• Network:
  • Series Premiere Date: Mar 16, 2008
  • Season #: 1
John Adams Image
Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.6

Universal acclaim- based on 106 Ratings

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  • Summary: The seven-part miniseries on the life of the second US president is based on the book by David McCullough.
  • Genre(s): Drama
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Writers Kirk Ellis and Michelle Ashford do justice to McCullough's narration, and director Tom Hooper has a straightforward style that gives flesh-and-blood dimension to names from history books. Best of all are two extraordinary performances at the center: Paul Giamatti as Adams and Laura Linney as his wife, Abigail.
  2. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    91
    Who says TV doesn't make history thought-provokingly exciting?
  3. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    90
    John Adams, based on David McCullough's acclaimed biography, is as sumptuous and satisfying as TV gets: gorgeously produced, marvelously acted and written with a sense of high drama amid generous displays of wit.
  4. It is not an exaggeration to say that the effect is of opening a treasure chest and being showered with its riches.
  5. 75
    Though the miniseries represents a compressed and not entirely accurate history, it is moving enough to remind us of the sacrifices made by Adams and a great many other people to form a republic against almost impossible odds.
  6. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    70
    The adaptation is meticulous almost to a fault, including a fidelity to language and accents (a hybrid between British and American) that initially appears to handcuff some of the cast --beginning, most glaringly, with Giamatti, fresh off his turn as a jollier icon in "Fred Claus."
  7. There are moments when John Adams stirs up the passion its author clearly had for the subject -- Adams firing off a rifle in the middle of a battle at sea with a British warship, the first public reading of the Declaration, George Washington (David Morse, in the second-best piece of casting other than Giamatti) whispering his oath of office at his inauguration -- but too often it's just as muddy and dull as its subject was accused of being.

See all 27 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 61 out of 74
  2. Negative: 6 out of 74
  1. Oct 3, 2011
    10
    JOHN ADAMS is (or, rather, was) an HBO mini-series telling of the historical figure of the same name. By the simple title and the promotionalJOHN ADAMS is (or, rather, was) an HBO mini-series telling of the historical figure of the same name. By the simple title and the promotional poster, you would think that this would only be a shallow feature, giving only textbook information, if that. As surprising as it is, that is definitely not true. The performances are believable, and the story introduces more facts that possible to learn if they were just spat out at you like a textbook (except in a video, of course). Quite surprising, worth checking out if you can find it on the Internet or re-running on HBO. Expand
  2. LukeS.
    Apr 17, 2008
    10
    it is dead on history and inflammable acting to how john and the rest went about pulling Americas government to its feet.
  3. GeorgeJ.
    Mar 17, 2008
    10
    This is a powerful, moving drama. The production values are top-notch, You get the sense this is an accurate portrayal of what actually This is a powerful, moving drama. The production values are top-notch, You get the sense this is an accurate portrayal of what actually happened. It's a fantastic account one of the greatest events to happen in human history, the birth of the American nation. Do not miss this series! Expand
  4. TaylorM.
    May 3, 2008
    10
    Excellent and well scripted tv show. I feel i have learned more of the nature revolving the creation of our country than any other Excellent and well scripted tv show. I feel i have learned more of the nature revolving the creation of our country than any other public-school textbook or teacher could have provided. And, one must admit, with profound eloquence and thoughtful narrative. A Must See. Expand
  5. JackM.
    Mar 17, 2008
    9
    John Adams almost single-handedly started the Revolutionary War after defending the British officers accused of murder in the Boston John Adams almost single-handedly started the Revolutionary War after defending the British officers accused of murder in the Boston Massacre. Or so the HBO version of David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning book would have us believe. Only cousin Sam Adams seems more passionately in favor of war with England. Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine are MIA. Still, the acting is stunning, especially in the characters of Abigail Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Adams himself. It is a fascinating recreation of the time. Expand
  6. CarolynP.
    Apr 22, 2008
    9
    Really enjoyed the series. Read the McCullough book several years ago, and screenplay stayed very close to the history as recorded in letters Really enjoyed the series. Read the McCullough book several years ago, and screenplay stayed very close to the history as recorded in letters and the book. The 3 main characters were phenomenally acted by Giamatti, Linney and Dillane. Excellent all around - would love to see the same type of series about Jefferson. Now there's a challenge. Expand
  7. RaysaJ.
    Mar 16, 2008
    0
    Are you kidding.. is this a comedy? What a mess. The casting seems to be a fatal mistake.

See all 74 User Reviews