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'Adventure' Sails Into First Season

March 14, 1987|CLARKE TAYLOR

BOSTON — Public television's new "Adventure" series aims to take viewers on spiritual as well as physical adventures around the world, according to its creator.

"Television usually shows us the world in narrow terms, such as politics, but I think people are craving a broader view of the world," said David Fanning, who conceived the series, sold it to public television stations and serves as its executive producer.

Produced here at WGBH-TV, the initial eight-week season is scheduled to premiere next week with "Around Alone," an hourlong program about Dodge Morgan, the first American to sail around the world nonstop, alone. It will be seen Monday at 8 p.m. on Channel 15 and Tuesday at 9:20 p.m. on Channel 28.

In subsequent weeks the series, hosted by Morgan, will follow subjects on adventures in a hot-air balloon over Mt. Everest, on a 1,000-mile dog-sled race along the frozen Yukon and on a circumnavigation of the earth along its polar axis.

"We have tried to find people who are not just out to see how far they can go, but who also are looking inside themselves for something," Fanning said in an interview. "This is what I think distinguishes these adventurers from hairy-chested men."

He said the commentary that accompanies the footage of the journeys in progress will attempt to explore the personal aspects of the effort, not just the physical demands. For instance, a camera installed on Morgan's craft recorded not only the challenge he faced on the open sea, but also his day-to-day account of dealing with his solitude.

Fanning acknowledged that the subjects selected for the first season are engaged in rugged, physical adventures, but he stressed that "this is just a beginning" and promised that the second season, now in production, will focus "more on personal explorations than on physical risk-taking."

The second season recently was assured by the country's 300 public television stations, which, without even having seen the first season's offerings, voted to increase their funding for the second set of eight films, from $900,000 to $1.1 million.

A strong selling point, according to spokesmen at several stations, was Fanning himself, who also serves as executive producer of public television's weekly documentary series, "Frontline," and who previously produced the British Broadcasting Corporation's "World" series, also seen on public television in this country.

Fanning said that the reason he wanted to embark on the "Adventure" series was partly because he finds the political nature of the "Frontline" series limiting and partly because of an interest inculcated in him as the son of an Outward Bound-style survival-school instructor growing up in a wild landscape on the coast of South Africa.

"I want to use this medium to tell different kinds of stories--to show the world in different ways and even to help people reach spiritual understandings," Fanning said.

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