Specials: Of Life & Death

Television seems to make its living mistaking melodrama for drama and canned laughter for joy. But last week three very good documentaries treated the human tragicomedy with unaccustomed honesty.

On ABC, How Life Begins began, literally, with the birds and the bees, covered marine life and then the lower mammals (a spaniel bitch lovingly licking life into a pup emerging from her womb). With humans, the program called a sperm a sperm, and showed a natural birth at Manhattan's Flower and Fifth Avenue Hospitals. The mother's face, at first view contorted during...

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