Public TV unveils a fall schedule that lacks a blockbuster


This time last year, PBS was talking about going head-to-head with the networks with shows such as Ken Burns' "The Civil War." There was a feeling of excitement in the air about public television.

Yesterday, as PBS began rolling out its new fall package for critics here, there was not a lot to get excited about.

There's a new game show for kids intended to teach geography. But it's arguable whether game shows are the way to teach geography -- or for PBS to be spending its money. "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" -- based on the computer game -- will debut Sept. 30.

There's a four-hour look at Lyndon Johnson, "LBJ," to air as part of "The American Experience" series Sept. 30 and Oct 1. Historian David McCullough will narrate.

"Columbus and the Age of Discovery," which explores the life and legacy of Christopher Columbus on the 500th anniversary of his discovery of America, will be shown over four successive nights, starting Oct. 6. (Johns Hopkins University professor Franklin Knight is a consultant to the show.)

There's a seven-week series, "Childhood," set to debut Oct. 14, which examines human development. There's a three-episode series, "Edge," with Robert Krulwich as host, which explores pop culture. It begins Oct. 2.

"Frontline" returns with a look at a sexual relationship between a psychiatrist and one of his patients in "My Doctor, My Lover." "Masterpiece Theatre" will return with a three-part John le Carre tale, "Murder of Quality." The "Mystery" series will start the season with P. D. James' "Devices and Desires." And PBS will continue the fall "Showcase Week" concept it began last year.

PBS will start its fall season Sept. 29, about two weeks after the networks officially start theirs.

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