Show of the week
High rollers see his face on the $100 bill; frugal types cite his adage that a penny saved is a penny earned. But how much does the average American know about Benjamin Franklin beyond the general impression that he was a long-lived Renaissance man?
This two-part, 3½-hour program makes good use of traditional documentary techniques in covering the 84 years of a Founding Father who excelled in journalism, science, diplomacy and business. But the producers supplement the usual corps of talking-head experts with a well-cast troupe of costumed actors who deliver the actual words of historical figures under discussion. Foremost among the performers is Richard Easton (a Tony winner for The Invention of Love), who portrays the older Franklin as a gent of sparkling wit, agile mind and strong backbone. He's such a charming guest, you'll want him to stay and dine.
Bottom Line: Ben comes up big