Picks and Pans Review: A Day in the Life of America

updated 12/01/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/01/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

PBS (Wed., Nov. 26, 8 p.m. ET)


The book is gorgeous and the idea behind it just as beautifully simple: having 220 photographers capture one random day in the U.S. But the TV show about that gargantuan effort is not blessed with such a clean, clear concept. This special could have shown the photographers at work, but mostly it ignores the folks behind the shutters and shows you too few of their pictures. Or it could have let the video cameramen capture their own scenes from a day just as the book's photographers did. You do see some wonderful video work, but you don't see or hear from the cameramen, and neither do you see a representative sample of life in America. Throughout the show, you are forced to hear narration so purple it makes a cardinal's robes look pink. "As on any day," intones narrator Richard Kiley, "events were beautiful and troubling, fleeting and enduring, heartwarming and heartbreaking." Even an out-of-focus, underexposed picture would be worth a thousand such words. If you watch this one, turn off the sound.

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