The penultimate episode of the blockbuster HBO miniseries John Adams airs on Sunday April/13. John Adams (Paul Giamatti), now president, finds himself yet again in an untenable position. Having made peace with the British, the friendship of their trusted ally France is now at stake. There is no love lost between the Brits and the French, (as has been the case for a thousand years) and America seems destined to have to make a choice.

John Adams is often portrayed in the history books as not the most assertive of presidents. And indeed that might be so, he looked for a pathway that led to peace rather than bloodshed. Reconciliation over domination.

John Adams finds problems everywhere, not just inside his own government but even within his family. His wife Abigail (Laura Linney) entreats him to sign the highly controversial Alien And Sedition act, this law will allow for the imprisonment of Americans that are of French descent, a law that Adams finds abhorrent.

Even though John Adams manages to diffuse the situation with England and France through diplomacy, he is still viewed as a weak leader, and it is with little surprise that a second term in office is not forthcoming. It is a defeated and sad man that walks away from the still unfurnished White House. Having lost the presidency, and his son Charles to alcohol John Adams retreats inside himself.

This is without doubt one of the best historical miniseries I have ever seen. HBO have spared nothing on ensuring the authenticity. The press kit did not make mention of the budget for this series, but several web sites are claiming that the series cost about $100 million to make. That sounds like an enormous amount of money, but in my mind it is likely about right. I have watched every episode, and my reviewers ‘eagle eyes’ have not seen one thing that has been skimped on, or glossed over. From dialog, to set design, to costumes and props, everything is top notch.

You can catch John Adams (Part 6) Unnecessary War on Sunday April/13 at 9pm on HBO. It is my guess, and I think it is a safe guess, HBO will be releasing this miniseries on DVD. If they do, I recommend that you buy it. This is some powerful stuff!

Simon Barrett

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