A Year in TV Guide: October 21st, 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 #42
October 21st, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 42, Issue #1908
Dayton Edition

On the Cover: Jamie Lee Curtis, by Matthew Ralston

  • Scan of the front cover to the October 21st, 1989 issue of TV Guide magazine
    Cover to the October 21st, 1989 issue of TV Guide | Copyright 1989 Triangle Publications, Inc.

The Magazine


This week’s issue includes six articles:

  • Jamie Lee Curtis of Anything but Love, by Michael Leahy
  • Michele Lee Talks About “Single Women, Married Me” by Jerry Lazar
  • What TV News Doesn’t Report About Congress–and Should, by Norman Ornstein
  • Getting Laughs in Moscow, by Billy Crystal
  • Philip Michael Thomas in “False Witness” by Meg Laughlin
  • The Wonder Years’ Jason Hervey, by Jane Marion

The cover article about Jamie Lee Curtis runs nearly five pages. She’s worried about being labeled a prima donna due to friction behind-the-scenes of her ABC sitcom Anything But Love. After the short first season, creator and co-executive producer Wendy Kout quit the show, as did supervising producer and developer Dennis Koenig. “I wasn’t pleased with the writing,” Curtis admits, while insisting she’s being singled out because she’s a woman. “I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. But I’m the one who gets the rap because it’s easy to pin the woman as the prima donna bitch.”

The article covers rumors of tension between Curtis and co-star Richard Lewis, which both claim doesn’t exist. The last page of the article recounts how Curtis interrupted a rehearsal to discuss changing a few lines with director Jamie Widdoes, who eventually agrees to make the change later. Was it a victory for Curtis? Or was Widdoes humoring her to keep to his schedule?

I skimmed many of the other articles, including Norman Ornstein’s article about how television covers Congress. The networks focus too much on scandal, Ornstein argues, and all but ignore Congress when there’s nothing scandalous to report. “If the networks really want to show their viewers what Congress does,” he concludes, “they need to think through their current obsession with personal scandal and devote some energy to other stories that follow what lawmakers do during the day, not just at night.”

According to Billy Crystal, while taping his HBO special “Midnight Train to Moscow” in the Soviet Union he met Russian relatives he didn’t know he had, none of whom had heard of him because none of his work has aired in the Soviet Union. In her article about Philip Michael Thomas, Meg Laughlin has this to say about the actor:

He quotes a lot: his own poetry, his own aphorisms, his own songs. In fact, he doesn’t really answer questions; instead he delivers a script, cheerfully reciting it no matter what you say–which suggests three things about the real Thomas: he is not spontaneous, he loves to perform, and he could nerve make a career on the talk-show circuit.

I skipped the one-page The Scoop profiles of Michele Lee and Jason Hervey.

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 Jackie Mason’s complaints about working conditions on Chicken Soup, Diana Muldaur’s new role on L.A. Law, Michael Landon’s plans for a new sitcom and a new movie, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Carrie Mitchum, James Kiberd, and Shelly Burch, in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles which athletes have made the great impression on sportscasters Pat Summerall, Charlie Jones, and Frank Gifford.

Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Dead-Bang ($89.95), Dead Calm ($89.95), Earth Girls Are Easy ($89.98), Lawrence of Arabia ($29.95), No Holds Barred ($89.95), Pet Sematary (N/A), You Can’t Take it With You ($19.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises Larry King and Bob Berkowitz for “providing an hour of intelligent prime-time talk every weeknight,” calls Jackie Mason and Lynn Redgrave on Chicken Soup “prime time’s oddest couple,” criticizes the “twisted message” Living Dolls sends to young women about their looks, and applauds Darryl Sivad for his role on Homeroom.


Robert MacKenzie reviews syndicated drama Superboy. He points out how much the show has changed between the first and second seasons. The actor playing the title character is different, for one thing. If the producers are trying to make the show “more contemporary and less corny, that isn’t an improvement,” MacKenzie argues. On the other hand, “the show often delivers a simple good time” and boasts an improved roster of supervillains.

