Specials: Overdoing the Underdone

Every so often, TV ups and breaks a precedent. This season, spurred by the expanding market for specials, a few producers are taking a stab at new subjects. Trouble is, they try so hard to be original that the result is often a case of overdoing the underdone.

Last week NBC ran a dramatization of John Steinbeck's folksy odyssey, Travels with Charley. The scenery was impressive, but stagy re-enactments of scenes from the book were tossed in like roadblocks, and the show got lost east of the Black Hills. National Educational Television claimed an American TV first by showing a...