Picks and Pans Review: American Playhouse: a Walk in the Woods

updated 05/15/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/15/1989 01:00AM

PBS (Wed., May 10, 9 P.M. ET)

A

Here's the sort of show American Playhouse was invented to create—a wise and witty American original. A Walk in the Woods, originally a stage play, is loosely based on a real walk that took place during Soviet-American arms talks in 1982. In that one stroll in Geneva, American arms negotiator Paul Nitze and Soviet negotiator Yuli Kvitszinsky stepped outside protocol and came up with a breakthrough agreement; the accord eventually was rejected by their bosses on both sides. In this fictionalized account, Robert Prosky as the Soviet and Sam Waterston as the American take four walks over a year. They too negotiate an initiative that ends up being rejected. But they also learn about each other as men, and they debate the proper limits of optimism and cynicism in this world of superpowers, nuclear bombs and bureaucracy. Walk is deftly written (by Lee Blessing) and engagingly performed. It's a smart delight.

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