The Program Section

[The Program Section includes the following features: TV Guide Plus, Letters, The Collins Report, 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 six news reports this week. The first looks at mid-season replacements at the networks. NBC has Grand, Carol & Company, Working Girl, Ann Jillian, and Truck One. ABC has Elvis, Twin Peaks, Capital News, and Equal Justice. CBS has the return of Beauty and the Beast and Doctor, Doctor, plus new shows Loose Cannon, Normal Life, His & Hers, and Sydney. FOX has The Outsiders and The Simpsons.

Other reports: George Hamilton will host a syndicated special about Dracula on October 25th; Jane Pauley realized she was likely to be replaced as Today co-anchor by reading stories in the news; the first commercials for birth control aired in San Antonio last summer and were a big success; HBO is releasing two versions of Scandal on video and more people want to buy the unrated version than the R-rated version; Garry Shandling will get a steady girlfriend for the first time during the fourth season of It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.


[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 about the best shows to watch on TV published in the September 30th issue. Here they are:

If you want a piece on the best shows to watch this fall, you should poll the people who read TV Guide, not a bunch of critics wou wouldn’t know a good TV show if they saw one [“12 Critics’ Choices: The Best Shows to Watch This Fall,” Sept. 30].
Sally D.
Cambridge, N.Y.

Jeers to the critics for “howling” at Lindsay Wagner’s Peaceable Kingdom for being so “cute and cuddly.” The critics’ second-best pick, The Wonder Years, is often overloaded with cute and cuddly. I hope CBS sticks with Peaceable Kingdom. It’s a highly entertaining, educational and well-made show.
Mitchell G.
Weston, Maine.

The Collins Report

[The Collins Report–written by columnist Monica Collins–appears every two weeks.]

New CBS sitcom The People Next Door will likely be the first cancellation of the season. Other shows in danger include Peaceable Kingdom (CBS), Top of the Hill (CBS), Wolf (CBS), Snoops (CBS), Nutt House (NBC), Sister Kate (NBC), Free Spirit (ABC), and Homeroom (ABC).

ABC has given Growing Pains and unprecedented two-year renewal. “I was totally stunned,” executive producer Dan Guntzelman said. “We had never heard of such a thing. We knew the show was doing well but the concept of [a two-year renewal] was a complete surprise. I haven’t heard of it happening before.”

Channel Directory

See my review of the March 4th, 1989 issue for the Channel Directory to the Dayton Edition.

The Listings

Close Ups

  • College Football, USC at Notre Dame (CBS, Saturday at 3:30PM)
  • Empty Nest, “On the Interpretation of Dreams” (NBC, Saturday at 9:30PM)
  • [Cable Close Up] Billy Crystal, “From Russia with Laughs” (HBO, Saturday at 10PM)
  • NFL Football, Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals (NBC, Sunday at 1PM)
  • NFL Football, Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns (ABC, Monday at 9PM)
  • Art of the Western World, “The High Renaissance” (PBS, Monday at 9PM/10PM/11PM)
  • Wonder Years, “Wayne on Wheels” (ABC, Tuesday at 8:30PM)
  • Tonight Show’s 27th Anniversary (NBC, Thursday at 9:30PM)

Do You Remember…?

Saturday, October 21st, 1989
8:30PM ABC (2) (6) (12) LIVING DOLLS (CC)–Comedy
Caroline (Deborah Tucker) wears egg on her face but the pictures show her wearing a little more after she goes behind Trish’s back to take a job modeling lingerie.

9PM ABC (2) (6) (12) B.L. STRYKER (CC)–Crime Drama; 2 hrs.
A reprise of the series pilot recalling how retired cop Stryker (Burt Reynolds) was drawn into PI work by the ritualistic rape-murders of young Palm Beach socialites.

Sunday, October 22nd, 1989
7PM FOX (19) (28) (45) BOOKER–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Gunmen enter Teshima Tower, take the executives hostage and seal up the building so no one can reach them, but Booker (Richard Grieco) plans to die hard trying.

