Picks and Pans Review: In Search of Human Origins

updated 02/28/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/28/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

PBS (Mon., Feb. 28, 8 p.m. ET)

B

Hosted by noted paleoanthropologist Donald C. Johanson (Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind), this documentary series from Nova, which will air on three consecutive nights, examines the evolutionary chain that led from hairy simians to Homo sapiens.

The first night is an indulgent recounting of Johanson's crucial contribution to his field: the 1974 discovery in the Ethiopian desert of the fossilized remains of Lucy (named for the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"). Dating back more than 3 million years, hers is the oldest hominid skeleton ever found, and it provided the missing link between apes and men. Subsequent nights examine the traits, behaviors and genetic leaps that allowed our species to develop and thrive.

Though the series is lacking in focus and structure, it is an edifying look at the painstaking work done by Johanson and other detectives of the prehistoric. All three nights contain fascinating re-creations of our earliest ancestors, using actors and animatronics.

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