Welcome to Benjamonster's TV - a place that covers broadcast networks with reviews, ratings, and other features!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

WEEKEND REWIND: ABC 1988-89 Season

ABC 1988-89 SEASON
ABC had some things to look forward to for the first time in a couple years after several successful shows premiered the previous season - Emmy winners The Wonder Years and thirtysomething plus Full House, Just the Ten of Us, and China Beach were among ABC's young shows that was helping to reshape the lineup. The 1988 season was delayed by a long writers' strike that lasted through much of the summer. Because of that, most shows didn't premiere until late October or early November. It was an odd start but ABC's revival continued this year thanks in large part to one brassy comedienne and her self-titled show.

Mondays
(Sep 19-Oct 3)
8:00 Monday Night Football

(Oct 10-Dec 19)
8:00 MacGyver
9:00 Monday Night Football

(Jan 9-23)
8:00 MacGyver
9:00 Monday Night Movie

(Feb 6-May 22)
8:00 MacGyver
9:00 Monday Mystery Movie: Columbo, BL Stryker, Gideon Oliver
With the writers' strike hurting the beginning of the season, ABC tried a few weeks of expanded Monday Night Football, but that didn't last long and they aired repeats of MacGyver until the show was ready to premiere on November 14. Then the regular Monday plan continued through the end of Monday Night Football and start of the movie. Then ABC tried something different starting in February. Rather than a different movie each week, they rotated three mystery series in two hour movie blocks. They aired the long-running Columbo starring Peter Falk, BL Stryker starring Burt Reynolds, and Gideon Oliver starring Louis Gossett Jr. It was a valiant effort for something different and it worked for awhile but not when they moved it to Saturdays the following season.

Tuesdays
(Oct 18-Nov 29)
8:00 Who's the Boss?
8:30 Roseanne
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie

(Dec 6-Feb 14)
8:00 Who's the Boss?
8:30 Roseanne
9:00 Moonlighting
10:00 thirtysomething

(Feb 28-Apr 11)
8:00 Who's the Boss?
8:30 The Wonder Years
9:00 Roseanne
9:30 Anything But Love (starting Mar 7)
10:00 thirtysomething

(Apr 18-May 16)
8:00 Who's the Boss?
8:30 The Wonder Years
9:00 Roseanne
9:30 Have Faith
10:00 thirtysomething
"Roseanne"
"Anything But Love"
ABC started the season with just two comedies because Moonlighting and thirtysomething weren't ready yet due to the Writer's Strike. However, they struck comedy gold when they paired the popular Who's the Boss? with a new blue collar comedy from stand up comedienne Roseanne Barr. Roseanne hit comedy gold as it was a massive hit with audiences and critics alike. The show single-handedly became ABC's new cornerstone show and was one of the most talked about sitcoms in years. Moonlighting and thirtysomething finally joined the lineup in December but Moonlighting was not the show it used to be. It was tired and the actors were ready to move on (Bruce Willis became a huge movie star thanks to Die Hard). The show was yanked from its longtime Tuesday home in February and it was moved to Sundays for one last gasp effort before cancellation. ABC used its new hit in Roseanne to create a four comedy block on Tuesday nights with Who's the Boss? and Roseanne as the anchor shows. Calling the block "Terrific Tuesday," they also moved The Wonder Years from Wednesdays to Tuesdays to strengthen the block. At 9:30pm, they launched the new Anything But Love starring Richard Lewis and Jamie Lee Curtis. The show placed in the Top 20 its first year due to its massive lead-in but it always seemed to be one of those lead-in dependent shows as it bounced around the schedule for a few years. When its quick first season ended, ABC tried another sitcom in Have Faith. The sitcom about a catholic priest was not as successful a companion to Roseanne as Anything But Love was and was cancelled at the end of the season.

