There is a certain, kind of hidden, magic in this work. Let me see.
It's a TV drama, which approaches the precise documentary, about one of the most important events that convulsed America in the 20th century. The thing is it is so detailed, so frank, and so declared as well (unlike the J.F.K assassination for instance where most of the talk is still hypothetical). So, instead of reading many books, this movie will give you a fine and deep view to the crises that assured many things one of them was that the democratic system isn't born perfect.
At deep layer, this is where the American president is being attacked, and by assured facts. I think that was a first, talking about living one at the moment. True that Nixon wasn't on the chair in 1979, but the promulgation itself was historical, which makes this drama, aside from its artistic evaluation or else, a bold precedent for generations to come, where dealing with the matters will be more and more objective, and let's not say paranoid.
At deeper layer, this is a story about a man with a sleepless conscience, who lives torturing and tortured. John Dean here must make you recall Sir Thomas More, yet with being a guilty one who seeks the purgation at any cost, while fighting being a scapegoat as well. You'll learn a lot from this respectable character who his ambition pushed him too far, then came to his senses to face such a painful and long way just to say the whole truth, without looking like coward informer or hurting the others, simply doing the right thing, in a right way, while everything is sunk in wrong. Still his struggle, patience, and integrity are inspiring; and that's one of the highest points this work could deliver.
It tried to be accurate and human to the last limit. There were many good details along the way particularly through the wife's memories. In fact here the word dramatic wasn't clearer. Life, in so many ways, is more interesting than any movie or TV series I can tell you that, or let this mini-series does!
But nothing is perfect. It's based basically on John Dean's book, and his wife Maureen's one. While that gave us good general view for the man's work and home, it sort of deprived us of seeing other perspectives. Therefore there were too many characters that we hear about or see swiftly but never know well.
Since the whole thing takes place in closed offices or flats, dealing with political damn staid characters, it avoided woodenness by adding – in limited manner – some lovely lines and light moments; I liked how the character of Dean's lawyer (Charles Shaffer) was written, and performed by the great (Ed Flanders); as this was one hell of a relief. But even despite the shortness of the scenes overall it glided to be a TV work, with the sort of bad sense of the word, by conventional shots and monotonous cutting, without much of artistic handling sometimes.
True (Rip Torn) did a fine job, being the serious joke that Nixon is in this movie, but I have a problem with (Martin Sheen). Yes, he relatively pulled off performing a ticking bomb of a man, who's trying to be coherent while living a completely fallen world, being torn between the president's lawyer who's supposed to enjoy a glossy life, and the ideal lawyer who got to take the first one and his client all down. But (Sheen) was so provocative; having the looks of a waxy statue, too-sleek-it's-glassy face, never messy hair, and mostly I can't stand his delivery. (Theresa Russell) got on my nerves sometimes. She was more like a walking corpse, with so thin body, pale face and killer yellow hair. And it wasn't the matter of the looks only as her performance wasn't as strong as what I waited, yet I can't blame her wholly. If you looked closer you would discover that the characterization of the lead's wife, as well as its storyline, were both the weakest factor in this script. In times (Russell) was mourning, skeptic of cheating, in denial, happy, affectionate. In others she looked clueless. And in the rest she was just dead. Simply there was no turning point for her from the disbelief of the burning tragedy to the acceptance of her husband's crusade.
Though, it's close to perfect. The music was elegizing a beaten probity in great grief. Some dialog and direction were high and classy. Look at extremely painful scene with Dean and some barber who innately loves and believes the president, wanting all the evil in the world for that liar Dean. It's the man in the street's viewpoint which Dean, bitterly cynical, remarks at it, the unusual truth, along with his hairdo, saying "Unbelievable" ! Moreover, a scene in which Dean and his wife are invited in Camp David, having dinner on the president's expense, while being both besieged by his servants in a embellished yet dark and narrow dinner room. This short scene gets a lot of meanings later when you know about how the president was aware of the Watergate thing from the start.
There is an effective sense of sadness growing underneath the surface. Maybe due to the moral butchery that it shows (a man who knew a crime and hesitated to speak, framing a partly innocent man to hide high fully criminal ones, deceiving a nation by covering the truth, an elected president who uses his power to be above the law..).
(Blind Ambition) is a classic piece of art. It finds a good finale for itself with the lead not answering the hot question : "Will Watergate happen again ?!" since the blind ambition, that made it, is as present as the human being.