The West Wing (1999–2006)
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The show is about the leadership of the USA government, and the immediate staff supporting the USA President. Capable, heroic, tough people every one.
They have to be.
The almost impossible job of leading and supervising the USA Federal Government is given to one man or woman every 4 years. That person must do his/ her job carefully and make no major mistakes.
The story of his immediate helpers is what West Wing (1999 - 2006) is all about.
Who are they? What are their problems? What is their background? What drives them? How to they relate to each other? When problems and disagreements regarding philosophy, policy, politics, interpersonal relations, morality, and self-interest occur, how are these problems/ disagreements resolved, how do they play out?
Big questions all, and the West Wing (1999 - 2006/ 115 episodes) takes 'em all on at high speed and with almost superhuman energy.
The portrait of the USA Federal Government leadership and high level leadership staff shown in West Wing is worth seeing, all 115 episodes of it.
Cost (in 2017) for a used Complete Set from Amazon.Com is roughly $70. A bargain price considering the quality and information benefits the show supplies, all done in a manner which is visually attractive and well done dramatically.
The USA Presidency has been centerstage in USA media at least since the USA Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is the biggest soap opera in the history of USA show business, which the USA Presidency has always emphatically been.
But its a soap opera important for all USA citizens to keep up with.
Get it, watch it, forgive its sortcomings. It takes on a problem of describing accurately the mysterious USA leadership system, democratic leadership which replaced aristocratic leadership in the 18th century for the first time in world history.
The USA government and leadership system is the longest continually operating democracy ("leadership and political decisions by nose count") in world history.
It continues into current (2017) times, and is in perpetual crisis. The West Wing (1999 - 2006/ 115 episodes) TV series gives an interesting and palatable, even optimistic examination of this crisis. No TV show or feature movie to date has done a better job with the important subject of how USA Federal Government leadership works, or what it faces. --------------------- Written by Tex Allen, SAG actor and movie historian. More about Tex Allen on IMDb.Com. 118 IMDb.Com movie reviews written to date (December 25, 2017). -----------------------------------
What makes this show so great is its amazing characters and fantastic chemistry between them. The show revolves around the lives of the people in the higher echelons of the White House Administration: the President of the United States, Jed Bartlet; the Chief of Staff, Leo McGary; the Deputy Chief of Staff, Josh Lyman; the Communications Director, Toby Ziegler; the Deputy Communications Director, Sam Seaborn; the Press Secretary, Carla Jean Cregg; and their respective aides.
Martin Sheen plays what is in my opinion the role of his live as Jed Barlet, the President of the United States. He is folksy and charming in a quintessentially American way. He's also brilliant, wise and competent, without being intoxicated with power. He can see the larger picture of life – we're are not put on this Earth to score points in silly pissing contests. We are here to make the most and the best we can with the gifts that God has given us. All of this means that he gives it all at his job in 16-hour shifts. And he does it with humility, respect and dedication to the office he holds. But he can also find the time to play a friendly tennis match against his staff. His doubles partner being Steffi Graf, of course :)
I'll leave it to the reader to discover the other characters of this show, but I assure you that all of them are equally charming in their own way.
Another strong point is the Bartlet Administration's approach to governing. It's so invigorating – especially in my day and age (2017) – to see the highest leadership in the country actually understand the gravitas of their function and tackling all the challenges of the office with professionalism and competency. By challenges I mean everything from the most seemingly mundane (the speech given at a Saturday special science program from the White House) to some of the most difficult of our time (education reform, gun control, world security, bipartisan cooperation, drug legislation and on and on).
There are also some not-so-nice aspects to this show, but these become bothersome only if you binge-watch episodes. If you watch the show in reasonable doses, none of these will matter much:
The main characters of this show are actually just one person, one mind – Aaron Sorkin. After you watch the show for a while and see how the main characters are always capable of continuing each other's ideas and speak with one mind you understand that they are actually just the splintered personality of Aaron Sorkin. At first, this makes them seem like an amazing team capable of near-telepathic communication. Unfortunately, in the long run, this starts to feel more and more like a monologue (a single train of thought from the writer) that lasts for the whole duration of an episode which just happens to have different parts of it spoken by different characters. It just doesn't feel like real people talking, and it shatters the illusion of the show.
