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Sunday, October 20, 2013

WEEKEND REWIND: CBS 1988-89 Season

Check out my Weekend Rewind for ABC's 1988-89 season!

Things were getting pretty bleak for CBS after years of no new hits. In fact, they hadn't had a breakout hit since Murder She Wrote back in the 1984-85 season. They were down to just five shows in the Top 30 with three of them on Sunday night. They also lost two long-running hits in Magnum PI and Cagney and Lacey and several other shows were getting old. Luckily, their fortunes changed some this season as they finally had that elusive hit in the critically acclaimed and viewer favorite Murphy Brown, though even that show didn't break the Top 30 in its first year and the rest of the class tanked. The 1988-89 season was impacted early on by a prolonged Writers Strike in the summer of 1988. Many new shows didn't premiere until late October or early November.

Mondays
(Oct 24-Nov 21)
8:00 Newhart
8:30 Coming of Age
9:00 Murphy Brown (starting Nov 14)
9:30 Designing Women (starting Nov 14)
10:00 Various Programming

(Nov 28-Mar 13)
8:00 Newhart (starting Dec 12)
8:30 Kate & Allie (starting Dec 12)
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 Designing Women
10:00 Almost Grown (through Feb 27)

(Mar 20-May 22)
8:00 Live-In
8:30 Heartland
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 Designing Women
10:00 Newhart
10:30 Kate & Allie
"Murphy Brown"
Monday nights started with the usual set-up though they briefly went to three hours of comedy at the end of the season. The year started with the aging Newhart moving to the 8pm slot. It was paired with Coming of Age, which had aired just three episodes in the previous season. It was quickly cancelled in year two and replaced by veteran Kate & Allie in its final season of a six year run. In November, their new 9pm hour debuted with newbie Murphy Brown taking over the 9pm anchor slot. The show was a success and eventually revitalized CBS Mondays though it did not make the Top 30 in its first year. Though Murphy has not aged well, it was a topical hit that earned much critical acclaim and awards. It was seen as a new Mary Tyler Moore for the late 1980s. It also helped Designing Women to become a bigger success in its third season as the two shows were very compatible. Various programs aired in the 10pm hour, thanks to the strike, until the end of November when Almost Grown premiered. The romantic drama starring Timothy Daly and Eve Gordon did not do much and was cancelled after 9 episodes. In March, CBS tried three straight hours of comedy which has never worked in broadcast TV history. It didn't work here either thanks to a pair of new weaklings in the 8pm hour. Live-In, a New Jersey set sitcom, and Heartland, starring Brian Keith, were both family comedies that didn't fit with the workplace comedies that followed. They both had short spring runs before being cancelled. The Newhart/Kate & Allie combo moved to the 10pm hour but comedies never really work in the hour. Kate & Allie was cancelled after six seasons while Newhart was clearly on the downswing after seven seasons.

Tuesdays
(Oct 4-Nov 1)
8:00 High Risk
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie

(Nov 15-Dec 27)
8:00 TV 101 (Nov 29-Dec 20)
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie

(Jan 3-May 16)
8:00 Tour of Duty
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie
"TV 101"
Tuesday nights had a movie at 9pm all season while three different shows were attempted in the 8pm hour. First up was High Risk, a Wayne Rogers hosted reality show that was really just filled until the Writers Strike ended. In November, TV 101 launched. The show was set at a high school and starred Sam Robards as a journalism teacher who taught his class how to produce a TV news program. The show was not particularly notable except it featured a young Matt LeBlanc. The show was given two more chances on Wednesdays and Saturdays but CBS couldn't make it work anywhere. CBS found a show to stick, at least for the rest of the season, in January with the second season of Tour of Duty. The show was critically acclaimed but it could never find a strong audience.


Wednesdays
(Sep 21-Oct 19)
8:00 Various Programming
9:00 The Equalizer
10:00 Wiseguy

(Oct 26-Dec 28)
8:00 The Van Dyke Show (through Dec 7)
8:30 Annie McGuire
9:00 The Equalizer
10:00 Wiseguy

(Jan 4-Feb 15)
8:00 TV 101 (through Feb 1)
9:00 The Equalizer
10:00 Wiseguy

(Mar 1-May 10)
8:00 Hard Time on Planet Earth
9:00 Jake and the Fatman (starting Mar 15)
10:00 Wiseguy
"Annie McGuire"
Wednesday nights had lots of different lineups shuffle through though Wiseguy aired at 10pm for the entire season. The season started with specials at 8pm thanks to the strike leading into The Equalizer at 9pm. The show had been marginally successful but it was cancelled at the end of the run after four seasons and 88 episodes. At the end of October, CBS tried a new comedy block at 8pm with two familiar stars - The Van Dyke Show starring Dick Van Dyke and Annie McGuire starring Mary Tyler Moore. Bringing these two beloved CBS stars back in new sitcoms seemed like a good idea but neither show could gain traction and they were both cancelled quickly, with Moore staying slightly longer than Van Dyke. These two shows were two more of the many examples of stars trying to recapture the glory of earlier smash hits but finding less success. It's a very hard thing to do because a new show will constantly be compared to the classic show. Tuesday castoff TV 101 replaced the sitcoms but it only lasted three weeks. In March, a new lineup took over from 8-10pm. At 8pm was Hard Time on Planet Earth, a science fiction show starring Martin Kove and set in the future. The show was a flop with critics and viewers and lasted for 13 episodes. Jake and the Fatman had been on the bench until midseason but it came to 9pm and aired its 11 episode second season there. The drama was renewed for a full third season after a decent performance.

