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Bob Woodruff Serves Up Tasteful TV Special, On China
August 6, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 
china-aug-06.jpgWith two days to go until China hosts the Summer Olympics, ABC devotes tonight's edition of Primetime (10 ET) to a thoughtful, valuable special, hosted by Bob Woodruff, called China: Inside Out.

 baby-borrowers-town-hall.jpgMeanwhile, NBC, the network providing Olympic coverage in the U.S., devotes an hour of its prime-time schedule tonight to... a town meeting postscript to the season finale of Baby Borrowers.

The NBC special is called Baby Borrowers: Lessons Learned. In my opinion, the lesson learned from any episode of Baby Borrowers was the same one, and was easy to glean. Don't watch Baby Borrowers.

China: Inside Out, on the other hand, is a very worthwhile hour of TV, for two reasons.

One is the narrative Woodruff tells, and the way he tells it. Like Ted Koppel's recent Discovery Channel documentary miniseries on China, Woodruff's Inside Out interviews politicians, experts and everyday citizens to assess the country's vast reach and sizable advances. As one observer says: "If China decided to consume the way we do in the U.S., we'd need another planet."

china-angola-translation.jpg

Woodruff's interviews are pointed and well-informed, as when he asks Chinese officials to recognize their culpability in supporting the genocidal Khmer Rouge (they don't). Woodruff visits not only China, but Cambodia, Brazil and Angola, where he finds Chinese workers and interviews them -- using his own fluency in Chinese.

Woodruff begins his report from Tiananmen Square, where he began his career in journalism serving as a translator during the 1989 uprising. And that's the second part about China: Inside Out that's so captivating: Seeing it in context as part of Woodruff's overall personal story, which, between these Chinese bookends, includes his horrible head injury while covering the Iraq War.

ABC and Woodruff continue to serve each other well. Meanwhile, on NBC, they're borrowing babies and wasting TV time.

 

1 Comment

 

Sally W. said:

I was looking forward to seeing the Bob Woodruff special and enjoyed it. It was really interesting stuff. Good to see that he's making such incredible progress from his injury from Iraq. Remembering that his career as a reporter started back in China really made the context quite striking - a lot has changed since 1989, even if we still wonder and worry about human rights issues.

Comment posted on August 7, 2008 12:13 AM

 
 
 
 
 
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