Picks and Pans Review: Does Tv Kill?

updated 01/09/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/09/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

PBS (Tues. Jan. 10, 9 p.m. ET)


Frontline visits Hudson, N.Y., where in 1960 a landmark study first established a link between aggressive behavior among grade-schoolers and certain types of TV watching. This documentary focuses on four families and their various relationships with the TV screen by installing cameras in their homes. Now we watch them watch. Talk about a secondhand vicarious experience!

Citing a number of subsequent academic studies, the film does the familiar waltz around this topic. Has the endless bombardment of imaginary and depicted violence on television made America the most violent and criminal country in the world? Or is TV just reflecting a severely troubled society?

The title of this documentary is far more loaded than its waffling and inconclusive content. Let's be frank: Almost all parents who concern themselves with the stimuli to which their children are exposed will agree that if TV does not cause or encourage violence, it certainly loosens inhibitions toward exhibiting violent behavior.

Why can't TV serve a useful, constructive purpose? For instance, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, TV could have acted as a clearinghouse for information as to where in the world you could find those elusive White Mighty Morphin Power Ranger action figures.

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