Too many episodes have simplistic plots that end up being easily solved by someone taking an easy and obvious decision. These episodes follow this formula: "Something happens needs a response from the White House. There is a 'wrong' and a 'right' answer. But the 'right' answer has some straw-opposition. Some back-and-forth debating ensues. In the end, someone in the White House comes to their senses, gently pushes the straw-opposition aside, and takes the 'right' decision easily and without any further consequences". Episodes of this sort end up leaving the viewer with a strong feeling that the whole situation could been easily avoided and everything was just a waste of time.
I'm bringing this points up especially because there are episodes that actually put the characters in realistic and difficult situations, which require intelligence to solve and have lasting impact on the lives of those involved, and indirectly, on the Administration.
As a parting thought, I just like to say that is a unique show that was, is and will remain enjoyable and relevant for a very long time.
Now I am not about to claim to know I meaning of life because I do not believe there is one but! if there is one it would consist of this show, that is not to say I believe this show is the meaning of life.... how ever something is the meaning of life, I am just not sure what it is but I know it is something.... I think we can all come to the conclusion that politics may govern it but politics is not it so that being said, if, you, are, one of those who are currently searching for the meaning of life, I can confidently confirm that this show is not it. This show is no more than a joke which is what it is meant to be. That is respectable in its own right but we must ask ourselves is politics no more than a joke?
If so we both can complacently concede that life up until this point, as far as we know, is a joke.
I now on to the third season and I most certainly enjoyed the relationship CJ has with two turkeys and her passionate request for their pardon. On a more serious note I also enjoy the thought out themes that are certainly connected with reality.
Ainsley Hayes is also brilliant, I like her idiotic humble attitude which fails to mock Christianity while every guy in the house swoons over her. Often God is ignorantly but cunningly attacked by the intelligent wit of men like Bartlett and that to is curiously interesting.
However, to add a caveat, much of the series often seem more like liberal wish fulfillment than good storytelling. Josiah Bartlett is a Nobel laureate who never talks about economics and who speaks four languages. He, like many other characters on the show, seems more like a archetype generated by elements of the American left rather than a flesh-and-blood character. His neoconservative stripe is a nice reminder of the political culture of the early 2000s though.
The show's repeated attempts to make a right-winger part of the central group of characters are consistently failures, and its greatest success, Alan Alda's Arnold Vinick, is perhaps the most left-wing Republican presidential candidate in postwar American political history.
It is therefore a success, but not an unqualified one.
(I have watched this several times, most recently binging on it in April 2017)
With each military crisis or conflict, the entirety of U.S. history and complicity in anything ever is completely ignored. It might have been more M*A*S*H like in legacy if the writing had gone deeper, beyond refraining jingoist and imperialist lie after lie after myth after myth. For example in season three the Israel/ Palestine conflict is addressed with the same old tired b.s. as IF the IDF weren't regularly massacring Palestinians (to this day as well), as if the house demolitions weren't occurring (and ongoing to this day). When if any of the reality of the now 50+ years of illegal, brutal military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, if any of the actually occurring apartheid and ethnic cleansing had been addressed, this series would have seemed more real.
That's one example but you get the picture, same w/ crises on this show involving Mexico, Haiti, etc. anywhere the U.S. has undermined local economies to destroy the society and make other places mere colonies of U.S. empire....is painted in this series as "evil," etc.... quite shallow and very disappointing in this regard.
In comparison (and I suppose I compare it to M*A*S*H because the cast is great and the writing is good, etc. and it has to do w/ U.S. government/ military in a kind of dramatic way)....in comparison M*A*S*H (t.v. show; not the movie) although more of a "comedy," allowed for more reality to enter in. For example, addressing the jingoism of "Colonel Flag" and "Major Frank Burns," and addressing the hardships suffered by the local population as a result of U.S. military actions, even giving the "enemy" soldiers a very human face, addressing McCarthyism, etc.
The legacy of this series could have been more important. But now, it's on the historical shelves alongside pro-imperialist "rah-rah! USA!" type shows. Disappointing. For example season 3 episode 19 is so full of self-congratulatory jingoism that it strains credulity.
