The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
The Television Time Machine
The Television Time Machine is set for 
Sunday, March 8, 1987 . . .

In television news this week: HBO has hit a legal snag in its efforts to purchase a package of NFL Thursday night games; the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 requires the NFL to sell national television rights to games for "sponsored" telecasts only. Since HBO doesn't have commercials, there is some question whether its telecasts are sponsored. It's up to the Justice Department to interpret the law.....MCA TV has pulled Miami Vice from the syndication market due to poor sales. MCA offered 90 episodes to begin running in the fall of 1988, but there weren't many takers. Buyers fear that the show, which features the latest fashions and music, might appear dated in years to come. MCA had hoped to recoup through syndication some of its losses -- every episode produced costs $300,000 to $500,000 more than the NBC licensing fee covers. Now it will have to consider other solutions.....Controversy swirls around the local Pennsylvania stations that chose recently to  air the news conference during which state treasurer R. Budd Dwyer shot himself.
6 PM (CST) - The Disney Movie on ABC is Bigfoot, starring Colleen Dewhurst as an anthropologist who helps parents recover children who they claim have been taken by Sasquatch. (Ooooookay!) In an episode of Our House (NBC), Gus (Wilford Brimley) becomes fed up with the legal system after serving as a juror. And on PBS there's a documentary entitled Henson's Place, and its all about Muppet creator Jim Henson, with (of course) clips from Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.  Other PBS affiliates are showing Firing Line, which features Rep. Jim Courtner (R-NJ) and Adm. Gene LaRocque arguing about arms control. (We'll take the Muppets any day.) At 7:30, on A&E, jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli teams up with cellist Julian Lloyd Webber to play a little first-rate music. But if that's too much culture for one day, you could catch Bassmasters on the Nashville Network and watch 1986 world champion Charlie Reed fish a Texas lake. (Doesn't that sound exciting?)
7 PM - Genie Francis, Susan Anton, Peter Haskell are among the guest stars in an episode of  Murder, She Wrote (CBS), in which Jessica snoops into the murder of an adman. Frankie and Face are taken hostage at the restaurant where Murdock works by mobsters out to kill the U.S. Attorney General in The A-Team (NBC). PBS is offering "Long Live the Turtle" on the Nature documentary series; it's all about the plight of the loggerhead, which may soon be hunted to extinction in Japan. Patrick Macnee of The Avengers fame hosts A&E's Evening at the Improv, with comedians Steven Wright and Rick Overton, among others.
8 PM - ABC is airing Moonraker, the 12th James Bond film, made in 1979, and starring Roger Moore as 007, who this time must look into the skyjacking of a space shuttle. CBS counters with Deadly Deception, a 1987 made-for-TV movie starring Lisa Eilbacher as a reporter who helps a widower discover a dark secret that's linked to his wife's mysterious death. Not to be outdone, NBC also has a movie, this one also made-for-TV but based on fact, entitled The Abduction of Kari Swenson (1987); Tracy Pollan stars as an athlete kidnapped and shot by a father-and-son team of mountain men in Montana back in 1984. Joe Don Baker, Ronny Cox and M. Emmet Walsh also star. (First Bigfoot, now mountain men -- and you thought the city was dangerous!) The conclusion of Lost Empires is on Masterpiece Theatre (PBS). Showtime is offering a two-hour extravaganza celebrating Caesars (Palace) 20th Birthday; George Burns and the Pointer Sisters will entertain you.
9 PM - Upstairs, Downstairs returns to PBS; in Part I, the domestic staff at the London home of the Bellamy family must adjust to the hiring of a rebellious parlor maid with a dubious past. Other PBS affiliates have opted for Backstage Tonight, in which Ella Fitzgerald and B.B. King discuss their careers. HBO is showing a 45-minute special called How To Raise A Street-Smart Child; hosted by John Walsh, it purports to educate children on hiw to protect themselves from dangerous situations. (For instance, stay away from Bigfoot and mountain men!) USA's Cover Story profiles singer Peter Cetera, and Cinemax is showing Rambo: First Blood, Part II (1985), for those who want to see Sylvester Stallone win the Vietnam War in a rematch.
LATE NIGHT - Eddie Murphy and Willie Nelson are the guests interviewed during tonight's Hollywood Insider (USA), and apartheid in South Africa is the topic of discussion on Great Decisions '87 (PBS). Angel Heart, Lethal Weapon and Tin Men are reviewed in At the Movies (NBC), and ESPN is showing two-and-a-half hours of tennis, first-round play at the Lipton International Players Championships, taped earlier today at Key Biscayne, FL (for all you insomniacs.)

