A Year in TV Guide: June 3rd, 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 #22
June 3rd, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 22, Issue #1888
Toledo-Lima Edition

On the Cover: Oprah Winfrey, by Mario Casilli

  • Scan of the front cover to the June 3rd, 1989 issue of TV Guide magazine
    Cover to the June 3rd, 1989 issue of TV Guide | Copyright 1989 Triangle Publications, Inc.

The Magazine


This week’s issue includes six articles:

  • Oprah’s Private Life: The Inside Story, by Lisa DePaulo
  • Mind Games in the NBA, by Pam King
  • Judd Hirsch of Dear John, by Carol A. Crotta
  • How Television’s Stories Help Us, by Robert Coles
  • The Scoop on Rolf Benirschke, by Jane Marion
  • Little White Lies in Hollywood, by Ivana Chubbuck

I didn’t read this week’s cover article. I’m not interested in Oprah’s private life or, more accurately, her private life three decades ago. I also didn’t read the article about “mind games” in the NBA. I did read the profile of Judd Hirsch, even though I haven’t seen any episodes of Dear John, and I’m glad I did because it includes some fascinating quotes about his short-lived detective drama Detective in the House (CBS, 1985).

“The show should have been over five minutes after it started,” Hirsch declares. “It was bad. It was really bad. The production values were terrible. They didn’t pay people well. And I was stuck in it. I deliberately set out to be the worst person I’ve ever met myself. I said, ‘I’m going to do this until they can’t take it anymore and get rid of me’.”

According to co-executive producer Gil Grant, the writing was partly to blame for the show’s failure. But so was Hirsch. “I think he is a brilliant actor. But in being such a perfectionist, he hindered us.”

The article by child psychiatrist Robert Coles, M.D. about how “TV’s tales can aid us in making sense of our own lives” doesn’t include any shocking revelations about how television impacts the mind. He agrees with the usual criticism that too much television, or using television to fall asleep, is probably unhealthy. He praises “first-rate programs” like Masterpiece Theatre and The Wonder Years, which “remind us that television storytelling can also be instructive, even inspiring.”

Would you believe actors and actresses tell little while lies in Hollywood when trying to land a job? Like saying they can dance when they can’t or insisting they know how to ride a motorcycle. Then there are the big lies. Steve Guttenberg apparently walked into Paramount Studios, took over an empty office, and spent several days making phone calls pretending to be an agent until he landed himself the lead role in the short-lived CBS sitcom Billy.

There’s also a one-page profile of Rolf Benirschke.

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 Michele Lee’s various complaints, Tannis Vallely’s dream of being an architect, Fred Willard’s fantasy talk show guests (if he had his own talk show), and more. Alan Carter shares stories about John Martin, Cady McClain, and Johnny Mathis in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles lefties in the NBA and the Caress Symphony of Sports on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Picasso Trigger ($79.95), Poker Alice ($69.95), Springtime in the Rockies ($19.98). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers criticizes CBS for “disrupting” Wiseguy with too many pre-emptions, praises Nick at Nite for its funny tribute to The Patty Duke Show, laments the “subtle snobbery” of Murphy Brown, and applauds Josh Savino’s performance on The Wonder Years.


Robert MacKenzie believes Gideon Oliver was a good idea taken too far. The main character, played by Louis Gossett Jr., is “too terrific” to be believable. “Gideon Oliver is so many kinds of hero that we don’t know whether he’s going to smile or frown, tell an anecdote or turn over a table. That can be interesting, but it isn’t habit-forming.” MacKenzie praises Gossett’s charm but is critical of the writing.

The Program Section

[The Program Section includes the following features: 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, Letters, and Horoscope.]

TV Guide Plus

[TV Guide Plus includes the following categories: In The News and Soap Opera Guide.]

There are four In the News reports this week. The first summarizes a recent Center for Media and Public Affairs survey of network nightly news. The second examines which new fall shows are considered possible hits. The third is about how CBS and CNN were able to cover the Tiananmen Square protests. The fourth reports the death of Gilda Radner.


[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.]

Three of the eight letters respond to the May 6th 50th anniversary of TV issue. Here they are:

I was appalled when I read “The Moments You Can Never Forget” in your 50th anniversary issue [May 6]. The abrupt cancellation of the Smothers Brothers by CBS should’ve been near the top of the list.
Jackie G.
Scotch Plains, N.J.

The first Kennedy-Nixon debate may have made television “mandatory for an engaged citizen,” but at what cost [“TV That Changed Our Lives,” May 6]? Looks over policies? The people who listened to the debate on radio gave higher marks to Nixon, while the TV audience went for Kennedy. Style vs. substance is still a major political problems. Thanks, TV.
Gerald T. W.
East Aurora, N.Y.

