When conspiracy theories were still harmless, many of them entwined Elvis Presley, and ironically, the King of Hip Swing was not entirely innocent of some of them. For example, on December 21, 1970, he met President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office, and shortly thereafter he actually asked him for an FBI stamp, Drug Enforcement Division. Nixon had one issued to him. Really. His widow, Priscilla Presley, later wrote in her memoirs that he somehow believed the badge would entitle him to take guns on trips abroad. However, one has to appreciate such bizarre details from Elvis’ real-life biography to appreciate the wild mish-mash of real-life references and stoned nonsense in the animated series Agent Elviswhich has just been released on Netflix.
Why would Matthew McConaughey bother trying to sound like the King?
The idea is this: Elvis, who wants to save the world anyway when he’s not on stage in Las Vegas, is recruited by an agent of a super-secret agency, and then drug kingpin Timothy Leary, who works for the same agency, is freed. Or Agent Elvis and his youthful supervisor, who can’t stand his music, end up in the film studio where Stanley Kubrick is directing the moon landing to the sounds of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. That it took place long before the real visit to Nixon – or that it was staged by Kubrick! – doesn’t matter, because Agent Elvis is crazy through and through anyway. Pointless, but wonderful. In the original, Matthew McConaughey voices the King, and he doesn’t try one bit to sound like Elvis. In this parallel universe, Elvis speaks like a Texas actor who loves bourbon so much that he makes his own.
Agent Elvis picks up the Manson gang, grumpily listens to his boss’s taunts, who gleefully points out that pretty much every musician besides him has been asked to perform at the Altamont concert, and everyone’s constantly picking on his chewy films. He counters the accusation that he has appropriated black culture with an interview that he actually gave. Towards the end he tries out the LSD he got from Leary with Priscilla while Paul McCartney gets off the TV. And his evil chimp is always with him. It’s fictitious, or not entirely fictitious, because the son-in-law, whom he never saw again, Michael Jackson, actually had one. One detail makes the company a bit crazier: the series was devised by John Eddie together with – Priscilla Presley. It certainly wasn’t always easy with the King, but she takes it with humor.
Agent Elvis, ten episodes, at Netflix.
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