Picks and Pans Review: Documentary Duel

updated 02/11/1991 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/11/1991 01:00AM

>Two of the week's most striking shows are documentaries. In L.A. Is It, an episode of the PBS Travels series (Mon., Feb. 11, 8 P.M. ET), novelist John Gregory (True Confessions) Dunne serves as an urbane, knowledgeable guide to our second-largest city. Yes, there is Beverly Hills glamour. But the program devotes more time to kitchen workers than to Polo Lounge power breakfasters. Dunne's "most makeshift of cities" is made up of surfers, gang members, neighborhoods and ethnic diversity.

We go from that sprawling city of dreams to a much harsher environment in HBO's Doing Time: Life Inside the Big House (Tues., Feb. 12, 10 P.M. ET). Filmmaker Alan (Police Chiefs) Raymond spent five weeks inside the maximum-security federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa., interviewing cons and corrections officers. It makes for a tense hour, full of strong language, tough guys and looming violence.

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