IMAGES: Jim Henson and friend; Tracy Pollan in The Abduction of Kari Swenson.

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

The Television Time Machine is set for 
Thursday, November 14, 1985 . . .

In television news this week: Dynasty's Linda Evans has been cast as a beautiful actress who quotes Shakespeare in the mini-series North and South, Book II, due out next spring....The Cinemax pay service offers The Max Headroom Show, which has been airing on England's Channel 4, and in which the computer-generated host interviews the likes of Sting.....Linda Thorson, late of The Avengers, is doing guest-star work in Hollywood on series like Lime Street and St. Elsewhere, even though she's been warned that too much television work will ruin her film career. "Well," said Thorson, "I don't have a film career.".....Since winning the gold medal in gymnastics at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Mary Lou Retton has picked up a ton of endorsement deals -- more than any other Olympic athlete, in fact. Various companies are set to spend more that $35 million between now and next September to buy airtime for commercials featuring Retton.....The Fiesta Bowl is now the Sunkist Fiesta Bowl, since the California citrus growing firm has spent $7.5. million over the next five years to sponsor the Tempe, AZ sports event; NBC, however, refuses to use the Sunkist name in its Fiesta Bowl promotions.....Top video tape rentals this week: The Killing Fields, The Breakfast Club, Desperately Seeking Susan, Amadeus, The Karate Kid, The Sure Thing, A Soldier's Story, A Passage to India, The Falcon and the Snowman and Starman, in that order.
7 PM (EST) - On PBS' Non Fiction Television there's the 90-minute documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, about the murder of California's first openly homosexual elected official by a man whose successful defense was that he'd eaten too many Twinkies (I kid you not.) Meanwhile, A&E is offering highlights of the 1982 Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, featuring Aaron Copeland. Jack Lemmon shows up on NBC's Entertainment Tonight.
8 PM - ABC is airing the special 2-hour series premiere of Shadow Chasers, in which tabloid reporter Benny Benedek (Dennis Dugan) and a strait-laced anthropologist named Jonathan MacKensie (Trevor Eve) team up to investigate unexplained phenomenon. On NBC's The Cosby Show, Cliff (Bill Cosby) and Denise (Lisa Bonet) are at odds when the latter wants to buy a car. Over on PBS, you have All Creatures Great and Small, and on Lifetime there's the 1979 movie The Sin, based on William Inge's story of sexual repression and racial bigotry in the 1950s, and starring Donald Pleasence, Anne Heywood and Robert Vaughn.
9 PM - Tonight's Cheers (NBC) has Carla dejected when no one answers her personal ad, so Sam and the guys invent a dashing airline pilot to lift her spirits. On Mystery! (PBS) you have Part 4 of Death of an Expert Witness, an Inspector Dagliesh whodunit.
9:30 PM - On NBC's Night Court, Dan's new boss makes his life a living hell. (Hey, it's not like he doesn't deserve that.) Meanwhile, ESPN is airing a 10-round junior welterweight bout between John Meekins and Roberto Juarez that was taped yesterday in (yep, you guessed it!) Las Vegas. And Cinemax is showing Great Screen Romances, a tribute to the legendary relationships of Tinseltown, i.e. Bogart and Bacall.
10 PM - On ABC's prestigious 20/20, former Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter pontificate on US-USSR relations, while on Knots Landing, Karen prepares for a wedding, Gary takes a hard look at Val's twins, Joshua explodes (that must've been a mess!) and Ben inquires about....(Okay, enough already).  On NBC's Hill Street Blues Jablonski uses his own money in a police sting, Hill and Renko look after a timid vagrant, Captain Furillo butts head with a couple of other captains over....(Now this is getting ridiculous!)
LATE NIGHT - Marilu Henner (Taxi) are among the guests on Late Night With David Letterman (NBC) and the hilarious cast of HBO's Not Necessarily the News takes a (somewhat wicked and warped) look at Hollywood. There are plenty of movies to choose from: Nickelodeon is airing the wartime (1943) classic Stage Door Canteen, TBS is showing The L-Shaped Room (1962) starring Leslie Caron as a unwed pregnant girl trying to adjust to life in a London boardinghouse, ABC has opted for the Clint Eastwood flick Coogan's Bluff (1968) and WGN has Bob Hope and Bing Crosby on the Road to Zanzibar (1941).

