May 23, 1988 12:00 PM

Fox (Sundays, 8 p.m. ET)

Grade for both: F

In the Hall of Fame for Addlepated Ideas—if there isn’t such a place, there ought to be—I nominate these two shows, which try to turn all America into a posse of lay lawmen who’ll round up murderers, robbers and rapists. The producers want to cloak themselves in the banner of public service: These shows fight crime! But in fact both are cheap exercises in voyeurism and violence. They look alike: On this episode of the occasional NBC series, Robert Stack is the host and on the weekly Fox series it’s John Walsh (his son’s death inspired the TV movie Adam). They introduce dramatizations—no, that’s too haughty; call them demented home movies—re-creating fugitives’ crimes. We watch these evil deeds and then are expected to keep our eyes out for the perpetrators. And when an (alleged) bad guy gets caught, we’re expected to pat TV on the back for cleaning up our streets. But don’t let them fool you. These shows may help bring in some deadly criminals but they do not make a hairline crack in America’s growing wall of crime. They exist to leech on our fears and desires for revenge and to use the suffering of victims to boost ratings. They don’t solve the problem. They only exploit it.

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