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The only t.v. dramas (historical or otherwise) that I would watch was Masterpiece Theatre because they were mostly British made and classy. Now we have something to rival anything that Masterpiece Theatre put out: John Adams. First, the theme music is first rate slowing building up to a quiet crescendo. Second, the photography is of a theatrical release quality. The set and production values are first rate: you feel as if you are in the scenery and living at that time of our history. The makeup and costumes are historically correct or close to it. Finally, what superb acting by Giamatti and the great Laura Linney and the supporting actors are fine. In fact, I can not find a fault with this mini-series so far.I look forward to watching every Sunday on HBO. I agree with others who say this will win Golden Globe and Emmy Awards. For anyone who says this is boring or lacking bloodshed and violence, I say: "Your ignorance is beneath my contempt" - John Adams, 1777( to Samuel Furlong who told Adams that the 'Declaration of Independency would be the death warrant of the colonies."
Thank you to HBO for the making of this series. Its was a joy to watch.
The last part (7th part) was perhaps the hardest to watch. More than
once tears were brought to my eyes, in compassion for many of the
characters and the conclusion of their life story. What can be said
about the making of it? There are not enough words to praise all those
involved. Paul Giamatti's and Laura Linney's performances were
absolutely astonishing and by the end, had me in tears, I as a man, am
not ashamed to say. They were brilliant, class and I will forever be a
fan of them. The rest of the cast were like a collection of fine art.
Whomever brought them all together, alone deserves an award. Great fine
acting on their own and as a group. This series deserves every award
possible and more. I agree totally with all the praise that has gone
before and will come after. This is a TV series that does HBO and
America proud. It should be shown in every class room in the states.
Its a work of art...
Further comment: Such great men and equally great thinkers are lost today on many of the youth. The likes of them will perhaps be never seen again. May they rest easy within the soil of America, for the freedoms they brought to their country they loved so much.
They could teach today's politicians a lesson or two on truth, sticking to upholding true meaning of liberty and the rule of law. I fear however they would not be impressed by the actions of those that this day, April 25th 2008, that stand within the blocks of the White House. History will also be their judge and it will not treat our present day leaders so kindly and deservedly so. Those that have now gone before at the foundation of the country, were clearly better upstanding citizens.
What is now is Congress and the White House is just a bad shadow of once true and honest men (and women) that passed away with the founding of America.
May they, the founding fathers (and mothers) rest in peace.
I have seen many exceptional series, but few lately have been as so as
this, John Adams. There is so much attention to detail here, the whole
of John Adams is exquisitely photographed and is advantaged further by
authentic period recreation and costuming. John Adams also has
realistic atmosphere, something that some of the best period drama
series(such as North and South, Little Dorritt, Bleak House and The
Crimson Petal and the White) excel at.
The music enhances the mood of each scene very well too, the writing is full of grit, poignancy and intelligence, and the story is both absorbing and interesting. The characters intrigue with enough depth to them to make them not fall into caricature. The acting is wonderful with no weak link. Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney are exceptional, and they are given top notch support from all particularly the always reliable Tom Wilkinson and David Morse.
All in all, simply amazing is really all I have to say about John Adams. 10/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This has been so much better than monstrous fictions like The Patriot.
Before this series, my image of John Adams was William Daniels in 1776
and those pictures of a dumpy, white wigged aging gentleman we usually
see in Adam's portrait. It was quite difficult to imagine them as one
and the same. And how did he ever get to be President? Finally, here is
Paul Giamatti giving depth, emotion, doubt, pride, and more and doing
it as a human. And his is just one of several outstanding performances.
Laura Linney is absolutely fabulous as Abigail Adams. Her every look,
movement, action conveys a thousand words. (and I enjoyed that Tom
Wilkenson is Ben Franklin here and Lord Cornwallis in The Patriot) And
I cannot say enough about the most attention to detail I've ever seen
in an historical piece - the clothes, the surroundings, the living
conditions, like the small pox vaccinations. It shows a real care and
concern on the part of all involved to present what they are portraying
as accurate as it is.
Of course, there are problems. The opening moments of Episode 1 should have drawn you in immediately. Unfortunately, I suspect it turned people off. It wasn't until late in 1 and into 2 that if one stuck it out that long, you would start to be drawn in by the characterizations. I wasn't sure I wanted to sit through all 7 episodes, but I'm now going to miss it dearly when it's over in 2 or so weeks.
And there are inaccuracies. Adams came and went several times to Europe, and more of his family accompanied him at times, and I think he was part of a larger delegation. That little bit of disagreement between him and one of his sons who accused him of being a neglectful parent - that is so late 20th century. Especially considering as others have pointed out, a lot of the Continental army regulars were gone from home for years.
