HBO sets another American movie standard


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by Todd Franko   | 340 entries


Home Box Office long ago established itself as one of the premier water-cooler conversation points of Americana.

"Sopranos." "Oz." "Entourage." Boxing. NFL football highlights. Comedy. That's just present history. "Not Necessarily the News" and "Tales from the Crypt" were similarly buzz hits a decade and two ago.

HBO is as good as there is a pop culture playground on TV. Its latest venture might not rank as high on the pop culture ladder as the aforementioned, but it is no less captivating and truly must-see TV.

The mini-series "John Adams" wrapped up Sunday night. It was one of the most stunning autobiographical depictions ever applied to filmmaking. From the righteousness and optimism of a new country to the painful coping of bad teeth and barbaric breast cancer surgery, the seven-part series is a must for the home DVD library.

Whatever awards come to television movies and mini-series, sign them off now to Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, whose portrayals as John and Abigail Adams were transcending.

It wasn't long into the first installment that I forgot that Giamatti was also "Pig Vomit" from Howard Stern's "Private Parts." By the end on Sunday night, I forgot that John Adams was not really himself projected on some new reality show, but he was really Giamatti. The actor became Adams much like Robert DeNiro became Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull.”

I don't expect the series to get the mainstream buzz of other HBO stalwarts. Vince Chase's good looks on "Entourage" play better than rotund dudes in white wigs, as does Tony's tirades at the Bada Bing vs. John Adams' table thumping in Philadelphia.   

But put "Adams" up there with "Roots" as far as what it said and how much it said about an important time in our country.


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