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.
July 29th, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 30, Issue #1896
On the Cover (clockwise from top left): David Faustino, Christina Applegate, “Buck,” Ed O’Neill and Katey Sagal of Married…with Children, by Tony Costa
This week’s issue includes eight articles:
- Does Married…with Children Go Too Far? by Howard Polskin
- What Makes Maria Shriver Run So Fast, by Joanmarie Kalter
- Mood Busters: The Shows That’ll Make You Feel Better, by Dr. Joyce Brothers
- Background: Louis Armstrong, by James Lincoln Collier
- A Different World’s Chanele Brown, by Jane Marion
- Look Out, Hulk–“Macho Man” Wants Revenge, by Jay Martel
- Media Prankster Joey Skaggs, by Myles Callum
- Cosby Reruns: Was the Big Bill Worth It? by Doug Hill
This week’s cover article examines the controversial FOX sitcom Married…with Children. I’m not a huge fan of the show but I’ve seen enough episodes to know the characters and situation. I also knew a little bit about the boycott led by Terry Rakolta, which is discussed in the article. By today’s standards, the show is tame but back in 1989 it was considered crude and raunchy both by fans who enjoyed the humor and critics who hated it. The article suggests Rakolta’s boycott may hurt the show, but ratings remained solid (by FOX standards) and Married…with Children stayed on the air until 1997.
According to Dr. Joyce Brothers, shows like Roseanne, L.A. Law, Jake and the Fatman, The Golden Girls, and thirtysomething are among the TV shows that have improved mental health in the United States. Why? By offering laughter, boosting self-esteem, and therapy for lonely viewers. “For the lonely, watching almost any show at a particular hour each day or week structures time that might otherwise be empty and forbidding,” Brothers writes. “Hearing a familiar voice, seeing a familiar face, becoming part of someone else’s family, if only for a moment, provides comfort. Soap operas and sitcoms serve as security blankets, objects of solace that are as soothing to many viewers as favorite dolls or teddy bears are to children.”
Although distributor Viacom claims otherwise, syndication expert Richard Kurlander tells TV Guide that The Cosby Show has been “disappointing” in off-network syndication, for the most part. It does well in some markets but loses its time slot to cheaper competition in others. It is also not acting as a “station maker” the way Viacom promised, allowing stations to build afternoon or evening lineups around The Cosby Show.
I had never heard of prankster Joey Skaggs before reading the one-page article about him in this issue. The article about Charnele Brown is another “The Scoop” half-page box containing a handful of facts about the actress.
I skipped the articles about Maria Shriver, Louis Armstrong, and Hulk Hogan.
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 Park Overall visiting her hometown, Harry Anderson’s history of cons, Charles Kimbrough’s thoughts about playing an anchorman, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Kevin Carrigan, Tawny Kitaen, Don Hastings, and Michael Zaslow in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles the Trans-Antarctica Expedition.
Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Dead Aim ($89.98), Heathers ($89.95), The Jigsaw Murders ($79.95), Lip Service ($79.95), Mississippi Burning ($89.98), Police Academy 6: City Under Siege ($89.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises Doctor, Doctor on CBS, criticizes The Young and the Restless for its “unrealistic, soft-soap depiction of an AIDS sufferer,” applauds Jim J. Bullock as “the perfect game-show guest,” and laments MTV and VH-1 for exploiting the 20th anniversary of Woodstock.
[There is no review in this issue.]
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 news reports and following categories: On the Grapevine, The Ratings Race, and Soap Opera Guide.]
There are four news reports in this week, ranging from Walter Cronkite’s reaction to being left out of a CBS News special about the Apollo 11 Moon landing to predictions that Dick Ebersol may run both the NBC News and Sports Divisions.
On the Grapevine contains three reports. Good Morning, America is replacing its couch and Ron Perlman is releasing an album of poetry readings.
According to The Ratings Race, Totally Hidden Video has averaged a 10.5/20 Nielsen rating/share for its first two episodes, helping to boost FOX’s Sunday lineup.
[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.]
Four of the nine letters responded to an article reviewing the 1988-1989 season published in the July 8th issue. Here are two:
Beauty and the Beast was on your “Out” list [“Reviewing the Past Season The Best and Worst,” July 8]. Is this because it has intelligent stories with moral values, memorable characters and real romance? (Not to mention poetry and music?) Apparently you believe that “quality” is “out”–since you put PBS on your “Out” list, too.
Newport Beach, Cal.
Why does TV GUIDE applaud China Beach while repeatedly criticizing Tour of Duty, when both shows are critically acclaimed? Favoritism seems to be a regular TV GUIDE feature: The Cosby Show is in disfavor because you prefer Roseanne. And how dare people Watch [sic] Nightingales instead of Wiseguy! How about fewer staff opinions and more impartial reporting?
