Author Topic: John Adams  (Read 2533 times)

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Offline nacho

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John Adams
« on: March 17, 2008, 08:26:02 PM »
Well, loved the book, and anxious to see what HBO will do with it.  Part one and two finished download.  I love the very strict rules that McCullough followed.  The Boston Massacre, where we begin the story, is as it was:  A weird little thing on the side, witnessed by few, and conducted amidst mass confusion throughout the town (false fire alarms).  Then the Brits ham-handedly tried to put the soldiers on trial, which is where Adams came in.  All the various nails in the coffin that led to civil war in 75 and, then, open revolution. 


Offline nacho

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Re: John Adams
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2008, 08:44:31 PM »
Oh, and I suppose it's worth mentioning -- because people don't know this -- that Adams was the defense attorney at the trial, and won.  Which is what makes for such an interesting story out of his life.  Here's a guy who is way patriot after the Stamp Act, then gets called in to defend the British after they fire into a crowd, wins, and is still selected for the first and second Continental Congress four years later.  Go figure.  Certainly not a Founding Father in the sense we think of it.

Offline RottingCorpse

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Re: John Adams
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2008, 09:09:10 PM »
Does the mini-series cover that?

Offline nacho

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Re: John Adams
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2008, 09:39:01 PM »
Yeah, and the book.  We start off in 1770 and follow Adams from there.  The court case was really just a sideshow.  It's important to remember how much propaganda played into the revolution.  Stirring up the people for a hopeless war against a superior force took lots of guts...and lots of lying.  Those names on the Declaration are not the men we're taught about in school.  They're landowners, slave traders, privateers, pirates, smugglers... All trades, incidentally, that were more severely infringed on by Parliament's controls than everyday people.

Tea, for example.  The smuggled tea (a mafia-like ring run by Hancock) was squeezed out by the "king's tea."  The Tea Party was orchestrated by Sam Adams and Hancock to not only make a statement and have a little fun, but they turned right around and offloaded Hancock's ships -- selling at much the same price.  So instead of paying the tax to the king, you pay a "tax" to your friendly, neighborhood patriot.

Adams was, notably, opposed to all of this.  In the four years between the Massacre and the First Continental Congress, he worked hard to create a happy medium, hoping to win autonomy for British America while staying under the dominion of the crown.  Essentially, he wanted to create an early version of the Commonwealth.

But, through arrogance, really, the Brits just made things worse and worse while the patriots -- privately funded with what amounted to mob money -- had plenty of time to incite trouble.

What we get -- finally -- with McCullough's telling is how deeply involved the patriots were in creating the revolution.  For example, though the soldiers fired the guns, the true killers at the Boston Massacre were Sam Adams and his cohorts.  They not only snuck up behind the retreating British soldiers, but they clubbed one (resulting in an accidental discharge of his musket into the air) and shouted the order to fire to the other, then-panicked soldiers (who believed it to be someone in authority, as they were backing into a "controlled" area away from a wild mob).  The soldiers opened fire with their captain standing in front of them, almost killing him.

Sam Adams, by the way, was quite proud of that. 

Offline Matt

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Re: John Adams
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2008, 10:47:09 PM »
Sam Adams is a huge asshole but John Adams is pretty cool.

Offline nacho

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Re: John Adams
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2008, 10:59:35 PM »
Oh, nice.  Tom Wilkinson (http://imdb.com/name/nm0929489/) in as Ben Franklin is terrific.  Crazy coot patrol!

And shifty fucking David Morse as a not very glamorous Washington.

Offline nacho

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Re: John Adams
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2008, 11:44:32 PM »
Morse is giving us a wonderful Washington.  And how refreshing to have a Washington on screen who's constantly going, OMG, we're all dead!  Which is much what the poor guy went through.  Today's plan:  Have your pox-ridden army sneak up behind the bad guys, shell them from a distance, and, then, RUN AWAY!!!!

Offline Matt

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Re: John Adams
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2008, 11:46:55 PM »
this is definitely on my download que when I get home to Iowa City.

Offline nacho

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Re: John Adams
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2008, 11:51:48 PM »
Part two gives us the agony of the Second Continental Congress in almost-too-much-detail.  Makes you want to send a raiding party into Pennsylvania. 

British shell the fuck out of Boston.

Pennsylvania:  Let's send a strongly worded letter to the king.

The other colonies:  For fuck's sake.


Offline Sirharles

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Re: John Adams
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2008, 10:06:03 AM »
I have Tivo'd the first two episodes.  So what I am hearing is that this is definitely worth it?

Offline nacho

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Re: John Adams
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2008, 10:30:24 AM »
I really liked it, yeah.  Well acted, well written... Though don't expect battles and what not.  Adams spent the war in the Second Continental Congress arguing for treaties and so on.  Good for HBO, as they clearly cut a few corners.  You get a tantalizing taste of Washington moving into a sneaky position to stab as many people in the back as possible then -- cut -- Adams gets the news of the results down in Philly and reacts accordingly.

They also somewhat gloss over the four years between the Massacre and the First Congress where Adams was eventually swayed (simply through the obdurate attitude of the British reps in Boston) to the side of the gun-happy patriots.  But those four years were consumed by him taking a government position and trying to create a happy medium, only to be constantly beat down by the really bizarre political and financial actions of the Brits.

You get the idea through exposition.  Though, still, it's a bit weird for him to go from quiet and reserved and peaceful to the impassioned freak that pretty much guided the First and Second Congresses. 

That part, by the way, is the best.  Adams was pretty much the only person who believed independence was worthless unless all 13 colonies voted for it, and so spent much of the civil war (1775-1776) trying to convince the more reluctant colonies to sign on, and forming that great alliance with Jefferson (VA -- most powerful colony), Franklin (PA -- most reluctant/loyalist), the unassuming Washington, and the by then Sinn Fein-style political wing of the Mass. Patriots.

The family stuff is a bit slow, but Abigail was important in his life.  Strangely, she's not given as much weight in the show as she had in the book and real life.  She was certainly a woman behind the throne type (and also raising another president in John Quincy).  I wasn't much happy with her scenes, but she's mainly used, after everything heats up, as an excuse to get close to Washington during the Boston campaigning in the civil war. 

Part two ends with the Declaration, which was nicely done.  So, now, civil war becomes a war for independence.  Part three should be fun, because that's when things really started to go wrong. 

Our history pretty much follows Washington as he goes to ground and turns the continental army into the first Viet Cong.  With Adams, you get all that from the viewpoint of the Second Congress, which is half-heartedly supporting independence, are all marked for death by the British, and are sitting there reading days old dispatches saying that, you know, Washington and the entire army have vanished into the woods.




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Re: John Adams
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2008, 10:45:26 AM »
Nacho, you should write reviews for the New York Times. Seriously.