Wednesdays
(Oct 19-Nov 23)
8:00 Growing Pains
8:30 Head of the Class
9:00 Wednesday Night Movie

(Nov 30-Feb 22)
8:00 Growing Pains
8:30 Head of the Class
9:00 The Wonder Years
9:30 Hooperman
10:00 China Beach

(Mar 1-22)
8:00 Growing Pains
8:30 Head of the Class
9:00 Coach
9:30 Hooperman
10:00 China Beach

(Apr 5-May 17)
8:00 Growing Pains
8:30 Head of the Class
9:00 Coach
9:30 The Robert Guillaume Show
10:00 China Beach
"Coach"
Wednesday nights were pretty stable this season and quite popular for the first half of the night. Like other nights, the shows rolled on in waves after the strike. At first were two very popular shows in the middle of their runs - Growing Pains and Head of the Class. The two shows fit together very nicely and occupied the 8pm hour for the whole year. After a few weeks of movies, the 9pm-11pm time was added back in starting with the Emmy Award winning The Wonder Years and the second season of narrowly renewed Hooperman. One of these things was not like the others in this lineup as the first three shows placed in the Top 20 while Hooperman was all the way down at #60. Still, it managed to last all the way until March. In fact, The Wonder Years moved to Tuesday first and a new 9pm show joined. After a premiere following Roseanne, Coach joined the lineup on Wednesday nights. The sitcom starring Craig T. Nelson was a popular fixture for nearly a decade on ABC but it constantly seemed to play second fiddle to shows like Roseanne and eventually Home Improvement. It bounced around a lot during its nine season run but still managed to be pretty popular at the time and even somewhat in syndication. When Hooperman was finally pulled from the schedule in March, it was replaced by The Robert Guillaume Show. The Benson star returned to ABC in a controversial sitcom featuring an interracial couple. Though ABC backed the show publicly, they aired episodes out of order and gave it a quick hook. While I can't comment on the show's quality as I have never seen it, the fact that it was controversial in a sign of how much things have changed since 1989. All year, the critically acclaimed but ratings challenged China Beach aired at 10pm. It had enough good will and did well enough to earn a third season.

Thursdays
(Nov 10-Dec 22)
8:00 Knightwatch
9:00 Dynasty
10:00 Specials

(Jan 5-19)
8:00 Knightwatch
9:00 Dynasty
10:00 Heartbeat

(Jan 26-Mar 2)
8:00 A Fine Romance
9:00 Dynasty
10:00 Heartbeat

(Mar 16-May 11)
8:00 Specials
9:00 Dynasty
10:00 Heartbeat (through Apr 6)
"Knightwatch"
The previous season had no returnees on Thursday so it was once again back to the drawing board for ABC. The entire night didn't start until November as specials and movies filled the first two months after the strike. When a new lineup came, it was the new show Knightwatch at 8pm. The gritty drama starred a young Benjamin Bratt and was about former gang members volunteering to help law enforcement. The show made it 8 episodes before cancellation. At 9pm was the final season of Dynasty. The former #1 show had fallen all the way to #57 and was cancelled at the end of the season. The Reagan era it was so associated was ending just as the show was and it got cancelled too late to give the show a proper finale though a very popular TV movie miniseries continued the story in 1991. Specials occupied the 10pm slot until January when Heartbeat returned for a second season. The show probably didn't deserve a second season and it only lasted 12 episodes before specials returned to 10pm for the remainder of the year. Later on in the season after Knightwatch was cancelled, ABC tried another new show - the offbeat romantic mystery drama A Fine Romance. The show wasn't definitely not a self starter at 8pm (ABC had troubles with this slot even way back then!) and was cancelled after 7 episodes and replaced with specials for the rest of the year.

Fridays
8:00 Perfect Strangers
8:30 Full House
9:00 Mr. Belvedere
9:30 Just the Ten of Us
10:00 20/20
It might be hard to believe but this lineup didn't change at all throughout the entire season. One year before the TGIF brand took over Friday nights, this lineup was a hint of things to come. After a successful move to Friday nights the previous spring, Perfect Strangers returned to lead off the night. It was paired with Full House which was a growing hit and the top rated show of the block. The 9pm hour wasn't as strong as Mr. Belvedere and Just the Ten of Us were both weaker entries but did enough to get renewals. Veteran newsmagazine 20/20 was finding its footing on Friday nights and was the top draw in the timeslot among the three networks.

