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SHOWS FOR YOUNGSTERS AND THEIR PARENTS TOO : A lot of Revolutionary myth-busting is going on at The Learning Channel

November 26, 1995|N.F. MENDOZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Did you know Paul Revere never really said on his famous ride, "The British are coming! The British are coming!" Or that the Battle of Bunker Hill was not fought on Bunker Hill? And here's a shocker: George Washington tried to become a British officer but was turned down.

These surprises and more are revealed in the six-part series The Revolutionary War, narrated by Charles Kuralt and airing on The Learning Channel this week.

The series utilizes letters and journals by soldiers, farmers, tradesmen and prisoners. Their narration brings home the realization that the revolution was not a war of heroes but was fought by ordinary people performing, at times, extraordinary acts.

Executive producer Carol L. Fleisher assures parents that the documentary makers were "extremely careful" about the series' quotient of violence--"so it could be used educationally."

Filmmakers hope the series sparks conversations among family members of varying ages. The series is relatable through its focus on humanity, Fleisher says. She explains: "Military history certainly is interesting--how battles were fought a long time ago is fascinating. It's a whole other kind of psychology. Things we've heard about in very big patriotic terms, but here, it's in real human terms."

She hopes viewers take a fresh look at a period they may think they know--but probably don't--from school lessons. "The period we're examining defines who we are today, the things we consider American. Our character is defined by people 200 years ago, in that intense period."

The six-part "The Revolutionary War" airs 5-7 p.m. (two parts each evening) on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. It repeats 8-10 p.m. each of those nights on The Learning Channel. For ages 10 and up.

More Family Shows

This week, The Parent 'Hood (Wednesdays, 8:30 p.m. WB/KTLA) tackles the serious issue of sex education and parental talks. Shocked that his 16-year-old son Michael (Kenny Blank) is planning his first sexual encounter, Robert (Robert Townsend) decides to clue Michael in with a clear parental message. But the talk backfires when Michael gets a mixed message and thinks he's got Dad's approval. Robert races to clarify his advisory.

From his Los Angeles offices, Townsend says the episode, "Just Say Yes No or Maybe," explores a topic he was quite interested in--despite the fact that his own daughters are still very young (ages 5, 4 and 2).

Townsend worried about resistance from the WB Network, where network types told him "Townsend, you're pushing the envelope, but we're standing by you,' " according to the executive producer, creator and star of "The Parent 'Hood."

"The episode responds to the family values we're trying to emphasize," he adds. "We've been funny, but we want to say more now."

Townsend says the rise in teen pregnancy and the danger of AIDS made him think about his and his character's situations: "As a parent of a kid thinking about becoming sexually active and being in my 30s myself, how would I do it?" The episode "captures my feelings and doesn't cop out."

Townsend hopes parents "will come away realizing they're going to have to deal with it and find their own way of addressing it."

The issue will be resolved, Townsend says of Robert's and Michael's dilemma. And, "on a level where, at the very least, I've given him something to think about. Eventually it'll happen, but at least I dealt with it and told him with [wife Jerri, played by Suzzanne Douglas] our honest feelings. By the end, you'll realize it's just one of many discussions" parents could have with their children. For ages 10 and up.

*

KCET's Emmy-winning Life & Times (Wednesday 7:30 p.m.) offers a documentary profiling former Air Force pilot Dennis James, who takes an active role in shaping the lives of Los Angeles' youths. James brings young people on plane rides to help teach them to gain control of their lives. For ages 8 and up.

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