But this series puts the most human element I've ever seen into a period when people of that time are viewed larger than life, people we've almost made out to be super-human. Someone wrote that the series was boring. Show me any one's life at the minutiae required to show that person as human, and you'll see boring. Our lives are not a series of highlights and sound bites with fade outs between - there are ups, downs, and a lot of just living, but it's real. And John Adams, thank all those involved, shows it.
Historically-based drama, like historical romance, is not history.
Having said that, I rate this new television series somewhat high.
I like many other students of history will find fault with historical details that go astray in this presentation. I may also find fault with the manner in which some of the historical facts and characters seem overemphasized at the expense of others. But the key question is whether the story as compelling drama holds up against all that background.
For example, is the character of John Adams as played by Paul Giamatti believable? Does he seem consonant with the storyline? Are the other cast members and episodes structured so as to advance a clear image in our minds of the man and his times? I must confess I have a very different idea of what the real John Adams must have been like. But the words and actions of this drama are in and of themselves generally representative of the written record of history. As an example I cite from the most recent episode the beginnings of antagonism between Adams and Jefferson that would lead (I hope will lead!) to the very dramatic facts of their bitter enmity and eventual reconciliation before they died as old men, coincidentally on the same day. Every schoolchild needs to know what these two men stood for in the formative years of the republic, and how each one like so many politicians today felt occasionally inclined to put vanity ahead of what they truly believed. That is the makings of good drama.
So I can forget from time to time that much of this stuff is being filmed in Hungary, that Breed's Hill was not Bunker Hill, that the accents aren't right (especially undifferentiated as between the South and New England), and that the sun is almost always shining.
Instead, I concentrate more on why there is so much mumbling and whispering. My ears are not as good as they used to be.
I usually don't easily rate with 10 stars, but this series is
absolutely worth it. I didn't know too too much about the beginnings of
the history of the US, but this series taught me a lot.Thanks to a
great cast who brought these honorable people back to live and very
moving scenes it will stay in my mind and heart.I agree that this
should be showed to school children and especially modern day
What especially positively impressed me was the nearly complete lack of violence compared to oh so many other (american!) productions.We all know how terrible things can be, so there is no need to show it over and over again and satisfy merely voyeuristic wishes.Voices, quotes, Face expressions,subtle gestures should be enough for any human being to understand the message of this movie.VERY WELL DONE!
I love the US history, and among my favorite topics is the American Revolution. Then, there is one man whose great deeds are somehow overshadowed by all-time greats such as Washington, Jefferson or Franklin. This man is John Adams. His fervent character, his single-minded vigor and pursuit of his goals made him a remarkable and controversial figure. His often fiery character and his inability of not keeping his mind, all of these made him enemies quite too often. The HBO series made a great, huge, impeccable job of depicting John Adams and his time. Everything is done here with an utmost accuracy and mesmerizing precision. The casting is another great win - Paul Giamatti as Adams, Laurs Linney as his beloved wife Abigail, David Morse as General Washington to name the few, are all excellent choices. All of the primary and secondary actors do their job well, and how can we forget great Tom Wilkinson as Mr. Franklin. The setting, the soundtrack, the costumes and the unbelievably precise details add it all to the utter pleasure of watching this awesome serial. Highly and undoubtedly recommended
I doubt the likes of John Adams could ever win a senatorial seat today.
The presidency would be absolutely out of the question. At best, he
would be a behind-the-scenes intellectual, akin to a David Axelrod or a
David Plouffe, guiding tough decisions but allowing a much more
glamorous candidate to make the speeches and sign the autographs. In
short, John Adams could not have been president in the late 20th and
early 21st centuries because of his looks and temperament.
John Adams has been one of the most enigmatic of figures of the early days of the founding of the United States of America. Part of this ambiguity was cleared up with the book by David McCullough, "John Adams". This HBO miniseries, maybe the best made-for-cable production since "Band of Brothers", chronicles the legal and political career of one of the more complex of America's Founding Fathers; it follows much of McCullough's book. McCullough spent hundreds of hours of research, particularly at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, pouring over the myriad of surviving primary sources from the mid-18th century. John Adams, unlike Thomas Jefferson, is one of the most well-documented of American historical figures. Much of what we know about the circumstances regarding the War of Independence, the Continental Congress, and other incidents is because of the preservation of these documents by the Adams family for the last two and one half centuries. (By contrast, Jefferson destroyed many of his own documents.) Much of the series comes from these primary sources sifted through by McCullough.
