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Sunday, October 27, 2013

WEEKEND REWIND: CBS 1989-90 Season

Check out my Weekend Rewind for ABC's 1989-90 Season!

CBS had a couple rough years in the mid 1980s. But there were signs of turning the corner in the previous season. The ratings still weren't great but CBS had some critical smashes with Murphy Brown, Beauty and the Beast, Wiseguy, and Designing Women. CBS premiered an abnormally large number of shows this season but only three stuck and none were game changers. CBS did get a surprising hit in the summer of 1991 with Northern Exposure.

(Sep 18-Oct 30)
8:00 Major Dad
8:30 The People Next Door (through Oct 16)
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 The Famous Teddy Z
10:00 Designing Women
10:30 Newhart

(Nov 13-Jan 15)
8:00 Major Dad
8:30 The Famous Teddy Z
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 Designing Women
10:00 Newhart
10:30 Doctor, Doctor

(Jan 29-Feb 26)
8:00 Major Dad
8:30 City
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 Designing Women
10:00 Newhart
10:30 Doctor, Doctor

(Mar 5-Apr 23)
8:00 Major Dad
8:30 City (through Apr 16)
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 Designing Women
10:00 Newhart
10:30 His & Hers

(Apr 30-May 21)
8:00 Major Dad
8:30 Newhart
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 Designing Women
10:00 Various Programming
"Major Dad"
CBS had six comedies on Monday nights. To my knowledge, this is the longest a network ever went with six comedies on a night as that lineup almost never works. The season started with three returning sitcoms and three new ones. The returning Murphy Brown remained as the 9pm anchor while Designing Women and Newhart took the 10pm hour. One of the more successful new shows was Major Dad starring Gerald McRaney as a Marine and family man. The show had a nice four year run. The other two shows were not nearly as successful. The Famous Teddy Z starred a young Jon Cryer as a hotshot young agent and lasted half a season. It also had the rare feat of a cancelled series winning a major Emmy Award when Alex Rocco won Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. The People Next Door was a very bizarre sitcom about a man who saw everything he imagined realized. Critically panned, the show was quickly cancelled after five episodes. The cancellation of The People Next Door had a domino reaction among the other shows. Teddy Z moved to 8:30pm while Designing Women and Newhart slid up half an hour. Doctor Doctor had aired in the summer of 1990 but was rushed back to air in November. It actually did get renewed for a third season. In late January, after The Famous Teddy Z was cancelled, it was replaced by City, a workplace sitcom that brought back Valerie Harper to TV after he highly publicized departure from The Hogan Family a few years earlier. One final sitcom, His & Hers, was brought in. Starring Martin Mull and Stephanie Faracy, His & Hers only made it 13 episodes. At the very end of the season, CBS finally decided the three hours of comedies weren't going to work and they were left with their three returning shows and Major Dad. Newhart aired at 8:30pm for the final four episodes of its successful eight year run including perhaps the most memorable series finale of all time. 

(Sep 19-Nov 14)
8:00 Rescue 911
9:00 Wolf
10:00 Island Son

(Nov 21-May 22)
8:00 Rescue 911
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie
CBS had aired a Tuesday Night Movie for most of the last several years but in this season, they went with three new shows. The reality documentary series Rescue 911 was a hit at 8pm and a cheap option for CBS for many years. The two dramas that aired at 9pm and 10pm were not as successful. Wolf was a detective drama starring Jack Scalia while Island Son was a Hawaiian medical drama starring Richard Chamberlain. Shows like Island Son with aging stars is one reason CBS got (and still has, to an extent) a reputation for being a network for old people. The new dramas didn't work. Wolf was cancelled while Island Son moved to Thursdays for another shot where it didn't work. The dramas were replaced by, you guessed it, a movie. But at least they had Rescue 911 to start out the night now.

(Sep 20-Dec 6)
8:00 A Peaceable Kingdom (through Nov 15)
9:00 Jake and the Fatman
10:00 Wiseguy

(Dec 13-Jan 21)
8:00 Beauty and the Beast
9:00 Jake and the Fatman
10:00 Wiseguy

(Jan 31-Mar 14)
8:00 Grand Slam
9:00 Jake and the Fatman
10:00 Wiseguy

(Mar 21-Apr 11)
8:00 Normal Life
8:30 Sydney
9:00 Jake and the Fatman
10:00 Wiseguy

(Apr 18-May 23)
8:00 Sydney
8:30 Normal Life (through Apr 25)
9:00 Jake and the Fatman (through May 9)
10:00 Various Programming
"A Peaceable Kingdom"
Wednesdays were a little bit of a mess, especially in the 8pm hour. The 9pm and 10pm shows stayed the same as Jake and the Fatman aired all season while Wiseguy aired through April when it was replaced by specials. Both shows were solid performers but not smash hits. The 8pm hour started with A Peaceable Kingdom, a drama set at the Los Angeles Zoo and starring Lindsay Wagner and Tom Wopat. The show lasted only seven episodes as a family drama didn't really fit with the crime dramas that followed. In December, Beauty and the Beast took over. Despite the critical acclaim, it had been held until midseason and only lasted a couple weeks before it was pulled again and burned off in the summer, ending after three seasons. In late January, Grand Slam became the next victim. The show had gotten a post-Super Bowl debut but it was one of the bigger flops to get that honor. The action drama lasted a mere six episodes. In March, dramas weren't working so CBS tried two new sitcoms - Normal Life starred Dweezil and Moon Unit Zappa and Cindy Williams while Syndey starred Valerie Bertinelli and a young Matthew Perry. The two comedies flipped late in the season but both only aired 13 episodes and were quickly forgotten.

