The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
The Television Time Machine
The Television Time Machine is set for 
Wednesday, November 13, 1985 . . .

In television news this week: CBS is in an uproar in the wake of a rash of firings instigated by new management and designed to make the News Division profitable -- something it hadn't been for quite a long time. Media analyst Edward Atorino of Smith Barney, claims that the gist of the matter is that the News Division is inhabited by "a bunch of high-priced, underworked people suddenly having to tow the line." 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt, allied with the "old guard," had offered to buy the News Division outright, but CBS Chairman Thomas Wyman isn't interested. Former News President Richard Salant, sympathetic with the Hewitt effort, describes it as a "symbolic statement about the past, an era when the News division's purpose was not to be a profit center but . . . to be good." Meanwhile, veteran correspondent Liz Trotta, who had been dropped by CBS News, is preparing to sue CBS; her attorney, Raoul Lionel Felder, thinks CBS was vulnerable to a class-action suit. In other news, ratings for ABC's World Series coverage are up 10 percent over last year, with five of the games in the Top 10 shows, and the seventh game winding up #1. Victoria Principal is back on the set of Dallas after missing several weeks due to a herniated disk, and Simon & Simon's Gerald McRaney is working on an episode in which his character, a Vietnam vet, begins to suffer from delayed stress syndrome.
6 PM (EST) -- On NBC's Entertainment Tonight actor John James explains the ups and downs of being on not one but two primetime soaps, Dynasty and The Colbys. ABC has an episode of The Price is Right while CBS shows Wheel of Fortune. Over on PBS, A House For All Seasons shows viewers how to build an adobe house and how to solarize a basement, as well as featuring new earth-shelter designs; this is followed by Shielding America, a 60-minute forum on President Reagan's space-based missile defense proposals, hosted by Hedrick Smith. Dr. Ruth [Westheimer] talks about everybody's favorite subject on Lifetime, while MTV offers a documentary entitled The Making of Sun City which includes interviews with some of the "Artists United Against Apartheid" who contributed to the controversial album -- Steve Van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen and Daryl Hall among them. TBS is airing the 1959 classic The Wreck of the Mary Deare, starring Gary Cooper and Charlton Heston.
7 PM -- On ABC's The Insiders, a series about a couple of hip young investigative reporters, Nick (Nicholas Campbell) joins a biker gang to find out why they are collecting weapons. Jonathan (Michael Landon) poses as a sportswriter to help a minor league team that never wins in an episode of Highway to Heaven (NBC), with Moses Gunn and Keenan Wynn guest starring. And in the conclusion of CBS's North Beach and Rawhide, ex-con MacGregor (William Shatner) hosts a rodeo at his reformatory ranch. PBS offers the conclusion of Jenny's War, the true story of Jenny Baines (Dyan Cannon), who joins the underground during World War II to find her son, an RAF pilot shot down behind enemy lines.
8 PM -- It's a primetime soap extravaganza -- a special two-hour episode of Dynasty introducing the cast of a spinoff series, The Colbys, which will premiere next week. The Colbys, led by patriarch Jason (Charlton Heston), go into business with the Carringtons on an oil pipeline venture. NBC counters with an episode of the short-lived drama Hell Town, starring Robert ("Baretta") Blake as Father Noah "Hardstep" Rivers, an unorthodox priest ministering to the mean streets of East L.A. Flip Wilson and Gladys Knight star in the CBS sitcom Charlie & Company, followed by Bronson Pinchot and Dave Thomas as Russian cosmonauts who land in Las Vegas in an episode of George Burns Comedy Week. A&E launches the opener of its six-part drama Spyship, about a British vessel that disappeared near Soviet waters in 1974, while the Discovery Channel takes a look at Humpbacks: Gentle Giants of the Pacific.
9 PM -- A career woman turns to McCall (Edward Woodward) for help in stopping her son's drug-dealing ways in an episode of CBS's The Equalizer, while on St. Elsewhere (NBC), an astronaut decides that a recurring dream must be a sign from a higher power. HBO is showing The Philadelphia Experiment (1984), Cinemax is airing the sophomoric Tom Hanks' comedy Bachelor Party (1984), and The Movie Channel offers up Harry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski in the moody Sam Shepard-penned drama Paris, Texas (also made in 1984). Jack Lemmon and his son Chris are the guests on USA's Dick Cavett.
LATE NIGHT -- For you horse lovers, ESPN is showing the U.S. Equestrian Team Championship that occurred in Gladstone, NJ back in September, followed by a lightweight Pro Karate bout taped November 2 in Daytona Beach, FL. ABC has Clint Eastwood in the 1971 Gothic tale of love and revenge, The Beguiled. Comedian Martin Short is the guest on Late Night with David Letterman (NBC), while HBO offers 1984's Oh God, You Devil, in which George Burns stars in both title roles. Nickelodeon airs Something to Sing About (1937), in which orchestra leader James Cagney becomes a movie star. (At least it wasn't made in 1984!)

