You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘The Pentagon Papers’

The year in telepics

Restrained, intelligent and utterly absorbing, “The Pentagon Papers” is the rare historical drama that sticks to the facts.

FX’s crisply made historical drama elicited an agonizingly human story from a pointy-headed clash of ideals and principles. Best of all, it found that story not by goosing up events — the usual way “true story” telepics get noticed — but by observing them.

Daily Variety’s Michael Speier called it “relevant and rousing. Project showcases a complex period tautly realized by a terrific cast and crafty technique.”

Daniel Ellsberg, an analyst in the Dept. of Defense in the 1960s, staunchly believed in the U.S. war in Vietnam. That is until Pentagon chief Robert McNamara secretly commissioned an internal critical history of America’s involvement, effectively revealing the many lies the government had been telling. In 1970, a bitterly disillusioned Ellsberg leaked the classified document to the press, igniting a firestorm of controversy.

Despite an overly milked courtship between Ellsberg (James Spader) and the woman who’d become his second wife, Jason Horwitch’s script hewed closely to the historical record. He and director Rod Holcomb zeroed in on a man struggling with his conscience over the meanings of duty, honesty and patriotism, but without making him into a hero.

Spader put his naturally cool remoteness to good use in evoking Ellsberg’s alternately prickly and impressive genius. A supporting cast — from Alan Arkin as one of Ellsberg’s ex-bosses to Claire Forlani as the second wife — brought to life the complex personalities who inhabited Ellsberg’s world in that highly charged time.

In “The Pentagon Papers,” history has a pulse and you feel it.

More TV

  • David Cassidy'Once In A Lifetime' concert

    Celebrities Remember David Cassidy: 'Love and Mercy to David'

    Restrained, intelligent and utterly absorbing, “The Pentagon Papers” is the rare historical drama that sticks to the facts. FX’s crisply made historical drama elicited an agonizingly human story from a pointy-headed clash of ideals and principles. Best of all, it found that story not by goosing up events — the usual way “true story” telepics […]

  • This Is Us Chrissy Metz

    ‘This Is Us’ Star Chrissy Metz Breaks Down Kate’s Grieving Process

    Restrained, intelligent and utterly absorbing, “The Pentagon Papers” is the rare historical drama that sticks to the facts. FX’s crisply made historical drama elicited an agonizingly human story from a pointy-headed clash of ideals and principles. Best of all, it found that story not by goosing up events — the usual way “true story” telepics […]

  • David Cassidy Partridge Family

    David Cassidy, 'Partridge Family' Star, Dies at 67

    Restrained, intelligent and utterly absorbing, “The Pentagon Papers” is the rare historical drama that sticks to the facts. FX’s crisply made historical drama elicited an agonizingly human story from a pointy-headed clash of ideals and principles. Best of all, it found that story not by goosing up events — the usual way “true story” telepics […]

  • Jason Beghe

    'Chicago P.D.' Star Jason Beghe Investigated for 'Anger Issues'

    Restrained, intelligent and utterly absorbing, “The Pentagon Papers” is the rare historical drama that sticks to the facts. FX’s crisply made historical drama elicited an agonizingly human story from a pointy-headed clash of ideals and principles. Best of all, it found that story not by goosing up events — the usual way “true story” telepics […]

  • TV News Roundup: Fox Sets Premiere

    TV News Roundup: Fox Sets Midseason Premiere Dates for 'LA to Vegas,' 'The Resident'

    Restrained, intelligent and utterly absorbing, “The Pentagon Papers” is the rare historical drama that sticks to the facts. FX’s crisply made historical drama elicited an agonizingly human story from a pointy-headed clash of ideals and principles. Best of all, it found that story not by goosing up events — the usual way “true story” telepics […]

  • The Crown Series 2 World Premiere

    Claire Foy, Matt Smith Walk Final Carpet as Royals at 'The Crown' Season 2 Premiere in London

    Restrained, intelligent and utterly absorbing, “The Pentagon Papers” is the rare historical drama that sticks to the facts. FX’s crisply made historical drama elicited an agonizingly human story from a pointy-headed clash of ideals and principles. Best of all, it found that story not by goosing up events — the usual way “true story” telepics […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content