It was sad when that great ship went down. It is encouraging that many of the passengers made it back to the surface. Tonight, public TV's "Wall Street Week" commemorates the 50th anniversary of the "Poseidon Adventure" of world economics, the stock market crash of Oct. 29, 1929, and the devastating Depression that followed.
For the United States, the Depression was "a national nightmare that still haunts millions of American dreams whenever the economy gets in trouble -- like, for example, right now," says host Louis Rukeyser on this special edition of his show, at 9:30 on Channel 26. The nagging parallels between that October and this October are discussed and fretted over by Rukeyser and three squabbling guest economists.
In addition, Rukeyser takes us back to the ill temper of the time (although on Wall Street, "the suicide rate did not rise abnormally," he points out) and further evokes the era with the invaluable help of singer Ethel Ennis, who opens with "Ain't We Got Fun?" but is soon enough asking "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"
As usual, the program seeks to make economics not fun -- thank heaven -- but manageable, and Rukeyser proves the subject can be approached with humor and humanism. The only complaint that might be lodged against this deservedly long-running production of the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting is the woodsy, leathery studio set. It's so corny! It looks like the back room at Hamburger Hamlet.