in All the chief’s menthe famous 1976 film about how reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein busted the Watergate scandal and brought down the entire presidency of Richard Nixon, Woodward’s inside source, aka Deep Throat, says, “Forget the myths the media has created about the White House. The truth is, these aren’t brilliant people.” Too bad, things got out of hand.”
New HBO series White House Plumbers It takes five hours to convey this Oscar-winning idea for William Goldman atpm The text was presented in two sentences. It’s an incredibly broad and frantic comedy about how democracy was saved largely because the people who tried to destroy it were incompetent tits. It’s not without funny moments nor interesting performances – though Woody Harrelson, Justin Theroux, and Lena Headey all act in different projects than one another – but overall it feels like a drawn-out joke where the punchline gets repeated again and again.
Harrelson plays former CIA agent Howard Hunt. He was once a man of power who helped plan the Bay of Pigs Invasion – and he blamed it on John F. Kennedy. Kennedy in its failure, rather than anything he did – he now reluctantly works for a public relations firm, writing on the side spy novels that his wife Dorothy (Heidi) writes for him. Theroux is former FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy, a high-strung man who, in his spare time, enjoys listening to recordings of Nazi rallies and bragging about his wife Fran’s (Judy Greer) “Celtic-Teutonic” lineage. The two are hired by the Nixon administration to act as “plumbers” who will identify and stop the leaks, starting with obtaining evidence that Daniel Ellsberg was acting on behalf of the Soviet Union when he leaked the Pentagon Papers. (It was not, by the way, that the idea occurred to any of the Nixon sons.) But they’re a clownish show from the get-go, screwing up basic tasks, misreading rooms, and generally regressing on any small successes. They make four different attempts to break into DNC headquarters, and each time they are thwarted by a small but obvious misstep, like one of Hunt’s Cuban buddies from his Bay of Pigs days who brought the wrong set of lock picks with him to Washington.
written by Alex Gregory and Peter Howick, and directed by David Mandel – all three of whom are alumni of later seasons of vice president – White House Plumbers It begins as a farce, periodically delving into various tragedies and problems in the Hunt family, and at various points attempts to draw direct lines between Hunt and Lady’s dirty tricks and the way modern Republican political operatives operate. At one point, they convince lobbyist Dita Bird (the unrecognizable and hilarious Kathleen Turner) to brazenly lie about statements she made to the press about the White House’s outrageous behavior. In another, Liddy boasts that, no matter what happened with Watergate, “if all I’ve done is undermine the faith of ordinary Americans in government, it will pay off for the Republican Party, far into the future.”
It’s possible that all of these ideas could be a coherent part of the same project, however White House Plumbers Unfortunately not this project. Headey gives a completely halting, if funny, performance as Dorothy, who helps Howard from time to time but mostly finds his devotion to the cause, to the detriment of her and their children.
PVC / HBO Kiernan Shipka plays a strangely inconsequential role as Hunt’s most successful child. Murray Abraham and F. Perhaps they are right, especially with
(which features Abraham more prominently) moving into the drama series categories. (But also, this probably isn’t the ideal time to start a show featuring Abraham, even in a glorious cameo.)
There’s a scene in the second episode where Nixon campaign executive Jeb Magruder (Ike Barinholtz) is furious that newspaper columnist Jack Anderson has reported on the Dita Byrd scandal. He asks Liddy what he can do to help, and Magruder jokes that Liddy should kill Anderson. Without another word, Lady walked out of Magruder’s office halfway through before his terrified boss could stop him. He’s baffled because Liddy didn’t realize he was joking, but the confusion seems so trademark of a show he can’t really set a tone for. When a prominent character dies horribly, the show tries to mine her for pity and make jokes about conspiracy theories. It’s awkward at best, and edgy and insensitive at worst. common The story of Watergate is so voluminous and so bizarre that it has led to many dramas of completely different styles. All the chief’s men It was a thriller, while it was a 1999 Kirsten Dunst / Michelle Williams comedy rod View the scandal through the eyes of two compelling teenage girls. But among the stars
Gaslit — which came and went unnoticed last spring, even though it starred Julia Roberts and Sean Penn — and that, it seems, we’ve passed the point of diminishing returns. In a later episode, the filmmakers figured out how to incorporate the voice of an actor from a different Watergate project into this project. This made me smile briefly, but mainly because it was inspiring ideas for this adaptation, as well as wanting to just watch it instead. The first episode of the programme
The White House Plumbers debuts tonight on HBO and HBO Max, with additional installments released weekly. I watched all five episodes.