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.
September 30th, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 39, Issue #1905
On the Cover: Elizabeth Taylor and Mark Harmon, by Jim Globus
This week’s issue includes nine articles:
- Critics’ Choice: The Best Shows to Watch This Fall, by Doug Hill
- Elizabeth Taylor in “Sweet Bird of Youth,” by Elaine Warren
- Arsenio Hall’s Getting Hotter–but Feeling the Heat, by Michael Leahy
- Behind TV’s Passionate Love Scenes, by Elaine Warren
- Bronson Pinchot of “Jury Duty,” by Larry Closs
- Nancy McKeon in “A Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story,” by Susan Littwin
- Dan Castellaneta of The Tracey Ullman Show, by Jerry Lazar
- Mark McEwen of CBS This Morning, by Jane Marion
TV Guide asked 12 television critics to pick the best (and worst) shows to watch this fall. The critics included Kay Gardella of The New York Daily Times, Tom Shales of The Washington Post, and Ken Tucker of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Among the best were L.A. Law, The Wonder Years, Roseanne, China Beach, The Famous Teddy Z, and Life Goes On. Among the worst were Baywatch, The Reporters, Amen, Just the Ten of Us, Homeroom, Rescue 911, and Unsolved Mysteries.
The three-page article about Elizabeth Taylor, star of NBC’s upcoming made-for-TV movie Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth, is dull. She showed up for work on time, chatted with the cast and crew during breaks in filming, and answered questions from the press “polity but sparingly, without an ounce more energy expended on self-revelation than is absolutely necessary.” The the four-page article about Arsenio Hall was equally underwhelming.
Elaine Warren’s two-page article about love scenes on television touches upon “bed-scene etiquette” and practical jokers. It includes lengthy quotes from several actresses, including Kristian Alfonso of Falcon Crest, Joan Van Ark of Knots Landing, and Emma Samms of Dynasty. I skimmed Susan Littwin’s article about Nancy McKeon and The Tracey Thurman Story, which would’ve been more interesting if I’d seen the made-for-TV movie.
I skipped the one-page “The Scoop” profiles of Liz Sheridan, Dan Castellaneta, and Mark Mcewen, plus the one-page “Picture This…” feature about Bronson Pinchot.
TV Guide Insider
[TV Guide Insider includes the following features: Grapevine, Soaps, Sports View, Cheers ‘n’ Jeers, and Video Cassette Report.]
Lawrence Eisenberg’s Grapevine includes tidbits about Judith Light’s thoughts on aging, what happened when Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon met Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wiliam Katt’s research for his role as a Congressman in Top of the Hill, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Christie Clark, Kin Schriner, and Debbi Morgan in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles ABC boxing analyst Alex Wallau and the launch of the Sports News Network in November.
Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises the dancing on The Tracey Ullman Show, criticizes Sam Donaldson for a slip of the tongue, laments shocking footage of a bear falling into a power transformer shown on NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, and applauds Alex Rocco for his role on The Famous Teddy Z. Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Bambi ($26.99), Farewell to the King ($89.98), Gone with the Wind ($89.95), Lean on Me ($89.95), Speed Zone ($89.95).
Robert MacKenzie reviews ABC’s Full House. He is not a fan. “It’s all very cheerful and saturated with light–ever notice that there are no shadows in situation comedies?–but there are many sentimental moments, underling by syrupy music,” MacKenzie writes. “I guess this sort of happy goo doesn’t pose any threat to the environment,” he concludes, but it isn’t for him.
The Program Section
[The Program Section includes the following features: TV Guide Plus, Letters, This Week, This Week’s Movies, Four-Star Movies, Soap Opera Guide, This Week’s Sports, Channel Directory, Pay-TV Movie Guide, TV Crossword Puzzle, and Horoscope.]
TV Guide Plus
[TV Guide Plus includes news reports.]
There are five news reports this week, one of which examines how CBS has shifted focus to older viewers and isn’t interested in youth-oriented shows. Other reports: Tracey Ullman’s Emmy win; Kathleen Sullivan’s criticism of CBS; NBC won’t repeat the made-for-TV movie I Know My First Name Is Steven any time soon, following the death of Steven Stayner; a three-hour edition of 48 Hours on September 14th earned a 13.4/24 rating/share, topping its competition from 10-11PM ET.
[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 eight letters respond to an article the Miss America pageant published in the September 2nd issue. Here they are:
Why make such a big deal because Gretchen Carlson was crowned Miss America in 1988 [“A Beauty of a mistake: Miss America–Was Last Year’s Voting Suspect? Sept. 2]? We should be proud to have such an intelligent woman represent our country. She deserved this honor.
The Miss America Pageant may want to change its image to that of a “scholarship pageant” but it hasn’t strayed far enough from its origins as a bathing-beauty pageant. If it really wants to be considered seriously as a scholarship pageant, it should use grades, extracurricular activities, community service and motivation as criteria, just as other scholarship contests do. When was the last time you had to appear in a bathing suit to win a scholarship–unless it was an athletic swimming scholarship?
See my review of the March 4th, 1989 issue for the Channel Directory to the Dayton Edition.
