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.
November 25th, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 47, Issue #1913
On the Cover: Victoria Principal, by Gary Bernstein.
This week’s issue includes seven articles:
- Victoria Principal Faces Her Greatest TV Test in “Blind Witness,” by Bill Bruns
- Gil Gerard Is Back in “Final Notice” by Glenn Esterly
- Ann Magnuson of Anything but Love, by Dawn Hudson
- Great Performances Presents “Richard Burton: In from the Cold,” by Kenneth Turan
- RollerGames: Hell on Wheels! by Andy Meisler
- Dear John’s Isabella Hoffman by Gordon Dillow
- Will You Be Paying to Watch the Super Bowl? by Neil Hickey
For once, the cover article is more than a generic profile with a few details about a TV show or made-for-TV movie. Instead, the article is an in-depth examination of how Victoria Principal prepared for the role of a blind woman. She spent two days at the Braille Institute followed by two weeks wearing a blindfold to experience life without sight. During production of Blind Witness, she wore special contact lenses that made her legally blind. She had to memorize the sets so she could count her steps while walking around and needed someone to guide her around until shooting wrapped for the day and the contacts came out.
According to the article about Gil Gerard, he lost out on at least one million dollars because he couldn’t take on three projects due to his weight. Thanks to Overeaters Anonymous, he lost 75 pounds and returned to acting. I skimmed the article about syndicated RollerGames, which I’d never heard of before. [It lasted just one season.] I also skimmed the article about Isabella Hoffman, who insists she’s never recognized when she’s out in public.
I skipped the articles about Richard Burton and the possibility of the Super Bowl airing on cable, plus the one-page “The Scoop” article about Ann Magnunson.
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 Patrick Duffy’s prediction that Dallas will end after its 13th season, director Anson Williams getting to film on location in Rome, Don Ameche joining the cast of a weekly TV show from Grant Tinker’s production company, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Jay Robinson, Elizabeth Hubbard, and Sharon Wyatt in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles ESPN and TNT insisting on basic cable carriage.
Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Ghostbusters II ($89.95), Hell High ($79.95), The Mighty Quinn ($89.98), Season of Fear ($79.98), Vampire’s Kiss ($89.99), Wicked Stepmother ($79.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises the hosts of TNN’s Crook and Chase, criticizes In the Heat of the Night for not resolving last season’s cliffhanger in this season’s premiere episode, applauds Jan Hooks and her impressions on Saturday Night Live, and laments how Zsa Zsa Gabor tried to use publicity from her recent trial to “resuscitate what was never a career to begin with.”
Robert MacKenzie reviews Island Son starring Richard Chamberlain, which he assumes will attract an older audience not interested in watching shows with action and car chases. “The plots–which could have been dusted off from old Dr. Kildare or Marcus Welby episodes–unfold sedately, with one medical crisis and a subplot or two.” Chamberlain’s character is stiff, requiring all of the actor’s charm to seem interesting. It’s the perfect role for Chamberlain, who is “a professional TV hero–attractive, likeable and predicable.”
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 seven news reports this week. The first examines new syndicated game shows in the works, including Monopoly, Quiz Kids Challenge, The Challengers, and Trump Card.
Other reports: Viewers weren’t interested in watching network specials about the fall of the Berlin Wall; Mike Farrell spent a decade trying to get Incident at Dark River, about industrial pollution, produced; NBC spent $600 million to secure NBA games and TNT may have to spend more for its cable package of games; a Magical World of Disney two-parter in December will recreate the childhood of basketball star Isiah Thomas; ABC’s Homeroom hopes to attract new viewers after a nationwide promotional campaign; both Days of Our Lives and General Hospital have seen behind-the-scenes turnover.
[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 Booker star Richard Grieco, published in the October 28th issue. Here they are:
Richard Grieco sees himself as a hot item “for the next seven years at least”,” because, according to him, no one in show business has what he has (Looks? Charisma” A great PR man?”. I’ll admit, he’s tolerable in the role of pseudo-rebel Dennis Booker on Fox’s Boooker, but one for the ages? A Brando or a Dean, even a Deep? He surely isn’t [“The Rebel Who Makes Hollywood Nervous,” Oct. 28].
