A Year in TV Guide: December 9th, 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 #49
December 9th, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 49, Issue #1915
Hartford-New Haven Edition

On the Cover: 16 stars of the 1980s, including Vanna White, ALF, Hulk Hogan, Oprah Winfrey, and Tom Selleck

  • Scan of the front cover to the December 9th, 1989 issue of TV Guide magazine
    Cover to the December 9th, 1989 issue of TV Guide | Copyright 1989 Triangle Publications, Inc.

The Magazine


This week’s issue includes just four articles:

  • ‘The 80s: The Twenty Top Television Personalities, The Twenty Top Shows of the Decade, Twenty Moments That Shaped–and Shook-the Decade, by Myles Callum, Michael A. Lipton and Howard Polskin
  • Decade of Change, Decade of Choice, by Neil Hickey
  • …And Those Who Left Us
  • Test Your TV Knowledge of the ’80s, by Teresa Hagan

This special issue is all about the 1980s. The lengthy three-part cover article lists the Top 10 TV personalities and the Top 20 TV shows of the 1980s plus 20 moments that shaped and/or shook the decade.

Here are the Twenty Top Television Personalities of the 1980s:

  1. Bill Cosby
  2. Larry Hagman
  3. Oprah Winfrey
  4. Ronald Reagan
  5. Joan Collins
  6. Ted Koppel
  7. Vanna White
  8. David Letterman
  9. Michael J. Fox
  10. Tom Selleck
  11. The California Raisins
  12. Sam Donaldson
  13. John Madden
  14. Hulk Hogan
  15. Don Johnson
  16. Roseanne Barr
  17. Dan Rather
  18. Morton Downey Jr.
  19. ALF
  20. Pee-wee Herman

Here are the Twenty Top Shows of the Decade:

  1. The Cosby Show
  2. Dallas
  3. Hill Street Blues
  4. Dynasty
  5. Brideshead Revisited
  6. Nightline
  7. Cheers
  8. Moonlighting
  9. Miami Vice
  10. The Day After
  11. Wheel of Fortune
  12. Lonesome Dove
  13. L.A. Law
  14. The Winds of War / War and Remembrance
  15. Saturday Night Live
  16. The Golden Girls
  17. Tabloid TV (A Current Affair, Inside Edition, Hard Copy, etc.)
  18. The Thorn Birds
  19. The Wonder Years
  20. St. Elsewhere

Finally, here are the 20 Moments That Shaped–and Shook–the Decade:

  1. U.S. Hockey Team Beats Soviets
  2. News Goes ‘Round-the-Clock
  3. Who Shot J.R.?
  4. Reagan Assassination Attempt
  5. Charles Weds Di
  6. I Want My MTV!
  7. Luke Weds Laura
  8. M*A*S*H–The Final Episode
  9. Michael Jackson Does Pepsi
  10. The Challenger Disaster
  11. Geraldo Opens Capone’s Vault
  12. Diane Leaves Sam
  13. Oliver North Testifies
  14. The Baby Jessica Rescue
  15. Rather Confronts Bush
  16. Swaggart Sobs
  17. The China Uprisings
  18. Fox Tops the Big Three
  19. The San Francisco Earthquake
  20. The Berlin Wall Opens

Neil Hickey’s article about change and choice during the 1980s focuses on two technologies: VCRs and cable television. It features several graphs, including Percentage of TV homes with Remote Control (34% in 1982; 52% in 1989), Percent of TV Homes with Cable (21.7% in 1980; 56.4% in 1989), and Percentage of TV Homes with VCRs (4.3% in 1982; 65.8% in 1989)

A two-page TV quiz has questions like “Can you name Higgins’ two Doberman pincers on Magnum, P.I.?” and “What was the first movie video-cassette to carry a commercial? For extra credit, name the product.”

There’s also a one-page list of actors, actresses, hosts, and personalities who died during the 1980s.

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 Ron Howard having second thoughts about bringing his movie Parenthood to television, Matt Frewer’s real-life wife guest-starring on his CBS sitcom Doctor, Doctor, Michael Landon’s new house, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about A Martinez, Jeanne Cooper, and Eilen Fulton in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles the career and criticism of Dick Vitale.

Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: 84 Charlie MoPic ($89.95), How to Get Ahead in Advertising ($89.95), Listen to Me ($89.95), Mesmerized ($89.98), Miracle Mile ($89.99), Monster High ($89.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises TNT for airing a new Dr. Seuss special, criticizes the U.S. Supreme Court for refusing to allow TV cameras, and applauds Farrah Fawcett for “proving that her talent is more than just skin-deep.”


[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 examines the troubled CBS schedule and the departure of CBS Entertainment president Kim LeMasters.

Other reports: Falcon Crest‘s David Selby forced a script change over a seduction scene; MTV has a double standard when it comes to raunchiness; David Garrison is temporarily leaving Married with Children; lots of cast changes for daytime soap operas; ABC’s made-for-TV movie Blind Witness out-rated a repeat showing of the movie Top Gun on NBC.


