The Adams Chronicles

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The Adams Chronicles
Genre Drama
Written by Sam Hall
Tad Mosel
Directed by Paul Bogart
James Cellan Jones
Bill Glenn
Fred Coe
Starring George Grizzard
William Daniels
David Birney
John Beal
Narrated by Michael Tolan
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
French
Dutch
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 50 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel WNET
Original run January 20, 1976 (1976-01-20) – April 13, 1976 (1976-04-13)

The Adams Chronicles is a thirteen-episode miniseries by PBS that aired in 1976 to commemorate the American Bicentennial.

Synopsis[edit]

The series chronicles the story of the Adams political family over a 150-year span, including John Adams (signer of the Declaration, accomplished diplomat, and the 2nd President), his wife Abigail Adams, his son John Quincy Adams (acclaimed Secretary of State, the 6th President, and prominent abolitionist Congressman), grandson Charles Francis Adams, congressman and ambassador to Great Britain during the Civil War, and much-heralded members of the fourth generation Henry Brooks Adams, the historian and author of the novel Democracy, and Charles Francis Adams II, the industrialist.

The most prominent role in the series is John Adams, played by George Grizzard. His views dominate the series even after his death, on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the passage of the United States Declaration of Independence. As a result of his achievements during the revolution, and afterwards as vice president and president, subsequent Adams generations have a hard time dealing with this legacy of public service and accomplishment and frequently wonder if they are measuring up to their distinguished ancestry. In the end, the members of the fourth generation feel that the time in which the Adams family can play a prominent role in the affairs of the nation has passed.

Episode list[edit]

Chapter I: John Adams, Lawyer

Chapter II: John Adams, Revolutionary

Chapter III: John Adams, Diplomat

John Adams and his temperament find little diplomatic success in France, where Franklin is widely appreciated. However Adams negotiates a large loan in the Netherlands. John Quincy Adams is dispatched to Russia as a diplomat's secretary due to his great facility for languages. Adams concludes the Treaty of Paris.

Chapter IV: John Adams, Minister to Great Britain

Chapter V: John Adams, Vice President

With Gen. Washington as President, Adams becomes Vice-President and head of the Senate. When Jefferson's Republicans and Hamilton's Federalists have strongly conflicting views over the French Revolutionary war, Adams finds himself in the middle. Adams is elected second President of the United States.

Chapter VI: John Adams, President

Increasingly exasperating relations with France lead to the XYZ Affair, then the Quasi-War.

Chapter VII: John Quincy Adams, Diplomat

In Ghent, Adams and his delegation struggle to negotiate an end to the War of 1812.

Chapter VIII: John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State

During the Seminole War, the executions of Arbuthnot and Ambrister in Spanish Florida create a diplomatic incident. The United States and Britain consider whether to make a joint statement on the wars in South America, but this evolves into the Monroe Doctrine. In the presidential election, Henry Clay is the kingmaker. Adams becomes sixth President.

Chapter IX: John Quincy Adams, President

Chapter X: John Quincy Adams, Congressman

Chapter XI: Charles Francis Adams, Minister to Great Britain

Chapter XII: Henry Adams, Historian

Chapter XIII: Charles Francis Adams II, Industrialist

Cast[edit]

Adams family
U.S. politicians
British dignitaries, politicians, others
Foreign dignitaries, politicians, others
Other Americans

Soundtrack[edit]

Awards received[edit]

The Adams Chronicles won a number of Emmy Awards for television excellence. These included:

Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design for a Drama or Comedy Series – 1977

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Alvin Colt, Costume Designer

Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction – 1977

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – William C. Knight, Lighting Director; George Riesenberger, Lighting Director

Outstanding Achievement in Tape Sound Mixing – 1977

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Emil Neroda, Sound Mixer

Outstanding Art Direction or Scenic Design for a Drama Series – 1977

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Ed Wittstein, Production Designer

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series – 1977

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Fred Coe, Director

Outstanding Limited Series – 1977

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – James Cellan-Jones, Producer; Fred Coe, Producer; Robert Costello, Coordinating Producer; Virginia Kassel, Series Producer; Jac Venza, Executive Producer

Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series – 1977

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Tad Mosel, Writer The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Roger O. Hirson, Writer

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction or Scenic Design – 1976

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Ed Wittstein, Art Director

Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design for a Drama Series – 1976

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Alvin Colt, Costume Designer

Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design and Title – 1976

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Girish Bhargava, Graphic Design; Bill Mandel, Graphic Design

Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction – 1976

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Billy Knight, Lighting Director; Dick Weiss, Lighting Director

Outstanding Achievement in Technical Direction – 1976

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Leonard Chumbley, Technical Director; Walter Edel, Cameraman; John Feher, Cameraman; Steve Zink, Cameraman

Outstanding Achievement in Video Tape Editing for a Series – 1976

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Girish Bhargava, Editor; Manford Schorn, Editor

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series – 1976

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – George Grizzard

Outstanding Lead Actress for a Single Performance – 1976

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Kathryn Walker The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Pamela Payton-Wright

Outstanding Limited Series – 1976

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Paul Bogart, Producer; Fred Coe, Producer; Robert Costello, Producer; James Cellan Jones, Producer; Virginia Kassel, Series Producer; Jac Venza, Executive Producer

Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series – 1976

The Adams Chronicles – PBS – Sherman Yellen, Writer

Pronunciation note[edit]

The series uses the historically correct pronunciation /ˈkwɪnzi/ for Quincy, rather than the more common /ˈkwɪnsi/. (See relevant discussion here.)

DVD release[edit]

The Adams Chronicles series was released on DVD by Acorn Media on May 13, 2008.

External links[edit]