8PM ABC (2) (6) (12) FREE SPIRIT (CC)–Comedy
A widow has a seductive eye on Thomas (Franc Luz), who is the executor of her dearly departed husband’s will, but Winnie (Corinne Bohrer) casts a suspicious eye on this gold digger in mourning.

NBC (4) (5) (22) SISTER KATE (CC)–Comedy
Neville (Joel Robbins) is so taken with a vagrant who stops for food that Kate (Stephanie Beacham) hires him as a cook and handyman, on the condition that he continue to stay off the booze he swears he’s sworn off.

8:30PM ABC (2) (6) (12) HOMEROOM (CC)–Comedy
A too-realistic class presidential campaign featuring candidates Lisa and Devon (Daphne Lyn Jones, Jahary Bennett) slinging the mud leaves Darryl (Darryl Sivad) feeling a little dirty himself.

9:30PM FOX (19) (28) (45) OPEN HOUSE–Comedy
Ted (Philip Michael MacKenzie) begs the most unlikely woman to play the part of his wife his visiting mother (Marian Mercer) expects to meet.

Monday, October 23rd, 1989
9PM FOX (19) (28) (45) ALIEN NATION (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
George (Eric Pierpoint) finds himself in trouble with the IRS, but in good with a Newcomer businesswoman, who shows her gratitude for a neighborhood drug bust with a gift–followed by a personal loan.

9:30PM CBS (7) (9) (10) FAMOUS TEDDY Z (CC)–Comedy
After taking his first meeting with a studio head (Herb Edelman), Teddy (John Cryer) stands to receive a $50,000 bonus for Harland’s new movie deal–until Harland (Dennis Lipscomb) decides that “acting is dumb.”

Tuesday, October 24th, 1989
9PM CBS (7) (9) (10) WOLF (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Robert Hooks plays the antidrug crusader with a militant past, who clashes with Wolf (Jack Scalia) when a neighborhood’s war on crack heats up following a crack-house torching.

10PM CBS (7) (9) (10) ISLAND SON (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
A wave of protest hits the hospital after a patient is recognizes as a paroled rapist. Meanwhile, Sam (William McNamara) picks up a hitchhiker (Stacy Galina), who promptly steals his grandfather’s birthday present–the classic car he’s driving.

Wednesday, October 25th, 1989
9:30PM NBC (4) (5) (22) NUTT HOUSE (CC)–Comedy
With no guests but lots of bills, the staff makes a promotional video in hopes of luring no less than the President to a roomy suite in the Nutt House.

Thursday, October 26th, 1989
9PM CBS (7) (9) (10) TOP OF THE HILL (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
Tom (William Katt) draws fire when an obsessed ex-U.S. Attorney observes him shooting down a loophole in an arms-sale bill and ropes him into taking aim at an influential arms dealer.

Friday, October 27th, 1989
8PM CBS (7) (9) (10) SNOOPS (CC)–Mystery; 60 min.
A playboy diplomat claims he’s innocent, but surveillance cameras show that he’s the only one who could have murdered his former lover, who claimed to know who was behind a string of art thefts in Italy.

9PM NBC (4) (5) (22) HARDBALL (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
A nurse in a retirement home will be the next in a series of kidnap-murders, according to a witch who lives at the home, and when a skeptical Charlie and Kaz (John Ashton, Richard Tyson) show up to investigate, they wind up thwarting an attempt by a trio in black robes.

10PM NBC (4) (5) (22) MANCUSO, FBI (CC)–Crime Drama, 60 min.
Mancuso (Robert Loggia) investigates the suspicious circumstances of an FBI veteran’s murder, but the case blows up in his face when the CIA is implicated along with an Asian drug kingpin.

Final Thoughts

None of the articles in this week’s issue were particularly interesting. However, I did appreciate the TV Guide Plus news report about mid-season replacements and the predictions about cancellations detailed in The Collins Report. With few exceptions, viewers had the opportunity to watch new episodes of all the not-so-successful new network shows.

That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the October 28th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.

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