Did No. 2 try harder?
John Adams, the nation's second president, played a critical role in many of the pivotal events of his era - and all the more effectively so teamed with Abigail Adams, his remarkable other half.
That's the message of "John & Abigail Adams," a joint biography that sheds light not only on these two outstanding Americans, but also on their transformative times.
He was brilliant, argumentative, even irascible; a vociferous participant at the Continental Congress; a wartime emissary to France, and the nation's first vice president before taking office as president in 1797.
She was a savvy observer of the tumultuous political scene, not afraid to speak her mind in an age when women were excluded from politics. Meanwhile, she steadfastly tended the home fires, often facing hardship and even danger.
Together they forged one of the greatest partnerships in American history. Relying heavily on their extraordinary correspondence (with illustrative dramatic re-enactments), the story of John and Abigail Adams provides a strikingly intimate look inside a marriage of companions who helped change the world.
This "American Experience" program airs 9 p.m. EST Monday on PBS (check local listings).
Other shows to look out for:
- Linda Ellerbee is never afraid to touch the hot-button issues of youth, and, in her usual thoughtful style, she does it again here: "God, Science, Politics and Your School" is the next edition of "Nick News." The goal of the program, she says, "is not to debate the issues of evolution, intelligent design or creationism. We just want to give kids a better understanding of what all the shouting is about." And do it without shouting. While looking at the ongoing controversy surrounding the teaching of intelligent design alongside evolution in public school, Ellerbee speaks with experts in both areas. In addition, she hears from youngsters from different religions and cultures around the world, who discuss their beliefs about how the world began. The program airs 8:30 p.m. Sunday on Nickelodeon.
- Court TV has a revamped daily lineup. Among its notable changes is the pairing of anchors Lisa Bloom and Vinnie Politan, who air 10 a.m. to noon. A new one-hour show hosted by former defense attorney Jami Floyd airs at noon. And former MSNBC correspondent Ashleigh Banfield anchors alongside Jack Ford (formerly of NBC and ABC News) from 1 to 3 p.m. From 3 to 5 p.m., victims' rights advocate and former prosecutor Nancy Grace hosts "Closing Arguments." And "Catherine Crier Live" airs 5 to 6 p.m. The day's schedule begins at 9 a.m. with "Open Court."
- As Saddam Hussein stands trial for murder, filmmaker Gwynne Roberts makes a dangerous journey to investigate charges that the deposed dictator ordered the abduction and execution of 8,000 Kurdish men and boys during the early years of his rule. In "Saddam's Road to Hell," Roberts follows a team of investigators in search of the forensic evidence that will clearly establish Saddam's guilt. It's one of the reports making up "Frontline/World," which bills itself as "stories from a small planet." Another: An investigation into 29 miners murdered at an illegal diamond mine on a protected Indian preserve in the jungles of Brazil. "Frontline/World" airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).
- Finally! A TV series for viewers in a hurry! This week CBS unveils a "micro-series" airing in seven installments of a minute or less. "The Courier," described by the network as a serialized drama about a "mystery man" risking his life to rescue his kidnapped wife, debuts Tuesday during the first-act commercial break of "CSI: Miami" (9 p.m.) and will conclude during "Criminal Minds" on Feb. 1. The first chapter will be 60 seconds; the rest will be 40 seconds in length and air in the first-act break after 9 p.m. on series including "Cold Case." (Jan. 28 and Jan. 31, "The Courier" takes the night off.) Viewers can follow the story in more detail online at CBS.com, and after the TV airing, episodes also can be seen on cell phones via Verizon Wireless V Cast Service, CBS said.
- A young widow meets her guardian angel in the form of a hobo who comes to her rural community looking for work, in the family drama "Hidden Places." Set in Depression-era California, the film finds Eliza (Sydney Penny) faced with the likelihood that she will lose her struggling farm. How will she, her two kids and feisty Aunt Batty (Shirley Jones) stay out of the poor house? When all hope is gone, new hope arrives in the person of a young drifter named Gabe (Jason Gedrick), who, beneath his scruffy facade, has a good heart, a sad past and a longing to help Eliza pull through. Tom Bosley and Barry Corbin also star in the film, which airs 9 p.m. Saturday on the Hallmark Channel.