competent and the system worked efficiently; and that is not the way it always is in the criminal courts.
"The Shooting of Big Man" is a thoughtful, short course on criminal procedure, but, whether real life can hold the attention of viewers who have grown up on the likes of Perry Mason is another matter. Nevertheless, it is well worth the effort.
If you've had it up to here with strobe-flash celebrities, centerfold madonnas, vomiting rock singers and all the other plastic people of our Youthquake, you might take an hour out for "On the Road With Charles Kuralt" tonight.
The CBS Reports compilation show is at 10, and it's about an America that maybe you thought had got buried in the confetti somewhere along the line.
The easygoing, low-key Kuralt and his two-man crew "get paid for driving along, looking out the window" at the back roads of this country, and they have turned up a marvelous variety of originals, "Americans who just will not be told what to do": the retired farmer who is building a 200-mile highway across Minnesota all by himself, the 103-year-old woman who sings in nursing homes to cheer up the old folks, Nicky the Chicken Man of Hartford, the guy who spent three years building a calliope he can't play, the kite-flier, the pumpkin-givers.
Most of these people are rural (except Nicky, who refuse to move his tiny shop and is now surrounded by a $20-million redevelopment project), and most of them are treated with a slight tone of nostalgia, as though they were part of America's dream of itself.
"Click click click," Kuralt says, "snapshots in an album . . ."
But the subjects themselves briskly brush away the cobwebs of sentiment. They are all, every one of them, old: That is, they couldn't care less what anybody thinks of them. They are as serenely themselves as the Aqua Belles of Green Valley, Ariz., a formation swimming team of 60-ish women.
The best sequences concern the women of North Platte, Neb., who fed nearly 8 million GIs on trains passing through during World War II, and the 50th anniversary party of the Chandlers in Mississippi, who started in a sharecropper's shack and were now being visited by their nine children, college professors and executives from all over the country.
When Cleveland, the oldest son, wanted to go to college, his parents borrowed $2.50 for a bus ticket and sent him. He is now chairman of the economics department at Howard University.
If these glimpses of the America that lies behind the billboards can't make your eyes glisten just a little, you must be made of Teflon.