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.
October 7th, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 40, Issue #1906
On the Cover: Delta Burke and Gerald McRaney, by Tony Costa
This week’s issue includes nine articles:
- Gerald McRaney and Delta Burke Have the Ultimate Prime-Time Love Story, by Glenn Esterly
- Country Music’s Hot New Hunks, by Neil Hickey
- Robert Culp’s Not Happy with Bill Cosby, by Ed Kiersh
- Rejection in Hollywood, by Ivana Chubbuck
- Why Elayne Boosier’s Not a Johnny Carson Fan, by Ileane Rudolph
- Hart, Tower, Wright: Those Trials by Media, by Ken Bode
- Tempestt Bledsoe in “Dream Date”, by Ken Bode
- Cathy Podewell of Dallas, by Susan Littwin
- Susan Dey in “I Love You Perfect”, by Dawn Hudson
The cover article about Gerald McRaney and Delta Burke is actually a profile just about McRaney but of course his marriage to Burke is mentioned numerous times. I didn’t realize McRaney helped develop Major Dad and served as an executive producer. I skimmed the article about country music’s “hot new hunks” like Clint Black, Ricky Van Shelton, George Strait, Skip Ewing, Randy Travis, and Rodney Crowell.
Robert Culp insists he is responsible for getting Bill Cosby his groundbreaking role on NBC’s I Spy in the 1960s. The network didn’t want Cosby, who according to Culp was very angry and not a very good actor. Cosby refused to comment and former NBC West Coast programming chief Grant Tinker couldn’t recall. However, executive producer Sheldon Leonard refutes Culp’s claims.
The article about rejection in Hollywood is interesting. Richard Lewis started throwing “disappointment parties” after getting passed over for a role. Charlene Tilton showed up at the Dallas casting department for weeks, trying to land a role. After many, many rejections, she finally got it. Alan Thicke’s wife divorced him the same day his talk show Thicke of the Night was cancelled.
According to Howard Polskin, 15-year-old Tempestt Bledsoe has a lot of power for someone so young. By agreeing to star in a made-for-TV movie called Dream Date for NBC, she got the network to put the telefilm into production. She also fought to remove a scene in which her character is handed a beer. Scriptwriter Peter Crabbe wanted to keep the scene intact but lost. Finally, in a two-page profile of Cathy Podewell, Sheree Wilson compares the Dallas newcomer to Bambi: “She’s so fresh and unspoiled.”
I skipped the one-page “The Scoop” profiles of Elayne Boosler and Susan Dey plus Ken Bode’s three-page article about trials by media.
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 Richard Grieco going undercover while filming in Vancouver, Lesley-Anne Down’s thoughts on network television, Mary Gross’s health problems living in L.A., and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Sharon Brown, Ashley Peldon, and Brad Maule in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles ESPN’s new college analyst Vince Dooley and Frank Gifford’s one-handed diving catches.
Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Criminal Law ($89.99), The Dream Team ($89.95), Love Among the Ruins ($59.98), Major League (N/A), The Return of Swamp Thing ($89.95), Suspiria ($89.98), Working Girl ($89.98). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers criticizes the “curious TV trend that sees lesser stars putting their names above the credits,” praises CNN for its new investigative reporting unit, laments how the networks have staggered their new season premieres, and applauds Michael Mann for “his indelible contributions to the visual content of contemporary television.”
Robert MacKenzie reviews FOX newsmagazine The Reporters, which some critics complain about because its tabloid format mixes entertainment and news. “In the end there’s just good reporting and bad reporting,” McKenzie declares. “There are examples of both in The Reporters.” He concludes the review by explaining why the show is successful. “And most tellingly, it goes out and assiduously beats the turf to find riveting and scarifying stories. If it dwells on the frightening aspects of modern life, well, it certainly doesn’t have to make them up.”
