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TV REVIEW : The Ticking Bomb of Terrorism

June 18, 1993|MARTIN ZIMMERMAN

According to its press packet, "Terrorism: Target America," airing at 6 and 10 tonight on Arts & Entertainment cable, "goes deep inside the enclaves of the intricate network of international terrorists who have set up shop inside the United States."

Shallow is a more accurate adjective. This segment of "Investigative Reports," hosted by executive producer Bill Curtis, promises far more than it delivers. It is not very enlightening, nor does it have very much new information--nor, for that matter, much information period.

And that is too bad, because the topic could benefit from a serious look, most particularly in the wake of the World Trade Center bombing, which "Terrorism" breathlessly uses to reveal that, gasp, those pesky terrorists can and do cross international borders to wreak havoc. Why, some of them might be here sipping coffee next to you at Starbucks.

"Terrorism" is beset by problems. The two most glaring: Extensive talks--not interviews--by an FBI official, who delivers sound bites usually heard when the bureau is trying to increase its budget, and by the North American chief of a company profiting from being an intermediary in hostage negotiations. Both, of course, have no agenda to advance.

Equally bad is "Terrorism's" failure to stay on its self-defined course. There's the segment on "ticking bomb" workers who can go off at any time (see crazed postal workers footnote), and a segment on industrial espionage (the French are coming, the French are coming!).

Note to the producers: Commercial spying is not terrorism. Stressed-out workers who snap and kill are not terrorists. There are a few bits of information to be gleaned from this program, but "Nightline" does--and did--it better.

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