John Adams

2008, TV Show

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The Emmys: History New and Old

Bryan Cranston by Mathew Imaging/WireImage.com

The 60th annual Emmy Awards set out to honor TV history and ended up making a little of its own. As expected, AMC's stylishly adult 60s-era drama Mad Men took home the best drama prize, the first ever for a basic cable series. The upstart channel delivered a much more shocking triumph in Bryan Cranston's surprise (but well-earned) win for Breaking Bad. "She's bald, too," marveled the actor, who shaved his head to play Walter White, a cancer-ravaged teacher-turned-meth dealer. Best known for outrageous comedy roles like the dad in Malcolm in the Middle, Cranston is a well-liked star who was considered an underdog in a strong field that included fellow AMC leading man Jon Hamm of Mad Men, House's Hugh Laurie (amazingly, still empty-handed), Dexter's brilliant Michael C. Hall, In Treatment's brooding Gabriel Byrne and Boston Legal's showboating James Spader.
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John Adams, Mad Men, 30 Rock Wins Big at Emmys

Tina Fey in 30 Rock by Mitchell Haaseth/NBC Photo; Paul Giamatti in John Adams by Kent Eanes/HBO

HBO's John Adams won 13 awards at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards, the most ever won by a program in a single year. The story of America's second president dominated the election-year ceremony, winning Outstanding Miniseries, while stars Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson all brought home acting awards.AMC's Mad Men won Outstanding Drama Series, becoming the first basic cable show in history to win for best series. NBC's 30 Rock took home the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series for the second year in a row, with Alec Baldwin winning his first Emmy after seven nominations and Tina Fey taking home a statuette for writing, as well as her first for acting in a comedy series. The biggest upsets of the nights were in the acting categories. Zeljko Ivanek (Damages), Jean Smart (Samantha Who?) and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) were all surprises in their respective categories. The show was hosted by the five nominees for Outstanding Reality Host: Ryan Seacrest, Heidi Klum, Tom Ber... read more

Griffin and Silverman Are Effin' Emmy Winners

Sarah Silverman by Rhet Bear/Comedy Central; Kathy Griffin by Mike Ruiz/Bravo

A pair of funny ladies stole the show Saturday at the Creative Arts Emmys Saturday night.Kathy Griffin took home her second Emmy, earning the best reality program trophy for Bravo's My Life on the D-List. According to People, Griffin didn’t tell Jesus or anyone else to "suck it" in her acceptance speech (as she infamously did in 2007), but it was still bleepable: "Here we go again, f----rs."The other bleep-worthy moment of the night was Sarah Silverman's two wins for her viral video smash, "I'm F---ing Matt Damon," a clip that aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live and suggested Silverman was cheating on then-boyfriend Kimmel with the Bourne Identity star. The video took home the award for best original music and lyrics and a picture-editing award.Though Silverman and Kimmel split after five years together in July, Silverman thanked him in her speech. "Let's be honest, Matt Damon had very little to do with this being popular," she said. "Thanks to the person for whom this whole video was m... read more

Mad Men (and Funny Tina Fey) at the TCA Awards

Mad Men courtesy AMC

In case you hadn’t heard, AMC’s Mad Men is not only a hit with the Emmy voters (the most nominated drama this year, with 16) but it’s a bona fide critics’ darling, walking away with three Television Critics Association Awards over the weekend at the 24th annual ceremony in Beverly Hills. Mad Men won for new program, outstanding achievement in drama and program of the year, prompting Emmy-nominated co-star John Slattery to quip (during one of the show’s several acceptance speeches), “How glad I am that the message of smoking, drinking and whoring Mad Men puts across has registered with the TCAs.”Jon Hamm, also an Emmy nominee, thanked reality shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Flavor of Love, Rock of Love (all three seasons) and Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader “for pushing the envelope so far that way that there was a place kind of on this side for us to sneak in.”HBO’s epic John Adams miniseries won two awards, for Paul ... read more

The Emmys: A Dramatic Shift Toward Cable

Jon Hamm courtesy AMC

If you heard someone momentarily flatlining in the audience at the reading of the Emmy nominations Thursday morning, that was me. They were announcing the best drama series candidates and I was mostly on board as I checked my list in the back of the TV Academy theater. Damages. Yay! House. OK. Boston Legal. I don’t approve, but I’m no longer surprised. Lost. OMG! Dexter. OM-Freaking-G! Wait. That’s five. Surely they didn’t leave out . . . And they didn’t. AMC’s dazzling Mad Men, the last to be announced, not only made the cut, it made history. With 16, it’s the most nominated drama of the year, and with FX’s Damages (seven nominations total), represents basic cable’s first-ever breakthrough into the top tier of Emmy accolades for best series. Mad Men also has to be seen as the odds-on favorite for best drama at this point.While we’re on this category—and let’s face it, this is the golden age of TV drama, so this really is t... read more

