HBO's seven-episode bio of our short, brilliant, obstinate, and querulous second President omits a lot from David McCullough's book, but what we do get is compelling.
Paul Giamatti seems to push John Adams out from under his skin, warts and all - while Laura Linney makes Abigail Adams so commanding a figure that you'll wish she'd had a chance to be President. The supporting work is mostly superb, and director Tom Hooper shows a knack for vivid portrayals of the confrontations that marked the birth and rearing of our nation.
Although the series pays great attention to period detail, what's most important to the picture of this three-disc DVD set is the lighting - summer vs. winter scenes, as well as candlelit interiors and faces. (Giamatti's old-age makeup is almost too convincing.) The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is made for home theater, as it's rich with atmosphere that includes the footfalls of horses and the rumble of distant gunfire.
The series can be watched with "pop-up" historical facts (some of which, it must be noted, contradict the chronology of the dramatization). The other extras are a decent half-hour making-of documentary and a nice new featurette about McCullough that doesn't seem directly connected to the series.
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.