Picks and Pans Review: Tennessee Ernie Ford's America
PBS (Sat., Nov. 30, 8 p.m. ET)
Watch this pledge-week special and you'll think there's something wrong with your TV: that it's been beamed back 20 years to some Lawrence Welk parody or ahead a few hours to the national anthem at sign-off. And you'll be right: There is something wrong with TV when PBS resorts to cheap sentimentality, simpleminded boosterism and mediocre music to earn its pledge bucks. Mind you, I have nothing against patriotism. But if I'm going to see it on PBS, I expect to see it presented with intelligence and quality. Instead I hear Tennessee Ernie saying, "This is one pea-picker who's not afraid to wave the flag!" And the music makes Muzak sound jazzy. Cross my heart and pledge allegiance, I'm not exaggerating. Nor have you experienced novocaine until you've heard Shirley Jones sing Imagine. PBS probably thinks this smarm will counteract charges that the network is too liberal. But to call this show conservative is to call conservatives tone-deaf and tasteless. This isn't patriotism. This is pap.
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