A Year in TV Guide: December 2nd, 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 #48
December 2nd, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 48, Issue #1914
Dayton Edition

On the Cover (clockwise from top): Bob Hope, by Alice S. Hall; Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwen, by Kobal Collection; The Peanuts Gang, by © 1950, 52, 58 United Features Syndicate; Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett, by Bob D’Amico; Kenny Rogers Jr. and Kenny Rogers, by Kenny Rogers

  • Scan of the front cover to the December 2nd, 1989 issue of TV Guide magazine
    Cover to the December 2nd, 1989 issue of TV Guide | Copyright 1989 Triangle Publications, Inc.

The Magazine


This week’s issue includes just four articles:

  • Your Guide to the Season’s Viewing, by Larry Closs
  • Ring in the Holidays with These Specials
  • The Best Video Games to Put Under the Tree, by Howard Polskin
  • Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran Climb Back in the Ring, by Jose Torres

The cover article is an 11-page look at made-for-TV movies and specials airing during the first two weeks of December. Included are previews of the CBS made-for-TV movie No Place Like Home, the TNT made-for-TV movie Dinner at Eight (co-starring Lauren Bacall), the NBC made-for-TV movie Christmas in America, and an ABC variety special featuring Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett. There’s also a four-age overview of network and cable specials airing throughout December, arranged into four broad categories: Drama, For Kids, Music & Variety, and Movie Classics.

Among the video games Howard Polskin recommends are Dragon Warrior, Faxanadu, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Nintendo), Dungeon Explorer and Victory Run (NEC Turbografx), Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts and Thunder Force (Sega Genesis), Tetris (Game Boy), and BlueLightning (Atari Lynx).

I skipped the article about the December 7th fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran.

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 Oprah Winfrey reprising her The Women of Brewster Place role in the upcoming ABC series, what’s in Gil Gerard’s contract should his CBS made-for-TV movie The Elite go to series, what Michael Gross wants to do now that Family Ties is over, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about John Loprieno, Judith Borne, and Elizabeth Lawrence in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles the new NFL analysts CBS has hired, including Ken Stabler and Dan Fouts, who will join Terry Bradshaw.

Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Badge of the Assassin ($89.95), Breaking Point ($79.98), Easy Wheels ($89.95), The Shooting ($29.98), Thunderground ($89.95), The San Francisco Earthquake ($14.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises the return of Doctor, Doctor on CBS, laments a recent thirtysomething episode for its stereotypical depiction of a gay couple, criticizes Pat Sajak and sidekick Dan Miller “for their contrived, tasteless and tacky antics” on The Pat Sajak Show, and applauds the new host of Mystery! on PBS: Diana Rigg.


[There is no review in this issue.]

The Program Section

[The Program Section includes the following features: TV Guide Plus, The Collins Report, 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 networks will cover the upcoming Bush-Gorbachev summit in Malta on December 2nd and 3rd.

Other reports: The networks have teamed up for “Prime Time to End Hunger,” a campaign to help raise awareness about homelessness; China Beach guest star Haing S. Ngor, who plays a Cambodian forced to fight for the Viet Cong, was tortured and nearly executed by the Khmer Rouge in his native Cambodia; Kevin Dobson will appear in an upcoming installment of Kojak, reprising his role of Bobby Crocker from the TV series; Daniel J. Travanti hopes his NBC TV-movie Howard Beach: Making the Case for Murder is appreciated by viewers and critics; upcoming NBC made-for-TV movie Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes will not film on location in Hiroshima.


[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 Robert MacKenzie’s review of Doogie Howser, M.D., published in the November 4th issue. Here they are:

Reviewer Robert MacKenzie calls Doogie Howser, M.D. a “bad idea” “Review,” Nov. 4]. I disagree. Maybe no hospital would employ a 16-year-old doctor, but who says this is the real world? I think it’s time that we relax and start seeing a few “off the wall” series on TV.
Amy L.
Lake Worth, Fla.

I don’t suppose MacKenzie ever heard of any other successful shows with preposterous premises. Are there really witches? Is there such a place as the Twilight Zone? Do horses talk?
Arlene D.

The Collins Report

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

Collins takes a look at Pat Sajak and The Pat Sajak Show, which isn’t doing well in the ratings or with critics. CBS is sticking with the show and making changes to improve ratings, including cutting it from 90 minutes to an hour. Also, Collins mockingly provides a definition of the word “norville,” which means “to unseat or supplant an older co-worker but questionable but public means,” a reference to Deborah Norville replacing Jane Pauley on The Today Show.

Channel Directory

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

The Listings

Close Ups

  • Bush-Gorbachev Meeting (ABC/CBS/CNN/NBC)
  • NFL Football: Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (NBC, Sunday at 1PM)
  • Movie: The Shell Seekers (ABC, Sunday at 9PM)
  • Movie: No Place Like Home (CBS, Sunday at 9PM)
  • [Cable Close Up] ACC-Big East Challenge (ESPN, Monday at 7PM/9PM)
  • Movie: Howard Beach: Making the Case for Murder (NBC, Monday at 9PM)
  • Newhart, “Cupcake in a Cage” (CBS, Monday at 10PM)

Do You Remember…?

