"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy."
2008 US HBO's Mini Series about the life of John Adams, second President of the United States, from his defense of the soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre in 1770 to his death in 1826. Shown in seven parts.Two major themes stand out throughout this work: "Behind every great man is a great woman" and "The more things change, the more they stay the same".Nominated for 23 Emmy Awards, it won 13 of them, setting a record for most wins by a single series in a single year.An excellent series, with brilliant performances from Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney.
The American Revolution: Well, obviously. Key moments of the Revolution or their aftermath are shown throughout the series including the Boston Massacre, the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the Declaration of Independence and many others.
Asskicking Equals Authority: The prestige gained by Washington as the main general of the Continental Army makes him a virtually uncontested candidate for the first presidency, much to Adams' chagrin.
Awesome Moment of Crowning: Or rather, Awesome Moment of Swearing In. George Washington becoming the first president is truly a sight to behold. From the other Founding Fathers gathering behind him to walking towards the balcony where the audience hears the buzz of a crowd until a woman shouts "There he is!" and thousands of people cheer as Washington appears to take his oath. "God bless George Washington! President of the United States!"
Though Washington does deflate the mood a bit with his soft-spoken taking of the oath, forcing everyone to lean forward.
Ass in Ambassador: Adams, to a degree while representing America in France. Franklin eventually gets him removed because of it. Ambassador Genet while whipping up support for the French in America is very much this.
Bilingual Bonus: John Adams gets confronted with both French and Dutch during his stay in Europe. That he does not speak a word of French is greatly hilarious to the French king.
California Doubling: The show takes place in various parts of colonial United States, including Philadelphia and Boston. However, the entire mini-series (save the the European scenes) was shot in Virginia.
Calling the Old Man Out: Charles does this to John in "Unite or Die," when he describes their lack of contact when John and Abigail were in Europe.
Conflicting Loyalty: Some members of Congress still feel loyalty towards the king, though grieved by him.
Contrived Coincidence: More like remarkable coincidence, Adams and Jefferson did die the same day and exactly 50 years after the The Declaration of Independence was signed.
Happily Married: John and Abigail Adams. A stark contrast to the French court.
Historical Villain Upgrade: Alexander Hamilton. Here he doesn't get much screen time, but what little he does have makes him look like Adolf Hitler mixed with Otto Von Bismarck. In reality he was philosophically conservative, a militarist, and a big government fan, but he was also one of the most senior American revolutionaries and had some very goodreasons for advocating war preparation against Revolutionary France's flouting of American neutrality.
His idea for the nation to take on a degree of debt and pay it off to give America decent credit is generally Vindicated by History going by the opinions of most historians and economists. Even George Washington agreed with him on that one.
He's one of the the main reasons the USA even has a constitution and he practically saved the states from the disastrous Articles of Confederation. The show also doesn't mention his strong anti-slavery views.
Interrupted Intimacy: Adams is the one who is embarrassed when he runs into Franklin while the latter nude, inside a bathtub and enjoying the company of Madame Helvétius. Subverted in that they are seemingly just playing chess.
Well, at the moment they were just playing chess. Knowing both Franklin and Mme. Helvétius, the chess was probably a prélude to something else.
In the final episode of the series, Adams is pacing nervously and Abigail says to him, "For God's sake, John, sit down". Her words are identical to the repeated line from "Sit Down, John", the opening number.
When John sees Trunbull's painting, he scathingly remarks that he "is no Rubens." Reminiscent of the play when he tells Franklin that the man painting his portrait "is no Botticelli."
Smart People Play Chess: Combined with a fair amount of Squick for Adams (and hilarity for us), when Adams heedlessly barges into Franklin's quarters at the American Mission in Paris...only to find Franklin playing chess in a bathtub with Madame Helvétius.
Southern Gentleman: A lot of the Southern delegates—including Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson—are also portrayed this way. Edward Rutledge of South Carolina stands out though. When he privately informs Adams that his colony - pardon - state is willing to vote for independence he says that one of the reasons the southern delegates delayed for so long is that they are used to a more "courtly forum".
Stunned Silence: The delegates of the Second Continental Congress after they pass the Lee Resolution, making the United States an independent nation, July 2, 1776.
Talk to the Hand: Rutledge casually waves the back of his hand at an angry Adams and his supporters during the debate over independence.
Tar and Feathers: Adams witnesses a British tax collector being tarred and feathered by an angry Boston mob. Can serve as a Tear Jerker and horrific for some, conflicting emotions and all. Sure, the mob was angry over a rightly felt injustice, but to see a man screaming in agony for only trying to do his job is enough to make anyone feel for the unbearable pain he must have gone through.
Tears of Joy: Adams awakens after a serious illness to the news that the British have surrendered at Yorktown. After several moment of digesting the information he breaks down in tears and kisses the messengers hand over and over.
Vice President Who: Adams is chagrined when President Washington excludes him from Cabinet meetings. He later chafes at the uselessness of his office.
His annoyance at the uselessness of the office is actually one of the things that resulted in changing the nature of the Vice Presidency. As originally envisioned (and indeed, what happens to Adams), the Vice President was actually second place in the Presidential election. In other words, the guy who ran for the Presidency and lost to the victor. This was rectified relatively quickly, and the Vice President became the running mate to the President that is much more familiar in modern times.
War Is Hell: The first time Adams actually sees the army he created, it's suffering from cold, hunger, and smallpox.