Give me the quality scripts and ensemble cast of 21 Jump Street any day. It sure beats a series that relies on the attractiveness of its star above all else.
Harriet E. G.
Rockaway Park, N.Y.
See my review of the January 7th, 1989 issue for the Channel Directory to the Toledo-Lima Edition.
- College Football: Ohio State vs. Michigan (ABC, Saturday at 12 noon)
- College Basketball: Arizona vs. Michigan (ABC, Saturday at 4PM)
- College Football: Notre Dame vs. Miami (CBS, Saturday at 6:30PM)
- Child Called Jesus (WPTA, Sunday at 2PM)
- [Cable Close Up] Movie: Dominick and Eugene (Showtime, Sunday at 10:30AM/8PM)
- 50 Years of Television (CBS, Sunday at 9PM)
- Travels, “The Long Ride” (PBS, Monday at 8PM)
- NFL Football: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers (ABC, Monday at 9PM)
- Murphy Brown, “Brown Like Me” (CBS, Monday at 9PM)
- American Experience, “Adam Clayton Powell” (PBS, Tuesday at 9PM)
- [Cable Close Up] Movie: Seoul ’88: 16 Days of Glory” (Disney, Wednesday at 9PM)
Do You Remember…?
Saturday, November 25th, 1989
8:30PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) LIVING DOLLS (CC)–Comedy
Charlie (Leah Remini) gets a different view of a model’s life when she defects to a competitor’s agency.
Sunday, November 26th, 1989
8PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) SISTER KATE (CC)–Comedy
The weather’s cold, but feuding Freddy and Todd (Hannah Cutrona, Jason Priestley) warm up to each other on a trip to Syracuse to get a part for the furnace.
[Next week, the comedy “Ann Jillian” airs at this time, followed by “Sister Kate.”]
9:30PM FOX (36) (28) (50D) (55) OPEN HOUSE–Comedy
McSwain (Nick Tate) lets the brokers audition to host his real-estate TV show, but he decides on a hostess with the mostest of what really sells.
Monday, November 27th, 1989
8:30PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) FAMOUS TEDDY Z (CC)
They aren’t Reagan and Bonzo, and bedlam precedes bedtime on the set of a movie starring Teddy’s two clients, Oscar winner Harland Keyvo (Dennis Lipscomb) and TV’s Bobby the Chimpanzee, whose scene stealing has Keyvo climbing the walls of his dressing trailer (which is smaller than Bobby’s).
9PM FOX (36) (28) (50D) (55) ALIEN NATION (CC); 60 min.
A Newcomer love potion is found in the bodies of two men murdered after their dates with a woman whose beauty affects George (Eric Pierpoint) and whose MO indirectly affects Sikes (Gary Graham).
Thursday, November 30th, 1989
8:30 NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) ANN JILLIAN (CC)
Debut: Ann Jillian plays Ann McNeil, a widow who leaves New York with her teenage daughter Lucy (Lisa Rieffel) to start a new life in a small Northern California town. In the opener, Ann must find a job to keep her house loan, which is in her deceased husband’s name.
[Another episode airs Sunday in the series’ regular time slot.]
9PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) TOP OF THE HILL (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
Tom’s aide Link (Tony Edwards) is ambushed by a reporter who accuses Link–and by extension, Tom–of an ethics violation, but her probing reveals a secret that leads to tragedy.
Friday, December 1st, 1989
8PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) SNOOPS (CC)–Mystery; 60 min.
A homeless murder victim is the same man Micki (Daphne Maxwell Reid) recognized in a soup line as a defector from Romania, a former cultural attache reportedly killed in a boating accident three years earlier.
9PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) HARDBALL (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) MANCUSO, FBI (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Mancuso (Robert Loggia) links a bank robbery to Irish terrorists, who may also be tied to an Irish-American writer committed to the cause of Irish nationalism.
I didn’t expect to enjoy this week’s cover article but I did. On television, the end of November sweeps meant more specials and movies but viewers still had the chance to watch some of their favorite (soon-to-be cancelled) new shows. There was even the debut of a new series: Ann Jillian on NBC.
That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the December 2nd, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.