IMDb > "American Experience" Woodrow Wilson: Episode One - A Passionate Man (2002)

"American Experience" Woodrow Wilson: Episode One - A Passionate Man (2002)

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Carl Byker (writer)
Robert McDonnell (writer)
View company contact information for Woodrow Wilson: Episode One - A Passionate Man on IMDbPro.
Original Air Date:
6 January 2002 (Season 14, Episode 4)
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Absolute Certitude. See more (2 total) »


 (Episode Cast)
Sharon Alsina

Rene Auberjonois ... (voice)

Ray Baker ... (voice)

Blair Brown ... (voice)

Jude Ciccolella ... Himself / Narrator
Caroline Conway
Teresa Della Vall

Linda Hunt ... Herself - Narrator
Jackson Kent

Laura Linney ... (voice)
Peter Parks

Eric Stoltz ... (voice)
Ellen Wilson ... (voice)
Joseph Wilson ... (voice)

Nell Wilson ... (voice)
Woodrow Wilson ... (voice)
Dan Woren ... (voice)

Episode Crew
Directed by
Carl Byker 
Mitch Wilson 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Carl Byker  writer
Robert McDonnell  writer
John Mora  writer
David Mrazek  writer
Lonon F. Smith  writer
Douglas Varchol  writer

Produced by
Carl Byker .... producer
Joyce Campbell .... producer director
Mickey Capoferri .... producer (as Mickey Worsnup)
Philip Dunn .... producer
Teresa Fitzgerald .... co-producer
Richard Kassebaum .... co-producer
Robert McDonnell .... associate producer
Isaac Mizrahi .... producer
John Mora .... co-producer
David Mrazek .... producer
Robert H. Sanborn .... executive producer
Douglas Varchol .... producer
Original Music by
David Vanacore 
Vic Vanacore 
Cinematography by
Mitch Wilson 
Film Editing by
Kate Johnson 
Isaac Mizrahi 
Mark Pedante 
Costume Design by
Shura Pollatsek 
Production Management
Bettina Bennewitz .... production manager
Art Department
Ruben Espinosa .... designer
Russell Stone .... development artist
Sound Department
Thomas J. Huth .... sound
Scott C. Kolden .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Dylan O'Brien .... camera operator
Editorial Department
Mark Pedante .... assistant editor
Other crew
John Morton Blum .... academic advisor
Victoria Bissell Brown .... academic advisor
Joyce Campbell .... production executive
Jack Combs .... production coordinator
John Milton Cooper .... historian
Lauren Deutsch .... researcher
Katrin Frye .... production assistant
Dale Herigstad .... creative director
Yvonne Johnson .... rights and clearances
Jackie Kain .... vice president
Michael Kazin .... academic advisor
David Kennedy .... academic advisor
Thomas J. Knock .... academic advisor
Walter LaFeber .... academic advisor
May Bo Lam .... media assistant
Mary Mazur .... production executive
John Mora .... researcher
John Mulder .... academic advisor
David Plettner .... researcher
Susan Reardon .... legal
Jennifer Richmond .... legal
Ronald Schaffer .... academic advisor
Joan Brodsky Schur .... advisor
Andrea Smith .... researcher
John Thompson .... academic advisor
Bret Tonkiss .... media assistant
Jay Winter .... academic advisor

Series Crew
These people are regular crew members. Were they in this episode?
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Stephen Fitzmeyer  developer
Henry Hampton  creator

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:


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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
Absolute Certitude., 30 October 2010
Author: Robert J. Maxwell ( from Deming, New Mexico, USA

Wilson's biography is included in a boxed set now available from PBS Home Video that includes Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, Truman, Nixon, Carter, and one or two others. I've watched only the programs dealing with Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan so far, so I have a limited basis for comparison.

Based on that limited sample, Part One of "Woodrow Wilson" isn't quite up to snuff. That doesn't mean it's poorly done or not worth watching, only that T. R. and Reagan were both more informative and less, well, boring.

Wilson was born into a moderately wealthy, devoutly Presbyterian Southern family in the ruins of post-Civil-War Virginia. He overcame a childhood case of dyslexia sufficiently to gain entrance to Princeton University in New Jersey, which, at the time, was chiefly a factory turning out rich, white elitists who had little particular interest in being educated and whose heads were like eggs without yolks. I can get away with this kind of Olympian generalization because I'm from New Jersey, I managed to attend a few classes at Princeton and briefly worked there, and because the narration tells us it was so.

Wilson went on to a PhD from Johns Hopkins and became President of Princeton. He was an ambitious and prolific scholar and author. As a Presbyterian and a Calvinist, he cleaned up some of the laziness and introduced a tougher curriculum, helping to turn the place from a boys' tennis club into a prestigious university.

He was elected president on the Democratic ticket in 1916 despite his appearance and manners, which he himself described respectively as that of "a drug store clerk" and "cool." He almost certainly would have lost if Howard Taft had quit the race and let the blustering Theodore Roosevelt run as the Republican candidate. Both Wilson and Roosevelt were reformers, at a time when the country was badly in need of one, but Roosevelt wanted to regulate big business, while Wilson wanted to take the trusts apart and stimulate competition from small businesses.

He was a pretty compassionate guy, even idealistic. He knew nothing of foreign affairs and had to learn by the seat of his pants. Partly because of the absolute moral certainty derived from his Calvinism, his actions were blunt and forthright. Did Pancho Villa raid a small town in New Mexico? In return Wilson invaded Mexico to democratize it and got all wrapped up in its tar-baby internal politics.

Absolute moral certitude, from whatever source, can be dangerous, as all adults should know. For Wilson, it meant bringing about such reforms as the eight-hour work day and the abolition of child labor. But Wilson was also a Southerner and took some of its racial axioms for granted. African-Americans weren't seen as evolved quite as much as Caucasians. In fact, anthropologists of the day were busily trying to build evolutionary staircases for each of the many "races" they perceived. (England always came out on top.) So blacks got rather short shrift. Interracial marriage became illegal and mandatory segregation became the law, even in federal agencies.

But we need to put Wilson's politics and his social values aside because, whether or not we approve of them, they were part of the man himself and the goal of this series is to present us with a reasonably objective portrait.

He was cool and academic on the surface, passionate and loving underneath, or so the narration by Linda Hunt tells us several times. The "loving" part goes on at too great a length, if you ask me. Compared to the other episodes I've seen, we get more than we need to know about the inner life not only of Wilson but of his first wife, Ellen. It's a little like a program on the Biography Channel. "This threw the Wilson household into a panic." At any moment I expected the narrator to tell us, "Little did they know that tragedy lay just around the corner." Unlike the other episodes, this one uses reenactors. That is, actors and actresses play the parts of the principal characters. Emotions are important data but I kind of missed the brisk presentation of the other episodes. I moaned, along with Ellen, when she found out about Woodrow's ephemeral affair with some floozy named Peck in Bermuda.

Okay. So maybe he was diddling somebody for a week or two. I'd like to have known more about what convinced him that he'd make a good president.

Maybe Part Two analyzes this remarkable guy in a bit more depth.

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