Writers’ Guild goes on strike

TVWith nearly all of its members voting in favor of a work stoppage, unionized Hollywood writers go on strike for five months, crippling the TV and movie industry. Several shows’ fall premieres are delayed significantly, and many television series and movies have to commence production on partially-finished scripts with no opportunities for rewrites (including Tim Burton’s Batman and the James Bond movie Licence To Kill). In the unusually long “off season,” attempts are made at reviving prime-time variety shows, and fledgeling network Fox rushes several “unscripted” series, including Cops and America’s Most Wanted, into production to fill the gap; these prove to be surprise hits, giving “reality” TV a permanent foothold on many network schedules. Many returning shows do not air new episodes until November or December, if they even generate new material before the end of 1988.

Star Trek: TNG: Heart Of Glory

Star Trek: The Next GenerationThe week-long national syndication window opens for the 19th episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This is the first episode of the series to focus on the Klingon race – a holdover from the original series and movies that series creator Gene Roddenberry had planned to avoid revisiting until co-producer (and fellow classic Trek producer) Bob Justman convinced him otherwise during pre-production, leading to the very late creation of a “Klingon Marine” named Worf.

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Max Headroom: Neurostim

Max HeadroomThe 12th episode of the American-made Max Headroom series premieres on ABC, starring Matt Frewer and Amanda Pays. (This is the the American-made drama series, not the music video/talk show series featuring the same character.) This is the final episode to air on ABC; two further episodes, Lost Tapes and Baby Grobags, aren’t seen until the series goes into reruns on cable years later.

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Star Trek: TNG: Conspiracy

Star Trek: The Next GenerationThe week-long national syndication window opens for the 24th episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This is the goriest episode of the series’ entire run; even improved make-up effects in later seasons never quite match up to this story’s exploding head and torso (graphic visuals which any network with creative input or oversight would likely have nixed). Despite ending on an obvious cliffhanger, this story is never revisited by any later episodes or spinoff series.

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Star Trek: TNG: The Neutral Zone

Star Trek: The Next GenerationThe week-long national syndication window opens for the 25th episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This episode marks the end of the first season (with no guarantee, due the 1988 Writers’ Guild strike, that the series will be back in production anytime soon), and the return of the Romulans to the Star Trek universe, a sign that Gene Roddenberry is relaxing his stance on revisiting elements of the original series.

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Soyuz TM-5

Soyuz TM-5Cosmonauts Anatoly Solovyev, Viktor Savinykh and Aleksandr Aleksandrov lift off for a week-long visit to Soviet space station Mir aboard Soyuz TM-5. Numerous biological and astronomical experiments are conducted by the blended crew, and at the end of the week of joint activities, the Soyuz TM-5 crew use the older TM-4 capsule to return home, leaving the station crew with a newer vehicle.

The changing climate

EarthA leading NASA climate scientist, Dr. James E. Hansen, addresses the United States Congress with a warning: the past five months of 1988, the hottest months in the history of weather records, are the beginning of a dangerous trend in Earth’s climate history, and studies conducted by experts show that the cause is increasing man-made pollution. Though Hansen’s claims will continue to be debated for decades (while only slow progress is made in the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy in that same time), the five-month period in question will not be the last consecutive stretch of rising worldwide temperatures.

Phobos 1 launched

PhobosThe Soviet Union launches the first of two unmanned Phobos space probes, designed to investigate the largest of Mars’ two asteroid-like moons and deliver a lander to analyze that moon’s surface. With multiple nations pitching in resources to help the mission succeed, including the United States, the Phobos program is intended to be the definitive Mars exploration program of the 1980s, as well as the debut of a new Soviet interplanetary vehicle to take over from the Zond/Venera design in use since the 1960s.

Game over for Coleco

ColecovisionHaving weathered the storm of the 1983 video game industry crash longer than most, Coleco Industries, maker of the early ’80s Colecovision video game system, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. At the time of the filing, Coleco is America’s sixth largest toy company, but the video game industry isn’t its downfall. Overproduction of the company’s Cabbage Patch Kids toys has proven to be fatal, with two straight years of annual losses exceeding $100,000,000. The remains of Coleco are eventually bought up by rival toymaker Hasbro.

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Phobos 2 launched

PhobosThe Soviet Union launches the second of two unmanned Phobos space probes, designed to investigate the largest of Mars’ two asteroid-like moons and deliver a lander to analyze that moon’s surface. The Phobos program is intended to be the definitive Mars exploration program of the 1980s, as well as the debut of a new Soviet interplanetary vehicle to take over from the Zond/Venera design in use since the 1960s; only Phobos 2 will actually reach its target intact, but it will still fail to complete all of its mission objectives.

Voyager 2 and the eight pixels

NeptuneFrom within 500 million miles, cameras aboard NASA’s Voyager 2 unmanned space probe can now get a better look at planet Neptune than is possible with ground-based telescopes on Earth – even though, at present, that means a tiny disk only eight pixels across in images measuring 800 x 800 pixels. Voyager 2 is still over a year away from its closest encounter with Neptune, and even its own best photos don’t reveal any detail in the blue-green planet’s atmosphere. What is known is that, despite receiving less than half the sunlight and heat of the next innermost planet, Uranus, Neptune maintains the same temperature as Uranus. This means that Neptune is generating more heat than it receives from the sun.

1988 Writers’ Guild strike ends

TVThe five-month-long strike of unionized Hollywood writers comes to an end, allowing numerous television series and movies to go back into pre-production. With the American television network schedule introducing new shows as early as September in many cases, the “new fall season” does not begin on time, and most series do not have new episodes on the air until the critical Nielsen TV ratings sweeps month of November.

Soyuz TM-6

Soyuz TM-6The Soviet Union launches the Soyuz TM-6 mission to the Mir space station, with cosmonauts Vladimir Lyakhov, Valeri Polyakov and Abdul Ahad Mohmand aboard. Lyakhov and Mohmand remain aboard Mir for only a week, participating in experiments involving both crews, but Polyakov, a medical doctor, remains on Mir to monitor the Expedition 3 crew in the final months of their unprecedented one-year stay in orbit. This crew exchanges spacecraft with the station crew, returning home in the Soyuz TM-5 vehicle after a week on Mir, but their return is plagued by problems both technical and otherwise.