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Sevareid is back -- and it's clear why TV missed him

CBS'S loss is PBS's gain. Recently, CBS forced the retirement of Eric Sevareid because of its mandatory retirement policy. But now Mr. Sevareid is back in TV after a few tentative forays -- and it is clear why TV has missed him. For at least the next 13 weeks , starting tonight (Friday, Oct. 2, and the succeeding 12 Fridays, 9-9:30 p.m., check local listings for premiere and repeats), ye olde master commentator serves as host of a new WGBH/Boston series on the excitement and challenge of the capitalistic system, "Enterprise." It is a how-to show only in the sense that if you watch it you will better understand how business functions.

I have viewed the first in the series, "Wildcatter," and found it to be as exciting as a fictional adventure melodrama as I watched the whole process of wildcatting, from geologic survey, through raising risk capital, till the moment when those involved discover if they have a "barnburner" or a "dry hole" -- one meaning perhaps millions of dollars per year to everybody involved, the other a tax loss. The show had me ready and eager to try a little wildcatting with my own $5 or so.

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Coming up in future segments are the story of Colonel Sanders in Japan, the thoroughbred racing business, and living with bankruptcy.

Welcome back, Mr. S. And did you know that Walter Cronkite's current events show "Why in the World" (sans Mr. C. in person, only behind the scenes) comes to PBS soon, too? Experience and knowledge, rather than chronological age, is the apparently the main criterion on PBS. Danger coming and going

A two-hour documentary surfaces on PBS Monday and Wednesday (PBS, 9-10 p.m., check local listings) about fish in polluted waters.

"Pesticides and Pills: For Export Only" is the work of producer-writer-reporter Robert Richter, an independent documentarian whose work appears as part of WNET/NY's "Non Fiction Television" series. The thesis is that, while the US guards its own citizens against dangerous pesticides and pills, it allows chemical companies to export many poisonous substances to third-world countries, where there is little attempt made to alert the populace to the dangers.

Ironically, much of the poison and pollution comes back to the US in the form of produce imported from those same third-world countries.

Cinematographer Burleigh Wartes manages to get some unusually evocative film of third-world living conditions, which, interspersed with expert talking heads and the Richter narration, turns what might have been a two-hour bore, once the problem is stated, into two hours of startling public-service TV.

It is the kind of documentary which commercial television often avoids, because the subject matter is unpleasant and many of the companies named are constant TV advertisers. There is also a problem for the independent filmmaker -- not one of the companies named consented to have a representative appear on camera to refute the charges. So the film is necessarily one-sided. 'Sydney Shorr'

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NBC has been holding a hot potato for the past year -- a pilot film for a series with Tony Randall, "Sidney Shorr." It finally airs Monday, Oct. 5, 9-11 p.m., and comes back as a regular series titled "Love, Sidney," with Swoosie Kurtz as costar, Oct. 28.

It is considered a difficult show to handle because the character Sidney is apparently a homosexual, who shelters a mother and infant child in his home. It is the first time this has been intimated about the main character in a network series, and it is feared it will have the unfortunate effect of portraying this life style as acceptable. Mr. Randall approaches the role more like a glum Jewish mother as he constantly worries about the welfare of his guests, and the fact plays almost no part in the original drama, in which his life is depicted as basically a dismal and unhappy one.

Aware that America will not accept a homosexual hero, Oliver Hailey has written a script in which there is no apparent sign of Sidney's sexuality and it is very delicately treated as a mere fact of his life.In order to eliminate the disturbing facts, the characters are kept practically in isolation from their friends, so the issue comes up only when there is a Kramer Vs. Sidney kind of court case.

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