I knew this mini-series would be a big deal for those few (we happy few) of us who regularly live and breathe John Adams, but I honestly never expected the amount of response, interest and discussion that it has engendered. It's pretty amazing. Sales of My Dearest Friend have been way up (it's #301 on Amazon right now, and #71[!] on B&N), and of course David McCullough's John Adams continues to sell well too (#58 on Amazon, #47 on B&N).
We've started receiving what I'm sure are the first of many inquiries about the mini-series, and have had many visitors so far for the "John Adams: A Life in Letters" exhibit here at MHS (which, by the way, continues to evolve - so if you came once, you may want to stop by again before the end of the show in May, since just about everything may be different by then).
And the reviews continue to roll in. From Slate yesterday, Kent Sepkowitz made one of the most original critiques of the film I've seen, criticizing the appearance of the actors' teeth (they were too white). I'm assured by those who've seen more episodes that this situation will change, and quickly. Other recent reviews from the Madison Capital Times, and American Heritage.
In today's Boston Globe, Peter Canellos covers a Capitol Hill premiere of the HBO show's first episode, tossing in some commentary (which I pass along with no editorial comment) about Adams' role in bringing about the first party system. Over at The New Republic, John Patrick Diggins and Steven Waldman have begun an exchange about the series. Steven Dubner says he won't be watching the rest of the episodes (he doesn't like Giamatti as JA, and has some serious issues with some of the historical inaccuracies). Trust me, I have issues with them too, and I agree with all of Dubner's quibbles ... but hey, it's a movie. As JA said, "Facts are stubborn things," and they're out there for the finding even if every detail's not quite perfect.
Some of us were discussing the "resurrection" of John Adams' reputation, which many seem to be crediting to David McCullough these days. He certainly contributed, but two major events from the mid-1970s played a major role as well. "The Adams Chronicles," an award-winning PBS mini-series about several generations of the Adams Family (which is, incidentally, about to be released on DVD) contributed, as did the musical and screen versions of "1776," in which William Daniels performs (brilliantly) as the only singing John Adams I'm aware of. Most of that movie, naturally, is available through the magic of YouTube (begin here).
And of course there's my own personal JA project, the LT-edition of his library. I've finished editing now, and am just working to add the links to the digital versions of his books. Want to see what he wrote in the first book we know he owned? Look no further (click the "Digital Version" link). Lots more of those to add, and then some additional tweaking. But it's getting there!
[Update: J.L. Bell has a great post outlining some of the major differences between "real life" and the mini-series. Recommended reading. And I now have the tape of the first two episodes, which I'm really anxious to watch.]