A Year in TV Guide: August 5th, 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 #31
August 5th, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 31, Issue #1897
Toledo-Lima Edition

On the Cover (from left): Phil Donahue, by AP/Wide World Photos; Geraldo Rivera, by R.M. Lewis Jr.; Maury Povich, by Ken Korsh; and Oprah Winfrey, by Gerardo Somoza / Outline

  • TV Guide Cover August 5th, 1989
    Cover to the August 5th, 1989 issue of TV Guide | Copyright 1989 Triangle Publications, Inc.

The Magazine


This week’s issue includes seven articles:

  • In Defense of Tabloid TV, by Van Gordon Sauter
  • Perfect Strangers’ Melanie Wilson, by Ileane Rudolph
  • The Verdict on People Meters, by Neil Hickey
  • John Stamos of Full House, by Robin Brantley
  • 10 Great Movies to Watch Over and Over, by Jay Cocks
  • Michele Lee of Knots Landing, by Jack Hicks
  • Pro Golf’s Senior Tour, by Melvin Durslag

The cover article is short, only two pages of text plus a full-page photograph of Morton Downey, Jr. Within these two pages, Van Gordon Sauter makes both his support of so-called tabloid TV and his disdain for the elitists of “Establishment journalism” very clear. “It is really time for the critics to lighten up,” Sauter writes. “These tabloid talk shows can be great fun. Sometimes they are relevant. And sometimes they are even–brace yourself–good journalism.” Television journalists, he concludes, should focus on “enlarging and serving their audiences” rather than worrying about the popularity of tabloid TV.

Neil Hickey’s article about Nielsen People Meters is the kind of TV Guide article I like best. Unfortunately, it’s also just two pages long. Hickey previews the next generation People Meter, a passive computer that will scan the faces of family members watching television, instantly recognizing and recording exactly who is watching what and for how long. The rest of the article offers readers a brief refresher on People Meters. Introduced in September 1987, People Meters saw the Big Three networks lose 10% of their audience. Why? Nobody knows for sure. The People Meter is more accurate than diaries. However, they still can’t count out-of-home viewing, something that frustrates the networks.

The profile of John Stamos hits all the typical notes: his good looks, his relationships, his early life, his professional ups and downs, and his hopes for the future. “I’m starting to get to that point where I’m going to say the things I feel and be the way I am,” Stamos explains, “and that’s part of my whole growth. I’m just being myself more than I ever have.”

Here are the 10 movies Jay Cocks suggests people buy on video to “build a tape library”: Black Narcissus, Criss Cross, Dodsworth, Don’t Look Now, The Godfather (Parts 1 and 2 or The Complete Epic), The King of Comedy, My Darling Clementine, Oliver Twist, The Outlaw Josey Wales, and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

I skipped the profiles of Melanie Wilson and Michele Lee, plus the article about the Senior PGA Tour.

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 practical jokes played on Polly Draper, Carroll O’Connor’s heart surgery, what Jonathan Banks thinks of public servants, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Anna Stuart, Lauralee Bell, and Marcy Walker and A Martinez in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles differences between the National and American Leagues plus the start of football season.

Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: The Desperate Hours ($14.95), The Fly II ($89.98), Red Scorpion ($89.95), Tequila Sunrise ($89.95), Will Penny ($14.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers criticizes Hugh Hefner’s pay-per-view wedding, praises Susan Lucci for her role on All My Children, laments an American Express commercial in which a young boy puts oatmeal in his family’s new VCR, and applauds Dennis Farina’s guest appearances last season.


[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]

There are three news reports in this week, including a lengthy look at turmoil on Santa Barbara, plus a lawsuit involving Peter Marshall and Bert Convy over a new game show called 3rd Degree.

On the Grapevine also contains three reports, including one about a block party CBS threw to promote its Monday lineup for the new 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.]

Four of the eight letters responded to an article about the best and worst of the past season, published in the July 8th issue. Here are two:

Where do you get off calling Nightingales the “Trashiest” show of the season? It was one of the few series on TV that had a little spice in its sauce. Most of them are as bland as hospital food–like your choice for “Classiest” series, The Wonder Years.
Richard L. C.

I disagree with Dick Friedman and Mike Lipton’s assessment of The Cosby Show’s Huxtables as “Least Likeable (and Most Likely to Slide Next Season)” sitcom family. Although it will be entering its sixth season this fall, The Cosby Show is still as funny and original as ever.

Adrian S.
Jackson, Tenn.