What…no Jackie Gleason, Art Carney and Audrey Meadows in your “TV Hall of Fame”? Those people made TV!
D.T. J.
Charlotte, N.C.

Channel Directory

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

The Listings

Close Ups

  • Our Common Future (WTTE/A&E, Saturday at 2PM/8PM)
  • Just Between Friends: Oprah Explores The Bonds of Friendship (Various Stations, Various Days/Times)
  • Tony Awards (CBS, Sunday at 9PM)
  • Music City News Country Awards (WCMH, Monday at 9PM)
  • Infinite Voyage, “Living with Disaster” (PBS, Wednesday at 8PM)
  • Leo Kottke: Home & Away (PBS, Wednesday at 10PM)

Do You Remember…?

Saturday, June 3rd, 1989
10PM CBS (11) (2D) (15) WEST 57TH (CC)–Newsmagazine; 60 min.
Scheduled: A report on life in Berlin; a March interview with Jodie Foster (“The Accused); and a 1988 profile of Rev. Oral Roberts. Correspondents include Selena Scott.

Sunday, June 4th, 1989
8PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) GANG OF FOUR (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
Four longtime pals (Lara Flynn Boyle, Grant Heslov, Amber O’Shea, Kris Kamm) venture into their senior year in high school, tightly gripping the chain of friendship that links them. A pilot not on ABC’s announced fall schedule.

9PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) MOVIE (CC)–Drama; 2 hrs.
“Shannon’s Deal,” a 1989 TV-movie about a cynical lawyer (James Sheridan) investigating a drugs-for-arms smuggling ring. Lewis Teague directed from a script by John Sayles; score by Wynton Marsalis.

Monday, June 5th, 1989
8PM CBS (2D) (7) LIVE-IN (CC)–Comedy
Danny (Chris Young) insists it’s his charm that prompts his college-age tutor (Wendy Kaplan) to invite him to a party, where he meets her father and his college-age date.
[Postponed from an earlier date.]

8:30PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) HEARTLAND (CC)–Comedy
At a funeral, Gus (Devin Ratray) sees his first “dead guy”; Johnny (Jason Kristofer) tries to kill Kim’s live romance with a guy he doesn’t trust. (Repeat)

Tuesday, June 6th, 1989
9:30PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) HAVE FAITH (CC)–Comedy
The priests collar a troubled choirboy (Blake Soper) who’s dipping into the collection box, while a nervous Father Gabe (Stephen Furst) tries not to faint during confession.

Wednesday, June 7th, 1989
8PM CBS (7) (15) 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. (Repeat)

9:30PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) ROBERT GUILLAUME (CC)–Comedy
Edward (Robert Guillaume) is so bedazzled by a woman he meets that he even neglects to ask for her number.

10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) DREAM STREET–Drama; 60 min.
Strapped for time, Denis (Dale Midkiff) places the arrangements for Joey’s bachelor party in Harry’s hands. Meanwhile, things are a little shaky for the young lovers: Joni’s last-minute doubts are more than the usual kind; and Marianne (Jo Anderson) gets a job she’s been hoping for–in Cleveland.
[Last show of the series. Next week, “Miami Vice” airs at this time.]

Final Thoughts

The summer repeat season is in full swing. There’s so little on the networks, TV Guide‘s Close-Ups are mostly for syndicated and PBS programming. There’s even an advertisement opening in theaters.

That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the June 10th, 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: June 3rd, 1989”

  1. I remember Dear John. It wasn’t hilarious but it was kinda funny. Similar to Wings but it wasn’t on as long. For some reason, I remember the lady with a British accent always asking, “Do you have any….sexual problems?” It may have been Judd Hirsch’s first show after Taxi. That show was funny!

    1. Actually, this article clearly talks about another show he did in between! Hirsch has done many shows, most recently Forever and Superior Donuts!!

      1. Oh yes Detective in the House from 1985. I missed seeing that show when it aired. I think he did a show with Bob Newhart also, George and Leo but that was latter

  2. I assume that “Rolf Nebirschke” is WHEEL OF FORTUNE daytime host Rolf Benirschke, who was about to lose his job as host when NBC cancelled the show at the end of June.

    The protests at China’s Tiananmen Square were about to hit their peak when an unidentified young man confronted a tank head-on Sunday, June 4, 1989.

      1. At the time, Vanna suggested that Benirschke was only selected because his name would be a hard WOF puzzle! He was in fact only hired because Pat Sajak’s CBS talk show prohibited him from being on another network. Ironically, CBS picked up WOF and brought in Bob Goen, who hosted until the daytime version ended in 1991!

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