IN A CITY that has made history a backbone of a multibillion-dollar tourist trade, it might surprise the average citizen how little he or she knows about Philadelphia's history outside the narrow window of 1776. That's one reason why we were quite taken with a new multipart documentary series on the city's history being produced by former mayoral candidate and Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority board chief Sam Katz. Katz has produced two out of potentially 12 segments of "Philadelphia, the Great Experiment," a lively documentary on the city. The first-produced episode traces the battles for power after the Civil War. The second episode, telling the story of the city's yellow-fever epidemic, in 1793, is airing Wednesday on 6 ABC, at 7:30. p.m. (replacing "Wheel of Fortune.")
Katz is hoping to spin the actual wheel of fortune for his efforts. He's looking for funding to allow him to create the remaining 10 episodes. His project takes a page from the similar multipart history of New York directed by Ric Burns, which first aired on PBS starting in 1999.