The West Wing: Season 1, Episode 22

What Kind of Day Has It Been (17 May 2000)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama
8.9
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A stealth fighter is shot down over Iraq, leading to Bartlet ordering a military rescue as Toby worries about his brother trapped on a space shuttle orbiting the Earth. CJ deals with the ... See full summary »

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Title: What Kind of Day Has It Been (17 May 2000)

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Storyline

A stealth fighter is shot down over Iraq, leading to Bartlet ordering a military rescue as Toby worries about his brother trapped on a space shuttle orbiting the Earth. CJ deals with the ramifications of misleading the press about the rescue as the staff prepares for a town hall meeting that night. The town hall meeting goes well until the President leaves...and shots ring out. Written by timdalton007

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Drama

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17 May 2000 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

The last episode of the first season of all three of Aaron Sorkin's TV shows (The West Wing (1999), Sports Night (1998), and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006)) is entitled "What Kind of Day Has It Been?" See more »

Goofs

At the town hall meeting, President Bartlet claims that his great-grandfather's great-grandfather, Josiah Bartlett, signed the Declaration of Independence. His name is spelled differently from the character on the show, but it's common for names to shift slightly in spelling over so many generations. See more »

Quotes

President Josiah Bartlet: "We hold these truths to be self-evident," they said, "that all men are created equal." Strange as it may seem, that was the first time in history that anyone had ever bothered to write that down. Decisions are made by those who show up.
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Connections

References Sports Night: What Kind of Day Has It Been? (1999) See more »

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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 1: The flow, humor and content don't totally offset the constant sense of smug wish-fulfilment
13 October 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When this show arrived in the UK originally, Channel 4 picked it up and, just like they did with Oz, Homicide: LOTS and other shows, they managed to mess it up for anyone trying to watch it. This was in the days before I had multi-platform viewing, catch-up TV and of course the internet to turn to in order to never miss an episode; Channel 4, keen to support their digital channel, moved The West Wing over to that for its second or third season (I forget which) and suddenly it was a lot harder for me to see it, to the point that I never did keep up and didn't get back into it later when I did have more access. Anyway, I did like the show so I had it on a list of things I would like to catch up again, hence me watching the first season recently.

There is a common complaint about the West Wing and there is a reason it is common, because it is immediately evident – and that's the heavy liberal leaning of the show. Glancing at the message board for the show it is hard not to see the many, many comments either attacking it or defending it for this quality. Speaking as someone quite liberal, I have to say that the politics of the show didn't bother me at all – which is perhaps part of me agreeing with a lot of it but also part of me recognising that good drama is good drama regardless of what the writers believe. However, what my memory of the show had shielded from me was just how heavy handed it can be at times. The politics are not written around, they are delivered practically to camera as a lecture – all the time while the music and the soft cinematography assists in presenting it in a rather smug manner. I was surprised by just how clumsy it felt at times; there isn't always much intelligence behind it and there often isn't debate or clever presentation, it just clunks across the screen and it does it at least once in every single episode.

This hurt this first season for me because I remember it smarter and better than that but obviously I remember incorrectly. The silver lining of these very cloying smug moments is that it does rather concentrate it into these specific moments and the rest feels less smug as a result. This means we can have what I remember the show being good at – fast moving plots, snappy dialogue, humor and high energy. These qualities make the show work and they are complimented by some great camera work which matches the pace of the dialogue by moving so well around the corridors and offices; at one point in one episode I rewound to watch a tracking shot again just because of how technically impressive it was. The cast are a part of this energy too and they deal well with the wit and the dialogue even if none of them can do much with the sentimental mush they frequently get handed – most of them adopting either "steely determination" or "doe-eyed admiration" poses during them. When they have the material they can just about sell it as reality but otherwise it must be said they succumb to the mush.

The first season of this show has potential and I will return for the second on the basis of this, but it is hard to be blind to the weaknesses here. The liberal politics are fine for me, but it is their smug delivery without intelligence or context that is the issue. The pace, energy, wit and flow of the season all help but none of it can totally overcome these moments, which is a shame. Hopefully the next seasons sees more conflict in ideas, more complexity, more intelligence and less smug self-satisfaction in the writing.


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