The Networks Come Home

After much tinkering, programmers rediscover family entertainment

It was reality-check time in network television last week. After a blizzard of press attention and network hype, ABC finally brought forth Wild Palms, Oliver Stone's dazzling, challenging, future-shocked mini-series. It fizzled in the ratings. After years of twisting and turning in an effort to adapt to a new TV landscape, the networks unveiled their fall schedules. It looked like 1973 again.

What a difference a year makes. Last May change seemed to be in the wind at the Big Three networks. Faced with steadily growing competition from cable and other video choices, the networks were groping for a way to...

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