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
Janel Moloney was never supposed to be a regular. Co-star Bradley Whitford pointed out the obvious chemistry between the characters of Josh and Donna, and Aaron Sorkin agreed. Nevertheless, Moloney was credited as a guest star for the entire first season. The first time her name appears in the opening credits is in Episode 2.1 "In The Shadow of Two Gunmen, Part I." To the horror of her father, in particular, her last name was misspelled; this was subsequently corrected. 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 »
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 »
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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