Review: ‘What Can We Do About Violence? a Bill Moyers Special , 9 p.m.’

Produced by Public Affairs Television Inc., presented by Thirteen/WNET New York. Executive producers, Catherine Tatge, Dominique Lasseur. Series producer, Amy Schatz. Producers, Joan Harrell-Carter, Daniel Klein, Lasseur, Marc Levin, Stanley Nelson, Maria Patrick, Gail Pellett, Daphne Pinkerson. Associate producers, David Murdock, Meredith Woods. Executive #Host: Bill Moyers.

Produced by Public Affairs Television Inc., presented by Thirteen/WNET New York. Executive producers, Catherine Tatge, Dominique Lasseur. Series producer, Amy Schatz. Producers, Joan Harrell-Carter, Daniel Klein, Lasseur, Marc Levin, Stanley Nelson, Maria Patrick, Gail Pellett, Daphne Pinkerson. Associate producers, David Murdock, Meredith Woods. Executive #Host: Bill Moyers.

PBS launches an ambitious program on the issue of violence with this provocative four-hour special fronted by Bill Moyers, exploring both the disturbing nature of violence and programs designed to blunt its impact. While politicians can debate the merits of the various strategies, the four hours should be mandatory viewing for jurists, legislators and others involved in the justice system.

It’s not hard to ascertain the angle from which Moyers weighs in — namely, that poverty, despair and joblessness have created a generation that feels disconnected from society and thus has little compunction about damaging its members or others.

In addition to talking with various scholars on issues ranging from the media’s role to what it would take to reinforce the family structure, Moyers highlights various efforts that seek to address the problem of juvenile violence in particular. Those segments include a look at a Florida compound called the Last Chance Ranch — where young offenders are taught discipline before being introduced to the working world — and a high school exclusively for recovering teen drug abusers.

There’s also plenty of heart-tugging anecdotal material, but with a twist, such as a wrenching look at a young boy’s death from the perspective of both his family and the youth who killed him.

Some may pause at the touchy-feely nature of some of the programs profiled here, as kids parrot lines about self-esteem and such in explaining away their criminal acts. There’s also little discussion about how to fund these efforts, which may raise questions as to their practicality.

Still, Moyers brings an uncommon intelligence to all his documentaries, and it’s refreshing to see someone engage less in hand-wringing over violence, as is the media’s tendency, than in seeking means of addressing the problem.”We learned there is no answer to violence,” Moyers says in the introduction. “There are many answers.”

That, if nothing else, would seem to be a place to start.

What Can We Do About Violence? a Bill Moyers Special , 9 p.m.

Production

PBS, Mon. Jan. 9, Wed. Jan. 11, 9 p.m.

Crew

Editors, Judith Davidson Moyers, Bill Moyers; editors, Lewis Erskine, Andy Finkelstein, Riva Freifeld, Jonathan Oppenheim, Tim Squyres; series editor, Steven Wechsler.4 HOURS
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