Television: Yo, Pioneers!

Realities of the 19th and 21st centuries collide on PBS

Even on the newly hipped-up, post-Louis Rukeyser PBS, "reality series" means something different. Instead of thongs, you get bonnets. But the six-part Frontier House (check local listings), which sends three real-life families to lead the hardscrabble life of 1880s Montana pioneers, is not unlike Survivor. On both, the players slaughter pigs--and come close to slaughtering one another as well.

Frontier's families spend more than five months farming, cooking, tending livestock and felling trees--an especially hard life for the Xbox-deprived kids. But the real drama is psychological. Competitive Tennesseans Karen and Mark Glenn squabble with each other and with the Clunes--well-off, whiny...

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