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 seven news reports this week, the first of which examines charges Dan Rather aired fake battle footage from Afghanistan in the mid-1980s as well as an earlier controversy over CBS News broadcasting fake battle footage from the Falklands War. Other reports: Falcon Crest has cut back Jane Wyman’s role; Days of Our Lives has fired six older members of the cast; the real reason Growing Pains decided not to have Mike Seaver get married; Linda Bloodworth-Thomason’s comments about CBS during the Emmy Awards; controversy surrounding a World of Audubon special on TBS; and ratings for the season premieres of The Cosby Show (great) and Dallas (weak).
[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 five letters respond to an article about commentary during ABC Monday Night Football published in the September 2nd issue. Here they are:
I wish the director of ABC’s NFL Monday Night Football would either muzzle the three clowns who do the announcing [Dan Dierdorf, Frank Gifford and Al Michaels] or put more slides on the tape, giving the down and yardage needed, so that I can mute my TV and enjoy the game. Recently this trio had a hilarious time. Between roars of laughter at their own witty remarks, they officiated the game, becoming highly indignant at the officials’ calls. The NFL could save a barrel of money by letting this tiresome trio not only do the announcing but the officiating as well [“Monday Night Football: Throw the Flag–for Illegal Use of the Mouth,” Sept. 2].
Emile J. S.
My vote for the consummate football commentator goes to Frank Gifford, who has always been the ultimate professional. When others in the booth begin whining about their plane schedules, length of the game, etc., he always takes command and returns the commentary to the great game of football. It’s too bad Gifford can’t handle this job alone, or else have himself cloned. When I listen to Al Michaels, I feel that Howard Cosell has returned–minus the vocabulary.
Cocoa Beach, Fla.
The Collins Report
[Staring with this issue, The Collins Report–written by columnist Monica Collins–appears every two weeks.]
Monica Collins examines why the chemistry between PrimeTime Live hosts Sam Donaldson and Diane Sawyer isn’t working. Although low-rated, it “continues to be one of TV’s most fascinating studies in personality journalism,” Collins declares. Donaldson is “dulled, unanimated” while Sawyer is “aloof” and puts down Donaldson. “They are not clawing each other,” she continues. “But you would almost be grateful if they did. At least the kinetic energy would bring them to life.” Rumor has it Donaldson is upset about how he comes across on the air. “While Donaldson suffers quietly,” Collins concludes, “he screams his distress in the awkwardness apparent each week on the air.”
See my review of the March 4th, 1989 issue for the Channel Directory to the Dayton Edition.
- [Cable Close Up] Movie: Tucker: The Man and His Dream (HBO, Saturday at 8AM/8PM)
- [Cable Close Up] Movie: Eight Men Out (Showtime, Saturday at 12 noon/8PM)
- NFL Football: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (NBC, Sunday at 1PM)
- Life Goes On, “Break a Leg, Mom” (ABC, Sunday at 7PM)
- Nature, “The Great Rift Valley, Part 1: Footprints in the Valley” (PBS, Sunday at 8PM)
- [Cable Close Up] Barry Manilow: SRO on Broadway (Showtime, Sunday at 8PM)
- 21 Jump Street, “Come from the Shadows” (FOX, Monday at 8PM)
- Country Music Association Awards (CBS, Monday at 9PM)
- Nova, “The Controversial Doctor Koop” (PBS, Tuesday at 8PM)
- Harry Hopkins: At FDR’s Side (PBS, Wednesday at 9PM)
Do You Remember…?
Saturday, October 7th, 1989
8:30PM ABC (2) (6) (12) LIVING DOLLS (CC)–Comedy
Martha (Allison Elliot) reluctantly airs her negative opinion of Charlie’s rough-edged boyfriend, who has a positive opinion of Martha’s softness after Charlie (Leah Remini) breaks up with him.
Sunday, October 8th, 1989
FOX (19) (28) (54) BOOKER–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Change is in the air as Booker (Richard Grieco) gets involved with a Teshima executive (Marcia Cross), dodges a supposedly reformed ex-con who’s sworn revenge and tries to keep a homeless kid from going bad.
8PM ABC (2) (6) (12) FREE SPIRIT (CC)–Comedy
Robb (Paul Scherrer) thinks he’s scored when Winnie (Corrine Bohrer) casts a spell on the football-team captain’s girlfriend to make her fall for Robb.