IMAGES: Wheel of Fortune; TV Guide ad for Hell Town.

Stay tuned...There's no telling where the Television
Time Machine will take us next time!

The Television Time Machine is set for 
Saturday, June 23, 1988 . . .

In television news this week:It's been revealed that Herman Wouk has final say on what kind of commercials can be aired during the 30-hour miniseries derived from his epic novel, War and Remembrance, airing in November. Though ABC's advertising department hasn't confirmed them, rumors are that Wouk has forbidden ads for laxatives and feminine hygiene products, among other things. The network is selling 30 second spots for a whopping $250,000. They'll get it, too, considering how successful The Winds of War, the prequel to War and Remembrance, turned out to be. The writers' strike that started in March is still going strong, and is adversely affecting just about every show, not least being Head of the Class, which is having to postpone its scheduled trip to Moscow to film the two-part opener for next season. When and if the cast and crew does head for the USSR, heavyweight champ Mike Tyson is expected to tag along with wife -- and Class co-star -- Robin Givens. It's been suggested that Tyson may make a cameo appearance in the episode. The discussions are still ongoing regarding whether the relationship between sixtyish Leland McKenzie (Richard Dysart) and a 25-year-old law student, hinted at in the final episode of last season's L.A. Law, will be pursued when the new season opens. And a shakeup at the top of CBS has news chief Howard Stringer replacing Gene F. Jankowski in the network's top spot. Meanwhile, much to ABC's chagrin, David Burke will leave that network to take over Stringer's job at CBS.
6 PM (EST) -- After graduating from The A-Team, Mr. T (right) went to work for a female attorney in NBC's T. and T., and this week they try to help a woman who has been swindled out of her life savings by a couple of con artists. Over on ABC, Blake Clark and Jonathan Solomon appear on George Schlatter's Comedy Club, followed by D.C. Follies, in which Krofft puppets portray the likes of Lee Iacocca, Big Apple Mayor Ed Koch and singer Bette Midler in hilarious skits. The Wheel of Fortune goes round and round on CBS, while in Part 5 of the PBS documentary, The Day the Universe Changed, you can find out about the discoveries of guys like Copernicus, Galileo and Descartes. At 7:20 on TBS, Richard Yniquez and Phillip Clark team up as a diver and marine biologist, respectively, to hunt a 15-foot mankiller in the 1976 TV-movie Shark Kill. And, if you have three and a half hours to kill, you can watch the semifinal round of the Sovran Bank Tennis Classic held in Washington D.C.
