History Docudrama Has Chilling Effect


While the theatrical The Day After Tomorrow examined the horrific effects of climactic changes future, The History Channel reviews how cold weather shaped our past.

The docudrama Little Ice Age, Big Chill details the devastation that dramatic shifts in the Earth’s weather may have wrought over the centuries. Covering the period from the 1300s to the 1850s, the two-hour special highlights the impact of even slight temperature changes — such as the “year without a summer” when New England saw five days of snowfall in the middle of July.

Evidence ranging from the eruption of a dormant volcano in Southeast Asia to bones excavated from mass graves in Europe put into context how damaged crops in Europe later affected the palette of generations of Americans.

Scientific theories are smartly presented, beginning with ways that the Medieval Warm Period of the early 13th century may have inspired the construction of famous structures from Westminster Abbey to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The subsequent Little Ice Age contributed to the acceleration of The Black Death, the decimation of the Spanish Armada, the start of the French Revolution and possibly even the secret of the famous Stradivarius violins.

The compelling way this docudrama weaves the effects of past temperatures fluctuations throughout human history amplifies the weather into far more than a subject for strangers to use to break the ice.

Little Ice Age, Big Chill premieres Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The History Channel

A New Reality: Trusting Teens

BBC America’s upcoming three-part reality series goes where most clans dare not tread — turning to teens for advice.

In Trust Me, I’m a Teenager, a panel of three teens make the rules for troubled families. One episode puts the spotlight the Nevilles, with arguing parents; a controlling mom who continually yells at her kids; a lazy older brother who sleeps on the couch; a middle sister whose moods drive everyone crazy; and the youngest son, who’s so timid he’s barely noticed amid the ruckus.

The teen panel is surprisingly mature and honest with the family, but finds it must get creative in laying down the law and helping settle disputes. With no monetary prize at stake, the family’s only reward is change. The panel pulls no punches in assigning romantic dinners, “birds and the bees” conversations, and letting the family know this experiment is for real.

Trust Me, I’m A Teenager premieres on BBC America Nov. 16 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.