John Adams: Season 1, Episode 3

Don't Tread on Me (23 Mar. 2008)

TV Episode  |  TV-14  |   |  Biography, Drama, History
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 264 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 2 critic

John and John Quincy sail to France to join Benjamin Franklin as part of the American mission but Adams' blunt style is ill-suited to diplomacy.



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Title: Don't Tread on Me (23 Mar 2008)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Judith Magre ...
Jerome Aarts ...
Dutch Doctor
Admiral D'Estaing
Pip Carter ...
Jules Croiset ...
Young Charles Adams (as Michael D'Addario)


Over the emotional objections of Abigail, John Adam and his son endure turbulent seas and an encounter with the British Navy to join Ben Franklin on a diplomatic mission to Paris. But Ben cannot restrain John's abrasive personality which is even less well suited to Paris than Philadelphia. Written by David Foss

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Release Date:

23 March 2008 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


"The Liberty Song" sung by the French, Franklin and Adams, was written by John Dickinson. See more »


In Episode 3, a camera is reflected in the carriage window glass during a close-up of young John Quincy Adams just before his departure for Russia. Even the lettering (reversed in the reflection but readable) of the camera's make and model are clearly visible: ARRIFLEX 35. See more »


Young John Quincy Adams: [John Quincy is preparing to travel to Russia as Francis Dana's secretary] Will it be very cold there, Father?
John Adams: Good heavens, no. Not for a Massachusetts man.
See more »


Opening Title
Written by Rob Lane
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User Reviews

An American in Paris, (in Amsterdam too!)
22 July 2009 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

Abigail and John Adams are united at the beginning of this chapter. Alas, happiness is short lived, when he informs his wife about his impending trip to Paris, where he, at the request of Benjamin Franklin, has been tapped to ask for money to help the new nation Adams helped create. Abigail's objections to the voyage was something that her husband was not counting on. As a sort of compromise, John decides to bring along his oldest son, to be with him.

The sea passage is a rough one. John was not a good traveler, as we see him get sick repeatedly. To make matters worse, the vessel where he is traveling, meets an English ship in the vicinity. Fire is exchanged, after John starts shooting at the enemy. The result is damage to the American ship with some casualties, among them, a man that loses a leg in a grueling operation.

When John Adams arrives in France, he is not quite ready for what he encounters. First of all, there is Benjamin Franklin, who is involved with an older noble woman, who he believes is the entry into king Louis' court. John, is appalled at the extravagant display of riches that was the norm among the higher classes. Being a practical man, he must adapt, but his heart is not in it. Meeting the king, leaves John disappointed. Since he cannot speak French he is at sea most of the time.

When the time comes to move on to Holland, John Adams, encounters a less refined audience. The Dutch were somber in comparison to the vanity he found in France. His pleads for credit from the government of that country is met with reluctance because John Adams cannot promise what the lenders want. Besides, his request for ten million is much more than what the money men can offer; after all, the United States had no credit at the moment. John Adams becomes seriously sick and he decides to send his son back to America.

Although not as effective as the previous two episodes, this one presents a slice of what life in France was like during the period John was there. Director Tom Hooper does not spare anything in showing the excesses of a society that was doomed to face a new reality. That would be come later during the French Revolution. Kirk Ellis, is the thing that glues everything. Tak Fujimoto shares the credit for the splendid photography with Danny Cohen. Joseph Vitarelli's music adds texture to this installment. The team behind the art direction did a splendid job in recreating the spectacle that was Versailles during those years.

All the principals do an excellent job to recreate their continuing roles. Tom Wilkinson surprises as Benjamin Franklin. Jean-Hugh Anglades and Judith Magre make excellent contributions as the French aristocrats that come to help John and Benjamin in their cause.

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Amazing series, minus one thing. keenvj
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Good, but jarring too doughdee222
Phenominal casting, except for... mrbsays
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