Cutthroat presidential advisers get their personal lives hopelessly tangled up with professional duties as they try to conduct the business of running a country. Fictional Democratic President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet suffers no fools, and that policy alienates many. He and his dedicated staffers struggle to balance the needs of the country with the political realities of Washington, D.C., working through two presidential terms that include countless scandals, threats and political scuffles, as well as the race to succeed Bartlet as the leader of the free world. Written by
Aaron Sorkin told Entertainment Weekly that the first actor he and the producers wanted to play President Bartlet was Sidney Poitier. That idea was abandoned when Poitier's fee was, in Thomas Schlamme's words, "very high", and John Wells was able to ascertain that Poitier was not interested when his manager asked Wells to stop calling. See more »
Several times characters refer to military hardware by incomplete names; for example: "AIM Sidewinder" missile instead of AIM-9 Sidewinder (as well as saying A-I-M rather than saying the word "aim"), "AH Apache" helicopter instead of AH-64 Apache. 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?
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 »
I couldn't get into the West Wing when it began its run. The people spoke too quickly, I didn't get most of the references, and where the heck were they powerwalking to? I just didn't get it. After an episode or two, I just forgot about it.
On a recent weekend, though, I heard the pilot was being broadcast and thought I'd give it a try. Watching this show from the beginning - and being able to see episodes over again - makes all the difference. This time, I realized that I wasn't *supposed* to understand what they were referring to right out of the gate; it would be explained before the episode ended. After watching the pilot, I also realized that unlike most TV shows, The West Wing episodes are visual manifestations of great books. Both force the viewer to ask questions, challenging simple answers, refusing to provide easy, fixed-in-60-minutes situations, and providing sudden, unexpected plot twists.
As excellent as the actor's performances are, it's the writing that makes the show so good. It doesn't shy away from moral ambiguity, it rarely takes the easy way out, and it compels you to believe in your government despite all the reasons it gives you to despair of it.
Some might think that only jingoistic supernationalists enjoy the West Wing, but neither of those words describe me. I feel very comfortable questioning the decisions my government makes, and I appreciate how the West Wing has broadened my understanding of how it operates. For that reason alone, it deserves the accolades it receives. It's one of the best shows in the history of television.
96 of 111 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?