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The West Wing

The West Wing is an American television show that ran from 1999-2006, created by Aaron Sorkin. The show takes its name from the area of The White House that includes the Oval Office and the offices of other senior officials in a presidential administration.

The West Wing ran seven seasons and centered on the fictitious administration of Josiah "Jed" Bartlet, a liberal Democrat who hailed from the state of New Hampshire. Bartlet runs for office at the urging of his good friend, Leo McGarry, played by John Spencer. In addition to McGarry as Chief of Staff, Bartlet is assisted by Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Lyman (Bradley Whitford), Communications Director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff), and Press Secretary C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney).

In later seasons of the show, Janney becomes Bartlet's Chief of Staff. Rob Lowe played Sam Seaborn, Deputy Communications Director for the first three plus seasons of the show. He is written off the show when he unsuccessfully runs for Congress in the fourth season. Lowe's Seaborn returns for a few episodes at the end of the seventh and final season. McGarry later serves as Bartlet's Chief of Staff and even runs for Vice President in the show's seventh season, a season that centers around the campaign to replace Bartlet.

The show was nominated for and won several Emmy Awards.

About Josh Hathaway

The West Wing

We watched The West Wing last night. While I found the episode fairly compelling and touching, I found a lot to be desired about it.

I didn’t like how it focused solely on one character and her personal struggles. I really hope this isn’t going to develop into a pattern.

Then there was how they had the character of C.J. Craig dealing with her father, an early stage Alzheimer’s Disease sufferer. Her character didn’t come across as compassionate and concerned, except in how it directly influenced her. At times, she showed flashes of compassion and concern, but overall I found her distant and self-absorbed. I know this is how coping begins, but it still struck a nerve with me. I know that it’s tough to deal with family matters when you are in a position of authority. However, she (the character) is an only child and her mother is dead. The father has remarried, but the wife was scared and left him, so it would leave C.J. to deal with this. I think the writers could have done a better job of having her deal realistically with it. She basically makes it a pitstop on her run back to Washington. In the middle of a speech, she recieves a call from The White House and ANSWERS IT (c’mon… who would answer a phone call in the middle of delivering a speech?) and is jetting back to Washington in like 5 minutes, without even finishing the speech.

The actor who played the father was superb. Alzeheimer’s isn’t an easy disease to portray on TV, and there are some who can do it and some who can’t. He was one of the former.

At one point in the show, they showed Toby doing a press conference and floundering like a fish out of water. I would think that the communications director of The White House could deliver a daily briefing, but hey, I didn’t write the show. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the White House have assistant press secretaries or briefers or something like that? You know, people who deal with minor press conferences and fill in for the press secretary when he/she has to do something else (like take a day off, go home for a week, etc.). Toby is the communications director, would he really be “filling in” for the press secretary when she has to do something else, espcially if he can’t deliver a press conference.

I was offended that they had an incessant need to wrap everything up in the one episode. I would have written it so C.J. dealt with it better and different. I would have had her take a week or two to make arrangements, set him up where he could be taken care of, etc. In other words, actually deal with the problem and set him up with a caretaker who could deal better with the situation. From a personal perspective, I wouldn’t necessarily have dealt with it that way, but C.J. is the press secretary for the President of the United States, so her character would probably not run to take care of him personally, this I understand. I don’t want them to write a show from my perspective, but I do want to see it done better.

This show has been my favorite since I saw the first episode and I have seen every episode since. If I can’t watch it, I tape it and watch it later in the week. This has to be the worst done episode I’ve seen of this show so far. I expect a little more from this show, especially when dealing with a subject as heavy-duty as Alzheimer’s.

While I’m criticizing the show, I’ll throw a random question out there. How come the first season of the series has been released on DVD in the U.K. and not the U.S.?

About Jim Schwab

  • http://www.resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    I like last night’s West Wing because it spared me the civics lesson. As a Canadian, the structure and procedures of ‘murrican gummit is a mystery, and I want it to stay that way.

    What’s interesting is that Allison Janney (my teevee girlfriend), Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe are all from Dayton. I emailed a friend who lives there, and he told me that.

  • http://www.oakhaus.blogspot Bill Sherman

    Moment in the show that reminded us Allison Janney was Some Actress: she’s standing in the fishing stream with her father (Donald Moffat), who suddenly has a major attack of dementia – the looks that go across C.J.’s face (horror, concern, what-am-I-gonna-do?) were devastatingly real, as was the little moment when she slips as she moves toward him.

  • http://www.resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    My definining Allison Janney role is as the wife in American Beauty. She is so submerged in the role, I didn’t even recognize her on The West Wing as the same person.

    However, it is as CJ Cregg, she became my teevee girlfriend.

  • http://www.greeblie.com/jimspot/ Jim S

    Bill,

    that entire scene was the saving grace for the show. Allison played it superbly and the actor playing her father (I forgot his name… sorry….) was incredible. He must have taken dementia lessons from Alan Alda. Did you see him play an early-stage alzheimer’s doctor on ER? He was incredible.

  • Joe Blow

    The reason why the “Season 1: West Wing DVD” has been released in the UK and not in the US is probably just marketing. With the Europeans being ardent socialists, they are more willing to pay for a socialist propoganda dvd than the average American.

  • http://www.resonation.ca Chubby Pecker

    A British friend of mine, in my punk rock years in the late 70s, remarked that nothing seems to piss off Americans more than calling them “cunts”. And Joe Blow, “ignorant cunt”, if the name fits, wear it. And if you go to work, is it a joe blow job?