The West Wing: Season 5, Episode 22

Memorial Day (19 May 2004)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama
8.1
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The President finds himself at odds with Leo, and the entire country, on his position regarding retaliation for the bombing in Gaza.

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Title: Memorial Day (19 May 2004)

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The President finds himself at odds with Leo, and the entire country, on his position regarding retaliation for the bombing in Gaza.

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Drama

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19 May 2004 (USA)  »

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Trivia

Filming the first pitch took place at a real Orioles game in April of that year, against the Toronto Blue Jays. The game had already been delayed over an hour due to rain, and was delayed approximately 20 minutes further by the multiple takes. The spectators were informed of filming minutes before it began, and were asked to cheer in each take as if cheering for the real President. Each take, Martin Sheen was introduced as "the President of the United States." See more »

Quotes

Charlie Young: [telling the President that he has to practice throwing a baseball with a bullet proof vest on before throwing the first pitch out at a baseball game] Sir, everyone agrees.
President Josiah Bartlet: Like who?
Charlie Young: Leo, Josh, CJ, your wife, the Notre Dame athletic department...
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West Wing Main Title
(uncredited)
Written by W.G. Snuffy Walden
Performed by Pete Anthony
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User Reviews

Season 5: Production values are too high for it to be "bad" but the season is aimless and doesn't seem to know what it is doing anymore (SPOILERS)
25 May 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I came into this season with season 4 still fresh in my mind. That season had seemed unsure of itself and there were several large threads that didn't really go anywhere but sort of lingered around while the show did a bit of this and a bit of that. The season finale had seemed like it was out of nowhere and a little bit desperate for attention and unfortunately this impression was only added to by the manner in which it is resolved. I had higher hopes – not so much for the kidnapping plot but for the conflict between the President and the Speaker, but all of this is pretty much done within the first few episodes. The speed in which it is done also made me feel like these plots were hollow and that they had only been intended as a tool to boost ratings at the end of the previous season and draw viewers back for the next. Zoey is found suddenly in a development that is explained by two lines of dialogue while, for all the political handwringing in episode 1, the Speaker moves on with no problems.

By the third episode everything is in the rearview – including the assassination of Shareef, which is a surprise to see that dropped since the previous season had made a big fuss out of what would happen if it ever came out, but in reality that is off the table very quickly. The only upside to this was that it made me think the season must have bigger plans if it is trying to clear the decks of so many plot threads; after all, season 4 was a little directionless so it would make sense to come back focused and stronger. Sadly this isn't the case and this season continues the trend of not really going anywhere in the grand scene of things. Many episodes could be watched out of order mainly because events in one episode (even large events) mostly seem to only exist in that episode with no lasting impact on plot or character; even things like Toby having twins is just forgotten apart from the odd scene where they get mentioned. It feels like the show doesn't really know what it is doing and unfortunately this also means that it sinks back a bit into easy liberalizing messaging too often. As with the season before, the finale seems to come out of nowhere and exist purely for the reason of trying to get people on the edge of their seats so they end the season with energy for the next one.

It doesn't become terrible though because the production standards are too high for that to happen. The episodes or chain of episodes are mostly quite engaging in an easy-to-watch type of way and there were no episodes I wanted to bail out on, but it just constantly sat on my mind about how much better it has been and could be. In this regard the cast are a mixed blessing. The main players are as good as they normally are even if their material isn't quite up to scratch. Janney, Whitford, Spencer, Sheen etc all deliver their moments well but you do feel they would have done more if the material was there. On the flipside of this the casting also smacks of "look at me, look at me" ratings grabbing thanks to the many, many guest stars. This is rarely a good sign and so it is here as Glenn Close, Matthew Perry and even the cast of Sesame Street appear to name a few – add to this the large number of supporting faces who have become more famous since and it is all very distracting while not adding much to the actual show.

The fifth season was pretty disappointing to me; it lacked a voice and a direction to the writing and it felt like it was trying to do what it had always done (walk and talk, slightly soapy plots, fast dialogue, good sets and locations) but without knowing how to do the foundation on which these things were originally done. I will continue the show, although if I am honest I am doing so a little bit because I have seasons 6 and 7 so may as well watch them; but I really hope that the quality picks up because this season and the one before were surprisingly aimless and offered very little reason to watch.


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