Television: Tale of 76 Cities

Millions prep for Dickens

For three hours last week some 32 million Americans tuned in on the CBS television adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. But a significant chunk of the audience was not simply watching—and shivering at—the crash of the guillotine, or hoping that Sydney Carton could somehow make the supreme sacrifice and get the girl too. They had been primed for the show by reading the TV script, prepared by John Gay, and by answering questions about the story. Samples: What roles do the two cities play? Which city has the more important role? Why?

Those scripts were...