You must be getting a little tired of stories about the impact of the San Francisco earthquake by now. And I already know how you feel about ratings (read: "ratingzzz") stories.
But how would you like to read a story about the impact of the earthquake on last week's ratings?Oh.
Well . . . what if I make it really short by saying that the earthquake coverage clearly had impact, wiping out what looked like a sure World Series week win for ABC and turning it into another NBC victory? And I promise not to spend a lot of time talking about how ABC News seemed to benefit from the event, running away as it did with its third consecutive ratings win.
Still too much? OK - we'll skip right to the lists. The top 10 programs for the week were: 1. Cheers (NBC); 2. The Cosby Show (NBC); 3. A Different World (NBC); 4. Golden Girls (NBC); 5. Dear John (NBC) and 60 Minutes (CBS); 7. Empty Nest (NBC); 8. Sunday Night Movie: Do You Know The Muffin Man? (CBS) and Unsolved Mysteries (NBC); and 10. Monday Night Football (ABC).
The second 10 consisted of: 11. Murder, She Wrote (CBS); 12. Monday Night Movie: Roxanne: The Prize Pulitzer (NBC); 13. Night Court (NBC); 14. Growing Pains (ABC) and Head of the Class (ABC); 16. Full House (ABC); 17. The Hogan Family (NBC); 18. Hunter (NBC) and Doogie Howser (ABC); and 20. 20/20 (ABC) and Knots Landing (CBS).
The week's big losers (not counting Fox and NBC News): 65. Snoops (CBS) and Tour of Duty (CBS); 67. Homeroom (ABC) and Mission: Impossible (ABC); 69. Tuesday Night Movie: Stuck With Each Other (NBC) and Open House (FOX); 71. Mr. Belvedere (ABC); 72. ABC Mystery Movie (ABC); 74. Living Dolls (ABC); and 75. Saturday Night With Connie Chung (CBS).
-ON TV TONIGHT: It was 1962, and John and Jackie Kennedy were living a real-life "Camelot" in the White House. Martin Luther King Jr. was a relatively obscure Southern preacher, Kareem Abdul Jabbar was a tall New York City 9th grader named Lew Alcindor and Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor were skinny. Prime time was ruled by Lucille Ball, Red Skelton, Andy Griffith, Jack Benny, Jackie Gleason, Garry Moore and "The Beverly Hillbillies."
And NBC introduced late-night televiewers to a thin, dark-haired comic from Nebraska named Johnny Carson.
A lot has happened since then. But Carson is still the King of Late-Night. He has survived personal turmoil, intense competition from the other networks and more than his share of bad jokes to carve out a niche for himself unequaled in television history. No one has been with a single television series as long as Carson has (OK, OK - I'm not counting a few members of the Tabernacle Choir who may have been doing "Music and the Spoken Word" that long or longer), and nobody has had the impact on shaping an entire genre like Carson has.
Tonight you can celebrate Carson's 27th anniversary with The Tonight Show (8:30 p.m., Ch. 2) during a 90-minute special that draws mostly from the past year's worth of shows to illustrate the staying power of the program and its star. There'll be a few ancient clips and a tender moment or two, but the main point here is to sit back and enjoy "Tonight Show" highlights - especially the hosting work of the man who's been doing it longer - and better - than anyone else.
Also worth watching tonight are several fine films, beginning with Paul Newman and George Kennedy in Cool Hand Luke (6:05 p.m., TBS) and including Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney in National Velvet (8 p.m., Ch. 14), Jack Nicholson and Louis Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (8:50 p.m., TBS) and Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday (10 p.m., DSN). These are classics all, with superb performances and oustanding production values. You'll be well-served in any case.
Not so, however, with Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (8 p.m., Ch. 13), a gruesome, violent splatter movie where even the title lies (it wasn't "The Final Chapter." It was only part four of Jason's demented pilgrimage through a series of eight - so far - slash-'em-up movies). Sure, it's been toned down for commercial TV. But that doesn't take it off our "TCPIOBTCMMWI" (They Can Put It On But They Can't Make Me Watch It) list.
Elsewhere, 48 Hours (7 p.m., Ch. 5) reports on the changing role of the modern firefighter; an all-star cast - Hal Holbrook, Ned Beatty, Sada Thompson, Barbara Bel Geddes, Ronny Cox, Robby Benson - is featured in Our Town (7 p.m., ARTS); Peter Scolari and Sally Kirkland star in a new episode of Trying Times (7:30 p.m., Ch. 7); KBYU repeats PBS's lukewarm series on Television (9 p.m., Ch. 11); and David Letterman, Robin Williams and Richard Pryor are on hand to celebrate The Comedy Store 15th Year Class Reunion (10:35 p.m., Ch. 2).
-LOOKING TOWARD FRIDAY: The Jazz tangle with the Celtics in NBA Preseason Basketball (5:30 p.m., Ch. 13); The World Series (6 p.m., Ch. 4) resumes; James Stewart and June Allyson star in The Glenn Miller Story (6 p.m., TNT); Michele Lee and Lee Horsley are featured in a TV-movie look at Single Women, Married Men (8 p.m., Ch. 5); Show Boat (8:30 p.m., Ch. 7) is featured on "Great Performances"; And a Nightingale Sang (9 p.m., Ch. 11) launches the "Masterpiece Theatre" season on KBYU; and Peter Sellers stars in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (10:05 p.m., TBS).