7 PM -- Hotshot fighter pilots Anzac, BeeBee and Sierra get caught up in a revolution in a repeat episode of ABC's Supercarrier, which, though inspired by the blockbuster film Top Gun and (initially) supported by the U.S. Navy, will last only a few months. In an episode of Kate & Allie (CBS), an old flame of Allie's returns to New York City and wants to pick up where they left off, while over on NBC's Facts of Life, Blair ends up bruised and battered when a car she's in collides with a tree. Sammy Davis Jr. joins John Williams and the Boston Pops for an Evening at the Pops (PBS), and Martin Scorsese's 1973 movie Mean Streets, starring Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel, airs on Fox. A&E offers the first of a three-part history of the U.S. Marine Corps in the documentary A Gallant Breed.
7:30 PM -- Frank (Tim Reid) learns how not to buy lobsters in a repeat episode of Frank's Place (CBS), while Brenda may not get to go on a date with Calvin a week before her 16th birthday on 227 (NBC). WGN offers the classic Steve McQueen thriller Bullitt (1968).
8 PM -- A fashion designer is framed for murder in an episode of Ohara (ABC), a short-lived (one season) crime drama vehicle for Pat Morita of The Karate Kid fame. The company gets an ambitious new commander (Kristoffer Tabori) in the CBS (Vietnam) war drama Tour of Duty. Rose (Betty White) decides the love of her life is a real stick in the mud on Golden Girls (NBC). Alec Guinness stars in the British spy thriller Our Man in Havana (1960) on some PBS affiliates; with Guinness and a screenplay by Graham Greene, you can't go wrong. The Movie Channel offers 1987's chilling Hanoi Hilton, about American POWs in North Vietnam. And Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Wilson Pickett and the Platters are among the performers on Showtime's Classic Rock 'n' Roll Reunion.
9 PM -- John Saxon, Abby Dalton and Cliff Potts are the guest stars in a repeat episode of ABC's Hotel; The CBS newsmagazine West 57th profiles reggae singer Bob Marley and actor Peter Falk; Hunter and McCall become trapped in a remote house on a stormy night on NBC's Hunter. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band performs on Austin City Limits (PBS), and John Candy plays host for the Montreal International Comedy Festival, featuring the likes of Steve Allen and Rich Hall, on HBO.
LATE NIGHT -- John Larroquette is the host in a repeat of a 1987 Saturday Night Live (NBC) that also features the band Timbuk 3 singing "Hairstyles and Attitudes." ESPN is showing three hours of top-notch tennis action as the U.S. and Argentina compete in the singles competition of the Davis Cup Final, taped yesterday. A baby's cradle that survived the sinking of the Titanic turns out to have special powers in an episode of Friday the 13th (CBS). ABC airs the classic film, King Solomon's Mines (1950) starring Stewart Granger as adventurer Allan Quartermain in search of a missing explorer, while over on Fox, 1976's UFO's: It Has Begun, looks at -- well, it goes without saying. The film features Jose Ferrer and Rod Serling, and is narrated by Burgess Meredith.