In addition to reoccurring racist appropriation and anti-African sentiments within the script. In fact, this show is racist af in many instances including C.J. getting "upset" over Affirmative Action (which by the way benefits we white women moreso than anyone else) and literally says her father was "passed over" b/c "less qualified Black women" got the jobs he was hoping to get. Just wow. How did someone actually think that was appropriate? Other examples of thinly veiled racism and anti-African sentiment occur throughout the series, but such things are fairly ubiquitous in U.S. television for the most part, so this series is no exception.
And I can't tell if the show about "crazy Zionists get upset that map from the 18th century didn't include the non-extant Israel" was satire or for real. Just amazing; literally an historical map is "banned" b/c it "doesn't recognize Israel" which didn't exist at that time. This show is really good at one thing: showing w/ accuracy how insidiously heinous liberals are, and how full of nonsense our notions about so- called "freedom" and "democracy" (i.e. killing innocents the globe over for centuries) are; and how this is sadly taught to each new generation.
Season 5, episode 21, "Gaza." The unapologetic Zionism and anti- Palestinian sentiment; forever painting the oppressed Palestinians as "terrorists" while abjectly ignoring the never-ending aerial bombardments upon the imprisoned people of Gaza, the illegal occupation of Gaza and the West Bank by Israel, the home demolitions, destruction of infrastructure, hospitals, fuel stations, water supply inflicted upon the Palestinian population by Israel and IDF. One character says flippantly: "Displaced? Palestinians moved what~ 15, 20 miles?" wow, yeah; and some to the sea and their death; and not "moved;" forcibly displaced, just wow re: the Nakba. And the other character says: "You know after 50 years, one option might be to 'get over it." Just effing wow, what the hell? Just "get over" the forcible displacement of an entire people from their homes; and the ongoing terror launched against them by IDF w/ U.S. funding? It's still going on; that's why you don't "get over it." And this episode centers its plot around the a white whitehouse aid who is injured, possibly killed in a car bombing; but devotes not one second to the massive and indiscriminate, deadly violence unleashed upon Gaza and the West bank decade, after decade, after decade, continuing during the airing of this show and up to the present day. This is just one example of the gross jingoism and white nationalism woven into each episode of this show. Again, I know, not surprising but it might have aimed higher, ala M*A*S*H.
I have to chime in on a few things. First of all, the show is, at least at times, mercilessly corny. Some of Martin Sheen's down-homesy speeches were tough to watch but there were moments of brilliance in the show's sermonizing. Some of the women actors are dreadful in my opinion and the romances were childish and seemed positively pre-pubescent. And would it have been asking to much to kill off the daughter early on? She is just so awful.
A friend of mine practically begged me to watch TWW during the nadir of the Bush administration. He said it's about the only thing that kept him sane, a fictitious account of a better America than the one we were inhabiting at the time. I somehow think that the Obama administration made the people on this enlightened program look average in comparison and an actual documentary of the Obama years would make great TV. Of course, as I write this we move into the surreal world of a Trump presidency and I shudder to think about the trolls that will fill his White House (or Trump Tower).
To all those who complain of the liberal slant to TWW: get over it. You guys do talk radio with blowhards like Rush and others while liberal make entertaining and intelligent TV programs like this one.
It's difficult to single out one episode or one cast member that shines best because the consistency of the show is unrivalled. Now it's almost common place to see film actors dip their toe into TV but back then it was unheard of. 'The West Wing' though had a cast of film actors bringing their A game, week in, week out.
In the first two (maybe three) seasons that is. Because after Sorkin left at the end of season four this show went downhill fast. The writing tried and failed to be Sorkin-esque, the characters became unlikeable and this made for a very poor fifth season. In my opinion it never truly recovered.
For two years though 'The West Wing' stood head and shoulders above everything else on TV.
It's fun and frolicsome. I can't think of another theatrical product about which I can simultaneously say that it was an enormous make-work program for talented artistic people, and that I'd not have it any other way. All the pieces fall into place, and you're swept along with the pageantry.
