Look for a streamlined PBS this fall as public television reacts to leaner budgets and growing competition from cable with projects more carefully chosen premieres more heavily promoted.
The big news this fall is "The Civil War," a critically acclaimed 11-hour documentary series that PBS will present next week in the fashion of a big network miniseries over five consecutive nights.
Produced by filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War" was underwritten by General Motors and put together over five years, using archival photos, newsreels of war veterans, film of battle sites as they look today and interviews with scores of Civil War experts.
The technique of "stripping" that series over several nights is part of the network's strategy for its season, which will feature similar treatment of several new series. The plan is designed to focus more attention on these programs through national publicity.
Among the other season highlights:
"WonderWorks," the award-winning children's anthology series becomes "WonderWorks Family Movie," a series of monthly two-hour movie presentations. Premieres Oct. 17 with "Looking for Miracles" from producer-director Kevin Sullivan ("Anne of Green Gables").
"Race to Save the Planet" is an examination of major environmental problems facing us worldwide. Premieres Oct. 4. Several episodes will be stripped over several nights during the week of Oct. 7.
"Korea: The Unknown War" is a six-hour series that re-examines the Korean War and its impact on Asian affairs today. Premieres Nov. 12, stripped through Nov. 14.
Harold Pinter's dramatization of "The Heat of the Day" by Elizabeth Bowen, starring Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Michael ("The Singing Detective") Gambon, Patricia ("Life and Loves of a She-Devil") Hodge and Michael York in the story of a woman who fears her lover may be a traitor. Premieres Sept. 30 on "Masterpiece Theatre."
"The Ginger Tree" with Samantha Bond as an Englishwoman having an affair with a Japanese nobleman. Premieres Oct. 14 and runs through Nov. 4 on "Masterpiece Theatre."
P.G. Wodehouse's "Jeeves and Wooster," based on the famous stories about the perfect valet and his dim playboy master. Premieres Nov. 11 on "Masterpiece Theatre."
"Mother Love," starring "Mystery!" host Diana Rigg, David McCallum and James Wilby, is the story of a vengeful woman who tries to keep her son from her ex-husband but winds up in a tragic chain of events. Premieres Oct. 25 on "Mystery!"