This first of three specials, apparently sparked by the recent Los Angeles riots, is a thin attempt to look at those inner city kids who are trying to break the hold of the gangs and urban blight. While the subject is fascinating and certainly worthwhile, the fast-paced slick treatment is less than satisfying.
Tony Danza recalls his tough New York roots as he wings his way through this half-hour event, talking to kids from Southeast Los Angeles, and to those from his old neighborhood in Brooklyn. As he tells the audience, he was once one of those kids, one who managed to “get over” the circumstances of being poor in the inner city.
It’s those people who are actively trying to make a difference that the special focuses on, such as 92-year-old Julia — honored as one of President Bush’s points of lights — who created a volunteer program in the Bronx for retirees to tutor kids at risk. Or volunteer Julio Salinas, who teaches kids how to box and occasionally has a student advance to the Golden Gloves (he also helped Danza’s boxing career as a youth).
The plan is noble in intent, with the amiable Danza managing to effectively interact with the kids. Yet director Charles A. Bangert and writer Louis H. Gorfain put the half-hour show on a fast track, skipping from one story to the next without any in-depth focus. The stylized camera work also tends to take away from the gritty realism the show is trying to portray.
Show deserves a look-see and hopefully will try to get over its own slickness in future episodes.