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 8th, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 14, Issue #1880
On the Cover (clockwise from top left): Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd; Alex Trebek; Olivia D’Abo, Alley Mills, Dan Lauria, Fred Savage and Jason Hervey; and Mike Wallace
This week’s issue includes six articles:
- A Busy Person’s Guide to TV, by Robert MacKenzie
- Dionne Warwick Co-Hosts the Soul Train Music Awards, by J. David Stem
- Baseball ’89: Our Forecaster Picks the Winners, by Loren Feldman
- Dear John–Some Advice for the Prime-Time Divorce, by Herbert Gold
- Marlee Matlin in “Bridge to Silence” by Michael Leahy
- Is Cable Now Worth the Money? by David Handler
There are two good articles in this issue. David Handler examines the state of cable TV (all 34 channels!) to discover whether paying for cable is worth it. Even with just 34 channels, he only focuses on the “major entertainment” channels: HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, The Disney Channel, MTV, A&E Cable Network, and USA Netwrk.
HBO and Showtime both have their strengths and weaknesses. HBO offers solid made-for-TV movies, comedy specials, and documentaries. Its original series are “to put it plainly, crap.” Showtime is home to It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, the funniest sitcom on television, but its comedy specials and made-for-TV movies are disappointing. Cinemax and The Movie Channel may not be worth paying for if you’re already paying for HBO and Showtime. Handler very briefly covers TBS, TNT, Nick at Nite, and CBS Family Channel as well.
Robert MacKenzie’s article shows viewers how to “squeeze in 17 good hours of viewing per week” and lists 11 different programs. Included are three scripted, network prime time TV shows: L.A. Law, The Wonder Years, and Moonlighting. Two PBS shows are also on the list: Wall $treet Week and Nature. He also suggests watching Jeopardy!, World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, and local news every weeknight. Rounding out the list are This Week with David Brinkley, Sunday Morning, and 60 Minutes.
The article about Marlee Matlin is interesting. I had no idea she swore so much in 1989. I skipped the articles about Dionne Warwick, baseball, and Dear John (which I’ve never seen).
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 Stacy Keach’s thoughts on TV violence, Raymond Burr’s greenhouse, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Joan Pringle, Kathleen Widdoes, and Kurt Robin McKinney in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles Robbie Knievel’s goal of accomplishing a stunt (leaping the fountains at Caesars Palace) that his father, Evel Knievel, failed to complete.
Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Mystic Pizza ($89.95), Stealing Home ($89.95), Tougher Than Leather ($89.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises the Frasier-Lilith relationship on Cheers, applauds A&E Network’s As It Happened series, criticizes syndicated War of the Worlds for too much violence, and laments the use of body doubles on TV.
Merrill Panitt reviews Nightingales, declaring in the very first sentence the show “may be harmful to your health.” It’s a good thing the doctors are good at their jobs, he suggests, because the nurses aren’t able to concentrate on their jobs. “For some reason,” Panitt continues, “surely not its originality or dramatic merit, the show does well enough in the ratings. Could it possibly be because the shapely students spend so much time dressing and undressing and bouncing through aerobic exercises in skimpy outfits? Naah.”
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.]
Five of the ten letters respond to Stephen Birmingham’s article in the March 11th issue. Here are two:
Murphy Brown and thirtysomething are great shows, but anyone who’s really in knows the show to watch is Wiseguy.
Diana L. L.
Birmingham says “it is more in to admire the old Star Trek reruns than to follow the tacky new episodes” of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Only if you’re over the hill or an old Trekkie. You might say I am of “the next generation,” having been born in 1965. The old Star Trek reruns are a combination of laughable special effects and a less than realistic captain. The new show is far superior.
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 look at ABC’s new sitcom Anything but Love, which recently lost its creator and executive producer (and head writer) Wendy Kout, plus two other writers, due to friction with stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Richard Lewis. Also, a recent poll found that 47% of Americans prefer cable for entertainment programs compared to 27% who prefer broadcast television.
On the Grapevine contains four reports this week. First Lady Barbara Bush has taped a public service announcement about combating illiteracy, to air at the end of an episode of Kate & Allie. Also, ABC has renewed thirtysomething for another season.
According to The Ratings Race, NBC’s broadcast of the 1960 Peter Pan special won its time slot on Friday, March 24th with a 16.1/27 rating/share. Also, shows like Dynasty, Beauty and the Beast, Hooperman, and Falcon Crest are all “on the fence” for next season.
See my review of the January 7th, 1989 issue for the Channel Directory to the Toledo-Lima Edition.
- Wonderworks (WBGU, Saturday at 8PM/WOSU, Sunday at 7PM)
- The Masters (CBS, Saturday at 3:30PM and Sunday at 4PM)
- Movie: Bridge to Silence (CBS, Sunday at 9PM)
- Academy of Country Music Awards (NBC, Monday at 9PM)
- Schoolbreak Special – “A Matter of Conscience” (CBS, Tuesday at 4PM)
- Minneapolis Sound (PBS, Wednesday at 10PM)
- [Cable Close Up] NBA Basketball: Piston at Knicks (TBS, Friday at 8:05PM)
Do You Remember…?
