Another goof: for the last couple years the primary foreign-policy concern of the Bartlet administration has been "Qumar," a fictional Arab/Muslim Middle Eastern country that's supposed to represent a hybrid of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia, an "ally" of the United States that nevertheless supports terrorism. As opposed to "24," which spent an entire season referring to a nuclear bomb plot by "three Middle Eastern countries" that were never named, Sorkin chose to make up a fake country.
On the premiere we finally see a map of Qumar, which is apparently carved out of southern Afghanistan and also borders Iran to the East. But Qumar has been referred to all along as "Arab country"- never mind that the "Arab World" ends at the Iran/Iraq border, and the people of neither Iran (Persian) nor Afghanistan (Pashtun and others) are Arabs. What ethnicity are people from Qumar? Qumarese? And what about Iraq- is Saddam Hussein still in power in "West Wing"'s universe? The paradoxes just boggle the mind...
Ever since the NBC-owned Bravo network (swelling in viewership due to the success of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy") began airing the early "West Wing" episodes nightly, the show has begun to suffer the same syndrome that befell "Seinfeld" in its later years- the perpetual airing of classic episodes has only served to make the current version of the show look weak. The difference is that the "Seinfeld" classics were 6 or 7 years old; the "West Wing" classics are 2 or 3 years old.
Regardless of whether Zoey Bartlet lives or dies, Martin Sheen will likely be back in power within weeks, and the great "Republican experiment" will have come to an end. Can "The West Wing" reclaim its former glory? I asked the same question this time last year and thus far the answer's been no.
Many supporters of Howard Dean have compared their candidate to Bartlet: both are liberal former governors of Northern New England states. And it's often been stated that "West Wing" will have to end in 2006, since that's when Bartlet's second term expires. But can the show last that long? At this point, two years from now I think we're more likely to see a President Dean than President Bartlet.