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minstrel hussain boy

i too am a huge adams fan. your assesment of his place and role is spot on. i tell folks that adams was the most essential of the founders. washington the most heroic, jefferson the most lyrical, hamilton the most dangerous etc. but adams, with all his self described faults was always there. always working. had the voices of war been allowed to blunder us into conflict with france or spain in those first few years i think adams premonition of us being crushed like a bug would have been seen through. we know of adams' frailties and faults because he told on himself, nearly compulsively so.

yes, by the framework of aristotle, adams was indeed a comedy. he did achieve his ends. although he would have enjoyed a bit more appreciation and understanding of his essential role.

minstrel hussain boy

so far, they've handled the jefferson/adams letter thing by staging it as conversations. they've done the same with abigail.


The only opinion I ever value when it comes to art or entertainment is my own. I think HBO's miniseries is wonderful and the two leads pretty near perfect. Anyone who disagrees with me is, of course, entitled to their mistaken pov.

Tom W.

That Massachusetts Historical Society archive is a treasure trove - reads like John Adams' blog.


Not having HBO means that I've been watching PBS's Jane Austen-a-thon, instead, so I'm seeing everything through that viewpoint. I re-read your description of George Washington that you linked to - do you realize that you also described Mr. Darcy?

He was an aristocrat and that meant something to him; he expected deference to his rank and social station from people he regarded as his inferiors. And, when you got right down to it, he was better than most men around him, even those of his own rank, braver, stronger, more honest, harder-working. It must have been hard for him not to presume upon his reputation and use it as club to bully inferiors, and no doubt his self-regard could make him cold and arrogant when suffering fools or having to listen to advice and instructions from lesser men...

And now I've got a nasty image in my mind of Adams as a serious, ungainly, not-at-all-handsome, highly moral...Mr Collins! Which is totally unfair, considering what a humorless, sniveling toady Collins was, as opposed to the witty and fearless revolutionary Adams.

But I can totally see Thomas Jefferson as Wickham.


I like the series, however the weirdest moment was seeing Paul Giamatti as Adams, alone and sick in Amsterdam, sitting in a nightshirt without his wig on, and thinking, "Wow, he sure looks like Homer Simpson."


Morse is actually incredibly well cast as Washington, I think. Watching his performance, I feel like I have a much better sense of Washington than I did before. He also looks just like Washington.

Beyond that, I think you should watch the miniseries before making the criticism - I think there's something to what you're saying, but the miniseries at least gets parts of it right. There's definitely a number of places where Adams comes across as absurd and somewhat ridiculous. I'm not sure the problem is that the writers are trying to make Adams into an epic hero. I think the issue is more that the audience (or, at least, some of the audience) expects that Adams will come off as an epic hero, so that when he doesn't, these people are disappointed.

I do largely agree with your point about the structure being wrong - too much tranquility, not enough excitement. The episode about independence was very good, I thought, because it was all high drama throughout. But the last two episodes, in which Adams mostly sits around in Europe and is dissatisfied, didn't work as well, although they had good bits. I was disappointed, for instance, that the whole of the negociation of the Treaty of Paris was neglected. The fact that Adams basically screwed over the French by demanding separate negociations with the British would have been a nice revenge for his poor treatment in France in the previous episode.

Being a history grad student, and thus prone to nitpicking, I had a few problems with some parts of it - in particular, as a European historian, I thought the portrayal of Louis XVI was terrible. But in general I've basically enjoyed the series.

I also think Dillane is quite a good Jefferson. I'm looking forward to Rufus Sewell as Hamilton - the debates of the first decade of the constitution, more generally, ought to be the high point of the series, so I'm somewhat holding off on full judgment until I get a sense on how those are portrayed.


I'm really looking forward to seeing this when it's out on DVD. I've heard it's very good. Jefferson's always been my favorite, though.


I have been watching and enjoying the HBO series, and not knowing much at all about Adams before I started, I would say that the series does capture your characterization of him as a comedic figure quite well, without crossing over the line into 'lovably funny curmudgeon'. I also get the idea that he was at heart a social person, since in the series he is so often lonely without his family, and when he feels cut off from his friends and not accepted by the societies of the countries he is in. As portrayed, he loves the give and take with his colleagues.

Of ocurse it is not going to show the totality of his life, but I think you might like it more than you expect.

Regina H

This post is right on the money, Lance--I watched all of it, & found myself more than a little disappointed. There were good things, yes, but on balance Kirk Ellis' script changed too much that didn't need to be changed, & Giamatti just didn't capture the wit, sparkle, & joy in living that redeemed Adams' faults and made him lovable.

What a waste!

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