IMAGES: Cast of The Cosby Show; Cheers main title; cast of Knots Landing

Stay tuned...There's no telling where the
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The Television Time Machine is set for 
Wednesday, June 1, 1983 . . .

In television news this week:Now that the network has cancelled Archie Bunker's Place, CBS reveals that the show was on the verge of coming back for another season due largely to Norman Lear's commitment to return as executive producer. Had that happened, Archie probably would have been remarried -- there had been an open casting call for actresses to play the bride....Speaking of cancellations, CBS took an axe to Cagney & Lacey, too, much to the discontent of executive producer Barney Rosenzweig, who tried to sell the show to HBO. But HBO turned him down.....Producers of ABC's The Love Boat are trying to get permission from the Soviets for a stopover at Leningrad as part of next season's scheduled cruise to Scandinavia....Though NBC had a certified hit with it's TV-movie V, in which aliens plan an invasion of earth, there won't be a regular series because of the high production costs -- a single one-hour episode was projected to run around $2 million, which would have made it the most expensive series ever....The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are in negotiations with producers to forestall a strike; their current contract is up on June 30, and some series producers, expecting a replay of the 1980 strike, are trying to get extra episodes in the can, just in case talks fail....Big Bird is in China searching for the legendary phoenix, and visiting such sites as the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs in the process, in a Sesame Street children's special.....The  Democratic National Committee has purchased 17 hours of primetime from NBC for Celebrate America, a fundraising telethon to end all telethons, with stars like Paul Newman, Jane Fonda and Waylon Jennings taking part.
7PM (EST) -- The Special Olympics is the topic of ABC's Faces and Places. Mickey Gilley is the guest on  Entertainment Tonight (NBC). USA is airing highlights of the Biltmore Estate Bicycle Classic taped in May at Asheville, NC. And on NBC's PM Magazine a white-water boat trip and hair transplants are two of the topics.
8 PM -- Jody (Heather Thomas) poses as a roller skater to find a fugitive wanted for assault and battery who is an unwitting drug smuggler in tonight's episode of The Fall Guy (ABC). CBS is airing a Billy Graham special; the sermon tonight is "Obstacles to Heaven." Over on NBC, Real People includes segments on a 70-year-old Wisconsin man and his pet worm as well as a male wet T-shirt contest. Oh, and there's also a man in Denver who skips rope -- without a rope. (Must be the altitude.) HBO is showing the hit 1982 horror film Poltergeist.
9 PM -- Jake has to protect Princess Koji from an assassin on Tales of the Gold Monkey (ABC), while on NBC's Facts of Life Tootie suffers a hearing loss that causes her grades to suffer and her personality to change. The movie on CBS is Rehearsal for Murder, starring Lynn Redgrave and Patrick Macnee; it's about a playwright (Robert Preston) who stages a murder to prove his fiancee didn't commit suicide. ESPN is showing a game between the Arizona Wranglers and the Chicago Blitz, teams of the brand new USFL. At 9:30, a new comedy, Buffalo Bill, debuts on NBC. It stars Dabney Coleman as a talk-show host who has a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease.
10 PM -- Fallon's new La Mirage Hotel has its grand opening and Krystle discovers her marriage to Mark might not be legally dissolved in tonight's Dynasty entry on ABC. Meanwhile, Quincy says punk rock contributed to the murder of a boy at a nightclub on  NBC' Quincy.
LATE NIGHT -- Some independents and PBS affiliates are showing taped coverage of the economic summit going on at Williamsburg, VA (no doubt for those viewers who can't get enough edge-of-your-seat thrills.) Patrick Macnee, Pete  Barbutti and the Mighty Carson Art Players are featured on NBC's The Tonight Show, while Playboy Magazine advisor Jim Peterson is the guest on Late Night with David Letterman. USA is airing taped coverage of tennis at the Suntory Cup, held in Tokyo back in April and HBO is showing 1982's Partners, which stars Ryan O'Neal and John Hurt as undercover cops working in a gay community.

IMAGES: Heather Thomas of The Fall Guy; Print ad forTales of the Golden Monkey

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