CBS (Thursdays, 8 p.m. ET)
Based on Catherine Marshall’s novel, this series stars Kellie Martin (Life Goes On) as an inquisitive young woman of some refinement who takes a job at a mission school deep in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee in 1912. In a curious bit of casting, Tyne Daly (Cagney & Lacey) plays her Quaker mentor.
It takes some adjustment for Martin to understand these rough-hewn mountain people and their superstitions, blood feuds and stubborn pride. Nothing could have prepared her for the grinding poverty of her tattered and smudge-faced charges, who look like refugees though they’re living on their native soil.
There are also some surprisingly good-lookin’ dudes up in them thar hills, including a bucking young minister (Randall Batinkoff) and a ruddy Scottish doctor (Stewart Finlay-McLennan) with a burr under his bedside manner. Both of them arc infatuated with our plucky young heroine.
Filmed on location in the mist-shrouded Smokies, this wholesome show is much like The Waltons and Dr. Quinn, but rendered with a more literate sensibility and more conviction. The acting, however, isn’t particularly distinguished.