The conclusion of HBO's hit miniseries, John Adams took place last night with its 7th and final installment. Last night's episode, entitled "Peacefield," covered the history of John & Abigail Adams during their retirement years. Yet again, HBO did a remarkable job of personalizing the history. The portrayal of Nabby's breast removal and her subsequent death, along with the portrayal of the death of Abigail Adams were stirring scenes, which gave the audience an intimate view of the "humanity" of these characters. I commend HBO for successfully bringing a human element into the equation. The study of history can often neglect the human reality of the past.
With that said, I would like to mention a few of my overall impressions of the miniseries.
The "Good Stuff"
1.) As mentioned above, HBO brought a human element to the history, and did so in a very effective manner.
2.) The miniseries did a great job of eliminating many of the myths that surround our nation's founding. For example, the Founding Fathers regularly disagreed, and often disliked one another. The establishment of the United States was anything but a smooth and unanimous consensus. This miniseries brings this to light.
3.) The recreation of the various cities, homes, clothing, etc. was well-researched and very accurate. The viewer gained as genuine a recreation of colonial America that is humanly possible.
The "Wrong Stuff"
1.) I realize that I have mentioned this on numerous occasions, but I absolutely detest the fact that this miniseries "skims" across the surface of the history of this time period. There is little to no "deep" history that is developed throughout the story. I also feel that HBO cruised through roughly 60 years of history in the blink of an eye. Essentially, I am saying that HBO bit off more than it could chew. I think the series would have been better if HBO had chosen to focus on a specific time period (say, the war period of 1775-1783, or the Washington/Adams presidencies) instead of breezing through the entire life of John Adams. There simply was not enough time to do all of that history justice.
2.) HBO seemed to "overplay" the role of John Adams in many instances. Don't get me wrong, I realize that Adams is of paramount importance to the American Revolution. I also recognize the fact that this is a miniseries devoted to Adams specifically. With that said, I still feel that there could have been more time devoted to the war itself, along with the important contributions that were made by Washington, Franklin and Jefferson. I was disappointed to see that the contributions of these men were essentially omitted from the storyline.
In conclusion, I think HBO did justice to a story that is almost completely ignored by the movie and television industry. It is wonderful that the story of the American Revolution was finally attempted by the film industry. Kudos to Tom Hanks & Co. for going out on a limb and pulling it off!
My overall grade for the miniseries: B+
The award for best performance: Laura Linney for her portrayal of Abigail Adams. I thought it was spot on!
The award for best episode: Episode #2 (Independence).
The award for best scene: The death of Abigail Adams. It was extremely powerful and brought home the reality of her death and its impact on John Adams. We watched these two characters over 7 weeks, and to see her die was a powerful moment in the series. I almost felt like I was there!