📺 Where to watch White House Plumbers: Sky Atlantic and NOW from 30 May
⭐️ Our rating: 4/5
🍿 Watch it if you liked: The Post, Frost/Nixon, All The President's Men, Gaslit
🎭 Who's in it?: Woody Harrelson, Justin Theroux, Domnhall Gleeson, Lena Heady, Judy Greer, and Kathleen Turner
⏰ How long is it? 5 x 60 minute episodes
📖 What’s it about? A five-part series that tells the true story of how Nixon's own political saboteurs and Watergate masterminds, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, accidentally toppled the presidency they were trying to protect.
For those who tolerated Trump, turned a blind eye to Boris, and see politics as a profession populated by agenda driven narcissists, White House Plumbers will do nothing to dispel your doubts, but might just raise a sarcastic smile from those familiar with Watergate.
As this real-life dramedy gains momentum under the guidance of Emmy award-winners Alex Gregory (Veep) and Peter Huyck (Veep), it becomes apparent how clueless those in power really were when it came to the break-in which ended Richard Nixon’s presidency.
Fronted by ex-FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy (Justin Theroux) and former CIA operative E. Howard Hunt (Woody Harrelson) this Sky original series gets its title from the code name they coined for an operation initially intended to fix another leak entirely.
Namely The Pentagon Papers, a top-secret study on political decision making in relation to Vietnam, which those in power were understandably eager to keep out of the public domain, which were leaked in 1971 by Daniel Ellsberg, a former US military analyst.
However, rather than focusing on that, White House Plumbers keeps things light by focusing on the farcical elements of the eponymous break-in that brought down Nixon, and the personality clash between G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt.
One which forced an ex-FBI agent with Nazi overtones, and a former CIA operative with pulp fiction pretensions, into a predicament which ultimately saw them both behind bars.
With the focus shifting away from Richard Nixon, The Pentagon Papers, and onto to these less well-known players – this series quickly comes into its own.
In films including All The President’s Men and The Post, these men have always been named-checked but never independently dramatised – meaning that audiences were robbed of seeing them as anything other than bumbling Watergate burglars. 2022's Gaslit explored Hunt and Liddy tangentially, with Shea Wigham delivering a memorable performance as Liddy.
This limited series seeks to expand on that, by incorporating the freewheeling style of Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s franchise to explaining political landscapes.
It's a method which sees Justin Theroux (Mosquito Coast) and multiple Oscar-nominee Woody Harrelson (Triangle of Sadness) have a ball, and also gives Lena Heady (Gunpowder Milkshake) something to get her teeth into as Hunt’s savvy wife Dorothy.
What other critics thought of White House Plumbers
Entertainment Weekly: Veep veterans tread familiar political territory (4 min read)
The Hollywood Reporter: Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux star in HBO’s Exhaustingly Hijinks-Heavy Watergate Comedy (7 min read)
The Wrap: HBO Limited Series Is as Sloppy as the Watergate Break-in (5 min read)
Variety: Watergate Drama ‘White House Plumbers’ Is a Mixed (Black) Bag (5 min read)
Bungled break-in attempts led to promotions, while political dirty tricks were advocated by complicit colleagues, and events snowballed out of control, leading to narrative twists so outlandish that no one would dare to make them up.
White House Plumbers is a must watch moral fable for anyone looking to be educated, enlightened, and entertained in equal measure.
White House Plumbers is available to stream on Sky Atlantic from 30 May.