Monday, May 31, 2010

John Adams on HBO- is it a Big Deal?

Based on David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney star in HBO Films' seven-part epic miniseries event John Adams, debuting Sunday, March 16 at 8 pm. HBO of course is describing this as a big deal. On the face of it, it's a strong possibility- with some pretty classy actors performing a period costume piece on the founding of the USA based on a bestselling book. Tom Hanks served as producer by the way, and it was filmed with a massive budget in various east coast USA locations that are well preserved historic districts.

TV Guide calls it "As sumptuous and satisfying as TV gets: gorgeously produced, marvelously acted". Well, time will tell. I am in the mood to watch it, though I may need to tape some of it.

It occurs to me that this is an interesting series to watch during a lively Presidential Election campaign. Perhaps we can gain some perspective on our current challenges from looking at an unvarnished account of one of the founders (and our second president) who died on the same July 4th as Thomas Jefferson- his chief political rival and in time one of his closest friends.

The story of the founding of the USA is endlessly fascinating. Though some of these men appear to us as Giants from the standpoint of 220 years later, well, people are just people. Though some of us look around at a USA that has seen better days, and seems destined to soon depart from its role as the sole and indispensable superpower and economic engine of the planet, well, our destiny is not yet a thing of the past.

Watch this series and do some thinking. Be proud that you are an American? Sure, that is permitted. Think long and hard about how our nation can rededicate itself to achieving the ideals espoused by the founders? Yes, that would be a good response.

Stephen Decatur once made a toast to his fellow navy officers in 1816, as we struggled to take our place in the world despite the derision and contempt of the great nations of Europe: "Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong." Democrats focus on "may she always be in the right", while Republicans seem to prefer the phrase "Our country, right or wrong". But we all can benefit by looking back at our beginning from time to time, as we evaluate our progress down the road of destiny. I would like to suggest that we give this series a try. If we enjoy it, let's also think about it and talk about it.

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