It's difficult to resist a series called "Nimrod Nation" (8 p.m., Sundance), the eight-part documentary that airs every Monday night through Dec. 17. The Nimrod is the team name for the high school athletes in Watersmeet, a small hamlet in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Watersmeet residents seem obsessed with high school basketball, and men old enough to be great-grandfathers introduce themselves as Nimrods, class of 1940.
The intimate film takes an unabashed liking to its subject. The residents live far from urban distractions and spend their time hunting, ice fishing, shooting and riding snowmobiles. It's no exaggeration to say that Nimrods live close to nature and in a place where nature thinks nothing of turning the thermostat down to 25 below zero.
The main drama involves the 2005-2006 Nimrod basketball season. Coach Peterson, a third-generation Nimrod, has two sons on the squad. A subplot involves one local resident's efforts to halt a real estate development near a waterfall, a local natural wonder and tourist attraction. When a neighbor accuses him of being a "tree-hugger," he responds with a philosophy more rooted in scripture than the Sierra Club, calling the subdivision "a crucifixion upon the land."
"Nimrod Nation" evokes a small-town atmosphere that many fear lost. In some stretches, it may remind viewers of "Fargo" without the violence and "Friday Night Lights" without the sex. A father takes his boys ice fishing on a vast frozen lake in subzero temperatures and calls it "heaven."
But all is not hunky dory. Fear of drug use and teen pregnancy abound, and while relations between the white residents and the local Native Americans have improved since the Nimrod class of 1940, tension and resentment lingers. One cheerleader confesses that she "hates" the town and wants to move somewhere warmer, "like Wisconsin."
¢ Three repeats of "The Closer" (7 p.m., TNT) air every night through Wednesday.