March 17, 1997 12:00 PM

A & E (Sun., March 23, 8 p.m. ET)


If we may return to the subject of pathography…. Virtually everyone knows the tragic arc of Judy Garland’s life, from the sweet, round-limbed teenager of 1939’s The Wizard of Oz to the skeletal wreck who died of an accidental drug overdose in 1969. She was only 47. This two-hour A&E Biography special, which claims to be the first comprehensive documentary about the singer-actress, moves at a smooth clip through her many highs and lows. June Allyson, Ann Miller, Jackie Cooper and Mickey Rooney provide commentary. The footage of Garland performing is, as always, electric. With its tremolo and brass, those twin signs of heartbreak and resilience, her voice had unprecedented power. I can’t help wishing, though, that this show, so scrupulously levelheaded, made some kind of effort to match her fevered intensity. When the subject is Garland, you have every excuse to go over the top.

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