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SHOW OF THE WEEK

August 10, 1986|Howard Rosenberg

"PHIL DONAHUE EXAMINES THE HUMAN ANIMAL," 10 p.m., Monday-Friday (4)(36)(39) (Illustrated on cover)--Syndicated talk-show host Phil Donahue is a man for all subjects, if not for all seasons.

This unpreviewed five-part special (running nightly, Monday through Friday) is based on a book by Donahue that was published last year. However, it's hard to imagine a more pretentious title for five hours of TV than this one, which implies that "the human animal" had been either ignored or misunderstood until Donahue found time in his busy schedule to examine what makes humankind tick.

Each hour is hosted by Donahue and devoted to a different area, beginning with "Love and Sex," followed by "Nature and Nurture," "War and Violence," "Woman and Man" and "Family and Survival."

Donahue talks to theorists and pragmatists, the lofty and the working class, and adds his own observations. And although skeptics may justifiably question his transition to social scientist from talk-show host, he is a bright man with a powerful curiosity about many topics.

Some of the questions posed on these programs, moreover, are certainly valid:

How do we love and manage our sexual energy? Why is there so much carnage and personal violence in our society? Are most of the differences between the sexes attributable to biological or cultural factors? Are the critical elements of our makeup inbred or learned? As the traditional family diminishes in America, what environment awaits our children?

Pretty heady stuff for the network TV animal.

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