Much has been written about John Adams and the birth of the American republic, now HBO is bringing this fascinating story to the screen. Starting on Sunday March 16 (8:00 pm ET/PT) they will be airing a 7 part epic miniseries based on David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize winning book of the same name. Covered are the turbulent years from the Boston Massacre in 1770 through the death of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams in 1826.

HBO are renowned for their excellent in house productions and John Adams is no exception, they have gone to great lengths to maintain the authenticity of this period piece. The production notes are mind boggling. The cast and crew consisted of nearly 500 people, and almost 5000 extras were involved. When production ended six months later they had over two million feet of 35mm film. There was a conscious effort to use authentic props and costumes, and the actors themselves had voice coaches to assist in getting the correct regional dialects and language of the day. From a reviewers standpoint this series is a gem, usually I just get an unmarked DVD and have to do all the research myself, not so with John Adams, the press kit was the size of a book!

In part one Join Or Die we meet John Adams (Paul Giamatti) a farmer turned lawyer who has just moved to Boston to start his legal career. An ugly street confrontation between the American colonists and an occupying British brigade turns deadly, and John Adams takes the unpopular job of defending the British soldiers in court. Caught between his need for justice and yet his love of the country John must decide his best course of action. Counseled by his wife and confidant Abigail (Laura Linney) he decides that justice must prevail. To the surprise of everyone he proves that it was not the Soldiers that instigated the melee. Although this result is hugely unpopular with the increasingly independence minded Bostonians, this is the springboard to greater things. Courted now by both the colonists and the crown as a man of principles, he once again must reach deep inside his soul to find the way forward.

The love of country prevails, and it is off to Philadelphia and the Continental Congress for John Adams.

This is a rich production. As historical re-enactments go I can not think of a better one. If you are flicking your way through the myriad of TV channels on Sunday check out HBO. There is an accompanying web site that is well worth a look.

Simon Barrett

Be Sociable, Share!