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John Adams (2008)

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No cursing? HBO worked it into Deadwood. I am just waiting to see how they have it in this series. I can see it now, when Adams and Franklin are in France, Adams gets red-faced at Franklin's sexual escapades, and he tears Franklin a new one.

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No cursing? HBO worked it into Deadwood. I am just waiting to see how they have it in this series. I can see it now, when Adams and Franklin are in France, Adams gets red-faced at Franklin's sexual escapades, and he tears Franklin a new one.

Tom Shales led his review in the Washington Post with a mention of how clean the series is -- appropriate for the whole family.

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Some of the visuals are quite disturbing, especially one scene late in the first (?) episode when a man is brutally tarred and feathered.

Includes male full frontal nudity in that scene. However it is appropriate to the scene.

I loved the courtroom scene where Adams was defense attorney for the soldiers of the Boston Massacre. (I assume that is historically accurate, but don't know).

Tom Wilkinson does well as Ben Franklin, however Giamatti steals the show.

Edited by Thoreau

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It's the kind of script where one character calling another a coward is about as insulting as one can imagine. (In fact, Adam does just that to one of the congessional delegates and shocks the whole room--without using so-called "curse" words.)

That was a day when dueling was still normal. We lost a former Secretary of Treasury that way. I wonder why saying one lacks courage caused duels, whereas, I do not know whether saying another was intemperate stirred the same pot.

Also, who has ever wondered about cowardice as seen through the eyes of God? Examine Revelation 21:8:

"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars

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Has anyone seen episode 3? It is rated TV-14 instead of PG as the other 2 episodes are.

I'd like to continue the series with my kids, however I'm worried exactly how much French bosoms are we going to see when Franklin and Adams go overseas, if you know what I mean?

Any thoughts on what causes the change in rating?

Edited by Thoreau

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Thanks...we watched it last night and I believe the rating was for the graphic violence. The sawing of a limb off of a wounded sailor.

I have enjoyed the series and appreciate the historical accuracy instead of the usual propaganda. However I'm disappointed in some of the more gratuitous scenes. OK, it is one thing to show a doctor cutting the skin and putting the pox in the wound, but to show it 3 times in a row? That was unnecessary. Also, it wasn't necessar to actually show the sawing of the leg off. That is just graphic to be graphic and didn't add anything to the scene. The intensity and violence of the situation was already evident enough and didn't need that kind of reinforcement, especially for a show that will likely be shown to some children learning history.

Other than those quibbles, I've really liked it so far. Giamatti and Linney are superb and will be most deserving of any awards they receive for this.

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I have enjoyed the series and appreciate the historical accuracy instead of the usual propaganda. However I'm disappointed in some of the more gratuitous scenes. OK, it is one thing to show a doctor cutting the skin and putting the pox in the wound, but to show it 3 times in a row? That was unnecessary. Also, it wasn't necessar to actually show the sawing of the leg off. That is just graphic to be graphic and didn't add anything to the scene. The intensity and violence of the situation was already evident enough and didn't need that kind of reinforcement, especially for a show that will likely be shown to some children learning history.

You are right. It wasn't necessary, but the whole thing was sold in advance to critics on the basis of hyper realism and lack of modern day glamor and finesse (wigs as hats, have you ever seen Linney so unmade up on film? Ever?). That sequence may have been awful intense for children, but that sort of thing could go on for days in that era. From that POV, the sequence could be seen to be modest.

Full disclosure, I've had a screen crush on Linney for a long time now and have delighted in Giamatti ever since I first saw him as a weasel-hostage in The Negotiator. Adams was a childhood hero of mine as well. That being said, I was destined to enjoy this series and "enjoy" put's it mildly. The restrained flirting between Abigail and Jefferson last night was beguiling. I think I want to see the fourth episode again just for that. Frankly, while both Giamatti and Linney are wonderful, I think that it is Linney who steals the show and by design. Abigail is just about the most nuanced character, male or female, I've seen on TV this decade.

While I've not read the book, I've seen McCollough interviewed extensively on C-SPAN about the book and about Adams. He is taken by her and would seem to consider Adams half the man he was without her. Because of who Adams was and because of their correspondance, one could argue that she was the most towering woman in our history, of whom we are aware, before Clare Booth Luce.

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Last weekend I found myself in a hotel (long irrelevant story...read my blog if you want to know more) and caught two episodes of this series, since the only time I ever see HBO live is in hotels. I don't know which episodes, exactly, but in the first one Adams & Franklin were in Paris, and in the second, Adams went first to England, then back to France with Abigail Adams, and finally back to America. Yay! Was that the end? Or just a stirring moment in a longer story?

Giamatti was excellent--serious without being morose, which is how I usually see him. Liked what I saw a lot. May rent the DVDs, when they're available.

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Nope, and those aren't the best episodes by a stretch!

Good! Then I have something to look forward to!

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Release date on DVD! Has arrived! ...This series, teleplay, hbo production based on David McCullough's Bio deserves....no needs! to be added to any dvd collection.

