Monday, August 10, 2015

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Nixon

Richard Nixon (1913 - 1994) is the only U.S. President to resign from that high office. He served as 36th President of the United States in the years from 1969 - 1974, and is a figure of great controversy. After winning two impressive electoral victories, President Nixon was brought down, finally, by the details of the Watergate Scandal.

Although cult-TV has often focused on early Presidents such as Washington or Lincoln, or larger-than-life figures such as Kennedy, Nixon too has been the focus of many storytellers.

The preserved (in a jar) head of Richard Nixon, for instance, becomes President of Earth in the thirtieth century, in Futurama (1999 - 2013).  

Nixon is assisted on that program by a series of head-less Spiro Agnew clones who thoughtlessly do his bidding. Nixon figures in many episodes, sometimes causing trouble, and sometimes doing the right thing (usually by happenstance).  In one episode, for instance, Nixon personally dubs over the dialogue of a children's TV cartoon that is too violent, for example, attempting -- and failing -- to set a good example.

In the Vince Gilligan-penned seventh season episode of The X-Files (1993 - 2002) called "Je Souhaite," Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) uncover footage revealing that Nixon ascended to the Presidency after making a wish to a djinn of genie (Paula Sorge).  

The new Doctor Who, uniquely, attempted to rehabilitate Richard Nixon's reputation by making him a stalwart ally of the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) in his struggles against the Silence, in the episode "Day of the Moon."  Nixon asked how he would be remembered by history and the Doctor was forced to hedge on that topic.

Nixon has also been seen on The Simpsons, and was a golfing buddy to plutocrat Montgomery Burns and as a participant in "Whacking Day."

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