Saturday, April 8th, 1989
9PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MAN CALLED HAWK (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Hawk (Avery Brooks) goes a few rounds with a determined cop (Jay O. Sanders) when a vengeful ex-con fingers him for the murder of a policeman. Old Man: Moses Gunn. (Repeat)
10PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MEN (CC); 60 min.
Danny (Tom O’Brien) asks for help in preparing a eulogy for Thomas’s memorial service; Paul (Saul Rubinek) turns up some startling facts while researching an investigative piece for the newspaper; and Steven (Ted Wass) weighs his biological options in hopes of becoming a father. Charlie: Ving Rhames.
Monday, April 10th, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) LIVE-IN (CC)–Comedy
Peter (David Moscow) has eyes for his clarinet partner (Mimi Rose), who has eyes for Danny (Chris Young), who thinks eying Peter’s partner will raise a jealous eyebrow on Lisa (Lisa Patrick), who keeps a wary eye on the whole affair. Gator: Lightfield Lewis.
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. B.L.: Brian Keith. Gus: Devin Ratray. Kim: Daisy Keith.
NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (23) NEARLY DEPARTED (CC)–Comedy
Debut: Eric Idle plays Grant Pritchard, a spirited spirit who wants to haunt the ill-mannered Dooley family out of his house. In the opener, Grant and his wife (Caroline McWilliams) have a hard time adjusting to the afterlife, but they discover that they can communicate with the Dooleys’ grandfather(Henderson Forsythe). Mike Dooley: Stuart Pankin. Liz: Wendy Schaal. Derek: Jay Lambert. Clerk: Ja’net DuBois. Josh: Jason Zahler. Perkins: Hank Garrett. Girl: Robina Ritchie.
9PM ABC (24) (6) (7D) (21) GIDEON OLIVER (CC)–Crime Drama
Gideon (Louis Gossett Jr.) searches for an archaeologist who was “disappeared” while searching for gold artifacts in a Latin American nation ruled by a tyrant and torn by civil war.
Wednesday, April 12th, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) HARD TIME ON PLANET EARTH (CC)–Adventure; 60 min.
Jesse’s win on “The All New Dating Game” pairs him with a woman already involved with a man who dates women in order to burglarize their apartments. Game-show host Jeff MacGregor plays himself. Jesse: Martin Kove.
9:30PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) ROBERT GUILLAUME (CC)–Comedy
Edward (Robert Guillaume) would like to date Ann (Wendy Phillips) but she still seems to be emotionally tied to her ex (Frederick Coffin). Henry: Hank Rolike. Pamela: Kelsey Scott. Donna: Josephine Premice.
10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) NIGHTINGALES–Drama; 60 min.
A TV news crew shooting a documentary on student nurses disrupts activities at Wilshire Community Hospital; Sam (Chelsea Field) reacts to rumors about Megan’s pediatrician; and Chris (Suzanne Pleshette) warns Dr. Chasen (Doran Clark) not to interfere in her personal life. Megan: Taylor Fry. Becky: Kristy Swanson. Allyson: Kim Ulrich. Garrett: Barry Newman. Nurse Ritt: Fran Bennett. Bridget: Susan Walters. Yolo: Roxann Biggs.
Thursday, April 13th, 1989
9:30PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) DREAM TEAM (CC)–Drama; 90 min.
Debut: Blue-collar life in Hoboken, N.J., flavors this series, which interweaves stories of working-class men and women. In the opener, Denis Debeau (Dale Midkiff) finds himself at odds with his irresponsible brother Harry (Peter Frechette) when their father (Tom Signorelli) suffers a stroke; mob-connected Joey Coltrera (Thomas Calabro) proposes to his Jewish girlfriend (Cecil Hoffmann); and a school teacher (Jo Anderson) piques Denis’s interest. Lillian: Debra Mooney. Eric: David Barry Gray. Anthony Coltrera: Victor Argo. Fundora: Paul Calderon. Cesar: Charles Brown.
Friday, April 14th, 1989
8PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) JIM HENSON (CC); 60 min.
Debut: Henson emcees a variety hour that blends skits, songs, and a “storytellers” segment narrated by John Hurt. In the opener, comedian Louie Anderson appears in a skit introduced by Kermit T. Frog, who’s struggling to hold down the fort at “Muppet Central,” where a bank of video monitors displays Muppet programming. Later, Hurt tells the story of “The Heartless Giant,” a medieval tale about a boy prince (Elliot Spiers) who offers friendship to a beastly bully (Frederick Warder). Prince One: Richard Lintern. Prince Two: Simon Adams. Storyteller Dog: Brian Henson. Queen: Gemma Jones. Bootsie: Jennifer Lee. Brad: Andrew Wilson.
10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) UNSUB–Crime Drama; 60 min.
[Last scheduled show.]
Two very solid articles? This may be the best issue from 1989 I’ve reviewed yet.
That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the April 15th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.