There have been numerous suggestions that The Farnsworth Invention is anticipated as this season’s follow up to last season’s hugely successful (and critically acclaimed) Nixon/Frost, which, like ‘Farnsworth,’ tells a story of two opposing protagonists. Here’s a blog post from one viewer who saw the play through just such a prism:
The Farnsworth Invention also contains a conclusive "meeting" between Sarnoff and Farnsworth, but for me it lacked dramatic impact. Perhaps this is because Farnsworth is a scientist and lacks the Shakespearean bravado of a character of Nixon’s stature. If anything, Sarnoff might have the bravado but Azaria wisely soft pedals it, particularly when it might come off as gloating. What is clear is Sarnoff’s admiration and recognition of Farnsworth’s genius and his earth-shattering contribution to technology and communication.
Sarnoff admires Farnsworth, but that doesn’t stop him from robbing the inventor of his glory. As Sarnoff says alluding to when the Cossacks ran his family out of Russia, "I burned his house down before he could burn mine." (That quote is inexact, but pretty close.)
Actually, I think the (fictional) encounter between Sarnoff and Farnsworth is one of the more intriguing constructions of the play. But it doesn’t quite underscore the central drama of the whole story. Sarnoff tells Farnsworth “come to work for RCA.” And Farnsworth responds, “why, so you can tell me what to invent?” THAT, in my mind, is the central theme of the entire drama, but that’s really the only inference it gets.