“THE FIRE UNLEASHED,” Thursday 8-11 p.m. (7)...

“THE FIRE UNLEASHED,” Thursday 8-11 p.m. (7) (3) (10) (42)--ABC News, which last fall took over three hours of the prime-time schedule to report on the perilous state of public education in the United States, again preempts a full night of entertainment to examine an even more imposing subject: the possible annihilation of the planet.

Forty years ago, scientists discovered the power of the atom and, in so doing, ushered an unsuspecting human race into the nuclear age. The point of this three-hour program is to look at where that monumental discovery has led us--both in terms of the benefits that it has brought and the life-threatening dilemmas that it has raised.

“The Fire Unleashed” will focus on four areas: nuclear weapons, the controversial Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), nuclear power plants and nuclear waste.

ABC plans to report on the aftereffects of the near-disaster at Three Mile Island, on the growing dangers posed by nuclear waste and the failure of the United States to develop a national policy to deal with it, on the possibility that terrorists or Third World countries could build or obtain a nuclear bomb and on the Reagan Administration’s proposal to construct a nuclear defense system in outer space.


With Peter Jennings as host and Marshall Frady as the principal reporter, ABC’s documentary features interviews with experts and governmental leaders the world over: from current Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger to predecessors James Schlesinger and Robert S. McNamara, from former President Jimmy Carter to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India, Prime Minister Shimon Peres of Israel and President Raul Alfonsin of Argentina, from physicist Edward Teller to Donald Kerr, director of the Los Alamos National Weapons Laboratory.

The challenge that the producers seek to pose to viewers is how we as a people can truly gain control of this awesome power and thereby “take our destiny back into our own hands and ensure the survival of the world.”