If this season of Fox TV’s hit drama 24 is any indication, this year’s weekly cliffhangers are shaping up to be the best yet. But it won’t be just the non-stop twists and turns that face Keifer Sutherland’s back-from-the-dead counter-terror agent Jack Bauer, that keep me on the edge of my seat.
Nope. The guy who I’ll be keeping my eye on is the character of President Charles Logan. You see, I first noticed this when then Vice-President Logan assumed the presidency on the tightly wound drama last season… The guy playing President Logan (actor Gregory Itzin for those keeping score) is a dead ringer for Richard Nixon.
That’s right. THAT Nixon. Seriously, it’s uncanny.
He’s got it all. The jowls. The beady, shifty eyes. The slicked back hair receding from each side of his face. The Drabby Suit…
I fully expect to see beads of sweat dripping from just above his upper lip on future 24 episodes, just as Nixon’s so famously did like clockwork in his own televised speeches (“I Am Not A Crook”), as the Watergate scandal slowly closed in on his presidency.
Well it seems somebody on the writing staff of 24 has also noticed the resemblance. Because on this season of 24, the writers have apparently decided to run the Nixon thing right up the ol’ flagpole. The first signs are subtle…things like the fact that the Logan character is keenly mindful of his legacy and his place in history.
He pursues his own version of detente with a Russian counterpart (in the form of an anti-terrorist accord) as the ultimate photo-op…even as a former President has just been assassinated and terrorists are publicly executing civilians in an airport on national TV.
“I realize that I’m ambitious”, Logan remarks matter of factly, “But I didn’t think civilians would be killed.” Which immediately brought back memories for me of those damn Nixon Watergate tapes:
“We could raise the money,” Nixon said in one breath, referring to paying hush money to the Watergate burglars. And in the very next, always mindful of covering his tracks, came the qualifying statement, “…But it would be wrong.”
Speaking of tapes, 24’s President Logan keeps not only tapes of all recorded White House conversations, but transcripts as well.
Which brings us to the ultimate Nixon tribute (at least so far) the writers of 24 have resurrected from the historical grave of the Nixon/Watergate era.
Are you ready for this?
Those clever writers on 24 have actually decided to resurrect Martha Mitchell herself as a character this season. For those either too young, or perhaps even too old to remember, Martha Mitchell was the wife of Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell, and a perennial thorn in the side of that scandal-plagued administration.
Painted by Nixon’s goons as delusional and paranoid, Martha Mitchell went to the press (and anyone else who would listen) often and loudly, with stories of government shenanigans branded as “conspiracy theories” at the time. She was eventually silenced through medication (and worse some have suggested). But perennial “kook” Martha Mitchell was finally vindicated in the end when the Watergate scandal verified at least some of her louder, wilder claims.
24’s First Lady Martha Logan, herself a medicated conspiracy theorist prone to emotional outbursts and wild mood swings, is expertly, and I might add quite often hilariously, portrayed by actress Jean Smart.
My friends, to quote one of the man himself’s most famous campaign slogans, “Now More Than Ever” Richard Nixon is alive and well.
Don’t be surprised to see 24’s President Logan hitting the bottle and having long, late-night conversations with the other presidents hanging on pictures in the halls of the White House before this season of 24 is over.
And remember, you read it here first.
You’ll find Glen Boyd sharing his Thoughtmares about everything from music to politics to professional wrestling at his blog The World Wide Glen: Welcome To My Thoughtmare.