(Sep 21-Dec 7)
8:00 48 Hours
9:00 Top of the Hill
10:00 Knots Landing (starting Sep 28)

(Dec 14-Mar 29)
8:00 48 Hours
9:00 Island Son
10:00 Knots Landing

(Apr 5-19)
8:00 48 Hours
9:00 Max Monroe: Loose Cannon
10:00 Various Programming

(Apr 26-May 17)
8:00 48 Hours
9:00 Falcon Crest
10:00 Knots Landing
Thursday nights had 48 Hours air all season at 8pm. The show was a reliable newsmagazine for the hour. They also had Knots Landing at 10pm for most of the season. The problem was the 9pm hour. First up was Top of the Hill, a DC set political drama that lasted just eight episodes. When it was cancelled, failed Tuesday drama Island Son was given another chance on Thursdays but it didn't fare any better here. In April, it was another chance for another new drama - Max Monroe: Loose Cannon had aired a few episodes on Friday and also didn't fare any better here. The final entry was Falcon Crest, which moved over from Fridays for its final couple episodes. The opulent 1980s had ended and the soaps that helped define the era on TV were on their last legs. Falcon Crest was the first of the big three on CBS (with Dallas and Knots Landing) to depart as it was cancelled after nine seasons.

(Sep 22-Dec 15)
8:00 Snoops (through Dec 8)
9:00 Dallas
10:00 Falcon Crest (starting Sep 29)

(Jan 5-Feb 2)
8:00 Max Monroe: Loose Cannon (through Jan 26)
9:00 Dallas
10:00 Falcon Crest

(Feb 9-Mar 16)
8:00 The Bradys (through Mar 9)
9:00 Dallas
10:00 Falcon Crest

(Mar 30-May 11)
8:00 Small Talk (starting May 4)
8:30 Various Programming
9:00 Bagdad Cafe
9:30 Sugar and Spice
10:00 Dallas
"Bagdad Cafe"
CBS had a lot of changes on several nights but none were more unstable than Fridays in the 1989-90 season. Most of the season had long-running soaps Dallas and Falcon Crest in the 9pm and 10pm slots. The 8pm slot was initially Snoops, a crime comedy-drama set in Washington DC and starring Tim Reid and his wife Daphne Maxwell-Reid. It was cancelled after 10 episodes. In January, Max Monroe: Loose Cannon launched. The police drama lasted just a month on Fridays before it was shipped to Thursdays where it didn't last long either. In February, CBS tried a revival of the Bradys with the hour long drama The Bradys. The Brady family had been in a sitcom, a cartoon, a variety hour, and a TV movie but now they were in a very melodramatic drama and the tone just didn't work at all. It was quickly gone and forgotten and the Bradys were next seen in the big screen spoof The Brady Bunch Movie. Finally in late March, Falcon Crest moved to another night and Dallas moved back to 10pm. The 8pm hour was mostly specials and then unscripted comedy series Small Talk at 8pm at the tail end of the season. The 9pm hour was given to two new comedies. Bagdad Cafe was based on a movie and starred Whoopi Goldberg and Jean Stapleton. It had middling ratings but the pedigree and stars were enough to get it a renewal. Its partner, family sitcom Sugar and Spice, was not as lucky as it was cancelled after seven episodes.  

8:00 Paradise
9:00 Tour of Duty
10:00 Saturday Night with Connie Chung
Saturday nights stayed the same all season. Western drama Paradise and military drama Tour of Duty were paired with another new newsmagazine, Saturday Night with Connie Chung. Tour of Duty and Saturday Night were cancelled while Paradise renewed. But for one season, it was perhaps the most stable Saturdays had been in a long time.
7:00 60 Minutes
8:00 Murder She Wrote
9:00 Sunday Night Movie
CBS's hit Sunday lineup stayed exactly the same for another year. It was one of the most stable and most successful lineups on TV.

CBS 1989-90 Stats

Shows in the Top 30
7. 60 Minutes
13. Murder She Wrote
22. Designing Women
24. Sunday Night Movie
27. Murphy Brown

Fall Shows Survival: 2/10 (20%)
Major Dad, Rescue 911

Midseason Shows Survival: 1/10 (10%)
Bagdad Cafe

Total New Shows Survival Rate: 3/20 (15%)

Cancelled/Ended Series
Falcon Crest (9 seasons)
Newhart (8 seasons) 
Tour of Duty/Beauty and the Beast (3 seasons)
Wolf/The People Next Door/The Famous Teddy Z/Island Son/A Peaceable Kingdom/Top of the Hill/Snoops/Saturday Night with Connie Chung/Max Monroe: Loose Cannon/Grand Slam/City/The Bradys/His & Hers/Normal Life/Sydney/Sugar and Spice/Small Talk (1 season)

Emmy Award Nominees & Winners (Major Categories)
Murphy Brown (WINNER, Outstanding Comedy Series)
Designing Women (Nominee, Outstanding Comedy Series)
Edward Woodward, The Equalizer (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series - eligible due to summer 1989 airings)
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)
Delta Burke, Designing Women (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series)
Alex Rocco, The Famous Teddy Z (WINNER, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series)
Charles Kimbrough, Murphy Brown (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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