A Year in TV Guide: August 12th, 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 #32
August 12th, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 32, Issue #1898
Toledo-Lima Edition

On the Cover (clockwise from right): Diane Sawyer, by Francesco Scavullo; Connie Chung, Mary Alice Williams and Maria Shriver, by Roger Prigent

  • Scan of the front cover to the August 12th, 1989 issue of TV Guide magazine
    Cover to the August 12th, 1989 issue of TV Guide | Copyright 1989 Triangle Publications, Inc.

The Magazine


This week’s issue includes seven articles:

  • How Good Are TV’s News Queens? by Joanna Elm
  • Could That ALF Cartoon Be Flashing a Hidden Message? by Doug Hill with Ken Sobel
  • Hollywood’s Most Outrageous Homes, by Marilyn Beck
  • “The Wizard of Oz” is 50, by Myles Callum
  • Home Run or Touchdown–Bo Jackson’s Your Man, by Melvin Durslag
  • Woody Harrelson of Cheers, by Glenn Esterly
  • Commentary: Stop Bashing Men! by Jeffrey Cohen

I skimmed the cover article, which tasked a panel of experts (former CBS anchorman Douglas Edwards, TV critic Tom Shales, media writer Barbara Matusow, and CNN style editor Elsa Klensch) to offer their opinions of and rate in order of preference four newswomen: Diane Sawyer (ABC), Connie Chung (CBS), Mary Alice Williams (NBC), and Maria Shriver (NBC). The panel rated Sawyer the No. 1 newswoman, followed by Chung, Shriver, and Williams.

The article about a subliminal message slipped into an episode of NBC’s ALF cartoon was very interesting. A keen-eyed viewer named Ken Sobel noticed an image of the Statue of Liberty in front of an American flag, with the word “AMERICA” splashed across it while watching ALF on videotape. It was a single frame. Sobel wanted to find out where the image came from and did so with the help of TV Guide reporter Doug Hill. It was a joke, something inserted into the episode by animators working for Studio Korumi in Japan.

I’m a big fan of Cheers, so even though I usually don’t read TV Guide profiles, I did read the article about Woody Harrelson. I did not know his father was a convicted murderer. The article about the 50th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz offers a quick look at what an upcoming commemorative edition videotape will include.

“The only reasonable man on TV today is a lion who lives in the sewer and quotes poetry,” Jeffrey Cohen declares, referring to Vincent on Beauty and the Beast. Nearly every other male character is either a sexist jerk, an incompetent dolt, or a whiny loser.

I skipped the articles about Hollywood’s most outrageous homes and Bo Jackson.

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 Cree Summer’s voiceover work, Grant Shaud’s jobs before becoming an actor, Ray Bradbury’s love of all things Disney, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Michael Damian, Jack Wagner, and Sally Spectra in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles boxers who keep fighting long past their prime.

Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Abduction ($79.95), The ‘Burbs ($89.95), Domino ($89.95), The Emissary ($79.95), Gleaming the Cube ($89.98), Mighty Joe Young ($19.98), Pete ‘n’ Tillie ($79.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises the “enduring appeal” of Bob Barker, criticizes “commercial overkill” in sports, laments the “sickening, air-headed prattle that passes for banter on the morning news shows,” and applauds Robert Urich as “a steady, always appealing TV performer.”


[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, Ratings Race]

There are four news reports in this week. The Pat Sajak Show has slipped dramatically in the ratings. The late-night talk show will undergo changes in the hopes of turning things around. Peter Jennings wants to work on prime time specials in addition to anchoring ABC World News Tonight. Willie Nelson is planning to launch a national, 24-hour cable channel called the Cowboy Television Network (CTN) in March. NBC let Today director George Paul out of his contract years early so he could join ABC News.

On the Grapevine contains three reports, including one about the lengths Victoria Principal goes to when researching roles.

According to The Ratings Race, both ABC and NBC saw baseball ratings drop over the past season, which likely concerns CBS, the exclusive broadcast home of baseball beginning next season.


[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 nine letters respond to an article about Adam West published in the July 22nd issue. Here they are:

I am 23 years old and have seen my share of Batman reruns. I have also seen the movie “Batman.” The movie is enjoyable, but my all-time favorite will always be Adam West’s TV Batman. The movie may be making millions, but you can tell West he still has one loyal fan in Georgia [“Holy Acrimony! Adam West Is a Bitter Batman m,” July 22].
Patricia C. B.
Villa Rica, Ga.

