October 10, 1988 12:00 PM

I hate to be the one to break the bad news, but the Best Night on Television is dead. Yes, Thursday night on NBC is now a pathetic ghost of its former self. Remember the good old Thursdays: When Bill Cosby was not as overexposed, as rich and as laughable as Donald Trump…. When Family Ties was in its proper time slot and the world was in its proper orbit—that is, when Alex Keaton was an absurd parody of greed, not a role model for a nation…. When Cheers celebrated sexual tension, and that was safe…. When Night Court was not a trinket in a game of time-slot checkers…. When Hill Street Blues was alive. Yes, those were the days, my friends, we hoped they’d never end. But now: Cosby is a dog and A Different World is one sick puppy…. Cheers is okay but beginning to get old and just a little tired…. Dear John is the new show of the night, and I’ll give you that bad news below…. And L.A. Law is fine but it’s keeping bad company. So Thursday is gone, and now every other night of the week is ruined with at least one junk show—Unsolved Mysteries, Hooperman, Designing Women—or with some lousy TV movie of the week. Which leads us to the next obituary: I’m afraid we soon will have to declare the TV movie dead. The evidence this week is overwhelming: five TV movies, each one diseased, overdone or dorky. After languishing all summer, waiting and hoping for fresh programming, we finally get two brand-new series and five new movies, and out of all of these shows only one—count it, one—is worth watching. If TVs could cry, mine would short out.

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