[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 seven letters respond to an article about Farrah Fawcett published in the November 11th issue. Here they are:

Just who does Farrah Fawcett think she is–judge and jury [“TV GUIDE Plus–Farrah: I Had to Think Twice About Playing a Killer,” Nov. 11]? Fawcett says of [convicted murderer] Diane Downs, the woman she played in Small Sacrifices”: “I did not want to talk to her. I knew she would try to convince me that he was innocent. I also made it a condition before taking on the role that she would not get any money for this, so that she could not use it to pay for an appeal.” What if this woman is innocent?
Pat T.

Farrah Fawcett’s portrayal of Diane Downs was truly her best work to date. I saw her as Diane Downs, not Farrah Fawcett. She no longer has to use her beauty and body to get the point across. Keep up the good work!
Brenda F.
Warner Robins, Ga.

Channel Directory

See my review of the September 9th, 1989 issue for the Channel Directory to the Hartford-New Haven Edition.

The Listings

Close Ups

  • [Cable Close Up] Movie: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Showtime, Saturday at 12:30PM)
  • NFL Football: New York Giants at Denver Broncos (CBS, Sunday at 4PM)
  • [Cable Close Up] NFL Football: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (ESPN, Sunday at 8PM)
  • [Cable Close Up] Movie: Dinner at Eight (TNT, Monday at 8PM/10PM)
  • Julie & Carol: Together Again (ABC, Wednesday at 10PM)

Do You Remember…?

Saturday, December 9th, 1989
8:30PM ABC (7) (8) (40) LIVING DOLLS (CC)–Comedy
The first C grade in Emily’s life comes from a professor (Jack Bannon) who believes that beauty precludes brains.

Sunday, December 10th, 1989
7:00PM FOX (5) (61) BOOKER (CC)–Crime Drama; 60 min.
Booker (Richard Grieco) and a young Teshima exec (Gedde Watanabe) from the home office are sent on a wild chase to find B.B. King’s prized stolen guitar, Lucille.

8PM NBC (4) (22) (30) ANN JILLIAN (CC)–Comedy
When Ann (Ann Jillian) goes out of town to have her wisdom teeth extracted, Lucy (Lisa Rieffel) takes part in a prank that brings the school football hero into the house to stay with her alone.

ABC (7) (40) FREE SPIRIT (CC)–Comedy
Thomas (Franc Luz) hires Winnie (Corinne Bohrer) as a secretary to help him with a contentious divorce, but Winnie moonlights as a marriage counselor for the dueling couple (Robert Reed, Florence Henderson) when she senses that they really still love each other.

8:30PM NBC (4) (22) (30) SISTER KATE (CC)–Comedy
An upcoming French test becomes April’s bete noir; and Todd (Jason Priestly) uses an unwitting Hilary (Penina Segall) in a ploy to attract a salesgirl (Judie Aronson) at the mall.

ABC (7) (40) HOMEROOM (CC)–Comedy
When bus supervisor Phil (Bill Cobbs) tries to teach Darryl’s class about the streets in their neighborhood, he collides with Devon’s bad attitude.

9:30PM FOX (5) (61) OPEN HOUSE (CC)–Comedy
A company physical may embarrass Laura (Mary Page Keller) but Ted (Philip Charles MacKenzie) has reason to suffer after Linda (Alison LaPlaca) doctors his results. (Repeat)

Monday, December 11th, 1989
8:30PM CBS (2) (3) FAMOUS TEDDY Z (CC)–Comedy
After ordering Teddy and Laurie (Jon Cryer, Jane Sibbett) to work on Christmas Day, Al Floss (Alex Rocco) is visited by the ghost of his former boss (Bill Macy), who tells Al to expect more spiritual company throughout Christmas.

9PM FOX (5) (61) ALIEN NATION (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
A Newcomer prostitute takes shelter in Sikes’ apartment after he and George (Eric Pierpoint) rescue her from her pimp. Meanwhile, Buck’s Uncle Moodri (James Greene) offers to help cleanse Buck (Sean Six) of his sin. (Repeat)

Thursday, December 14th, 1989
9PM CBS (2) (3) ISLAND SON (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
Sam (William McNamara), who’s certified, goes diving with a salvage crew and comes up with a serious case of the bends. Meanwhile, Tony (Timothy Carhart) may have to say sayonara to his romance with a Japanese-American whose father bitterly remembers being interned at Manzanar.
[New day and time.]

Friday, December 15th, 1989
9PM NBC (4) (30) TRUE BLUE (CC)–Drama; 60 min.
An Elvis fanatic (Eddie Mekka) holding a young woman hostage in a music store threatens to shoot her unless the ESU cops can produce his idol; Bobby and Jessy respond to a report of a possible jumper on the Williamsburg Bridge; Casey (Grant Show) contends with a mugger; and a radio station’s traffic copter plunges into the East River.

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

Final Thoughts

For readers in December 1989, this special issue looking back at the decade was probably very interesting. It wasn’t interesting for me 30 years later. On television, viewers had new episodes of nearly every soon-to-be obscurity to enjoy.

That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the December 16th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.

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