John Adams

This HBO miniseries version of David McCullough’s biography presents a skilled, intellectual view of our second president from his days defending British soldiers of the Boston Massacre, to hiss oration in the Continental Congress, to his less than stellar work overseas, to his principled labor in the executive branch, to his time in obscurity. Adams was a man of hard work, decency, intellect, and patriotism, but he was also a bit of a jerk. The movie focuses on key moments and his incredibly important relationship with his wife. I did like the ubiquitous fly buzzing, but was less enamored with the fly-on-the-wall photography, which I felt detracted rather than enhanced the viewing experience, although my parents, who turned me on to this program, firmly disagree. Regardless, those interested in American history, politics, or both should watch this, even if you might weep over the differences between the nobility of our founding fathers—portrayed with all their scars exposed—and the public servants of the last few decades—with all their scars constantly being hidden and modified through spin.