HBO’s Digital Cable Hit – John Adams


Who knew that John and Abigail Adams were such fascinating people? Thankfully David McCullough realized the interesting and productive lives they led, as well as the amazing impact they had on achieving our country’s independence. Then HBO made it come to life with the riveting award-winning television mini-series.

The real stars in this production were the people responsible for matching actors to roles that transformed historical characters into real people. The stellar performances by Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney as John and Abigail Adams kept me spellbound by the depths they both portrayed. And Giamatti’s acceptance speech for best actor at the Emmy’s showed such touching humility and humor I loved him all the more.

Other historical figures looked as if they walked of a painting by Gilbert Stuart. George Washington (David Morse), Thomas Jefferson (Stephen Dillane), and Benjamin Franklin (Tom Wilkinson) were three others who seemed to reincarnate each man for this enactment. The duplicity in their interaction with John Adams and each other made our historical icons all too human. Yet, I don’t know how anyone could watch this without feeling pride in our country’s founding fathers. The inauguration of George Washington brought tears to my eyes.

Every facet of this gem was well done. The costumes, settings, scenery, and make-up took you back to the first fifty years of our United States and the creation of Washington, DC. The disappointing part was that was filmed in Budapest, Hungary.

A group of us watched two or three segments each week. The anticipation made us eager to see what would happen next, especially unlikely since we did know the history. Learning this in history class and watching it unfold were two extremely different experiences. As one member of the group said, “Everyone should learn history this way.” After each week’s session, I was hungry to learn more. My time on the computer exploring more about that era enriched my watching even more. My Netflix’s queue is now filled with historical dramas, but think they will all pale compared to John Adams.

Since finishing John Adams I have talked to others who thought it was the best program they every watched. And like me, some who would enjoy seeing it again. Obviously I highly recommend viewing this. Don’t miss the extra on the DVD where David McCullough talks about writing the book. It made me appreciate both the author and the subject even more.