I am not much of a fan of The New Republic; but I requested electronic mail notification of their arts reporting, just because good arts reporting is so hard to come by these days. However, their approach to reviewing the HBO John Adams series goes far beyond any expectations of "good arts reporting," particularly in the way in which it is giving "equal time" to substance and style. Basically, TNR has organized a mini-symposium, whose participants are historian John Patrick Diggins (the primary authority on substance), author Steven Waldman (the voice for style), and Kirk Ellis (the voice "from the inside," who served as both co-executive producer and writer for the series). The only real flaw is that the TNR Web site leaves more than a bit to be desired, particularly in its installation of hyperlinks. Therefore, for the benefit of those (like myself) whose interest in the series borders on rabid, here are the links of the contributions to the symposium in the order in which they first appeared:
I am not sure that HBO has ever before triggered such a level of scholarly discussion (even for their Addiction series). What is at least a bit more surprising is that the enthusiasm for this series is not restricted to those of us desperate for scholarly stimulation. According to a post yesterday on the Vulture blog, maintained by Dan Kois and Lane Brown on the New York Magazine Web site:
… John Adams is getting the best ratings for any HBO mini-series in years.