John Adams was nothing like a Jack Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan, a Bill Clinton or a Barack Obama. He was short, stocky, unattractive, and had a pug nose, although he had penetrating eyes. During congressional debates he was once referred to as "His Rotundity". He could be overbearing, argumentative, occasionally rude and often big-mouthed. He could not tolerate incompetence and stupidity, at least as he defined it, and he had a bad habit of tactlessly letting people know. And yet, he was one of the titans of legal and political intellectualism in the American Colonies and one of the key figures that enabled their secession from Great Britain. During the Enlightenment of the 18th century, intellectualism and scholarship was more highly valued among leaders in America than it is today, and John Adams made up for his other shortcomings in spades. (Alas, in modern times, American politicians are often elected because of charisma, charm and movie-star qualities rather than intellectualism.) Therefore, no other actor in the business could play him as well as Paul Giamatti. As Adams was no Kennedy, neither is Giamatti which made him perfect for the part. Only the finest actor lacking star power could handle such a role. His performance is one of the best of an American historical figure, on par with Denzel Washington who portrayed Malcolm X. High marks also for Laura Linney as Abigail Adams. Both won Emmys for their performances.
The series begins with the tides of animosity and distrust that began stirring between the American Colonists and their British rulers in the 1760's and early 1770's. Although the acts of the so-called Sons of Liberty were already escalating growing tensions, Adams was not the first to sign on to the idea of secession, although his cousin Samuel Adams already had. Few Americans know that Adams was involved with the case of the so-called "Boston Massacre" of 1770, in which soldiers fired upon an angry mob that resulted in the deaths of five colonists--not exactly a massacre but that's how it was portrayed. On principle, Adams accepted the case to defend the soldiers who were eventually acquitted. The acquittal did not endear Adams to many of his fellow colonists. It was only later, in part convinced by his cousin Sam Adams, that he agreed to join the cause for independence. The series chronicles his rise in leadership during the debates of the Continental Congress in which he and Ben Franklin advocated secession. He later became ambassador to France along with Franklin to negotiate the French supporting the colonial rebellion.
After the war, he was elected as the first Vice President. Apparently he was quite ambivalent to his office, wondering if having been given the role of Vice President was somewhat of insult, but he would later recognize the honor it was. After Washington retired from public life, Adams was elected for one term as the second President of the United States in 1796, in part because of his crucial role during the War of Independence and his high intellectualism. As President, Adams avoided a war with France that probably saved the American nation, particularly since the United States had almost no defense. Unfortunately, since they were largely ignorant of the state of the military, the citizenry was largely in favor of such a war, and he lost his office to Jefferson in 1800. Later, a correspondence between Adams and Jefferson helps to reconcile their differences. They both died on the same day, July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the founding of the new nation.
John Adams may have been the "smartest man in the room", and he had the integrity to go with it. Even though many of his colleagues, particularly Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, thought him insufferable at times, they revered his high intellectualism, and honored him by electing him President of the United States after George Washington. But in some ways, Adams was his own worst enemy, not knowing how to negotiate and debate in a civilized manner without demeaning and degrading his opponents. Politics is the art of negotiation, not just making the best arguments. I liken Adams somewhat to Jimmy Carter who was also highly intelligent but could not always negotiate with his political colleagues. This docudrama helps to reveal the multiple sides of Adams, and hopefully, the importance of what he did, how he did it, and why.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
John Adams is directed by Tom Hooper, produced by Tom Hanks and Gary
Goetzman,is based on the book by David McCullough and stars Paul
Giamatti, Laura Linney, Stephen Dillane, Danny Huston and Tom Wilkinson
and tells the remarkable true story of the second President of the
United States and how the USA gained independence from the British.
John Adams(Paul Giamatti)is a lawyer in America in the 1700's and we follow his struggle to help America gain independence from Britain and see how he eventually becomes America's second President.
The highlight of the series is the relationship between John and his loving wife Abigail(Laura Linney). Abigail is John's anchor,conscience and is his best friend as well.The scenes between these two are so raw,honest and heart breaking at times.
Abigail was left alone much of the time while John travelled on state business but the two wrote such beautiful letters to each other declaring their love for one another.
The series also stars Stephen Dillane as Thomas Jefferson the man behind the declaration of independence and a lifelong friend of John's, David Morse as the first man to lead America George Washington,Tom Wilkinson as the legendary Benjamin Franklin and Sarah Polley as Adam's ill fated daughter Abigail"Nabby". The entire cast give superb performances but this is Paul Giamatti's show for sure, he is absolutely outstanding giving one of his best performances.
This is more than just a biography of one man and his family, it's a fascinating look at that time period and shows the hardship of life back then and how people coped with not very much to live on.
This series deserves a great deal of attention and is a good look at the contributions to history of one man and the start of a way of life that many now take for granted.
Being Canadian and history buff i was intrigued by this series
prospects of my southern cousins' history.
Upon seeing the series i would say that this series is superb on all aspects, from the visuals to the story. The series played out well and there was magic flow thru all of it because of the marvelous acting and casting and visuals. Somehow i wish this series would have been longer because you really grow attached to the characters just after a few shows...
The only caveat is that the end shows feel a little bit rushed on the time-line that these persons lived in and you are left filling the time-line voids and try to figure out what happened to some characters in the series but then again it is absolutely engrossing to watch this show.
A glorious effort at trying to show us history for the modern men and women of this generation.
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