A Year in TV Guide: December 23rd, 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 #51
December 23rd, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 51, Issue #1917
Toledo-Lima Edition Edition

On the Cover: Candice Bergen, by Bernard Boudreau; Scott Bakula, by Timothy White/Onyx

  • Scan of the front cover to the December 23rd, 1989 issue of TV Guide magazine
    Cover to the December 23rd, 1989 issue of TV Guide | Copyright 1989 Triangle Publications, Inc.

The Magazine


This week’s issue includes six articles plus a picture feature:

  • What TV’s Real Newswomen Think of Murphy Brown, by Joanna Elm
  • Candice Bergen: She’s No Dummy, by Dick Cavett
  • How TV Helped Tear Down the Berlin Wall, by Daniel Schorr
  • What’s Syndex? by Neil Hickey
  • Bill Smitrovich of Life Goes On, by Susan Littwin
  • Scott Bakula of Quantum Leap, by Edwin Kiester Jr.
  • Picture Feature: A Bird in the Hand, by Larry Closs

I’ve only seen a few minutes here and there from multiple episodes of Murphy Brown but never an entire episodes from start to finish. So I skimmed the cover article, which features comments about the show and the character of Murphy Brown from the likes of Deborah Norville, Faith Daniels, Mary Alice Williams, Linda Ellerbee, and Jane Wallace. I skipped the short essay about Candice Bergen by Dick Cavett.

I am a fan of Quantum Leap, so I read every word of the profile of Scott Bakula. There are no behind-the-scenes tidbits about the show, unfortunately, just the revelation that Bakula had to get his own car phone because co-star Dean Stockwell got sick of letting Bakula use his.

Neil Hickey’s one-page article about the FCC’s syndicated exclusivity rule (taking effect January 1st, 1990) offers a very brief overview of the impact “syndex” will have on viewers. If it isn’t overturned by the courts, that is. Cable systems with more than 1,000 subscribers across the country may be forced to black out or replace TV shows on an out-of-town broadcast station if a local station airs the same show.

I skipped the article about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the one-page “The Scoop” profile of Bill Smitrovich.

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 romance on the next season of The Hogan Family, how Neil Patrick Harris is thankful viewers accepted the premise of Doogie Howser, M.D., Norman Lloyd’s experience guest-starring on Wiseguy, and more. Alan Carter looks back at the Best of 1989 in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles reactions to the NFL playing a game on Christmas night.

Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Dial Help ($79.95), A Forgotten Tune for the Flute ($89.95), Great Balls of Fire ($89.98), A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child ($89.95), Road House ($89.95), Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier (N/A), Weekend at Bernie’s ($89.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises Ben Stein for his role on The Wonder Years, laments how the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney sold out by doing commercials, applauds “the Grammy Living Legends” special on CBS, and criticizes Saturday Night with Connie Chung on CBS “for its continued use of dramatic re-creations.”


[There is no review in this issue.]

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 six news reports this week. The first explores how the Beach Boys are refusing to support an ABC made-for-TV movie.

Other reports: Bob Saget will begin hosting America’s Funniest Home Videos on ABC on Sunday, January 14th, 1990; ABC is working on three proposed late-night shows (Night Life, Marder at Midnight, and Into the Night, Starring Rick Dees); early numbers have the “Uno Mas” pay-per-view fight between Sugar Ray Leonard an Roberto Duran earning a record $29.95 million; Jean-Michael Cousteau is working on a TBS special about the Exxon Valdez accident; NBC will write Markie Post’s pregnancy into the show’s scripts.


[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.]

Three of the six letters respond to an article about Victoria Principal published in the November 25th issue. Here are two:

How could a blind woman apply eye makeup as well as Principal did in this role? As an actress she should have held back on the powder and rouge for realism’s sake.
Mike C.

Isn’t it about time for television viewers to see a blind character portrayed by a blind actor? With the exception of the occasional appearance by blind actor Tom Sullivan, we almost always see second-best–a famous sighted actor who is challenged more by the physical aspects of portraying the disability than by the true acting involved in portraying the character.
Jeanine M. W.
Washington, D.C.

Channel Directory

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

The Listings

Close Ups

  • Julie Andrews: The Sound of Christmas (ABC, Saturday at 8PM)
  • Bernstein in East Berlin (PBS, Monday at 3PM)
  • The Decade in Review (ABC, Wednesday at 10PM/NBC, Wednesday at 10PM)
  • Metropolitan Opera Presents Aida (PBS, Wednesday at 8PM)
  • [Cable Close up] Movie: Spy (USA, Wednesday at 9PM)
  • Ice Capades (ABC, Thursday at 8PM)

Do You Remember…?

Sunday, December 24th, 1989
7:00PM FOX (36) (28) (50D) (55) BOOKER (CC); 60 min.
Repeating the series opener: Booker (Richard Grieco) jumps ship at Jump Street to become head insurance investigator for Teshima Corp., but first he has to help Elaine (Katie Rich) clear a man she feels she wrongly convicted when she was a juror. (Repeat)

8PM ABC (24) (2) (6) (7D) (21) FREE SPIRIT (CC)–Comedy
Repeating the series opener: Winnie (Corinne Bohrer) materializes at Gene’s wish, and the kids want her to be the new housekeeper, although she doesn’t exactly bewitch Thomas. (Repeat).

9:30PM FOX (5) (61) OPEN HOUSE (CC)–Comedy
After two months of no sales, Laura (Mary Page Keller) is on the verge of selling her first house–until Linda (Alison LaPlaca) inadvertently steals her client (Angelo Tiffe). (Repeat)

Monday, December 25th, 1989
8:30PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) FAMOUS TEDDY Z (CC)–Comedy
Convinced that Teddy (Jon Cryer) is doing something illegal, Deena (Erica Yohn) visits his office, where once she understands the game, she has ideas for making Teddy a bigger player.
[Postponed from an earlier date.]

9PM FOX (36) (28) (50D) 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. (Repeat)

Thursday, December 28th, 1989
9PM CBS (11) (2D) (7) (10) (15) ISLAND SON (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
A resident’s mother, herself a renowned surgeon, pressures him to specialize in surgery even though he feels he can’t cut it. Meanwhile, Sam (William McNamara) is entranced by a lovely visitor who turns out to be a patient. (Repeat)

Friday, December 29th, 1989
10PM NBC (13) (35) (4) (4D) (22) (33) MANCUSO, FBI (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Mancuso (Robert Loggia) recalls his days as a civil-rights investigator when a rape case becomes a racially charged issue in a local election. (Repeat)

Final Thoughts

As always, the articles in this week’s issue were underwhelming at best. On television, there were repeats and repeats and more repeats.

After 51 issues, we’ve come to the end of A Year in TV Guide: 1989. Why 51 and not 52? I don’t have a copy of the December 30th, 1989 issue of TV Guide in my collection. I tried to acquire one but wasn’t able to. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.

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2 Replies to “A Year in TV Guide: December 23rd, 1989”

  1. I want to give you a big thanks for the work in doing these 51 reviews. It’s been an interesting and fun project to follow and read! :)

  2. I really enjoyed remembering the 1989 season, I am hoping that you will consider doing this series in 2020. I would to see the 1966, 1967 and 1968 issues on TV Guide.

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