This series is a unique and amazing work, a 7 part historical drama so pact full of wonder and ideas that its hard to even contain my enthusiasm for it. The art-production alone is in league with such notables as Master and Commander, Barry Lyndon, and Amadeus, so no costume drama disconnect occurs if one fears

hearing the snap of the tension wires which help maintain the suspension of disbelief.

Watching this series is like sneaking into the Smithsonian after-hours and having it all to your self for one very long night of pure Joy.... The performances are steller and the cinemaphotography by the veteran Tak Fujimoto and Danny Cohen is breathtaking. I was at first struck, and then hammered again and again by some of the camera setups chosen in this series... many of the visual compositions* framed are so compelling, for me it was like watching Tolland and Welles work in Citizen Kane all over again for the first time - that fresh and bearing a consistency rarely found save for the works of early Gilliam, KubricK and Sir Ridley Scott. Visually i think this series is a textbook to the craft itself offering up a feast of compositions to feast on... oh how I want to call this "film" rather than a series or tele-play. Its that good.

The writing solid. performances just perfect... Where Washington had stature and dignity ...Franklin had the brains and eccentric charm and Jefferson the brains and looks to boot, Adams was the everyday man who had the passion of Virtue and Justice ...this is not to say the other didnt have their share eitherAdams seemed to be more like Beethoven is to Mozart he was a tradesman he worked for it ... and he was good at and knew so. Where the others were more like Mozart near angels if so cast in an old Frank Capra Film from the 40's ... it just flowed from them genetic lottery maybe...destiny perhaps but Adams seems to be just a

good man, abit nerdish, intense but one who had the eyes to see and to see rightly a vision.

I was exceptionally moved as well by his issues and inner struggles, even more so his role as husband and as a father, the latter of which i found bittersweet (glad that this all was before age of entitlement which is ours, where now the children of presidents write there memoirs of navel gazing and complaint)....Mr. Giamatti as with everything he does...is indeed the man... his talent in portraying Adam's ego, his weakness, vanity, and insecurities are exceptional.. ...And Laura Linney as Abigail is stunning,,, i love seeing films about smart women. She as Abigail is spectacular giving a sense of not only wife and mother, a great one at that, but a true partner... their marriage was simply that one word- True. Thats big love baby, and its amazing just to watch the respect and friendship they shared...pollyannaish? no that real or darn close,,, no its not like Ward and June Cleaver nor is there the existential distance as Bergman, its much more -they were committed

they cared and with that ratio therein lies the Mystery and its sacrament... and rare to see in such a disposable age... or as it is portrayed in so protracted a manner as it is here.

Kudos to her. the real Mrs Adams. The small pox episode kicked my arse...our ancestors were Tough they endured ...I am of a generation of whiners, time to buck up. Im tossin' my diaper genie.

This film, oops there i said it.... works on so many levels, and is quite literally a cafeteria of ideas as well as themes which while driving the story forward continue to hold their glow there in its wake, waiting like embers of Virtue and Justice and offering through each viewing a lesson of their own degree. All made flesh , so to speak, and played out especially in the arc of the Adams/Jefferson relationship. The series alone offers one of the best portrayals of Jefferson ever.... Stephen Dillane IS Jefferson and every scene he appears in is charged , his performance exudes a gravity that literally starts pulling the camera back to him whenever he is out of frame or due to a cut... So many great scenes... too many really, but one memorable is that scene when Adams and Franklin meet up with Jefferson and commence making revisions to what will be the Declaration of Independence- this scene is priceless. As i am a commercial artist by trade, and humbled so when looking at the stakes these guys and gal made to forge this country that allows me the freedom to be one... I empathized with the restraint and tension exhibited by Stephen Dillane's performance as he looks on , takes it in and lets go and yield to destiny. These guys and Abigail are titans! Such minds!

Another great is the scene with a balloon, hows that for Vague with a capitol V, but thats all i will mention

Show hidden text
.... so telling of the way each viewed the world and saw the possibilities lurking within , if some here have the read the book, is that in the David McCullough's text?- regardless what a great way to reveal it even furtherwith the referent of a balloon and flight.

Other praise to David Morse as George Washington , Justin Theroux as John Handcock ,Tom Wilkinson as Benjamin Frankin,,,and specially to Danny Huston as Sam Adams. The performances of each could make a standalone episode or bio pic in their own right... great talent all.

*note--while some found the angles and lens choice disconcerting or an anachronism, as one reviewer went as far as saying it was like watching an old episode of Batman. I was humbled by the art of their daring and "looked" at it as pure creativity; likening it to the novel Tristram Shandy, a work written shortly before the events portrayed in 1751 by one Laurence Sterne- stylistic liberties abound there too, many that went on to influence a whole generation of writers, our age is indeed not so modern nor sophisticated as we think... or even better if one is so curious and a copy cannot be found,,just take a look at Melville's work on one white whale as in Chapters 37, 38, 40 and 55 especially. Such choices and the disruption that occurs for the viewer whether in narrative be it print or there as

imaged in film always adds dimension by challenging our attention. I found this to be a pleasure and am grateful too for as most of the content of the story takes place as interior scenes & meetings.... rather than make it look like a senate hearing on cable....snoresville.... John Adams is not only occomplished but bold... making this film at the very least worthy of a rental that u might just not want to return.

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