John Adams by Kent Eanes/HBOJohn Adams
Oh, how John Adams would have loved that out of all his fellow Founding Fathers, he's the first to get the deluxe HBO miniseries treatment. Not Franklin, Jefferson or Washington — but a squat man of towering temper, possessing an ambition and ego as grand as his visionary intellect and a revolutionary passion for liberty.

John Adams, based on David McCullough's acclaimed biography, is as sumptuous and satisfying as TV gets: gorgeously produced, marvelously acted and written with a sense of high drama amid generous displays of wit.

Befitting such an enduring love story, Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney are splendid as America's second First Couple. At home, when John sheds his wig and attitude, they're equals: "You do not need to quote great men to show you are one," Abigail chides him, all the while acknowledging her husband's indisputable greatness.

As his ardent champion and best and most loving critic, she truly does complete him. They ache for each other's company and counsel during his long absences as he tends to history and she minds the family and farm.

Linney's wry warmth meshes with Giamatti's restless bluster, rendering Adams admirable even when unlikable. He's combative and impatient, whether debating independence in Congress or awkwardly practicing diplomacy in Europe. He bristles with envy when upstaged by his more admired peers, each sharply played: Tom Wilkinson as the witty Franklin, Stephen Dillane as the urbane Jefferson and David Morse as a Washington of quiet dignity.

"You are not meant to sit in the shade of life," a colleague assures him. Indeed, John Adams emerges from the pages of history as a dynamic hero of ideas in this dazzling TV event.

John Adams premieres Sunday, March 16, at 8 pm/ET on HBO; the remaining chapter air Sundays at 9 pm/ET.


If cute were enough, Miss/Guided could be a hit. There's no questioning the instant adorability of Arrested Development scene-stealer turned sitcom star Judy Greer as fluttery, funny Becky Freeley, a high-school guidance counselor and former ugly duckling, now an insecure swan.

You can still spot a cringe beneath her grins, the echo of teen humiliations she's trying to help her students avoid. Too bad Becky keeps lapsing into adolescent behavior as she crushes on the dumb, hunky Spanish teacher, vying for his attention with the hot new teacher (Brooke Burns) who was once her high-school rival.

Miss/Guided is silly but sweet and would be more embraceable if it would drop the misguided (sorry) gimmick of having everyone deliver jokes right into the camera. Demerits for lazy writing.

Miss/Guided premieres Tuesday, March 18, at 10:32 pm/ET on ABC, then airs Thursdays at 8 pm/ET.