I can also see that the producers and directors had a prime directive: To maintain just enough aesthetic distancing so as to avoid an accusation of pedestalizing figures who are, after all, functionaries in a democratic republic--that is to say, doing the boring, plodding work of building, tweaking, and managing the systems that make it possible for folks to conduct their lives, and do it so well that folks are unencumbered by the intrusive shadow presences of the architects of those systems.
But, dammit, the story arcs and portrayals occasionally fly under my radar and niggle their ways into the tabernacle of my heart. And when that happens, I resent the producers for falling off that side of the tightrope and letting something like emotional propaganda leak out of the process.
But, in the end, it's my call. I decide how to metabolize the product. And I generally wind up a little smarter about the basic outline of real-world governance, and rather in awe of the vision, and its highly reticulated production, which produced such an amazing theatrical product.
Enjoy it. But watch yourself, in the process! Don't let it convince you for a second that you're watching The Lives of the Secular Saints!
Their always, talking, throwing their two cents worth on any topic to showing off their knowledge. It truly gets annoying. just be quite and work.
The press conference is a kiss ass fest of flaterry from the press secretary directed to the room full of reporters.
The Jewish characters are passionate speakers. As educated as they characterized to be they should know better that to think that passion has any weight in an argument. The character Toby is pompous and gets off when being in position of power. The character Josh is an younger immature version of Toby.
Lowe appears to be the only character with manners and decency to work in the white house. Even the president's character is an arrogant know it all with a Napolean complex. He and his wife forget their public servants and behave as though they were royalty. Leo is an angry miserable old man. Just looking at him will turn your mood.
The only realistic aspect of this show is the situation room. Its quick and brief although sometimes unnecessarily poetic. Everything else seems to be overly glorified, dramatized.
I get annoyed hearing the characters constant talking and walking back and forth. It's as though they like the sound of their voice or have a delusion of grandeur and doing so when walking only adds to fuels that false belief.
I can't watch more than 1 minute of this show sometimes. There constant talking annoys me. I think if America didn't have a class system everyone would agree on what needs to be done and no one would have a say in anything that needs to be done and that which needs to get done would get done without saying a word. It would certainly diffuse their discombobulated dynamic of walking and talking back and forth which feeds the characters narcissistic (with the exception of Lowe's character) personality and allows them to get their jollies.
In short, the show is annoying because the characters are annoying.
With outstanding performances from Martin Sheen and Bradley Whitford as Jed Bartlet and Josh Lymann the void left in season 7 by the untimely passing of John Spencer really carried the show over the finish line. The West Wing sets out to document two full presidential terms and does so with class and ease. Overcoming on screen and off screen trials and tribulation you're with the cast the whole way. If it's Jed Barlets MS or the very real passing of John Spencer you're there with the cast. You rise with them and you fall with them, the making of any good show is just that.
The West Wing is a real masterclass. Despite the rise and fall of Aaron Sorkins personal life throughout the West Wing it never lost its charm, its class or its wit. It is one of the few consistently good TV shows with arguably no bad season.
Sure, we would of all liked to see the next 8 years, the trials and tribulations of Josh Lymann, Donna Moss and President Santos but it ended perfectly. It was a happy ending for the characters, one that we were never sure was going to come.
Speaking of its politics, this has a reputation for being very left. Which is all well and good. But the person who turned me onto this was not at all liberal. Just saying.
Personally, I just love Martin Sheen as President Bartlet. The man's got the commanding presence and charisma oozing from his very pores. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want him in the real oval office.
Aaron Sorkin tries to write some nuance into the script but his partisanship is intoxicating. There is very little wiggle room outside his personal position and concluding moral judgement, which is why this entire series falls into the realms of political activism. Just what the big and small screen needed.....another activist.
What happened to the great writers? Chesterton, T.S Elliot, C.S Lewis, where metaphors and story were built on more equal landscapes and messaging was far more subtle? Nobody wants to be preached to and thats exactly what this entire series does.
The saving grace is the detail of the political process and and the white house decor and representations.
You will learn something while being entertained but you will also be brainwashed by a room of liberal- progressive Democrats trying to tell you they are right and you are wrong.
Having watched later into the series the pilot theme continues but with far more theological errors and left wing indulgences.
To be viewed but not to be trusted.
