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
After Aaron Sorkin and Rick Cleveland won an Emmy for writing the episode "In Excelsis Deo," only Sorkin spoke at the awards ceremony. Cleveland published an article in Writers Guild Magazine expressing his disappointment at not being allowed to speak because the homeless veteran aspect of the episode's plot was based on Cleveland's own father, who was a veteran who died a homeless alcoholic. Sorkin (writing under the user name "Benjamin," his real-life middle name) posted on the TV message board mightybigtv.com (later renamed televisionwithoutpity.com) that he had written most of the episode and had only given Cleveland a co-writing credit as a courtesy because Cleveland had worked on a previous draft that, according to Sorkin, bore no resemblance to the final shooting script. Sorkin also said that this was true of almost all of the _"The West Wing" (1999)_ scripts written up to that point (mid-2001), that he was the true and only writer of nearly all West Wing episodes, and the rest of the writing staff only helped him with research and "kick[ing] ideas around" - so he gave "them each a Story by credit on a rotating basis...by way of a gratuity." This internet posting attracted a great deal of mainstream press attention, which led Sorkin to post again, this time retracting his claim of exclusive writing credit. The "LemonLymon.com" subplot in the season 3 episode "The U.S. Poet Laureate" (in which Josh posts on a website dedicated to his fans and sees it come back to haunt him) is based on this series of events. See more »
Characters repeatedly refer to the lectern in the press briefing room as the podium. The podium is the raised platform on which the lectern and speakers stand. See more »
This is the finest show ever produced for TV. Each episode is a triumph. The casting, the writing, the timing are all second to none. This cast performs miracles.
The secret to this show is that it is, at heart, a comedy, even when tragic things are happening. That gives Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff et al. the room to work. And do they ever.
It works because it is deep, the characters are well-drawn. Early in the first season, CJ gets a root canal and walks around for the rest of the episode with cotton stuffed in her mouth, yelling things like" The Pwesident must be bweefed!" This has to be seen to be believed. It had me literally on the floor, laughing until I feared I would hurt myself. I don't know how many shows have tried cheap stunts like that and they are just that, cheap. On "The West Wing" it works because we know CJ, we know how unlike her, and yet like her, that moment is. And Toby's slow-burn reaction is pitch perfect.
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