IMAGES: Mr. T in T and T; the cast of Frank's Place.

Stay Tuned -- There's no telling where the
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The Television Time Machine is set for 
Monday, May 9, 1983 . . .

In television news this week: The big news this week is the compliance by CBS with a court ruling to surrender to the lawyers representing General William C. Westmoreland in his $120 million libel suit against the network a report resulting from an internal investigation of the allegedly libelous program, a documentary entitled The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception, which had originally aired on 23 January 1982. The investigation had been spurred by charges leveled by TV Guide that questioned the fairness of the program, which attempted to prove that Westmoreland had intentionally concealed the enemy's strength from the president, the Congress, and the American people. The report, written by senior executive producer Burton Benjamin, admitted that the show was flawed in that it was imbalanced in representing both sides of the issue. Nonetheless, CBS News President Van Gordon Sauter insists that the documentary was an "accurate and important account." The jury's still out on that one . . . . Also, CBS reports that movie star William Devane will be joining the cast of Knot's Landing next season. Despite her coy response to Phil Donahue on the latter's talk show, i.e. that she was contractually obligated to return to Dynasty for two more seasons, Linda Evans had privately vowed not to return unless her contract was renegotiated; millions of fans will be relieved to know that recent reports indicate the star and the producers are close to an agreement. Meanwhile, Knight Rider star David Hasselhoff is getting a big raise. And at the last minute NBC decided to air (on May 22) the TV-movie Jacobo Timerman: Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number, based on Timerman's controversial book regarding his ordeal as a political prisoner in Argentina. NBC claimed its doubts about the movie were based solely on the editing; some wondered if there weren't some politics involved.
7 PM (EST) -- Entertainment Tonight (syndicated) airs the first of a two-part report on that notorious scandal-sheet, the National Enquirer, while (at 7:30) PM Magazine (syndicated) has pieces on acupuncture for animals and a pilot training school. People's Court (syndicated) deals with two cases: the sale of a car without a registration slip and damage done to jewelry while it resided in a pawn shop. Meanwhile, on Fraggle Rock (HBO), Red makes off with a magic pipe that doesn't belong to him.
8 PM -- Frontline (PBS) airs a program entitled "Looking for Mao," which examines cultural changes that have occurred in China since the death of Mao Tse-tung in 1976. On CBS's Square Pegs, Bill Murray guests as an unconventional substitute teacher who wins over the students but not the administration; Sarah Jessica Parker plays Patty. That's followed at 8:30 by a repeat episode of Private Benjamin in which the astronaut guest-of-honor at a camp parade turns out to be a chimpanzee. Over on NBC's Love, Sidney, Laurie (Swoosie Kurtz) is willing to wed a radical Latin American filmmaker to prevent his deportation; after that, Mallory's pregnant girlfriend turns to Elyse for advice on Family Ties. That's Incredible (ABC) features truly incredible kids, including a 5-year-old piano virtuoso, a 12-year-old inventor, and the 16-year-old winner of the Rubik's Cube world championship. ESN is showing a trimmed down (to 60 minutes) version of the Formula One San Marino Grand Prix, taped May 1 while Showtime is airing the 1977 blockbuster Smokey and the Bandit starring Burt Reynolds, Jackie Gleason and Sally Field. HBO counters with Kristy McNichol and Dennis Quaid in 1981's The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.
9 PM -- PBS is airing The Innocents Abroad, a TV-movie based on the Mark Twain satire which was filmed in France, Italy, Greece and Egypt; it stars Craig Wasson as Twain. On CBS's M*A*S*H, Hawkeye and BJ are trying to get a bootleg copy of a flick banned in Boston. But it's NBC that has tonight's really big event -- the 18th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards hosted by John Schneider, Jerry Reed and Tammy Wynette; performers and presenters include Alabama, the Bellamy Brothers, Rosanne Cash, Janie Fricke, Lee Greenwood, Louise and Barbara Mandrell, Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, Ricky Skaggs. . .well, the list goes on and on. ABC is offering the 1983 TV-movie I Want to Live!, starring Lindsay Wagner as convicted murderer Barbara Graham; Robert Balsam, Pamela Reed and Harry Dean Stanton co-star. ESN has USFL Football (Birmingham at New Jersey), and at 8:30 CBS telecasts an episode of One Day at a Time.
10 PM -- Cagney & Lacey (CBS) can't agree on whether to use a young informant to help in nailing a drug dealer, while HBO airs 1982's political thriller by Costa-Gavras, Missing, starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek as parents looking for their son, who's disappeared in a Latin American country.
LATE NIGHT -- On USA's Hot Spots, Dream Syndicate and Little Girls perform at Hollywood's Club Lingerie; Robert Blake and Calvin Trillin are Johnny's guests on The Tonight Show (NBC), while comedian Elayne Booster and crooner Slim Whitman share a Late Night with David Letterman. Showtime has the 1982 documentary The Secret Policeman's Other Ball, containing a couple of benefits in London featuring Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend and Monty Python, among others. You might get a kick (pun intended) watching ESN's Pro Karate, which features a heavyweight match between Tom Hall and Joe Lewis, filmed March 26 at Atlantic City.

IMAGES: Sarah Jessica Parker and Amy Linker of Square Pegs; the official logo of the United States Football League (1983-85)

Stay Tuned -- There's no telling where the
TelevisionTime Machine will take us next time!