While many film-making errors abound, virtually none of the characters possess any semblance of charm. The president (boastfully played by Martin Sheen) is a bombastic know-it-all.... in other words, he's an annoying little sh*t. Flanking his constantly unprofessional demeanor is an ever-changing trio of arrogant blow-hards.
This little TV item drips with Hollywood liberalism (what else is new?) while stocked to the high ceilings with an incessant stream of anti-Republican propaganda.... with no rebuttal, of course.
View a couple of episodes, and when you decide it's for the democratic birds, you can tune out forever knowing that your interest shall not have died in vain.
The natural way those words come from those mouths gives believability to their story; it was common conversation regarding uncommon situations. Yet, at base, every situation dealt with universal problems we humans have. What made this a pleasure was watching these people react like we hope we would in similar situations; like we hope our leaders do in such situations. People giving for the common good, in spite of what it may cost them, because it's the right thing to do.
What saves TWW from being some strange morality play is that this pill is covered by a beautiful, melodic, positive candy coating. The words almost sing at times; Aaron Sorkin writes fast-paced, almost clipped, dialogue that leads inexorably word to word. Imagine "American Pie" (the song!) where you may not know all the words, but you like the way they fit together. Give it a couple episodes and you'll be fine or, do what I did, love Shakespeare first.
Much is made of Sorkin's writing,as much has been made of this cast. You don't hand out Emmys to a bunch of script readers. TWW, in 2000, won Emmys for Outstanding Art Direction for a Single Camera Series, Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series, Outstanding Cinematography for a Single Camera Series,Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series, Outstanding Main Title Theme Music, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, Outstanding Drama Series, and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series; they were nominated for Outstanding Costumes for a Series, Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a Series, Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a Series, Outstanding Main Title Design, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series,Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series, and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. How many others shows really needed to be there? In total, not just Emmys, 113 wins and 217 nominations.
So, when I say this is the best TV has ever produced, I'm not alone.
The actors have been both blessed and cursed by their participation in TWW. Whenever we see any of them in another show or movie, we turn and say, "Hey, it's Josh" or Sam, C.J.,Donna, whomever. They've become icons of a sort. In a few years they'll look different enough that we'll stop, but it's probably tough for them now. When a very prominent character really passed away, it felt like a friend passed. I tear up now just thinking about it.
In this review I tried to present a case for new viewers to give TWW a try; so I worked hard to keep anything remotely like a spoiler out. The review is purposely facile as a result, but every one I tried that included characters became a novella (tough way to find out there's a word limit). I did this because TWW is an important show for Americans to watch (everyone really, but especially Americans).
Sorkin is an unabashed idealist, an American idealist. His best writing comes in political situations; where he deals with morality in government. We see attributes of Washington, Lincoln, and Truman in Sorkin's characters; we hear words we pray our leaders say in real life. They question, they challenge, they know America is not a thing, but an idea that must be cherished every day because, in the end, it remains the last, best hope for mankind.
Much of the criticism towards it comes from it being ''too idealistic'' but I never really understood why people can't wrap their head around TWW being a fiction and understand it, not as pure realism, but as ''what it should (or could) be like''.
The show alienates many people right off the bat since it's a show about politics and alienates many of those who would stay for being a show about Democrats.
For me TWW was quite an experience to watch. Some get annoyed by the fast talking, I now have a hard time watching anything that lacks fast dialog. Some dislike its politics, I agree on many of the issues and can understand where and why my opinion differs when it does. The show can inspire and it can send shivers down your spine, it can be funny and it can bring emotions when it needs to.
The characters are fantastic, the idealistic and brilliant leader with strong morals, likable; his right hand man, best friend, brilliant politician, the one that keeps the whole thing from burning down, yet flawed, a recovering addict and alcoholic. Leo and the President have one of the best relationships on TV. Than there are Josh (my favorite character), CJ, Toby and Sam. CJ and Toby both deserve a few words, CJ as one of the women Sorkin did justice; Toby ... well he kind of reminds me of me a bit, except he's a lot more grumpy. In fact I saw myself quite frequently in him and Leo. Another relationship that deserves a mention is the Josh and Donna relationship, fantastic chemistry. Now Josh ... well what can I say, I simply loved almost every moment with his character. I won't really write about the rest of the ''original'' cast, suffice to say that Charlie, Dolores, Abbey, ... complimented the main cast very well.
