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John Adams

March 16, 2008

Every time a historical epic rolls around, I bite my tongue, put a leash on my inner historian, and try to enjoy the spectacle while overlooking all the gross inaccuracies.

Usually, the most I can hope for is a balancing act, where they drama and spectacle buoy the production against the falsehoods and foolishness.

But HBO’s new miniseries, John Adams, is different. It’s not 100% accurate, but it tries, and tries damn hard. And it manages to tell a fantastic story, even with all that troublesome accuracy business. Someone finally seems to have realized that history, actual, real history, is a ripe ground for great stories – the founding of this nation being no exception.

And there’s a lot more to love than the adherence to actual history. Paul Giamatti is inspired as Adams…Tom Wilkinson does a great job wth Ben Franklin…and Laura Linney is quite frankly a revelation as Abigail Adams. The interplay between husband and wife is touching and genuine…the set design and costumes the usual HBO quality…the only chink in the armor, so far as I can tell, s the bulk of prosthetics which attempt to transform David Morse into George Washington. They do the job, until he’s required to move or emote, at which point he looks like David Morse playing George Washington after either a stroke or too much botox.

Beyond that one complaint, I loved the first two hours tonight, and Jamie loved them as well. If you don’t have HBO, John Adams is worth the month or two subscription.

Check it out.

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