 1989 issue of TV Guide magazine
    Cover to the April 29th, 1989 issue of TV Guide | Copyright 1989 Triangle Publications, Inc.

The Magazine


This week’s issue includes seven articles:

  • Hot Sweeps Programming, by Michael A. Lipton
  • Making “Billy the Kid,” by Richard Turner
  • NBA Centers: No Longer the Center of Things, by Mike Littwin
  • James Woods: He’s Hot but Still Fighting Image Problems, by Neil Hickey
  • Victoria Tennant of War and Remembrance, by John Wiesman
  • “Guts & Glory”: Getting Ollie North Right? by Michael Leahy
  • Brigitte Nielsen in “Murder by Moonlight,” by Rhoda Koening

The cover article is, unfortunately, less an article and more a list of miniseries, made-for-TV movies, specials, reunions, cliffhangers, series finales, and sports–all airing on the networks, PBS, and select cable channels during May. ABC will air another 11.5 hours of War and Remembrance. Brigitte Nielsen will solve a murder mystery on the Moon in Murder by Moonlight on CBS. And NBC has The Trial of the Incredible Hulk and Bionic Reunion on NBC.

The profile of actress Victoria Tennant includes an interesting behind-the-scenes story about War and Remembrance. While filming in Washington, D.C., producer-director Dan Curtis ran into trouble when he was informed he could not take cameras into Lafayette Park. Eventually, Secretary of the Navy James Webb personally gave Curtis permission to film inside the park.

The most interesting part of the article about James Woods is probably the revelation he is obsessed with his Macintosh personal computer: “I feel naked without it.” The article about Brigitte Nielsen spends far too much time discussing her personal life. I want to know more about Murder by Moonlight.

I skipped the articles about NBA centers and the making of Billy the Kid


Robert MacKenzie reviews Columbo and he is not a fan. Peter Falk is “seems to be on autopilot” and the two-hour ABC Mystery Movie format is too long:

The best of the old Columbos were the 90-minute versions. They had more drive and pace, they were succinct, and they were fun That’s what’s really missing here, the sense that Falk and the other actors are having us on, enjoying the game. And an occasional witty line wouldn’t hurt. Or an interesting woman.

MacKenzie briefly recaps two Columbo installments, neither of which he particularly enjoyed.

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 Emma Samms helping Ray Abruzzo learn “bed-scene etiquette” on Dynasty, Dale Midkiff’s thoughts on the people of New Jersey, how Chris Young’s grandmother reacts to fan letters asking for naked pictures of the young actor, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Tricia Cast, Richard Steinmetz, and Grant Aleksander in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles the two worlds of the Kentucky Derby and Chi Chi Rodriguez’s thoughts on how aging effects golfers.

Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Clara’s Heart ($89.95), Eight Men Out ($89.98), Fresh Horses ($89.95), Sweet Hearts Dance ($89.95), Things Change ($89.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises MTV’s Remote Control, criticizes the new Gong Show, laments the “sensationalistic on-air ads” used by Generations and Entertainment Tonight, and applauds Robert Picardo for his roles on China Beach and The Wonder Years.

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, including one about the search for an actress to play Jackie Kennedy in an upcoming six-hour miniseries and another about ABC’s low chances of turning a profit on Moonlighting.

On the Grapevine contains four reports this week. Cindy Williams will return to television in Just Like Family, a new Disney Channel sitcom. Scott Bakula keeps the Quantum Leap wardrobe department busy, with new costumes required every week.

According to The Ratings Race, NBC won the official 1988-1989 TV season (September 19th, 1988 through April 16th, 1989) with a 15.9 Nielsen rating. ABC came in second with a 12.9 rating and CBS was third with a 12.6 rating. NBC was only down a fraction from last season but ABC was down six percent while CBS was down seven percent.


