The West Wing: Season 2, Episode 10

Noël (20 Dec. 2000)

TV Episode  |   |  Drama
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Ratings: 9.1/10 from 602 users  
Reviews: 1 user | 1 critic

Josh speaks to a psychiatrist about the events of the last three weeks: Toby hired musicians for the foyer, an Air Force pilot disobeyed orders, Yo-Yo Ma performed at the White House, and Josh managed to cut his hand quite badly.



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Title: Noël (20 Dec 2000)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Robbie Mosley (as Gregalan Williams)
Bobby (as Gary Cervantes)
Yo-Yo Ma


Leo orders Josh to speak to a trauma psychiatrist, who asks him to review the events of the last three weeks: Toby insisted on having live music in the foyer for Christmas, an Air Force pilot separated from his flight team without explanation, Yo-Yo Ma performed at the White House, and Josh managed to cut his hand quite badly. Also, C.J. looks into a report of a woman freaking out during a tour of the White House. Written by Murray Chapman

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Release Date:

20 December 2000 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The subplot about the lady who recognizes the painting, although fictional in its particulars, is based on truth in several ways. Bernard, the protocol officer, tells C. J. that the painting was painted by Gustave Caillebotte, who actually was a real nineteenth-century French painter (his most famous painting in an American museum is probably "Paris Street; Rainy Day," which is owned by the Art Institute of Chicago). The Nazi element of this storyline is also based in fact; many pieces of art that had been owned by Jewish families before World War II were looted by the Nazis before their owners had been sent off to concentration camps, as had happened to the lady's family in this episode. See more »


(at around 15 mins) President Bartlet says, "When I was in tenth grade, me and my friends took my father's Country Squire out on a joyride to Vermont." He should have said, " friends and I..." A man of Bartlet's education should not have made such an elementary mistake in English grammar. See more »


Leo McGarry: [after Josh finishes an intensive therapy session set up by Leo with a trauma therapist, Josh walks past Leo in a nearby hallway of the White House] How'd it go?
Josh Lyman: Did you wait around for me?
Leo McGarry: How'd it go?
Josh Lyman: He thinks I may have an eating disorder...
Leo McGarry: [bemused] Josh...
Josh Lyman: ...and a fear of rectangles. That's not weird, is it?
Josh Lyman: I didn't cut my hand on a glass. I broke a window in my apartment.
Leo McGarry: This guy's walking down a street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep, he can't get out. A doctor ...
See more »


Suite No. 1 for Cello
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performed by Yo-Yo Ma
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User Reviews

A powerful, passionate piece of work; The West Wing's most incredible episode
25 November 2009 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This is it, The West Wing's greatest episode. The previous year's Christmas episode, In Excelsis Deo, was great, and I think the first season is generally my favourite season, but Noël from season 2 outdoes every prior episode of the series. Noël is one of the best works of drama I've seen.

After What Kind of Day Has It Been, where the White House staff is shot at, there were complaints. Was it too cliché? Should a show that finds drama in politics and dialogue and its characters really resort to action? Well, if it was a misstep, this episode alone makes it well worth it. Noël isn't action; it explores the psychological aftermath of the shooting. It focuses on its characters.

As is common for the show, this episode makes very trivial things interesting and kind of funny; here we see the president wanting to sign his Christmas cards, which turns out to be an impossibility. Much of the episode is not trivial, however. Josh, who was hurt the worst in the shooting, is acting increasingly strange; yelling at the president is a dramatic high point of the episode. A pilot Josh was looking into has some parallels with Josh in ways more profound than that they shared the same birthday. This is a dark time for Josh. Luckily, the president and Leo are understanding bosses- Josh isn't the only standout character of the episode.

It's not just the characters and the writing that shine; the Christmas and music themes help the episode along; Josh associates the Christmas music with sirens. This Christmas may not be merry- but it is memorable and moving. 9.4/10

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