Picks and Pans Review: 1987: the Unforgettable Year

updated 03/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

News, facts and images fly at us in such torrents these days that it's helpful to have somebody sum things up. This compilation of NBC News footage, with Tom Brokaw, is a semislick production; it is watchable now, although it will mature in its appeal as the events it chronicles recede further into the past. The writing is occasionally trite—Brokaw actually calls the year "truly unforgettable." The editing seems sloppy at points, and the sports segment is strangely lifeless, with a lame commentary by Robert Lipsyte (talking mostly about the "line of scrimmage" in the NFL strike talks) and only still photographs of the World Series, Sugar Ray Leonard's comeback and Julius Erving's retirement. Images of the Gorbachev-Reagan summit, Pope John Paul II's visit to the U.S. (he is shown listening with what looks like barely contained rage to a dissident Catholic), the Iran-contra hearings and the rescue of infant Jessica McClure from a Midland, Texas, well are just enough to kindle memories. John Chancellor's commentary provides a quiet bright spot in an essay on the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. And a section showing clips and photographs of those who died during the year, much of it backed by the guitar of the late Andrés Segovia, reflects a sense of dignity. The tape inevitably touches too lightly on some subjects—the Israeli-Palestinian problem, for instance; but in 75 minutes it reviews the year reasonably well, and would be worth watching again—whether, on reflection, 1987 turns out to be the bad or the good old days. (Wood Knapp, $24.95; personalized versions, in which a company or individual's name is inserted at the beginning of the tape, are available for $29.95 by calling 800-453-1234)

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