8:30PM ABC (2) (6) (12) HOMEROOM (CC)–Comedy
Devon’s popularity shrivels when the class tree left in his care for the weekend dies from lack of water. Meanwhile, Virginia (Penny Johnson) tries to stem the rise of Phil’s high blood pressure.
9:30PM FOX (19) (28) (45) OPEN HOUSE–Comedy
A required company physical may embarrass Laura (Mary Page Keller), but Ted (Phillip Charles MacKenzie) has reason to suffer after Linda (Alison LaPlaca) doctors the results of his physical.
Monday, October 9th, 1989
8:30PM CBS (7) (9) (10) PEOPLE NEXT DOOR (CC)–Comedy
A discussion of Walter’s reluctance to sell his New York apartment escalates into a feud over commitment between the newlyweds (Jeffery Jones, Mary Gross), who explore their separate pasts with help from the experts.
9PM FOX (19) (28) (45) ALIEN NATION (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
Parenthood problems plague both George and Sikes (Eric Pierpoint, Gary Graham) as they guard a murder witness, a Newcomer who has a compelling reason to leave police custody.
Tuesday, October 10th, 1989
9PM CBS (7) (9) (10) WOLF (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Sal’s best friend, a struggling deli owner, fights to preserve the flavor of his North Beach business district–and to pay his bills–after receiving threats from a loan shark and a street gang.
9:30PM ABC (2) (6) (12) CHICKEN SOUP (CC)–Comedy
When Maddie (Lynn Redgrave) goes out with an old boyfriend (Jack Bannon), a jealous Jackie (Jackie Mason) thrills his mother (Rita Karin) by asking out an old girlfriend (Fae Rubenstein).
10PM CBS (7) (9) (10) ISLAND SON (CC)–Drama ; 60 min.
Erratic behavior and a clouded history strongly suggest a new cardiologist is hooked on speed. Meanwhile, a promising orderly for some reason won’t apply for a medical-tech program that would advance his career.
Wednesday, October 11th, 1989
8PM CBS (7) (9) (10) PEACEABLE KINGDOM (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
Sam (Victor DiMattia) tries to separate the facts of life from fiction, while Rebecca and Dr. Langley (Lindsay Wagner, David Ackroyd) consider using the facts of life: she with an old friend, and he with a leopard-reproduction project.
9:30PM NBC (4) (5) (22) NUTT HOUSE (CC)–Comedy
Ms. Frick (Cloris Leachman) is feeling frisky, but Tarkington (Harvey Korman) again eludes her embrace, only to fall under the alluring spell of a younger woman who’s in cahoots with an international thief.
Thursday, October 12th, 1989
9PM CBS (7) (9) (10) TOP OF THE HILL (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
Tom (William Katt) finds that a renewed romance with a lawyer could be hazardous to his heart when she shows up asking for his help in investigating a chemical company, whose toxic waste may have caused some deaths.
Friday, October 13th, 1989
8PM CBS (7) (9) (10) SNOOPS (CC)–Mystery; 60 min.
Chance (Tim Reid) loses a bicycle and Micki (Daphne Maxwell Reid) spots a prowler in what neighbors are calling a crime wave, but Chance thinks they’re overreacting–until they lose a neighbor.
9PM NBC (4) (5) (22) HARDBALL (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
A casino-hotel owned by Charlie’s crooner pal provides no vacation when gunfire in the showroom follows Kaz’s discovery of a bullet-ridden pickpocket.
[New day and time.]
10PM NBC (4) (5) (22) MANCUSO, FBI (CC)–Crime Drama, 60 min.
Debut: Robert Loggia reprises his “Favorite Son” role as G-man Nick Mancuso, who has the heart of a patriot under his cynical exterior. In the opener, Mancuso probes the drowning of a woman with ties to a controversial nominee for Secretary of Defense.
None of this week’s articles were particularly interesting. On television, viewers had a late series premiere to enjoy on NBC: Mancuso FBI. By this point in the 1989-1990 television season, viewing patterns were most likely starting to settle.
That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the October 14th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.