Saturday, December 2nd, 1989
8:30PM ABC (6) (12) LIVING DOLLS (CC)–Comedy
Trish’s ex-husband (Edward Winter) moves back to New York–right around the corner–hoping not only to be closer to Rich (David Moscow), but to Trish (Michael Learned) as well.

Sunday, December 3rd, 1989
7:00PM FOX (19) (28) (45) BOOKER (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Booker (Richard Grieco) misses the action on the street, but he’s back in the middle of it when a gang member shoots Jump Street’s Judy (Holly Robinson). (Repeat)

8PM ABC (2) (6) (12) FREE SPIRIT (CC)–Comedy
Gene (Edan Gross) abuses Winnie’s niceness and gets her to “magic finger” an heirloom watch that he broke, but then he thinks he can get away with anything, any time.
[Postponed from an earlier date.]

NBC (4) (5) (22) ANN JILLIAN (CC)–Comedy
A school counselor (Rebecca McLaughlin) guides Lucy (Lisa Rieffel) toward an un-academic course load, leaving Lucy feeling a little less than average and Ann (Ann Jillian) concerned. Meanwhile, Kaz (Zachary Rosenkrantz) begins piano lessons with a teacher whose mind is on the man who jilted her.

8:30PM ABC (2) (6) (12) HOMEROOM (CC)–Comedy
Anthony (Claude Brooks) gets a break when he directs his first commercial, but the kids refuse to give Darryl (Darryl Sivad) a break when they find out he was once a practical joker.

NBC (4) (5) (22) SISTER KATE (CC)–Comedy
Sister Agnes (Marion Ross), a temporary resident who has spent 25 years of serenity and silence in a convent, finds old habits hard to keep at Redemption House.

9PM NBC (4) (5) (22) TRUE BLUE (CC)–Drama; 2 hrs.
Debut: Daring rescues are routine for the NYPD Emergency Services Unit which, in the opener, deals with a boy wedged in an elevator shaft; a suicidal jumper; a woman trapped in a car underwater; and terrorists who hijack a school bus carrying 13 children.
[An additional episode airs Friday in the series’ regular time slot.]

9:30PM FOX (36) (28) (50D) (55) 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. (Repeat)

Monday, December 4th, 1989
In order to “become” his next role as a Greek-American, a method actor with a bad-boy reputation wants to use the Zakalokis home as a study ground, as long as everything is “real.”

9PM FOX (19) (28) (50D) ALIEN NATION (CC); 60 min.
After taking a bullet in the arm to save George (Eric Pierpoint), a Newcomer patrolman dies during minor surgery performed by the director of a Newcomer clinic, who’s done quite well since his high-school days with Sikes (Gary Graham). (Repeat)

Thursday, December 7th, 1989
9PM CBS (7) (9) (10) TOP OF THE HILL (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
Terrorists threaten Susan (Jordan Baker) after a gas leak from a foreign chemical plant built by her father kills thousands, sending Tom (William Katt) scrambling for information from the intelligence community.

Friday, December 8th, 1989
8PM CBS (7) (9) (10) SNOOPS (CC)–Mystery; 60 min.
An estranged father seeks to mend fences with his 19-year-old daughter, an aspiring ballroom-dance instructor, but she fails to show for their meeting, and neighbors report hearing a gunshot at the studio where she hoped to teach.

9PM NBC (4) (5) (22) TRUE BLUE (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
Geneo and Wojeski confront a machete-wielding maniac (Dominic Marcus) who has commandeered a city bus; a rookie (Grant Shaw) joins the unit; Mike and Odom try to free a woman (Sandy Dell) pinned in her car after an accident; and the ESU sends in “Robocop” to handle a gunman (Billy “Sly” Williams) who’s holding a store owner hostage. Later, the cops head for the Statue of Liberty, where a distraught deaf man (Mike Lamitola) is ready to jump.

10PM NBC (4) (5) (22) MANCUSO, FBI (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Mancuso and Kristen (Robert Loggia, Lindsay Frost) probe the possibiliity [sic] that the crash of a classified stealth helicopter may have been caused by a design flaw, and not “pilot error” as claimed.

Final Thoughts

I’m sure the holiday viewing guide was useful to readers back in 1989 but it wasn’t useful or interesting to me three decades later. With November sweeps over, repeats began creeping into the schedule. Plus, NBC rolled out another new show: True Blue.

That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the December 9th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.

One Reply to “A Year in TV Guide: December 2nd, 1989”

  1. On THE PAT SAJAK SHOW, I was disappointed how Pat had his announcer/sidekick, Dan Miller, act so foolishly often on his show. Dan was previously a respected anchorman whom I watched on Nashville’s WSM-TV/WSMV, Eventually Dan left Hollywood and spent the remainder of his life at WSMV back in Nashville until he died in 2009.

    I remember reading that bit about Deborah Norville, and later I read an article by Deborah herself, probably in GUIDEPOSTS, stating that she wanted to work WITH Jane Pauley, not to replace her, and that she was hurt that her family name had been abused in such a way [as Ms. Collins did here]. She bounced back eventually to host INSIDE EDITION, as I recall anyway.

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