Nova's "Judgment Day" Coming November 13 on PBS

From NOVA Upcoming Summer & Fall 2007 Programming:

NOVA shows on PBS on Tuesdays @ 8 pm ET/PT (check local listings):

Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial (w.t.) November 13, 2007 at 8 pm ET check local listings

One of the latest battles in the war over evolution took place in a tiny town in eastern Pennsylvania called Dover. In 2004, the local school board ordered science teachers to read a statement to their high school biology students. The statement suggested that there is an alternative to Darwin’s theory of evolution called intelligent design, the idea that life is too complex to have evolved naturally and therefore had to have been designed by an intelligent agent. The science teachers refused to comply with the order, and alarmed parents filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing the school board of violating the separation of church and state. Suddenly, the small town of Dover was torn apart by controversy, pitting neighbor against neighbor. NOVA captures the emotional conflict in interviews with the townspeople, scientists and lawyers who participated in the historic six-week trial, Kitzmiller, et. al. v. Dover School District, et. al., which was closely watched by the world’s media. With recreations based on court transcripts, NOVA presents the arguments by lawyers and expert witnesses in riveting detail and provides an eye-opening crash course on questions such as “What is evolution?” and “Does intelligent design qualify as science?” For years to come, the lessons from Dover will continue to have a profound impact on how science is viewed in our society and how to teach it the classroom.

Produced by NOVA WGBH Science Unit and Vulcan Productions, Inc. Additional production by The Big Table Film Company.

NOVA promoted the documentary, along with other upcoming PBS shows, in front of the critics in Los Angeles this week. Here is an account from

Meanwhile, another program that promises to make the fall interesting for PBS got its first preview. “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial,” an episode of “Nova” scheduled to air Nov. 13, will recreate the widely covered 2004 trial over a school-board policy in Dover, Pa., that would have required science teachers to give evolution and God-made-this theories equal time.

Since cameras weren’t allowed in the courtroom, “Nova” hired actors to re-enact portions of the transcript. First the O.J. civil trial, then Michael Jackson, now public television.

Unlike Ken Burns, who waited for trouble to come his way, Paula Apsell, the executive producer of “Nova,” and the makers of “Judgment Day” seem to have sensed from the get-go they would take a lot of abuse from the intelligent design proponents. And so, to keep it from spilling over into the mainstream press, the producers said they went to great pains representing the anti-evolution point of view, even as the Seattle organization that leads those efforts stonewalled “Nova’s” requests for interviews.

“If you believe that intelligent design got a fair shake in the trial, then you’ll certainly believe that it gets a fair shake in this program because this is a program about the trial,” said Apsell.

Judge John E. Jones III (shown here portrayed by Jay Benedict), who was appointed by President Bush, ruled for the teachers who refused to teach intelligent design, and the voters turned out the anti-evolutionists in the next school board election.

Jones, appearing in L.A. to help promote the two-hour program, said he didn’t cut people off at the trial, and let everyone have their say. Jones quoted the journalist Margaret Talbot, who wrote after the trial in the New Yorker, “It was a science class that everybody wished they’d been able to take when they were in school.”