There are also quite a few great side characters from the eccentric Brit Lord John Marbury to authoritative figure of Fitzwallace, from the sometimes misunderstood VP John Hoynes to the first daughters ...
Some of the later characters however ... Joshua Malina I liked, but mostly because of Sports Night. Kate Harper in my opinion was like a fish out of water, this new national security adviser didn't just replace the likes of Fitzwallace and McNally (both of who fitted into the show a lot better) but also butted into the time of the main cast (well she joined the main cast but hopefully you understand what I mean).Than there are also characters like Ryan Pierce, ... They did a good job with Vinnick and Santos though.
While TWW is my favorite show there are a few big blunders that happened throughout the 7 seasons (well, last 3 seasons really), imo the worst are: 1. the whole Camp David summit and especially Jed firing Leo, that was moronic and ofc Kate Harper just came too strong too fast; 2. the Toby Leak, Richard Schiff hated the story, as do I, it's painful to watch; 3. letting Lowe go; 4. the CJ promotion, great character but I never liked how they handled all this, from Leos hearth attack to CJ being promoted; 5. the Kidnapping of Zoey; 6. and the episodes that reduced the president to ... well, in short, the China trip
While the show changed after Sorkin left, I do think that they did a great job for the most part, especially the campaign in season 6 and 7.
The Downs are, for me, negligible, I love the dialog, the writing, the characters, the politics (I do actually like politics irl), I like how it represents high stakes (office of the most powerful man in the world), I love the walk and talk and I love every Sorkinism crammed into the show. I do however recognize that the show is not for everyone.
The characters are fantastic, both as individuals and in their chemistry with each other. The dialogue is fast-paced, witty and clever. The show deals with many important topics about the American political system as a whole and others of more global importance. It can leave you in a state of hysterical laughter or on the verge of tears. It was also not afraid to take chances such as in the live debate episode which consisted entirely of a presidential debate and did not feature a single original cast member.
It is not without its flaws however. There are some story lines which are built up as being huge events but simply fizzle out to nothing and one or two characters also seem to disappear almost without a trace. These are forgivable though. My biggest issue however is that for the final three seasons there are some significant changes to the shows cast and structure (most notably the loss of Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn) as well as changes to the writing staff including the loss of show creator Aaron Sorkin which meant the show was just not the same afterwords.
The first four seasons are pretty much perfect (high praise, I know) and had the show managed to maintain this standard to the end I would have easily rated 10/10. The final three seasons were still very good but the show had lost something. I would still however consider this as essential viewing and would recommend it to anyone!
The cast and its ensemble rapport are stunning and addictive. The roles are beautifully crafted by the actors and writers. The hopping pace, Mamet-like, is riveting and intelligent. That's the good stuff.
The problem I have with the show is its relentlessly pro-religious and superficially Liberal bias. It scans like propaganda much of the time. The political correctness of almost every episode is not only unrealistic. It borders on lock-step conformist bullying, wrapped in a subtle package of quips, winks and nods.
It does not surprise me that the Republicans rose to power throughout this show's popularity. Perhaps this is the subconscious balance of the popular mind when faced with dictated complacency in the face of a Centrist Liberal propaganda. Then there's the other thing: Martin Sheen is so much more George Bush than Al Gore in style and appearance. Who knows what effect that also had on the 2000 and 2004 elections?
The series started very inauspiciously. Season 1 had some interesting stories and insights into US politics but overly idealistic, preachy, folksy and smug. Production values are not great either: colours are always drab and the people seem to be perpetually working in dim light.
Things got better in Season 2. Much more pragmatic than S1, with better stories and better production values. Very powerful ending.
Still weighed down by being idealistic, smug, folksy and preachy, but these are toned down a bit in this season. Get rid of those, and Toby, and the show would have been fantastic.
Seasons 3 and 4 were the best of the first five seasons. The sanctimonious idealism was dialed down and the season was more about character-based and incident-based stories. Unfortunately, however, Toby was still there, and Sam Seaborn was replaced by the dingbat Will Bailey, second only to Toby in terms of irritation value. I only fully appreciated Sam once Will replaced him.
