When the erudite Democrat Josiah "Jed" Bartlet is elected U.S. president, he installs his administration. He places confidants from his electoral campaigns in the White House. Each of these people play a significant role in the Washington power game: the Chief of Staff (Leo McGarry), his deputy (Josh Lyman), Communications Director (Toby Ziegler), deputy (Sam Seaborn, and later, Will Bailey), and press secretary (CJ Cregg). Also in key positions are the assistants of each of the power players. We follow these people through many political battles, as well as some personal ones. Also playing roles are the First Lady (Abigail Bartlet), the President's daughters (Elizabeth, Eleanor, and Zoey), and the personal aide to the President (Charlie Young). All make this series, which supposedly follows the political events (often paraphrasing historical reality) almost day by day, more than merely a political soap. The demands of office on each character show the personal sacrifice and the ... Written by
In the DVD extras for season four, actors John Spencer and Stockard Channing both say that in the Abbey-Jed-Leo relationship dynamic, Abbey is (of course) Jed's wife and Leo is Jed's mistress. Spencer hastened to add that he meant "political mistress," but Channing did not qualify the assessment. See more »
First-season scenes shot on location in Washington D.C. show the Washington monument encased in the lighted scaffolding that was part of its renovation process. Aerial views of Washington shown in many of these same episodes (e.g., "Five Votes Down") do not show the scaffolding, indicating that these shots were taken from stock footage dating before the renovation. See more »
Would the White House care to comment on the expected contrast between the high degree of organization and discipline in the Republican Convention and the Democrats' anticipated free-for-all?
I believe the American people will be the beneficiaries, in that they will be presented with a clear choice: do they want to be governed by people who are animated, or animatronic?
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Episode titles are usually the first thing shown on screen (after recaps). This is one of the only American series to show episode titles before its opening credits. See more »
So much political reporting seems to be an attempt to fake a drama out of little material. I missed the West Wing when it started, but am catching up now, and find that it turns the specifics of politics into gripping human drama with a fast pace.
The camera seems to move as quickly as the people, following one conversation, then picking up another as two corridors intersect, and going off after that conversation instead. It's a remarkably effective dramatic device, that helps generate a sense of many topics, issues and personalities all being constantly on the move in response to events.
The acting is uniformly good, and often not on screen, Martin Sheen's president remains a constant presence shaping every story.
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