John Adams: Season 1, Episode 1

Join or Die (16 Mar. 2008)

TV Episode  -   -  Biography | Drama | History
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Firebrand Sam Adams tries to dissuade cousin John from defending redcoats in the Boston Massacre, but later John changes his mind and joins the revolutionary cause.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Vincent Renart ...
Andrew Holmes
First Mourner


In an emotionally charged trial John Adams defends the British sentries involved in the Boston Massacre who contend they were provoked into firing on the assembled crowd. John's success brings him offers of positions in the Massachusetts government. But after John Hancock rouses a crowd to tar and feather a representative of the British East India Tea Company and the British respond to the growing unrest with oppressive measures, John instead speaks against the British policies and chooses to represent Massachusetts in the Continental Congress. Written by David Foss

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16 March 2008 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


John Adams' cousin Samuel is seen strongly objecting to John's involvement in the Boston Massacre trial. Samuel never publicly objected to John's involvement and David McCullough speculates that he may have even viewed it as good politics. See more »


[John Adams and Samuel Adams watch as a British Customs Official is being tarred and feathered by an angry Boston mob]
John Adams: Do you approve of this?
Samuel Adams: People are hurt when they fight for what is rightfully theirs!
John Adams: Do you approve of brutal and illegal acts to enforce a political principle, Sam? Answer Me That, Can You?
See more »


Written by William Billings
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User Reviews

Boston tea party
21 July 2009 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

This chapter starts in 1770. The setting is Boston, where John Adams is a lawyer. We watch him as he returns home after being away for some time. His wife Abigail and his children Nabby and John Quincy, have been awaiting for the husband and father that seems to be always away. No sooner has he been in the house, when shots are heard in the distance. John goes to see what was the problem, and finds a horrible scene where people have been shot to death in a square at the hand of British soldiers.

To make matters worse, John Adams, a lawyer, is asked to be the British soldiers' lawyer in a trial where they are considered guilty without having gone to court. He goes against what his peers and the general public consider the soldiers indeed were at fault. Being a fair man, Adams considers all the circumstances in the case, because he believes the men are innocent and proves his point in court. Captain Preston and his men are absolved of any crime because John Adams brings out the truth that vindicates the English soldiers.

A few years after the famous trial, the event that is commonly known as the Boston Tea Party took place. It was a way to protest the taxation that George III imposed on the tea shipments sent to the new world. It was one of the things that helped people like Mr. Adams to make up his mind to try to be freed from a corrupt government that only wanted to profit from the American colonies. Thus it was probably the single event that inspired what would come later in the American Revolution.

This first installment of the series "John Adams", adapted from David McCullough excellent novel, was adapted by Kirk Ellis, and was directed by Tom Hooper. The pivotal role of John Adams presented an excellent opportunity for Paul Giamatti in which to excel. Laura Linney is Abigail Adams, the patient and wise woman who loved John. Danny Huston appears as Sam Adams, John's cousin. Ritchie Coaster has some good moments as Capt. Preston, the man in command of the accused soldiers.

Tak Fujimoto's cinematography captures in vivid detail the atmosphere of that period. The production design is by Gemma Jackson, who had an uncanny knack for making this a winning series about the beginning of the nation. The background music is by Robert Lane.

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Amazing series, minus one thing. keenvj
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Jefferson Predicted the Civil War skybailey16
Good, but jarring too doughdee222
Phenominal casting, except for... mrbsays
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