Tubegazing: 'The Path to 9/11'

On Sunday and Monday at 8 p.m., ABC offers what is arguably the most ambitious film about Sept. 11 yet, the five-hour miniseries, "The Path to 9/11." Already controversial (the Internet is bristling with self-avowed liberal commentators accusing ABC of Clinton-bashing, and conservatives praising the show for illuminating the mistakes of a Democratic administration), the program itself is worth watching if for no other reason than it's the best made-for-TV movie in years, and is compelling history-as-drama.

Based on the actual 9/11 Commission Report – as well as additional sources, such as former ABC correspondent John Miller's "The Cell" – the series begins with the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. The narrative then follows several key figures as the hunt for Osama bin Laden spans whole continents for more than a decade. The most notable of these characters, former FBI agent John O'Neill, went on to head security operations at the World Trade Center and died in the collapse of the towers. He's portrayed by Harvey Keitel in a standout dramatic turn. While not strictly factual – ABC takes dramatic license both with the timeline and characters (an undercover CIA operative named simply "Kirk" is most certainly a composite) – this is still the best of all the shows marking the fifth anniversary of 9/11 this weekend. Grade: A

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