On paper, The Mormons sounds about as thrilling as mandatory Bible-study class: a two-part, two-night documentary about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, from its founding in 1830 to its present-day struggles with mainstream American culture. Don’t be daunted: This joint venture between two PBS series, Frontline and American Experience, merges the former’s muckraking candor and the latter’s knack for capturing history’s complexities. It’s meticulous and addictive—the TV equivalent of a thick nonfiction book that you start reading after dinner and finish at dawn. And that’s apart from the polygamy issue—highlighted, to the Church’s chagrin, on the hit HBO series Big Love—which gets discussed at length near the end of Part One.
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