What's on TV


Sunday 2/17

Monkey Trial (PBS, check local listings): "All the ills from which America suffers can be traced to the teaching of evolution," said William Jennings Bryan, a man who had fought for the common people throughout his career and saw the damage that the so-called "social Darwinism" had wrought on the national economy. He fought for women's suffrage, for farmers, for the underdog. For him, politics and religion were intertwined. But as the prosecutor of John Scopes, the teacher who taught evolution, Bryan is figured as the bad guy in the drama of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial. Clarence Darrow, the defense attorney, had fought on the same side as Bryan on many issues before religion separated them. But the actual Scopes trial, this documentary says, was all a put-up job - a conspiracy between the popular teacher and the local business community, who wanted publicity for their town and the business boom that would follow.

Thursday 2/21

Justice and the Generals (PBS, check local listings): In 1980, the bodies of four American churchwomen murdered by Salvadoran death squads were found in shallow graves. It took 20 years of pressuring the US State Department, but the families of these women found a trail that led to two Salvadoran generals - retired and living in Florida. There are frightful revelations in this powerful documentary, some of them shocking reflections on alleged US complicity in covering up the murders.

Frontline: Rollover - The Hidden History of the SUV (PBS, check local listings): The most popular cars on the road, sport utility vehicles, have a problem - a tendency to roll over. This important investigative report includes actual footage of a rollover. Why is a car with such a poor safety record so popular? How much money is at stake? Minivans are looking better and better.

Winter Olympics (MSN, 1 p.m.; 8 p.m., NBC): Michelle Kwan has a second opportunity to skate for the gold in the women's long program. The four-time world champion finished second to Tara Lipinski four years ago in Nagano, Japan. In other events, US medal hopeful Bode Miller (taped for prime time) will compete in the men's giant slalom on the slopes, and Americans Todd Ludwick and Bill Demong (both World Cup winners this season) will compete in the ski-jumping portion of the Nordic combined sprint.

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