April 13th, 2008

Thoughtful Ginji

John Adams (RL, TV)

Ever have a topic you want to write about, but keep putting it off because you don't feel like you can do it justice? That's the situation I've been in all weekend.

For the last month, HBO has been spamming its new miniseries John Adams. Some weekends it would show all the eps in a row, and so I'd just roll my eyes and change the channel. John Adams. Early American history. Could you find a more boring subject than that? (To me, history was nothing more than memorizing dates, names, and battles. It was second only to math as my least favorite subject in school.)

On Saturday I was just flipping around the channels and happened onto HBO. The face on the screen was so amazingly interesting, full of character, within a second or two I was hooked. I wanted to know more. Then the music hit me: such beautiful, moving music. So I turned it off.

On Demand had the whole series (I had noticed it, and rolled my eyes again, while looking for something else), so I went there and started from the beginning instead of letting myself get caught up in the middle.

Someone posted the theme song on YouTube. Unfortunately it's not as high of quality as it could be, but it should give you an idea of the music. (Around 1:03 is when it gets so good my stomach does funny things. I'm not usually a music person, but even after hearing the theme so many times it bring tears to my eyes.)

Best music I've ever heard on TV, but that's just such a tiny part of the show. The costumes/settings are jaw-dropping amazing. I had never even taken a second look at costumes from that period before, but I found myself admiring them in scene after scene. And the settings! So many things I don't usually pay any attention to were so rich and worthy of pausing the show to study.

As caught me in my first glimpse of the series, the actors' faces are just so full of character. I don't mean they play their characters well, more like you look at them and want to know more, want to study them, search the lines and features to try to figure out what the heck is holding your attention so firmly. (And related to this, the actors look so much like who they are! I recognized Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson all before ever hearing their names.)

And all those elements are just background things. The story is just outright fascinating. How come history wasn't like this in school? History isn't boring! Not when it's like this, anyway. And, oddly, even though this is a show for entertainment, it reminded me of stuff: How hard we fought to get where we are, and how important the president is and how that position should be something to be proud of (which made me even more sad and disgusted about Bush), and sadly how we apparently screwed over the people who helped us. I need to look it up to confirm this, but in the show it went: The 13 colonies went to France for help to get independent. France helped. A few years later France came to America for help fighting England. America basically went "lol talk to the hand, we're too busy with our own stuff to help.". That was both depressing and embarrassing. (And it also leads to another point: Why has the US forgotten how much France helped us? :/ )

So if you have any way of seeing this, you really should. It is about history, but it's anything but boring. The actors, characters, music, and most of all the story are all so good! HBO's slogan is "It's not TV, it's HBO" and in this case that totally fits. John Adams is unlike anything I've ever seen on TV, and I can't wait to start from the beginning and watch the whole thing again.

Edit: Here's a 20 minutes "making of" video for another taste.
  • Current Mood
    impressed impressed