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John Adams

1 Season

Available on Prime
Season 1
Available on Prime
4.7 out of 5 stars (10,297) IMDb 8.4/10

From HBO Films comes this Emmy(R)-winning, seven-part miniseries starring Paul Giamatti as John Adams, the Founding Father and 2nd President of the U.S who played a pivotal role in fostering the American Revolution and building a republic.

Starring:
Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney

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Season 1
1. Part 1: Join or Die

Boston, 1770. In the aftermath of the Boston Massacre, John Adams takes an unpopular stand by defending the accused soldiers. Counseled by his beloved wife Abigail, Adams wins the case. Later, Adams is invited to join the new Continental Congress.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 1 hour, 10 minutes Release date: March 16, 2008
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2. Part 2: Independence

Following a fruitless session of the Continental Congress, a sabbatical at Adams' Braintree farm is disrupted by news of the siege of Lexington and Concord. Later, he jousts with delegates on the idea of independence.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 1 hour, 31 minutes Release date: March 16, 2008
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3. Part 3: Don't Tread On Me

1777. A new period of separation from Abigail looms when Adams is appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to France along with Benjamin Franklin. Abigail insists that Adams take along their son, John Quincy.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 1 hour, 8 minutes Release date: March 23, 2008
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4. Part 4: Reunion

1781. Convalescing in Holland, Adams joyously learns the British surrendered to Washington at Yorktown; later, he and Abigail reunite in his opulent mansion in Paris.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 1 hour, 5 minutes Release date: March 30, 2008
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5. Part 5: Unite or Die

Elected America's first Vice President, Adams is scolded by Abigail for his vanity, and is frustrated by his exclusion from President Washington's inner circle.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 1 hour, 3 minutes Release date: April 6, 2008
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6. Part 6: Unnecessary War

Abandoned by Jefferson for retaining Washington's cabinet, President Adams holds firm on keeping the nation out of war, despite French aggression and pro-war sentiment among his advisors.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 1 hour, 19 minutes Release date: April 13, 2008
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7. Part 7: Peacefield

In retirement, Adams starts writing his memoirs, then endures a series of tragedies. At the urging of Dr. Rush, Adams reports the sad news to Jefferson, with the two old friends and adversaries taking solace in a correspondence that mends old wounds.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 1 hour, 2 minutes Release date: April 20, 2008
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on July 30, 2008
Format: DVD
Each night I turned on the HBO feature anxious to see a good dramatic series, and learn about my country's struggle for life through one its most underrated founding fathers, John Adams.

Paul Giamatti's performance in the title role is much in dispute as he, like many other actors, seems to play himself as much as his character. He turns from a loving father to the lawyer and representative who sometimes looks apoplectic rather than just an angry or fiery patriot. Much to his credit, I felt the John Adams of later years on subsequent episodes was extremely well-acted.

Abigail Adams is played by Laura Linney, and her performance is superb and not the least in dispute. From the first moment, she is thoroughly credible as the vivacious lover, friend, confidante, advisor, and wife of John Adams. Her acting here should garner her an Emmy. The actors protraying Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson turned in stellar performances.

Many complain that this did not follow the book of the same title, and was not true to history exactly. To the first query the answer is what does? To the second, it is a well-written and well-acted drama that deserves our attention.

The series begins with the Boston Massacre and John Adams representing the British soldiers. With his successful defense, he is noticed by the Crown, as well as the colonials who are striving for independence. Both want his services. Adams chooses independence over the king and we see him as representative, foreign minister, beggar and borrower, ambassador, vice president, and president. His one anchor through these assignments and occupations in the struggle of a new nation is his love and respect for his wife, Abigail whom he always refers to as "my friend.
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I read David McCullough's GREAT book in anticipation of this miniseries. McCullough painted a picture of a man and a time that I found fascinating; a picture of a hardworking, sensitive (maybe mildly obsessive-compulsive in terms of his emotional high and lows) genius. I found the first few episodes excellent, albeit different from the book. It is the last few episodes that have really affected my view on this series.

The series insists on focusing on Adams' lows. It seems the writers took all the depressing elements of McCullough's book, which were few, and magnified those to center stage. For instance, John Adams' alcoholic son Charles has a major part in the series, but played a relatively minor role in the book. The mudslinging between Jefferson and Adams in Adams' second election for president was jettisoned for the Charles Adams storyline. Also, Adams, presented by McCullough, was a good natured man with a self-deprecating sense of humor. In the series he seems to live in misery.

They also took scenes that were generally upbeat and made them darker. When Adams meets King George III (in my opinion the climax of the story - or at least the first half of the story) in the book, the King is very polite and friendly (much like his portrayal in The Madness of King George III). He smiled a lot and made Adams more comfortable, if not less in awe. In the series the King is just plain weird. I can only guess the filmmakers were hinting at King George's future illness/madness. It's almost as if this series is based on another book about John Adams - a darker book. This series really missed the tone of McCullough's great book.

Still -- divorcing myself from the book -- I find this series is well-made and held my attention. Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney are very good. My advice would be to watch the series first, then read the book for a much more uplifting story.
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Like many others, I am seeing the series as they come out on HBO, and have yet to read the book (which I intend to at some point). The series features great acting, poignant scenes, and memorable oratory. But what really got me was how it transported you to that time, when life was a series of great heroics, but was also harsh, gritty, and so unforgiving. The series kept sending me to try and research different historial events that I remembered fleetingly reading about, in one line or a few paragraphs during unfortunately uninspiring history classes of many years ago. The concept of being "tarred and feathered" took a whole new dimension for me, as the brutality of that era touched everyone, rightly or wrongly. I am sure I would have more to say once I have finished seeing the series, but I cannot stop thinking about the different scenes. I recommend it to everyone very highly, and can't wait for the DVD to come out.
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John Adams: deeply principaled, no-nonsence, ornery, lawful good, brilliant, fallible, passionate founder of our country. This is the story of the unbridled defiance, the shrewd intellect, and the angry pounding fist that tore the American colonies from British rule and gave birth to one of the greatest experiments in the history of the world - the United States of America. Stunning and haunting, this is John Adams like you've never seen him. Myth and poetry have been stripped away to reveal the far-more-fascinating, truly-human story of one of the greatest men who has ever lived.

Giamatti is simply brilliant as Adams. If he doesn't win the Emmy for this, I may declare my own independance from the "dark tyranny" of the ATAS. Linney is equally wonderful in her portrayal as the groundingly sapient Abigail. Their love story is one of the greatest in American history, and it's been marvelously recaptured here.

If it's even possible to have "spoilers" for a factual historical drama, then the following might qualify, but if you want to see what each eposide covers, here's my stab at it:

Episode 1: Join or Die.
Begins with the Boston Massacre, and covers the period leading up to Adams departure for Philidelphia to represent Massachusettes in the First Continental Congress.

Episode 2: Independance.
Covers the First Continental Congress, the beginning of the American Revolution at Lexington and Concord, the nomination of GW (by Adams) to serve as general of the new Continental Army, the Second Continental Congress, and Adams collaboration with Jefferson and Franklin to bring forth the Declaration of Independance.

Episode 3: Don't Tread on Me.
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