Kids talk about abuse in CBS special

TODAY'S TV

May 31, 1994|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

It's the day after Memorial Day, so you'd think the networks would be getting back to business as usual. In one sense, that's true. Except that for a while, business as usual -- when applied to the post-May sweeps period -- means almost no business at all. The one must-see offering tonight is a documentary on the Disney Channel, the latest and best TV special tied to the invasion of Normandy and afterward.

* "Break the Silence: Kids Against Child Abuse" (8 p.m.-8:30 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- Jane Seymour is the host for this public-service CBS special, presented without commercials and coming from executive producer Arnold Shapiro, of "Rescue 911" and "Scared Straight!" fame. Its claim to distinction: Having kids talk to one another about the topic, rather than to adults. CBS.

* "Before Your Eyes: Kristin Is Missing" (9 p.m.-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- "No actors. No re-creations. You're watching the ,, actual story unfold before your eyes." That's how this CBS special, directed by former CBS News producer Jonathan Klein and edited by Rob Klug (who directed MTV's "The Real World"), sells itself. To "no actors, no re-creations," though, I'd add, "No shame." The little brother of a missing girl is shown shedding big, wet tears because of her absence. A little girl is questioned about details of alleged child abuse, and allowed, if not encouraged, to get quite graphic. Music, trying to dictate every desired emotion, dominates the soundtrack. Moments that should be private in a story like this are invaded, whether with cameras or microphones, to be presented as part of the "actual" proceedings -- although what's actual, and what's affected by the presence of the film crew, is open to debate. The worst offense of all is how blatantly this program tries to manipulate viewers. CBS.

Cable

* "Biography: 'Alfred Hitchcock' " (8 p.m.-9 p.m., A&E) -- Any study of this director, and his films, is worth a look.

* "George Stevens: D-Day to Berlin" (9 p.m.-9:50 p.m., DIS) -- Stevens' son, George Stevens Jr., narrates this documentary, which tells his father's story as head of the official Army film unit -- and shows his private 16-mm color "home movies" of the war. VCR Alert.

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