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 Zeigler), 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
The set is supposedly so realistic that Warner Brothers studio tour groups are not permitted inside the sound stages where the show is filmed due to White House security concerns. (Some exterior sets, including the South Portico, may be viewed on the tour.) See more »
Whenever President Barlett exits a limo, a secret service agent can be seen closing the door behind him. In actuality, the door is kept open to allow the president to re-enter quickly in case of an emergency. See more »
The special post-9/11 episode was broadcast without the regular opening credits. Instead, the episode began with the cast, out of character, speaking about the episode, followed by credits on a black screen. 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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