- TV Mini Series
The early life and career of the American General and President through his participation in the Revolutionary War.The early life and career of the American General and President through his participation in the Revolutionary War.The early life and career of the American General and President through his participation in the Revolutionary War.
The mini Series is divided into 3 episodes. In general, part 1 covers Washington's life in the French and Indian War, part 2 shows the coming and commencement of the Revolutionary War, and part 3 is victory and Independence from England.
Barry Bostwick (Rocky Horror Picture Show, Spin City) gleams in this image of the adventurous, courageous Virginian whose thirst for excitement and knowledge of the wilderness lead him on his career in the Virginia militia. When hostilities break out between England and France for control of this wilderness, it is Washington himself who sheds the first blood. Washington is personally involved in several battles during the war, earning a reputation for courage, competence, and cool-headedness, this despite the fact that most of the battles he fights are complete British disasters.
After the war, Washington wants nothing more then to live in peace at his new home, Mount Vernon with his new wife Martha. Fate however has different plans. Hostilities open up between England and her 13 colonies. When Washington rides north to Philadelphia to pledge support of the Virginia House of Burgesses to Congress, he is immediately voted into command of the ragtag Continental Army in Massachusetts. Throughout the Revolutionary War, Washington leads his poorly disciplined, ill fed, badly shod army into battle after battle. Several times the army, and the dream of independence teeter on the brink of total annihilation. Of course, the day is always saved more often then not by Washington's stubbornness and courage alone.
After 7 years of destructive conflict, the War is over and the United States of America is created. Recognizing that the military must be the servant of the civil power he restrains his angry soldiers from marching on a negligent congress, and resigns his own commission to congress, his duty done, and his assigned task complete.
I have almost no complaints for this mini series, just a regret that they couldn't have made it 4 episodes long, to show more battles. The series has large and frequent time gaps, and the battles that took place in these gaps (that Washington was present for) are explained away in a few lines of dialogue. To a student of history, the battles of Harlem Hights, White Plains, Fort Washington, Brandywine, and Germantown are missed. Other battles that were important despite Washington's absence, such as Lexington, Bunker Hill, Saratoga and Camden are mentioned for their impact on the war, and we learn about them at the same time Washington does.
The mini series reenacts the battles of Fort Necessity, and Braddock's defeat in the French and Indian War and also the battles of Brooklyn Heights, Trenton, Monmouth and Yorktown. The action sequences are broad, lengthy, and exciting, calling together a cast of thousands of reinactors to play British, American, Scottish, Hessian and French soldiers.
Washington's life consisted of more then battles, of course. the mini series also examines the other hardships and triumphs in his life. Pay close attention to the agony Washington goes through watching his men freeze and starve to death at Valley Forge, and the personal trauma he experiences as Benedict Arnold, one of his most trusted and courageous generals turns traitor. Washington also endures the Conway cabal, a sort of coup by jealous officers to oust him from command.
Truly heartwarming scenes involve the idealism of Lafayette (Philip Casanoff) and Von Steuben, the strength and supportive cheeriness of Martha (Patty Duke) the farewell Washington gives to his officers at the end, and any scene involving Sally Fairfax, (Jaclyn Smith), wife of Washington's best friend Will (David Dukes).
Washington's alleged forbidden attraction to the lovely Sally is examined in a family friendly way and depicts Washington in the most flattering and virtuous light possible given what little evidence there is about what did/didn't happen. The series puts any flirtatious and teasing behavior on Sally's shoulders, which may or may not be accurate. Portraying it any other way, however would be out of step with the heroic deeds that Washington accomplished in his life.
This show is probably the only project that studies the Washington story with such attention to detail. It's available on video, if you know where to look, and belongs on the shelf of every flag-waving patriot. I wish it were a 4th of July tradition to show it on networks the way The Ten Commandments is around Passover/Easter time. George Washington is the story of America's Greatest Hero.
- Feb 9, 2000