Picks and Pans Review: TV Revolution

UPDATED 05/31/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/31/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT

Bravo (Sun.-Wed., May 23-26, 9 p.m. ET)

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Revolutionary it isn't, but this five-part documentary offers some interesting observations on how TV reflects social change.

The program uses the standard clips-and-talking-heads format to study the medium's treatment of homosexuality, sex in general, women, racial minorities and violence. Because there's some overlap in these categories, the producers resort to recycling. In the hour on sex, we see a clip of demonstrators protesting against NYPD Blue. When the subject turns to violence, anti-Blue sign wavers are back onscreen.

Still, TV Revolution often succeeds in making us see old scenes in new ways. Was there Freudian symbolism in that giant loaf of bread emerging from Lucy Ricardo's oven? Did the bloodless gunplay of westerns like The Rifleman obscure the consequences of real violence? Could David Carradine have looked any phonier in his Chinese makeup on Kung Fu? Food for thought, particularly if you're glued to the tube.


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