Washington: Behind Closed Doors (1977)

Woah this is a biggie! Not for the faint-hearted, this deep dive, intellectual miniseries brings the real story from the Nixon administration to the small screen with the crossover genius that only 1977 seems able to provide. Based on John Ehrlichman’s novelised expose ’The Company’, this is supposedly what really happened.

It starts off incredibly slowly. Nothing happens for the first 15 minutes, and very little in the whole first hour and a half episode! Yet, if you stick with it, this behemoth eventually gets going and boy does it have some weight behind it when it is finally does! Once Jason Robards’ ‘Nixon’ character wins the election and gets into the White House and we realise this is a straight retelling of the real events just with the names changed to protect the guilty, the fun really starts.

And the fun is essentially putting the real names to the fictionalised characters onscreen. Some, like Harold Gould’s Kissinger or Cliff Robertson’s CIA Director Richard Helms are easy, others not so much. Ehrlichman’s account presents the experience of being in the White House in the early Seventies as being like working in the Third Reich, a nasty, tightly-wound world of paranoia, intrigue and deadly rivalry, mostly controlled by Robert Vaughn’s sociopathic White House Chief of Staff ‘Frank Flaherty’, AKA Bob Haldeman.

Like Oliver Stone’s ‘Nixon’ (1995), this work implicates Nixon, the CIA, key members of Nixon’s White House staff and key people involved in the Watergate burglary with the assassination of President Kennedy.

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