- NFL Football: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs (NBC, Sunday at 1PM)
- [Cable Close-Up] Movie: Gorillas in the Mist (HBO/Showtime)
- Movie: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (ABC, Sunday at 9PM)
- Movie: Tennessee Williams ‘Sweet Bird of Youth’ (NBC, Sunday at 9PM)
- NFL Football: Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (ABC, Monday at 9PM)
- Movie: A Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story (NBC, Monday at 9PM)
- Postseason Baseball: Playoffs (NBC) and World Series (ABC)
- American Experience, “The Great Air Race of 1924” (PBS, Tuesday at 9PM)
Do You Remember…?
Saturday, September 30th, 1989
8:30PM ABC (2) (6) (12) LIVING DOLLS (CC)–Comedy
With an unwitting assist from Samantha Micelli (Alyssa Milano), Charlie (Leah Remini) finally plans for her own birthday blowout, unaware that Trish (Michael Learned) plans to surprise her that same night.
9PM ABC (2) (6) (12) B.L. STRYKER (CC)–Crime Drama
Stryker’s childhood sweetheart, now a Middle Eastern queen, is stalked assassins after her husband, an arms supplier, is blown up aboard the royal yacht. (Repeat)
Sunday, October 1st, 1989
FOX (19) (28) (54) BOOKER–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Booker (Richard Grieco) misses “the pump” he got from the action on the street, but he gets it back when he’s marked for payback for the death of the gang member who shot Jump Street’s Judy (Holly Robinson).
8PM ABC (2) (6) (12) FREE SPIRIT (CC)–Comedy
The kids try to turn Thomas’ search for a date to a wedding into a Cinderella story by fixing him up with Winnie (Corinne Bohrer), but Thomas (Franc Luz) turns the plot into a botched version of “My Fair Lady.”
NBC (4) (5) (22) SISTER KATE (CC)–Comedy
Tomboy Freddy (Hannah Cutrona) plays a coquette to attract a guy in auto shop, and Neville (Joel Robinson) plays havoc with the peace in his search for an instrument he can play.
8:30PM ABC (2) (6) (12) HOMEROOM (CC)–Comedy
When the cafeteria manager (Lu Leonard) gets fed up with Donald’s misbehavior, Darryl (Darryl Sivad) devises a punishment that lets Donald (Billy Dee Willis) take a bit out of his crime.
9:30PM FOX (19) (28) (45) OPEN HOUSE–Comedy
Linda and Ted (Alison LaPlaca, Philip Charles MacKenzie) get to know each other a little better when a bear traps them in the isolated home of a prospective client.
Monday, October 2nd, 1989
8:30PM CBS (7) (9) (10) PEOPLE NEXT DOOR (CC)–Comedy
Walter and Abby wish Cissy could find the man of her dreams. Then a figment of Walter’s imagination–in the form of his old buddy Neal (Granville Van Dusen)–“pops in” unexpectedly and makes a solid impression on Cissy (Christina Pickles).
9PM FOX (19) (28) (45) ALIEN NATION (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
A Newcomer prostitute takes shelter in Matt’s apartment after he and George (Eric Pierpoint) rescue her from her pimp. meanwhile, Buck’s Uncle Moodri offers to help cleanse Buck (Sean Six) of his sin.
9:30PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) FAMOUS TEDDY Z (CC)–Comedy
Convinced that Teddy (Jon Cryer) is doing something illegal, Deena (Erica Youhn) visits his office, where once she understands the game, she has ideas for making Teddy a bigger player.
Tuesday, October 3rd, 1989
9PM CBS (7) (9) (10) WOLF (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
A woman is kidnapped while under Tony’s protection, leaving Tony (Jack Scalia) saddled with an infant; and a young model Angie idolizes walks a tightrope in her efforts to stay thin.
9:30PM ABC (2) (6) (12) CHICKEN SOUP (CC)–Comedy
Even Jackie’s considerable charm can’t melt the heart of Maddie’s biased brother Michael (Brandon Maggart) or light a fire under a maitre d’ (George Pentecost) who takes his time seating them.
[Postponed from an earlier date.]
10PM CBS (7) (9) (10) ISLAND SON (CC)–Drama ; 60 min.
Daniel (Richard Chamberlain) meets a riding instructor whose past hides a dark secret, while Dr. Caitlin (new regular Carol Huston) is at her wits’ end dealing with a Japanese patient who simply doesn’t trust her.
Wednesday, October 4th, 1989
8PM CBS (7) (9) (10) PEACEABLE KINGDOM (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
Dean and Ridge (Michael Manasseri, David Renan) take different tacks to solve a beastly problem: persuading an industrialists son (Doug Barr) not to take back the land the zoo’s bison have inhabited for years.
Thursday, October 5th, 1989
9PM CBS (7) (9) (10) TOP OF THE HILL (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
Back home in Hopkins Bay, Tom (William Katt) gets involved when his best friend (Tony Fields) is killed after a bitter battle for the presidency of the local dockworkers union.
Friday, October 6th, 1989
8PM CBS (7) (9) (10) SNOOPS (CC)–Mystery; 60 min.
The sudden decision of her two-star-general father to resign his commission sends Micki (Daphne Maxwell Reid) to his superior officer, who admits to a falling-out with the general–just before he’s murdered on a firing range.
Aside from the article about love scenes on television, which was somewhat interesting, this week’s issue was more of the same. On television, much of NBC’s regular lineup this week was pre-empted in favor of baseball. Fans of baseball probably didn’t mind but anyone wanting to catch the next episode of new NBC shows like The Nutt House or Hardball may have been annoyed.
That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the October 7th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.