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JOHN ADAMS - HBO


RobertR

I'm slightly surprised that there's been no discussion of this yet.

 

I haven't read David McCullough's book although I know it by reputation. For the most part, I think this is a terrific look at the founding of America approached from a very human and personal point of view. I think more attention was paid to the brutality of a guy getting tarred and feathered, for just doing his job no less, than to any of the revolutionary battles or battle strategy. Not to mention, I wasn't exactly expecting a sex scene involving a founding father.

 

Laura Linney is excellent, but the anchor of the series is Paul Giamatti. I'm appreciative of the fact that they don't try to turn him into a saint, but someone who can be quite vain and fussy and wrong on an issue. Overall it's a positive look, but it's a warts and all look.

 

In the bigger picture, I like how they're showing how precarious the founding of America was and how the ideal was different than the reality.

 

Robert

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Hmm, I watched the first 45 minutes or so of (what I think was) the first episode and thought it was downright awful. Giamatti was so far over his head in that role, it was embarassing to watch. And when the script wasn't bland it was overly dramatic, forced, and phony -- "Hollywooded up" and thinly veiled in its efforts to be culturally conscious ... weak in its attempt to be human ... to the point of pandering. Yuck.
"We all know he is going to be a flaming pile of Suppan by that time." -fondybrewfan
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Hmm, I watched the first 45 minutes or so of (what I think was) the first episode and thought it was downright awful. Giamatti was so far over his head in that role, it was embarassing to watch. And when the script wasn't bland it was overly dramatic, forced, and phony -- "Hollywooded up" and thinly veiled in its efforts to be culturally conscious ... weak in its attempt to be human ... to the point of pandering. Yuck.

 

 

this is more how I felt too. I couldn't watch it. Part of that may have been because Linney & Giamatti are two of my least favorite actors (although I did like Giamatti's dad).

 

also, to not even mention Tom Paine? What's that about?

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I'm enjoying it very much. I think the second episode with the buildup to Independence was probably the best to date, though this week's episode was quite good.

 

Definitely an interesting look into the fact that the revolution and the founding of the new government was really a bunch of bright minds making it up as they go along and winging it.

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I thought it was pretty terrible as well. And while it's sometimes entertaining, the entertainment comes from the history, not from the fact that it's particularly well made.

 

I actually like Giamatti as an actor (at least in Sideways), but he's quite bland in this.

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I'm in the middle about this. The story material is obviously good, the acting is decent and the writing has been alright.

 

What's really bugged me is the direction. There's been so much in-your-face cheese going on it's like I'm watching a Hallmark Movie of the Week. For instance, during the trial of the soliders during the first episode, the camera was bobbing and weaving right up Giamatti's nose most of the time. And while he was sick in bed, they did the tacky, stock "wobbly camera going in and out of focus showing he's sick" shot. The series would be a lot better, IMO, if they had stuck to more classical British-style direction... little to no camera movement, multiple angles and about 20% of the close-ups that they've done.

 

The producers should have watched "A Perfect Spy" before making this.

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Toby, your explanation sums up my exact feelings. Good story and acting, but the production is very similar to something my mom would watch on Sunday night on CBS.

 

To those that find it a little hard to follow, be patient, and watch another episode or two. It does start to come together a little better and I think you will find yourself more captivated if you give it another chance.

 

I'm curious to see how it wraps up (not historically of course, but from a storyline perspective). I don't think it will be one of the most memorable series HBO has had, but that's not a rip at all.

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I agree with AndThat and colbyjack. I'm not sure how Giamatti as an actor could be a negative on the series. My main beef is with the LONG personal scenes with John and Abigail. It gets to the point where the story isn't being enhanced whatsoever...we already get the fact that she had a great influence on him, supported him etc. Definitely not a great mini series, but one that I will watch every episode.

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