The West Wing: Season 1, Episode 1

Pilot (22 Sep. 1999)

TV Episode  |  TV-14  |   |  Drama
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The West Wing staffers are introduced as each learns via phone or pager that the President was in a cycling accident. Josh faces the possible loss of his job after an on-air insult of a ... See full summary »



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:


The West Wing staffers are introduced as each learns via phone or pager that the President was in a cycling accident. Josh faces the possible loss of his job after an on-air insult of a political opponent, which Toby tries to prevent by having Josh make a personal apology. Sam's fling the previous night with Laurie, who unbeknownst to Sam is a call girl, puts him in hot water, which he compounds when ineptly lecturing a class of 4th-graders about the White House and then asking their teacher which child is Leo's daughter. Leo must deal with the fallout from Josh's blunder, as well as 137 Cuban refugees who escaped on rafts and are seeking asylum. The president walks in during Josh's apology, recites the First Commandment, and lambastes three Christian pols for not denouncing a fringe group.

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Release Date:

22 September 1999 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


During Josh's first scene in the pilot, the camera pans over his desk's in box, in which there is a copy of "George" magazine with Josh's (Bradley Whitford's) face on the cover. George was a real magazine, started in 1995 by John F. Kennedy Jr. and his business partner, Michael J. Berman. The magazine strove to cover politics in a celebrity- and popular culture-driven way; it folded in 2001, about a year and a half after Kennedy's death. See more »


In the pilot episode, Sam tells Mallory's class that the Roosevelt room is named after Franklin D Roosevelt. Mallory later corrects him stating that it is named after Theodore Roosevelt and pointing out the painting over the fireplace. In fact, while originally named for Teddy, Richard Nixon dedicated it to both Roosevelts, and the painting over the fireplace changes depending which party is in office, Teddy for the Republicans, FDR for the Democrats. This means that with Bartlet in office it should probably have been FDR's painting hanging there, although Bill Clinton did decide to keep Teddy's painting in place as he preferred it. See more »


John Van Dyke: If our children can buy pornography on any street corner for five dollars, isn't that too high a price to pay for free speech?
President Josiah Bartlet: No.
John Van Dyke: Really?
President Josiah Bartlet: On the other hand, I think that five dollars is too high a price to pay for pornography.
See more »


West Wing Main Title
Written by W.G. Snuffy Walden
Performed by Pete Anthony
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User Reviews

A typical day at The West Wing
23 January 2008 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

In this fairly light and fun introduction to The West Wing: Josh faces losing his job after offending Christians during an appearance on a talk show.

Leo must deal with 137 Cuban refugees who escaped on rafts and are seeking asylum.

Each character is introduced finding out on phone or pager about the President having a bicycle accident. This was a wonderful way of introducing the characters, it briefly shared some character traits and boasted a few nice looking sets.

The set of The West Wing was wonderfully put together and looked genuine. There is a long tracking shot through many rooms of the set and I was very impressed by their detail and that the rooms were all connected.

The character of Sam holds the episodes melodrama by accidentally sleeping with a call girl then telling unknowingly tells Leo's daughter about it. This may put his career on the line.

The pilot had a very upbeat and comedic tone. The dialogue was fast-paced and witty. The characters were interesting and they are the main reason I shall continue watching. The nature of the show allows them to deal with very serious subject matter which I am sure they will. This episode didn't delve into anything of great depth, but the light-hearted comedy was interesting enough. However, the great dialogue mixed with character-study and serious political subject matter is what I am hoping for.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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