Saturdays
(Sep 24-Nov 26)
8:00 Specials
9:00 Saturday Night Movie

(Dec 3-17)
8:00 Murphy's Law
9:00 Saturday Night Movie

(Jan 14-Mar 18)
8:00 Mission: Impossible (starting Jan 28)
9:00 A Man Called Hawk (starting Jan 28)
10:00 Murphy's Law

(Mar 25-May 6)
8:00 Mission: Impossible
9:00 A Man Called Hawk
10:00 Men (through April 22)
"A Man Called Hawk"
I guess you could say that Saturdays were slightly more stable this season for ABC and it did manage to get one show that aired on the night renewed. No shows aired until December on this night when Murphy's Law made its debut at 8pm. The light hearted dramedy starring George Segal aired at both 8pm & 10pm and couldn't make much of a dent in either slot. After it moved to 10pm, ABC brought two more shows to the night. The high profile remake of Mission: Impossible wasn't working on Sundays and moved to Saturdays. It did enough to get a second season though it was one of the many remakes that didn't live up to expectations. At 9pm was A Man Called Hawk, a spinoff of the cancelled Spenser: For Hire starring popular sidekick Avery Brooks. It was an early crime drama to star a black actor but it couldn't make things work on Saturday nights. When Murphy's Law was cancelled, it was replaced at the end of the season but the little remembered buddy drama Men. The show lasted a mere 5 episodes in the sleepy Saturday 10pm slot. And you wonder why networks don't program on Saturdays anymore.

Sundays
(Oct 9-Jan 15)
7:00 Incredible Sunday
8:00 Mission: Impossible (starting Oct 16)
9:00 Sunday Night Movie

(Jan 29-Feb 5)
7:00 Incredible Sunday
8:00 Studio 5-B
9:00 Sunday Night Movie

(Feb 26-May 14)
7:00 Great Circuses of the World (through Apr 16)
8:00 Moonlighting (starting Apr 2)
9:00 Sunday Night Movie
"Mission: Impossible"
ABC did away with its Disney movie on Sunday night and went back to regular series from 7-9pm. They started the season with two remakes of older shows. At 7pm was Incredible Sunday, a remake of the popular 1980-84 series That's Incredible! The unscripted series was full of stunts and hijinks and hosted by (among others) Growing Pains' Tracey Gold. The show lasted until February and then returned for a few more episodes in the summer months before going off the air as it couldn't recapture the magic of the original series. At 8pm was a remake of Mission: Impossible starring Peter Graves that was in a very unique position at the beginning of the season. As other shows were delayed by the writers' strike, ABC decided to use scripts from the original hit series updated to reflect the 1980s culture. This allowed ABC to get Mission: Impossible out of the gate sooner. Only a few remake episodes were made as the strike ended and the valiant effort by ABC didn't ultimately mean much. The show faltered on Sunday nights and was moved to a less pressurized Saturday slot where it narrowly got a second season renewal. When it moved to Saturdays, it was briefly replaced by Studio 5-B about a Canadian TV station. The show managed just three episodes (two of them on Sunday night) before being quickly cancelled. At the end of the season, 7pm was given to reality show Great Circuses of the World hosted by Mary Hart while 8pm was given to the final few episodes of Moonlighting. At 9pm throughout the entire season was a movie but it continued to lag in the ratings.

ABC 1988-89 Stats

Shows in the Top 30
2. Roseanne
7. Who's the Boss?
10. Anything But Love
13. Growing Pains
15. Monday Night Football
20. Head of the Class
22. The Wonder Years
29. ABC Mystery Movie

Fall Shows Survival: 2/5 (40%)
Roseanne, Mission: Impossible

Midseason Shows Survival: 2/9 (22%)
Coach, Anything But Love

Total New Shows Survival Rate: 4/14 (29%)

Cancelled/Ended Series
Dynasty (9 seasons)
Moonlighting (5 seasons)
Hooperman/Heartbeat (2 seasons)
Incredible Sunday/Murphy's Law/Knightwatch/A Fine Romance/Studio 5-B/A Man Called Hawk/Great Circuses of the World/Men/The Robert Guillaume Show/Have Faith (1 season)

Emmy Award Nominees & Winners (Major Categories)
China Beach (Nominee, Outstanding Drama Series)
thirtysomething (Nominee, Outstanding Drama Series)
The Wonder Years (Nominee, Outstanding Comedy Series)
Dana Delany, China Beach (WINNER, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
John Goodman, Roseanne (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series)
Fred Savage, The Wonder Years (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series)
Timothy Busfield, thirtysomething (Nominee, Oustanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series)
Melanie Mayron, thirtysomething (WINNER, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series)
Katherine Helmond, Who's the Boss? (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series)

No comments:

Post a Comment