"Bill Moyers' Journal" returns to PBS tonight, after an absence of two years, with one of those elegies to the hard life and limitless horizon of rural Western America that no one else in television does nearly so well.
It's the story of a "troubled, restive, searching" New York couple who returned to the wife's inherited 480-acre farm near the Canadian border of North Dakota early in 1977 to seek what they called a new "life style."
Moyers has melded the story of George and Hansine Fisher's first successful harvest last fall with the coincidental birth of their second child at home -- which viewers, by the way, should understand is shown with farm-country honesty.
Moyers has a feel for the land and the life of the people who work it. This shows in dozens of ways during this one-hour program, irom the sound of the all-important early morning farm market and weather news on the radio, to the look and meaning of a soaking late-autumn rain (while a colicky child turns the idled farm-house into a noisy prison), to the moment at a friendly "show-and-tell" of the community's young wives, when one who has just lost her new baby breaks down and pleads for the chance to enjoy her friends' children.
In a telling few minutes, George Fischer escapes into town during the bad weather, obviously seeking, and getting, ungrudging reassurances from the lifelong farmers who don't even speak his language (Fischer "actualizes" his experiences, for instance). The decency of these people shows through.
If you think you can sit through an hour of life as it is actually lived in one lonely, important section of America for a change, this superb evocation is for you.