Wednesday, March 19, 2008

This is a revolution dammit! We're going to have to offend SOMEBODY!

Last night I finally got around to watching the first two TiVoed episodes of the John Adams biography miniseries that aired on HBO. Very good. If you don’t have HBO, definitely watch for it on DVD.

I thought Paul Giamatti was excellent, and so I was puzzled by this review of the series in the NYTimes, which criticizes the casting of Giamatti, saying that his range is limited, and with his “cuddly, rubbery looks,” he is more evocative of Shrek than our 2nd president.

The reviewer, Alessandra Stanley, holds up the admittedly short but exceedingly preppy/patrician William Daniels, who played Adams in the stage and movie versions of the musical “1776,” as the actor most successful at capturing the essence of the politician that his most famous biographer described as “high-spirited and affectionate, vain, cranky, impetuous, self-absorbed and fiercely stubborn.”


Look, Alessandra, sweetie. Let me assure you, I love me some “1776.” I really do. My parents had the cast album, and I know all the songs by heart. By. Heart. I wanted to be Abigail Adams. My dad was in a local production of the musical. I memorized one of Adams’s speeches from the script and performed what was basically a bad William Daniels impression at a drama club event. I thought I was the shit, too. You know I did.

In fact, I will even admit to crushing on William Daniels just a little bit. Hey, what do you want? Even at that age, I was a politics geek.

But sweetie. You cannot. You can NOT seriously call upon Daniels as the quintessential Adams while also eschewing Giamatti as being too unlike the real John Adams. First of all, because, “1776” was A FREAKING BROADWAY MUSICAL VERSION OF HISTORY.

And secondly, because here is a picture of William Daniels (front) playing John Adams:

Hm. Still cute. My girl crush is still flickering, although less enthusiastically now, probably because of watching him in the 80s play second fiddle to that mustache with a SAG card.

Here is Giamatti playing John Adams:

Ew. Schlubby.

And here, folks, is the real John freakin’ Adams:

Now, which one of these things is not like the other? If you guessed the guy with the mailbox full of talking car residuals, you have a fine eye and are probably not qualified to wax incomprehensible in the pages of the NYTimes.

I suspect Ms. Stanley is guilty, although I’m sure a reviewer for the "paper of record" would insist otherwise, of romanticizing our founding fathers.

She’s not alone.

When Samuel Adams Beer first came out, the portrait of him on the front of the bottle at least vaguely resembled Sam Adams. I couldn’t find a picture of the old label, but here’s a picture of Sam Adams:

Now, thanks to the Boston Brewing Company, Sam Adams looks more like Liam Neeson:

Ah, remember the good old days, when politicians didn’t have to be devastatingly handsome? I’m sorry, I mean Democratic politicians. The Republicans, of course, still welcome all comers.
I guess there must be something about being a miserly old killjoy that fucks with one’s looks.

It’s just a theory.


GETkristiLOVE said...

I had a crush on that pony express courier guy when Dad e played Colonel Thomas McKean (who politely abstains) in Marion's 1776. My heart melted when he sang Momma Look Sharp.

Dad E said...

Edward Rutledge: Enter Delaware, tria juncti in uno.
Col. Thomas McKean: Speak plain, Rutledge. Ya Know I can't follow a word of your damn French.
Edward Rutledge: It's Latin, Colonel McKean, a tribute to the eternal peace and harmony of the Delaware delegation.
Col. Thomas McKean: What're ya sayin', man? Ya know perfectly well neither Rodney nor I can stand the sight of this louse!

GKL-McKean did not politely abstain. That was Lewis of New York.

I will watch my TiVo today. I think a "warts and all" approach is better for a real look at the beginning of our country. It is after all, the most remarkable occurance in all of world history.

sv said...

"I thought I was the shit, too. You know I did." That's OK Vikki, we still think you're the shit!

vikkitikkitavi said...

GKL: That was Tony Walton, Bob Walton's older brother. Bob was in the drama club with me.

DadE: Unfortunately, McKean is reduced to one line in this version. But he does still fetch Caesar Rodney back for the vote.

SV: Look, buddy, I think my sister definitely likes you. You can stop sucking up to me now.

Splotchy said...

Just for posting a beer label so close to Dick Cheney, I now give you the task of making up a beer name suitable of displaying his face on the label.

SkylersDad said...

You kind of have to hand it to Cheney though, non of our founding fathers shot a fellow politician and lived to tell the tale!

Ahh for the days when a duel was a duel...

vikkitikkitavi said...

Splotchy: I'd have to go with "WMD Ale: Weapons of Malt Destruction." It's the beer that promises an exciting experience, but then evaporates into thin air.

SkyDad: I dunno, but I think Aaron Burr counts as a founding father, doesn't he? I'm never sure who's a founding father and who's not. Maybe we should do a paternity test.

Lisa said...

Ben Franklin was as schlubby as they come, but dude got BOATLOADS of puss.

Okay, so that's been disproven, but I still like marrying "Ben Franklin" with "boatloads of puss."

Grant Miller said...

I wish I could live long enough to see who will portray the current adminsitration when it's serialized on HBO decades from now.

mrgumby2u said...

I think that was John Hillerman playing second fiddle to Selleck. William Daniels was busy providing the voice for a car.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Lisa: Well, who deesn't?

Grant: Wow, I'm just trying to make to the election, dude.

Mr.G: Ah, yes, of course you are correct. Hats off.

dguzman said...

Good gosh, I clicked on your devastatingly handsome link and started to swoon. What the hell kinda lesbian am I????

Of course, Darth Dick brought me back to our hideous reality. If you are what you eat, I guess Big Dick must eat brimstone and yak shit.

Jo said...

I feel like I wrote this entry somehow behind my own back. Which of course is the highest compliment (can't believe I said that out loud).

You really spoke to me.

vikkitikkitavi said...

DGuz: No need to turn in your lesbo credentials. No one can resist John E.

Jo: Wow, and I thought my POST was confessional.