[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 the women of L.A. Law published in the April 1st issue. Here’s one:

Susan Dey complains that she’d like her character of Grace Van Owen to “be feminine, to flirt with the jury. But the producers won’t let me.” In terms of professional realities, the producers are correct. Female district attorneys have struggled long and hard to win equality and respect in the courtroom. The battle for full acceptance is far from over. Neither I nor any of my female colleagues would ever flirt with a jury in a trial. It would be degrading and unthinkable conduct. Don’t set us back 25 years, Susan. Explore Gracie’s private life, if you wish, but don’t change her courtroom behavior one bit. We like her just as she is–an accurate portrayal of her real-life counterparts.
Penny S.
Deputy District Attorney
Los Angeles

Channel Directory

See my review of the January 7th, 1989 issue for the Channel Directory to the Toledo-Lima Edition.

The Listings

Close Ups

  • Golf: Legends of Golf (NBC, Saturday at 4PM/Sunday at 4PM)
  • Movie: Guts and Glory: The Rise and Fall of Oliver North, Part 1 (CBS, Sunday at 9PM)
  • Movie: My Name is Bill W. (ABC, Sunday at 9PM)
  • Masterpiece Theatre, “The Charmer, Part 1” (PBS, Sunday at 9PM)
  • American Playhouse, “The Meeting” (PBS, Wednesday at 9PM)
  • Cheers, “A Lecher Visits” (NBC, Thursday at 9PM)
  • L.A. Law, “America, The Beautiful” (NBC, Thursday at 10PM)

Do You Remember…?

Saturday, April 29th, 1989
8PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) ONE OF THE BOYS (CC)–Comedy
Mike and Maria Conchita (Robert Clohessy, Maria Conchita Alonso) want to see if their first kiss might lead somewhere, which leads them to their first official date, which leads them into a holdup, a barroom brawl and indigestion.

9PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) JESSE HAWKES (CC); 60 min.
Risking the wrath of the FBI, Jesse and sons (Robert, Christian and Shane Conrad) search for a little girl who was kidnapped from a carousel nearly a year before.

ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MAN CALLED HAWK (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Hawk (Avery Brooks) uses muscle, not magic, to protect a Haitian historian from the voodoo shaman trying to unlock a secret from his psyche.

10PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) WEST 57TH (CC); 60 min.
Scheduled: A report on Leonard Peltier, a Sioux Indian serving two consecutive life sentences at Leavenworth Penitentiary for the 1976 murders of two FBI agents. The segment includes talks with Peltier; his lawyer William Kunstler who, according to producer James Stolz, feels Peltier did not get a fair trial.

Monday, May 1st, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) LIVE-IN (CC)–Comedy
Sarah (Kimberly Farr) fears that the family is coming to like Lisa (Lisa Patrick) more than they like her. Meanwhile, Danny (Chris Young) fears that Lisa is having an affair in New York.

8:30PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) HEARTLAND (CC)–Comedy
A piece of an airliner falls out of the sky and kills one of the Staffords’ sheep, and while Tom and Johnny (Richard Gilliland, Jason Kristofer) pause to consider their mortality, B.L. (Brian Keith) takes the airline for a ride.

NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (23) NEARLY DEPARTED (CC)–Comedy
Derek (Jay Lambert) doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance against the school bully, so Grant and Claire (Eric Idle, Caroline McWilliams) decide to pay a visit to the junior high.
[Last scheduled show. Next week, “The Hogan Family” returns here.]

Tuesday, May 2nd, 1989
9:30PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) HAVE FAITH (CC)–Comedy
Mac’s friend (John Ritter), a seminary dropout, is going through a midlife crisis of faith. Meanwhile, a woman (Mariam Byrd-Nethery) wants Father Gabe (Stephen Furst) to witness the miraculous light in her bathroom window.

Wednesday, May 3rd, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) HARD TIME ON PLANET EARTH (CC)–Adventure; 60 min.
Jesse (Martin Klove) takes the place of a male model whose blackmail demands on a designer come to include taking Jesse out of the picture.

