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Colonial House
Think colonial life was all about pious pilgrims, powdered wigs and freedom for all? Think again! More than two dozen modern-day time-travelers find out the hard way what early American colonial life was really like when they, like America's first settlers, struggle to create a functioning and profitable colony in COLONIAL HOUSE, premiering on WHYY Mondays and Tuesdays, May 17-18 and 24-25, 2004, 8:00 p.m.

The eight-part COLONIAL HOUSE shatters historical myths and common misconceptions by tracking the firsthand experiences of the modern-day colonists as they live in the year 1628 for four months on the misty Maine coast, with only the rustic tools and technology of the time at their disposal. Viewers witness the personal and communal challenges of the colonists' day-to-day lives, seeing both the expected -- backbreaking labor, bad weather and primitive living conditions -- as well as the unexpected -- religious conflicts, surprising confessions, devastating news from the outside world and even an AWOL colonist.

"Researching this era, we were surprised --- and viewers will be surprised --- at the misconceptions about our colonial roots," said executive producer for Thirteen/WNET Beth Hoppe. "History often paints a drab picture of our forebears, but they would fit into modern-day America better than one might think. From wearing bright-colored clothing and consuming large amounts of alcohol to testing the laws of the era, early colonists were a vibrant group of individuals."

The 26 hardy souls chosen from more than 5,000 applications, some of which were for entire families, to participate in the time-travel experiment include: the Voorhees family from Massachusetts, the Heinz family from California, the Wyers family from Texas, the Verdecia family from California and individuals from New York City, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Virginia and even England. At one point, all participants were housed in just four single-story cottages measuring only 15 x 20 feet each -- with as many as 12 per house! Among the colonists' many points of dissension were the rigid class and gender roles, mandatory religious worship and the puritanical civil laws of the era, particularly those pertaining to profanity.

"Not only does COLONIAL HOUSE capture the drama of everyday life in a small colony, but it also shows how ordinary people cope -- or in many cases, don't cope -- when removed from all that is familiar and comforting to them in the modern world," said series producer Sallie Clement. "Our diverse group of colonists was catapulted into a life that demanded they set aside their many differences for the sake of survival."

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