Helen F. T.
Haddon Heights, N.J.
See my review of the January 7th, 1989 issue for the Channel Directory to the Toledo-Lima Edition.
- [Cable Close Up] Steve Winwood: Rocking London (Showtime, Saturday at 10PM)
- Auto Racing: The Talladega 500 (CBS, Sunday at 1PM)
- [Cable Close Up] Movie: Die Hard (HBO, Tuesday at 9PM/Showtime, Thursday at 9PM)
- Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow (NBC, Wednesday at 10PM)
- Primetime Live (ABC, Thursday at 9PM)
- Evening at Pops, “Masters of the Musical Theater” (PBS, Friday at 9PM)
Do You Remember…?
Saturday, July 29th, 1989
9:30PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) 13 EAST–Comedy
Debut: This limited-run series focuses on a hospital nursing staff supervised by Maggie Poole (Diana Bellamy) who, in the opener, misplaces a winning lottery ticket that the staff bought together.
10PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) WEST 57TH (CC); 60 min.
Scheduled: A 1988 look back at the 1978 Guyana tragedy perpetrated by Rev. Jim Jones; a March profile of Oscar-winning actress Jodie Foster (“The Accused”); and a 1988 conversation with restaurateur Wolfgang Puck. (Repeat)
ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MAN CALLED HAWK (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Hawk (Avery Brooks) aids a friend, an aging lawyer (Earle Hyman) defending a young man accused in a beating death. (Repeat)
[Another episode airs Thursday in the series’ new time slot.]
Sunday, July 30th, 1989
7PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) JIM HENSON (CC); 60 min.
Muppet Central is plagued by bags of talking garbage or, as they like to call themselves, “previously essential material.” Guest k.d. lang tries to sweeten the situation by singing the garbage theme song “I Love Trash” as well as “Waltz Me Once Again Around the Dance Floor.” Also: John Hurt tells the story of Sapsorrow (Alison Doody), a princess “cursed by a ring but blessed by a slipper.”
[Last scheduled show. Next week, “The Magical World of Disney” airs at this time.]
8PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MICK AND FRANKIE (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
A former collegiate football star is easily persuaded to help his ne’er-do-well younger brother, who says he’s making it big in his new line of work–as a bounty hunter. A pilot not on ABC’s announced fall schedule.
Monday, July 31, 1989
8:30PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) HEARTLAND (CC)–Comedy
Johnny (Jason Kristofer) is bullish on a junky motorbike, which has Casey (Kathleen Layman) seeing red; Tom and B.L. must share a bed as they travel to buy a calf. (Repeat).
10:30PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) HOT PROSPECTS
In 1902, Ben Braddock (George Clooney) envisions a gold mine in a small California town where he plans to start a restaurant in a train depot. A pilot not on CBS’s announced fall schedule.
Tuesday, August 1st, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) SUMMER PLAYHOUSE (CC)–Drama
In “Curse of the Corn People,” a group of Kansas friends in their 20s pursue a quixotic dream of making a horror movie that they hope will bring them fame and happiness.
Wednesday, August 2nd, 1989
8:00PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) SMOTHERS BROTHERS; 60 min.
As the show embraces a thematic format, Dick decides to break up with Tom. Guests are Shelley Long, the Flying Karamazov Brothers and the rope-jumping Sorrentino Sensations. Returnees include Bill Dana, Jim Stafford.
9:30PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) KNIGHT & DAYE (CC)–Comedy
Hank (Jack Warden) comes up with a publicity stunt to boost ratings, but the plan also succeeds in raising Everett’s blood pressure when a gunman (David L. Lander) takes over the studio.
ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) ROBERT GUILLAUME (CC)–Comedy
Henry (Hank Rolike) secretly starts playing shrink to Edward’s patients–and is no shrinking violet in the role. (Repeat)
10:00PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) YESTERDAY, TODAY & TOMORROW (CC)–Newsmagazine; 60 min
Debut: The newsmagazine series bows. For details, see the Close-up on this page.
[Note: The debut episode featured stories about the 20th anniversary of Woodstock, “selective reduction” during pregnancy, and a 1986 murder case solved through “DNA fingerprinting.”]
Thursday, August 3rd, 1989
8PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MAN CALLED HAWK (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
After a kidnap attempt on a young boy (Herbert Duarte), his worried parents hire Hawk (Avery Brooks) to protect then, but they know more than they’re telling. (Repeat)
It was actually a somewhat busy week, with the series premiere of short-lived sitcom 13 East on NBC and the debut of NBC’s newsmagazine Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, the return of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on CBS, a new episode of Knight & Daye on NBC, plus three more unsold pilots on ABC and CBS.
That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the August 5th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.