Emmy Nominations: Mad Men, Damages Make History

Jon Hamm courtesy A&E, Glenn Close by Larry Riley/FX

And the nominees are… in!Many of the usual suspects made the cut for the 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards that were announced Thursday morning, but freshmen dramas Mad Men and Damages earned nods in the Outstanding Drama Series category, making them the first basic cable series to be recognized by Emmy. The stars of each series, Jon Hamm and Glenn Close, each also received nominations in the Outstanding Lead Actor/Actress in a Drama Series categories respectively. HBO's John Adams won the day with the most nominations (23), including nods for Best Miniseries and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries for Paul Giamatti's portrayal of the miniseries' title character. 30 Rock (17) and Mad Men (16) rounded out the top three nod-grabbers.In an unprecedented move earlier this summer, the Academy revealed the 10 semifinalists in each of the major categories. A blue-ribbon panel then whittled the list to the final nominees (all of which you can see here).So, what do you think of th... read more

The Joy of Sets: What Are You Getting Him for Father's Day?

John Adams courtesy HBO

So, if you have a dad like mine, this weekend is a cause for alarm. I’m a little too old to be giving him a can of cashews again, he has every book on the Civil War known to man, and I’ve probably stolen every tool he’s been given over the last 10 years. See? The man is impossible to buy for!To take a little pressure off myself (and hopefully inspire some of you equally desperate ACOIFs...Adult Children of Impossible Fathers), I offer a cheat sheet of DVD sets perfect for every daddy-o…For the Jock — The Major League bigwigs have released these spectacular Esssential Games collections celebrating baseball at its best, played in the best parks. So far, Fenway Park and Shea Stadium have gotten the love, but when Philadelphia’s beloved (now leveled) Veteran’s Stadium makes the cut, yours truly is going to be a very happy man.Buy Esssential Games on Amazon.comFor the Historian — Hello? HBO’s fantastic John Adams miniseries just hit the shelve... read more

I just finished watching the ...

Question: I just finished watching the last episode of HBO's John Adams. I don't remember the last time I have seen acting this good, especially on TV. Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney were absolutely extraordinary. Have you seen any previews for anything coming out soon that comes close to this wonderful miniseries? Answer: That final chapter was heartbreakingly good, wasn't it? The best thing of its ilk (i.e., classic drama) I've seen since John Adams wrapped is the upcoming three-part Masterpiece Classic miniseries that starts May 4: Cranford, starring Judi Dench and Eileen Atkins among a gallery of delightful British character actors. (My review of that will be posted later this week.) Based on stories that were completely new to me (by Elizabeth Gaskill), this is a Dickensian heartwarmer about an isolated village in the mid-1800s that's about to be jolted into the "modern" world with the arrival of a railroad. In the meanwhile, this town of gossipy busybodies deals with the everyday ... read more

A Sunday for the History Books

Daniel Radcliffe in My Boy Jack by Patrick Redmond/ Masterpiece Theater

I love it when TV can be both very, very good as well as good for you. Such is the case with a logjam of terrific historical dramas competing for attention this Sunday. Two of them had me fighting back tears (and occasionally losing the fight), and then there’s Showtime’s The Tudors, that stimulating royal tonic of sex, religion and other courtly intrigues. Not a lot of boo-hooing while watching this Henry VIII romp, but rarely a dull moment, either.The quality honors this weekend go to HBO and PBS. HBO for concluding its remarkable John Adams miniseries with an episode of quiet, pained humanity as the nation’s second president (Paul Giamatti) goes into retirement with about as much grace—which is to say, very little—as he conducted himself in the political arena. Grumpy, discontent, impatient to the end and convinced he’ll be forgotten by time, John never lets up. There’s a terrific scene in which he’s invited, in his 90s, to view the portrai... read more

Bones Is Back, and Other Happy TV Thoughts

Why not start off a glorious spring week — a week that continues the welcome rollout of shows returning from long strike hiatus — with some positive thoughts? Starting with the return of Bones to Fox’s schedule. For those keeping track in this confusing midseason, Mondays are now the new Tuesdays for Fox. And once House kicks back in with new episodes starting April 28 (a House repeat airs next Monday), Mondays will almost feel like the new Thursdays with so many choices on the suddenly overstuffed night, as Fox’s first-rate drama combo faces ABC’s blazing-hot Dancing with the Stars, CBS’ terrific comedy lineup and the ever-popular CSI: Miami, as well as a cult fave in the CW’s returning Gossip Girl and NBC’s ubiquitous Deal or No Deal. Whew.But back to Bones, one of TV’s most purely enjoyable procedural crime dramas. Yes, there are icky remains to deal with (a body boiled in a sulfurous mud pit), but the fun of Bones is in the playful in... read more

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Premiered: March 16, 2008, on HBO
Rating: TV-PG
User Rating: (126 ratings)
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Premise: A seven-part adaptation of David McCullough's biography of Founding Father and second U.S. president, John Adams.

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The John Adams Reader: Essential Writings on an American Composer
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