In response to Adam West’s comment that his Batman was far more likable than Michael Keaton’s movie characterization, I say: He has bats in his belfry! Adam West may have made Batman popular as a spoof, but Michael Keaton’s serious, driven portrayal of Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman, takes the hero out of the comics and gives him life and a sense of realism.

Regenia M.
Lewisville, Ark.

Channel Directory

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

The Listings

Close Ups

  • PGA Championship (ABC, Saturday and Sunday at 2PM)
  • American Masters, “James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket” (PBS, Monday at 9PM)
  • NBC News Special, “Gangs, Cops and Drugs, Part 1” (NBC, Tuesday at 10PM)
  • [Cable Close Up] Movie: Breaking Point (TNT, Friday at 10PM)

Do You Remember…?

Saturday, August 12th, 1989
8:30PM NBC (13) (4) (22) (33) 13 EAST–Comedy
Janet and Maggie are loath to have their required physical exams, particularly when Warren (Timothy Wade) is the examiner; Kelly and Gertie make a little mistake in the nursery.

10PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) WEST 57TH (CC); 60 min.
A segment on former New Jersey state senator David Friedland, who was sentenced in December to 15 years in Federal prison for fraud. Friedland had tried to avoid prosecution by staging a scuba-diving accident in the Bahamas in 1985, but he was captured two years later in the Maldives. Also: a report on a crime-ridden public-housing development in Chicago. (Repeat)

ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) SAN BERDOO (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
The desert winds blow a murder case involving two sisters into the life of a hard-boiled Palm Springs private eye (John Terry), who’s busy raising a teenager (Christine Elise). A pilot not on ABC’s announced fall schedule.

10:30PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (23) OH HENRY–Comedy
Comedian Blake Clark plays widower Henry Gibbs, a fast-food franchisee who orders his sister-in-law (Marian Mercer) to go–out of town, after she signs a consent form for Henry’s 9-year-old son (Raffi Di Blasio) to attend sex-education class. A pilot not on NBC’s announced fall schedule.

Monday, August 14th, 1989
9:30PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) KNIGHT & DAYE (CC)–Comedy
The pair puts the matter before the people when Hank (Jack Warden) suggests Everett (Mason Adams) disregard his ethics and buy Cito (Joe Lala) his medical certification.
[Last scheduled show.]

10:30PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) BABY BOOM (CC)
J.C. (Kate Jackson) finds her dating drought quenched by a wonderful guy (Ed Marinaro), but she hopes a pattern’s not repeating itself when he seems afraid of being eaten alive by “The Tiger Lady.”

Tuesday, August 15th, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) SUMMER PLAYHOUSE (CC)–Drama
In “Road Show”, a Philadelphia restaurant critic (Ellen Greene) becomes intrigued by the big-city antics and small-town charms of an enigmatic traveler (Lee Majors), and she joins him on his journeys.

Wednesday, August 16th, 1989
8:00PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) SMOTHERS BROTHERS; 60 min.
Appearing: singers Kenny Rogers and Maureen McGovern; sportscaster Chick Hearn; magicians Ed Alonzo and Fielding West; comic guitarist Michael Davis; bubblemaker Tom Nodddy; comic Andy Andrews; storyteller Geoffrey Lewis and Celestial Navigations; the Canadian Brass classical musicians. (Repeat)

9:30PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) NIKKI & ALEXANDER (CC)–Comedy
Tim Matheson plays a Greenwich Village writer who reluctantly takes in a new roommate–a sobbing Soviet Beauty in need of affection. A pilot not on NBC’s announced fall schedule.

Thursday, August 17th, 1989
8PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) MAN CALLED HAWK (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Hawk (Avery Brooks) encounters a reporter (Sharon Washington) tracking the source of some strychnine-laced heroin. (Repeat)

9:30PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) FM–Comedy
Debut: Robert Hays plays Ted Costas, the program director of a public-radio station in this limited-run series set in Washington, D.C. In the opener, Ted seeks to liven up a dull talk show and dull the liveliness of a fan (Michele Pawk) who wants to play.
[The series moves to Wednesday next week.]

Final Thoughts

With the exception of the article about a subliminal message in an episode of ALF, this week’s articles weren’t very interesting. On television, however, there was a new sitcom debut on NBC (FM), new episodes of 13 East, Knight & Daye, and Baby Boom, plus four different unsold pilot episodes.

That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the August 19th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.

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