Channel Directory

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

The Listings

Close Ups

  • NFL Football (Various Networks/Cable Channels, Saturday and Sunday)
  • Movie: The George McKenna Story (CBS, Sunday at 9PM)
  • [Cable Close Up] Movie: Stand and Deliver (HBO, Sunday at 9AM and 9PM)
  • L.A. Law, “America the Beautiful” (NBC, Thursday at 10PM)

Do You Remember…?

Saturday, August 5th, 1989
9:30PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) 13 EAST–Comedy
Maggie (Diana Bellamy) accepts a loan from Kelly (Barbra Isenberg), whom Warren (Timothy Wade) encourages to “work your loan” for special favors, irking the rest of the staff.

10PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) WEST 57TH (CC); 60 min.
Scheduled: January segments on singer-actress Tracey Ullman and the Loch Ness monster; and a 1988 profile of Miami religious leader Yahweh Ben Yahweh. Correspondents include Meredith Vieira, Selina Scott. (Repeat)

ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) CHAIN LETTER (CC)–Thriller; 60 min.
The Messenger of Death (Ian McShane) sends a book editor a chain letter, but when she dismisses the missive, he sends temptation to dog her, followed by “great evil.” A pilot not on ABC’s announced fall schedule.

Sunday, August 6th, 1989
8PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) PROTECT AND SURF (CC)–Comedy-Drama; 60 min.
A cop who shares a beach house with five co-workers is asked for help by an old friend who has stolen $2000,000 from drug dealers. A pilot not on ABC’s announced fall schedule.

Monday, August 7th, 1989
8:30PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) ED BEGLEY JR. (CC)–Comedy
Ed “Hobo” Hobart (Ed Begley Jr.), looking for a job after his kiddie show is canceled, fills a seat on the Seattle city council vacated by his wife (Wendie Malick), who left to have their baby. A pilot not on CBS’s announced fall schedule.

10:30PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) MARRIED TO THE MOB–Comedy
A mobster’s wife (Suzie Plakson) wants to get a job outside the home, so her husband Tony (Richard Romanus) offers her control of a dry-cleaning store he uses as a front for his dirty doings. A pilot, based on the 1988 movie, not on CBS’s announced fall schedule.

Tuesday, August 8th, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) SUMMER PLAYHOUSE (CC)–Drama
Five Federal marshals, known as “The Heat,” besiege a small town, seeking to burn a maniacal bandit and his cohorts who have stolen three truckloads of Stinger missiles.

Wednesday, August 9th, 1989
8:00PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) SMOTHERS BROTHERS; 60 min.
Guests include Tony Orlando and Dawn, Jim Stafford, Jose Jimenez, 12-year-old fiddler Gabe Witcher, juggler Edward Jackman, storyteller Geoffrey Lewis with musical accompaniment by Celestial Navigations, and tap dancer Skip Cunningham. Pat Paulsen.

9:30PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) KNIGHT & DAYE (CC)–Comedy
When the station’s owner dies, Janet (Julie Campbell) wonders about her job’s future–until Hank (Jack Warden) suggests she date the company’s nerdy financial advisor (Steve Mittleman).

ABC (24) (2) (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. (Repeat)
[Last show. “Coach” moves here next week.]

Thursday, August 10th, 1989
8PM 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. (Repeat)

Final Thoughts

If only TV Guide had published more articles like the one about People Meters found in this issue rather than bland profiles. Viewers had another somewhat busy week, with new episodes of 13 East, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and Knight & Daye, plus five more unsold pilots on ABC and CBS.

That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the August 12th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.

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2 Replies to “A Year in TV Guide: August 5th, 1989”

  1. Wow, that’s a depressing group of movies people were supposed to buy and watch over and over. It would be even more depressing if they were all the $89.95 price so common in the Video Cassette Report.

  2. I remember both the “oatmeal in the VCR” Amex commercial and the TVG Jeer of it. Another commercial had a man talking about sliding a “grilled cheese” into something (probably a VCR), but it didn’t show the action, so kids were less likely to imitate it. A friend of mine told me his nephew ruined the VCR part of his DVD/VCR in some similar way, but I don’t remember how exactly. I’m having a bad time just trying to find a replacement for my DVD/VCR, as the VCR part broke down and can’t be fixed.

    Melanie Wilson is notable to me mostly for being the daughter of Dick Wilson, who often played drunks on BEWITCHED and is probably best known for playing Mr. Whipple on Charmin commercials for many years.

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