Home TV Shows Reviews ‘White House Plumbers’ HBO Series Review - Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux Steal the Show

‘White House Plumbers’ HBO Series Review - Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux Steal the Show

The limited series follows the Watergate scandal as Nixon’s political saboteurs, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy accidentally topple the presidency they were vigorously attempting to protect

Vikas Yadav - Thu, 27 Apr 2023 09:02:09 +0100 2124 Views
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Every episode of White House Plumbers opens with this disclaimer - "The following is based on a true story. No names have been changed to protect the innocent because nearly everyone was found guilty." This text, in a way, announces that this show will have a quirky tone. Well, what do you know! The very first scene of the first episode begins with a wacky scenario. We are thrust into the middle of a break-in attempt at the Watergate Office Building, and a man, after struggling to pick a lock, concludes that he has got the wrong tools. This is just the beginning, as there are many more amusements in store.

For instance, a man puts his feet on the table during a meeting. Two characters wear a ridiculous and garish disguise and pose as tourists. They ask a lady if she could click their photos, and when that woman inquires where they have come from, the two men confidently give different answers. A lousy walkie-talkie raises troubles during an operation, and a man takes a joke seriously and prepares himself to kill someone. White House Plumbers is about how Gordon Liddy (Justin Theroux) and Howard Hunt (Woody Harrelson) "accidentally toppled the presidency they were trying to protect." These two characters, too, are imbued with quirkiness.

Take Gordon. He places his hand on a candle to prove his words carry weight. He also finds inspiration in the words of Adolf Hitler. Howard, on the other hand, so desperately craves respect and admiration that he tells a stewardess he has just finished a top-secret project. While having sex with his wife Dorothy (Lena Headey), he tells her to call him Edward (his spy name). Gordon and Howard adore President Nixon, so much so that they are willing to go to any extent. They call themselves "The Plumbers" because their job is to fix "leaks." We see them breaking into offices and clicking pictures of important documents. Their bosses are impressed by their work, and soon, they become a part of the Committee For The Re-Election Of The President.

Gordan and Howard give so much priority to their work that they have little to no time for their family members. Howard resents the fact that two of his children could not graduate. He also finds out much later that his younger son - like the older one - is a good musician. Howard has put all his faith in one of his daughters, Kevan (Kiernan Shipka), and she is undoubtedly the only child one can refer to as his favorite. But he is unable to spend a lot of time with her, and Dorothy certainly doesn't like Howard's preoccupation with his work. In one of the scenes in the series, his wife, son, and daughter drive away in a car, and his other son and daughter walk into the house, leaving him all alone in the frame. Here is a man who's slowly getting detached from his family members, and you wait for that moment when this bond will completely break. As far as Gordon is concerned, we get slight details about his personal life, which looks militaristic, but we don't spend a tremendous amount of time with his wife and his kids. That's just another way of showing he, too, is mostly away from his ménages.


One part of White House Plumbers is charged with comic energy. During these portions, the camera moves with excitement. The farcical tone implies that characters like Gordan and Howard, who zealously protect the President, are similar to dunderheads. There were so many Watergate break-in attempts because these people were clumsy when it came to the execution of a plan. What the characters (initially) don't know, and the audience does, is that the government they are trying to save sees them as disposable puppets. Gordan and Howard devote themselves to their job, but the job doesn't reciprocate their love and their dedication. This leaves a melancholic trace in the story and reveals the other side of White House Plumbers - one that is sad and serious. During these portions, the camera becomes smooth and stable. When it moves, it looks sober. If Gordan and Howard appeared like buffoons before, they now come across like people with emotions. Even the "mad" daughter (Zoe Levin) turns somber.

This shift in mood is neatly done, and it surely helps that White House Plumbers is packed with excellent actors who effectively change according to the situation. Harrelson and Theroux don't scream, "Hey, look! We have changed our mannerisms." Instead, they almost invisibly adapt to the atmosphere. Headey and Greer have a solid presence, and the young actors, too, make sure their characters don't register as hazy figures. The other cast members are also in fine form.

The middle portions of White House Plumbers feel tiring as we learn nothing new about the characters. We sense that the show is merely offering a quirky tone to us. There are moments when Howard is given the opportunity to connect with his family, and he squanders them ((he spoils a board game and declines a trip to Paris). If Howard and Gordan fail at executing one mission, they immediately find success in the next one. These two points feel like a repetition of the same beats and increase our sense of weariness. But White House Plumbers soon frees itself from monotony and restores our interest. It tightens its screws and moves ahead with earnestness.

Final Score- [7.5/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times
Note: All 5 episodes are screened for this review.
Premiere Date: May 1, 2023, on HBO (every Monday one new episode)



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