Thursdays
(Sep 22-Oct 20)
8:00 48 Hours
9:00 Thursday Night Movie

(Oct 27-Mar 16)
8:00 48 Hours
9:00 Paradise
10:00 Knots Landing 

(Mar 30-May 25)
8:00 48 Hours
9:00 The Equalizer
10:00 Knots Landing (through May 18)
"Paradise"
Thursday nights were delayed like most nights due to the strike as just 48 Hours and a movie aired. At the end of October, the movie was replaced by the new western drama Paradise starring Lee Horsley. This is one of the most recent true westerns that lasted more than a season. I personally would like to see networks try westerns again. There have been some in development in recent years but nothing picked up. It was paired with Knots Landing, which was aging but still successful. In late March, The Equalizer replaced Paradise to run out its final season.

Fridays
(Oct 28-May 19)
8:00 Beauty and the Beast (starting Nov 18)
9:00 Dallas
10:00 Falcon Crest
Fridays were the same for the second straight year with the marginally rated Beauty and the Beast and the aging soaps Dallas and Falcon Crest. The 1980s were coming to a close and the opulent soaps that defined dramas of the era were on the decline.

Saturdays
(Oct 8-22)
8:00 Live! Dick Clark Presents
9:00 Simon & Simon
10:00 West 57th

(Oct 29-Dec 31)
8:00 Dirty Dancing
8:30 Raising Miranda (started Nov 5)
9:00 Simon & Simon
10:00 West 57th

(Jan 21-Feb 18)
8:00 Dolphin Cove
9:00 The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (started Jan 28)
10:00 West 57th

(Feb 25-Mar 25)
8:00 Dolphin Cove (through Mar 11)
9:00 TV 101
10:00 West 57th

(Apr 8-15)
8:00 Paradise
9:00 Saturday Night Movie

(Apr 22-May 27)
8:00 Paradise (started Apr 29)
9:00 Jesse Hawkes
10:00 West 57th 
Saturdays had many different attempts from 8-10pm with newsmagazine West 57th airing all season at 10pm. The rest of the night was a mess though. It started with the short-lived variety show Live! Dick Clark Presents and the final season of Simon & Simon, which was cancelled after eight seasons. In late October, two comedies premiered. Dirty Dancing was a TV adaptation of the popular 1987 movie. Like so many other shows based on hit movies, it flopped quickly. It was paired with the family sitcom Raising Miranda starring James Naughton and featuring a young Bryan Cranston. Both shows were gone around the new year. The new 8pm occupant was Dolphin Cove, a gentle family drama set in Queensland, Australia. It was paired with the short-lived second season of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and then the final attempt for TV 101. Finally in April, Paradise moved to the night as Saturday was a common place for westerns to find themselves. It was paired with a late entry, crime drama Jesse Hawkes starring Robert Conrad and his sons Shane and Christian. After all these changes, the only Saturday show to live on into the 1989-90 season was Paradise as even West 57th was cancelled.

Sundays
7:00 60 Minutes
8:00 Murder She Wrote
9:00 Sunday Night Movie
For another year, Sundays were extremely steady with three extremely popular entries - 60 Minutes, Murder She Wrote, and the Sunday Night Movie.

CBS 1988-89 Stats

Shows in the Top 30
5. 60 Minutes
8. Murder She Wrote
27. Knots Landing/Sunday Night Movie
29. Dallas

Fall Shows Survival: 2/10 (20%)
Paradise, Murphy Brown

Midseason Shows Survival: 0/5 (0%)

Total New Shows Survival Rate: 2/14 (14%)

Cancelled/Ended Series
Simon & Simon (8 seasons)
Kate & Allie (6 seasons)
West 57th (5 seasons)
The Equalizer (4 seasons)
Coming of Age/The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (2 seasons)
Live! Dick Clark Presents/High Risk/The Van Dyke Show/Annie McGuire/Dirty Dancing/Raising Miranda/Almost Grown/TV 101/Dolphin Cove/Hard Time on Planet Earth/Live-In/Heartland/Jesse Hawkes (1 season)

Emmy Award Nominees & Winners (Major Categories)
Beauty and the Beast (Nominee, Outstanding Drama Series)
Wiseguy (Nominee, Outstanding Drama Series)
Designing Women (Nominee, Outstanding Comedy Series)
Murphy Brown (Nominee, Outstanding Comedy Series)
Ron Perlman, Beauty and the Beast (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series)
Ken Wahl, Wiseguy (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series)
Edward Woodward, The Equalizer (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series)
Linda Hamilton, Beauty and the Beast (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Angela Lansbury, Murder She Wrote (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Candice Bergen, Murphy Brown (WINNER, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series)
Jonathan Banks, Wiseguy (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series)
Joe Regalbuto, Murphy Brown (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series)
Peter Scolari, Newhart (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series)
Meshach Taylor, Designing Women (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series)
Julia Duffy, Newhart (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series)
Faith Ford, Murphy Brown (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series)

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