The Watergate scandal has been the subject of numerous movies, TV movies and TV series over the years, the majority of which have treated it with a sort of dogged earnestness just this side of boredom. The ne plus ultra of this trend is “All the President’s Men” which, I have to admit, is hard to sit through today!
“Gaslit”, the story of Watergate and, in particular the role of Martha Mitchell, the wife of Nixon’s loyal Attorney General John Mitchell, as a whistleblower and the terrible price she payed for this.
Her Best Part Since Erin Brockovich.
Martha is played by Julia Roberts and this is her first great role since “Erin Brockovich”. In Episode One she is actually a supporting player as the series sets up the break-in and why it was such a fiasco but you can see the plot expand around her and the greatness to come. One scene, where she sees some suspicious documents on the bed after John falls asleep, is chilling. Martha was a celebrity in her own right. People loved her for her forthrightness and her Southern bonhomie and all of these traits play to Robert’s strength as an actress.
The utter ruthlessness behind the good ole boy facade.
Meanwhile, the Watergate guys (Sean Penn as John Mitchell, Dan Stevens as John Dean, Shea Whigham as G. Gordon Liddy, J.C.Mackenzie as Howard Hunt, Chris Bauer as James McCord, Hamish Linklater as Jeb Magruder, Patton Oswalt as Charles Colson, Nat Faxon as H.R. Haldeman, Chris Conner as John Ehrlichman and Adam Ray as Ron Ziegler) are treated like a bunch of buffoons straight out of the war room in Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove”. However, we are always cognizant of the utter ruthlessness and total lack of respect for their fellow human beings that these bozos were capable of.
With Peri Gilpin doing a nice job as Maureen (Mo) Dean.