9PM ABC (24) (6) (7D) (21) ROBERT GUILLAUME (CC)–Comedy
Edward (Robert Guillaume) has mixed feelings about Ann’s return to college, especially after meeting her preppy study buddies.
[“Coach” follows.]

9:30PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) NICK & HILLARY–Comedy
After Nick (Stephen Collins) offers unsolicited romantic advice, Sheila (Mary Beth Hurt) quickly goes from happy-and-in-love to miserable-and-dumped.

Friday, May 5th, 1989
8PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) JIM HENSON (CC); 60 min.
In an unusual episode, Rowlf the dog narrates an hourlong tale of a heroic underdog named Ace, who inherits The Doghouse tavern in Dog City. Ace isn’t in town long before he learns about Bugsy, a tough bulldog who expects him to pay protection money.

10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) DREAM STREET–Drama; 60 min.
Kara (Christine Moore) thinks she might have a shot at a real relationship when she encounters the author of her dreams at a coin laundry; Joni (Cecil Hoffmann) meets more of Joey’s family and finds their embrace slightly smothering; and Harry (Peter Frechette) arranges a drag race between Donny and Joey Camaro (Sam Rockwell, Thomas Calabro).

Final Thoughts

This was an underwhelming issue. The cover article could’ve been so much more than a list of miniseries and movies to watch in May. It would’ve been interesting to see TV Guide examine May sweeps and how the networks hope to draw viewers away from cable.

That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the May 6th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.

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6 Replies to “A Year in TV Guide: April 29th, 1989”

  1. Some of the Columbo mystery movies on NBC were also 2 hours long, and I’ve read in a book about Columbo the opinion that they were too long as well. The NBC MYSTERY MOVIE length of 90 minutes seemed to be perfect for what each movie had to accomplish.

    1. Yes, “Nick & Hillary” was a half-hour version of a hour long drama called “Tattingers” which featured Blythe Danner, now on “Will & Grace”! This version was cut after only 2 episodes, sorta sad! “Moonlighting” didn’t do too bad! Although it couldn’t go into syndication due to lack of episodes, ABC sold it to Lifetime and made a modest profit! This was actually a blessing in disguise because under Finsyn rules, ABC would have to sell syndication rights to another company! When Finsyn was repealed in the mid-90’s, Disney acquired “Moonlighting”!

  2. “A Lecher Visits” was the CHEERS Season 7 finale, and I still remember watching it & getting some good laughs from it. In this one, John McMartin played the “title” character, who kept hitting on Rebecca Howe despite the nearby presence of his wife, played by Joanna Barnes. Rebecca couldn’t get anyone to believe what was happening, even the wife. I also remember seeing LA LAW that night after seeing its Close-Up in TV Guide, which had a picture of Benny Stolwicz with a love interest of his.

  3. Jim Henson would have been The Jim Henson Hour with the Dog City episode that was the basis for the Dog City animated series.

    I don’t recall Nearly Departed running more than a single episode. It could be that our local affiliate dropped it after that episode or that I just never caught any of the other episodes. The show is probably remembered for the bit about him peeking in the shower. I seem to recall thinking it was based on a British show but that may have only been because Eric Idol was in it.

  4. The Jim Henson Hour brought in the worst ratings of any Big Three network show during the 1988-89 season.
    The ratings for the show went like this:
    * Friday April 14, 1989 at 8 pm – 7.7/14
    * Friday April 21, 1989 at 8 pm – 6.2/13
    * Friday April 28, 1989 at 8 pm – 5.8/11
    * Friday May 5, 1989 at 8 pm – 5.6/10
    * Sunday May 14, 1989 at 7 pm – 5.2/11
    * Sunday July 9, 1989 at 7 pm – 4.6/10
    * Sunday July 16, 1989 at 7 pm – 3.9/8
    * Sunday July 23, 1989 at 7 pm – 4.0/9
    * Sunday July 30, 1989 at 7 pm – 4.6/10
    So on average, TJHH only brought in a 5.29 household rating, which equated to only 4.78 million households.

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