Television: Romans and Countrymen

I, Claudius and The Best of Families

This is television's year of the family. CBS has the Fitzpatricks, NBC has Mulligan's Stew, and ABC has Eight Is Enough. By some grand irony, however, PBS, the poor stepsister network, has the two most ambitious family sagas: I, Claudius, yet another impressive import from the BBC, and The Best of Families, a lavish $6 million drama of New York City in the last two decades of the 19th century. Running simultaneously, the two series offer a lesson in contrasts, showing just how good—and how bad—TV can...

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