Screen Time

The Good Lord Bird portrays abolitionist John Brown as a wild prophet

The miniseries is full of big ideas about freedom and self-determination.

The Good Lord Bird (Showtime) is a wonderful television adaptation of James McBride’s award-winning book about radical abolitionist John Brown. The story is told through the eyes of Henry “Onion” Shackleford (Joshua Caleb Johnson). Irreverent and often very funny, the seven-episode mini­series is also full of big ideas about freedom, self-determination, and sacrifice.

In the last episode, Brown (Ethan Hawke) finds his boldest plan falling apart largely because of his own erratic decisions. One of his White hostages, Colonel Lewis Wash­ington (Brooks Ashmanskas), turns to his Black coachman, Jim (Victor Williams), who has thrown his lot in with Brown’s ill-fated insurrection. “That’s the man you think will save your people?” he asks.

“He’s not going to save us,” Jim re­sponds. “He’s trying to save you.”