Season 5 was the season when the writers jumped the shark. Started well enough but it gets quite silly and overly preachy (again) towards the end.
Plus, they killed off one of the best and most likable characters in the series, Admiral Fitzwallace. If they had killed off Toby and Will Bailey instead, it would have been a great season.
In some ways Series 6 and 7 are the most interesting series. They bring the presidency full circle, as we see the campaigning for who is going to be the next president. Less smugness, less folksiness, less Toby, less Will - these are all very good things. We also have Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda acting out of their skins. Alda is so convincing and likable that, even though he is supposed to be the bad guy, you want to vote for him.
It's not all good, however. There are still the preachy, idealistic, naive detours. Plus, seeing a presidential campaign in action reminds me of all the reasons I hate politics: the superficiality, the appearances-are-everything conceit, the pandering to the media, the soundbites for the sake of it, the money spent (wasted), the back-stabbing, the horse-trading.
Plus, the whole campaign and succession seems to drag on and on. After a while, I couldn't wait for it to end.
But still it is how the way we see the inner workings of the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. As people that look to making the President look great. Despite his numbers or what have you.
It goes from the Communications to the Press Secretary and the valet to the President sort to speak. As it shows the President is not a one man show. As it seems to be a 24/7 job.
Great show that really was great in the early years. Plus an ensemble cast that does well. With the late John Spencer, Alison Janney, Bradley Whitford, and of course, Martin Sheen as the President.
I felt compelled to write this review after I saw the rating it was given on IMDb compared to some other titles, which I felt was grossly unfair. This is far and away the best TV i have ever seen, and quite possibly the best I will ever see. As good as Breaking Bad, Mad Men, House of Cards and The Newsroom are (some other favorites), the West Wing blows them out of the water with its incredible characters, acting and writing (no one in the known universe can match writer and creator Aaron Sorkin for his ability to create wit, pace and depth in his writing.) Admittedly I haven't seen popular titles such as Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, The Wire and The Sopranos, but it is hard to believe anything could top this.
Of course, it is important to understand that it isn't for everyone. The incredibly fast paced and witty back-and-forth dialogue may become irritating for some, especially those who like to sit down and not think too hard about what is happening on the screen in front of them. It is also very (intentionally) unrealistic. Aaron Sorkin has created a highly romanticized and optimistic view of working within the White House. You can rest assured it would be very different in reality, but that is far from the point. It is, after all, media: simply a representation of reality.
If you are considering watching this show, don't be put off by the entire premise. Yes, it is about politics and set within the white house, but this in no way makes it boring or nerdy. It is much, much more about the characters and the relationships between them. And, contrary to what you may think about a show about politic, it gets seriously INTENSE. If you've seen something like Breaking Bad, it gets even more intense than that does, no exaggeration (not as consistently, mind you.) Specifically the season 1 and two finale, but most of all season 4, episode 21 'Commencement'. The most intense, gripping episode of television I've ever watched. Oh yeah, that's the other thing. It's long. Really long. 42 minutes an episode. 22 episodes a season. 7 seasons. So you'll need a fair bit of time to finish it all. But trust me, once you start, you won't be able to stop (well, if it is your type of show - as i already said, it may well not be.)
Well, I think I've gone on long enough, but I just want to mention one more thing - the acting. Absolutely flawless on everyone's account. Martin Sheen is sublime as a slightly eccentric, heart-of-gold President Bartlett, Bradley Whitford is wonderful as an egotistical but lovable Josh Lyman, and Alison Janney (who won four Emmy's for acting in The West Wing) is incredible as talented, fun loving, adorable-yet-commanding C.J Cregg. I could go on for hours about the remarkable cast, but i'll leave it at three.
If you are still left in any doubt, head over to the wikipedia page of lists of awards received by the west wing. It holds a number of records, such as most Emmy's awarded to a show in its first season, most number of times awarded 'outstanding drama series' (4 times, and nominated 3), and most acting nominations by regular cast members. It also ranks 4th all time for total number of Emmy's awarded to a show. Yeah, this thing has been critically acclaimed to death.
Simply put, this show is the best thing to happen to T.V Go watch it. Then re-watch it. Then watch it again. It is seriously that good.