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I can try to be articulate. I can try to be witty. I can try to be
funny. All of these things are usually easy for me. I've never known
what it was like to be so attached to another world through a
television show, much less what it was like to feel so empty after it
was all said and done. This was, by immeasurable standards, the
greatest show on television.
The last episode started like any other. If anybody tuned in, not knowing it was the last, they likely wouldn't have noticed. The last ten minutes tied off the loose ends in an ominous, but casual way. I was able to hold myself together until the very last scene. I'm not going to spoil anything for anyone, but those who have followed the show and developed the same attachment to the characters that I have will also find themselves with watering eyes.
It is now Tuesday, roughly 36 hours after the show ended. It truly is an empty feeling. Anyone can identify with the show. Things about it hit so close to home because they are things that all of us have to deal with on a daily basis. It's not an emergency room, it's not a desert trench, and it's certainly not a plastic surgeon's office. It discusses real issues with real scenarios, and even more real (if not terrifying) resolutions.
But more than all of this it reminds all of us that the people we elect to office are only human. They make mistakes just like the rest of us. They are haunted by memories and demons just like we are, yet they keep on because they know more than anything that the minute details of their day to day doings affect millions.
There is a saying they are sure to throw around just enough that it is remembered.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." I'd vote for Jed Bartlet.
My only regret and disappointment on the finale was that NBC did not
pay the proper homage to this landmark show. A winner of three Emmy's
for Best Dramatic Show, and countless other Emmy statues for individual
and group excellence The West Wing showed us the inner workings,
frailties of character, and gut wrenching decisions that go on every
day. I am sure many Republicans and Conservatives are none too upset at
the end of this Democratic administration. I'm sure their collective
scorn reached epic heights when the underdog Democrat, Mathew Santos,
edged out stalwart Republican Senator Arnold Vinick in the general
election. However, an objective viewer such as myself found purity,
brilliance, hope, and yes...sometimes a different slant on things as
this show developed over the years.
I thought the writers showed remarkable restraint from doing the typical Hollywood ending which would have had us seeing Josh and Donna getting married, Charley and Zoe together, Will and Kate hand in hand, Sam in a reunion with Mallory etc. etc. etc. Realism won the day and for that I was glad. Even when Bartlett took his final goodbye walk through the staff he made it personal but dignified. There were no screams and tears, no excessive hugging, just stoic thanks to a staff that served him well for two terms.
What NBC did not do, and my only regret, was a show such as this deserved a two hour finale. As we all know a one hour show is but a mere 42-43 minutes and that was not a long enough goodbye. Many more things could have been embellished in the storyline with some flashback scenes thrown in for the characters there throughout. I would have also liked to have seen a small brief tribute to John Spencer for the style in which he brought two great NBC characters to the screen.(Leo McGarry & Tommy Mullaney-LA Law).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I agree with the other posts. This show was probably the most
impressive, intellectual, yet personal programming I've ever seen. It
was just too easy to escape into this fantasy world where our leaders
were smart, compassionate, and competent. Every one of them human,
every one of them with flaws. There truly was an emptiness in my life
when this show was over. I've since watched them all again on DVD, and
again, I feel this loss. I simply don't want that good feeling that I
got from watching this program end.
Completely shifting gears, there were a few things that I didn't like that I figured I'd mention for whomever wants to read it:
1. Lack of sex, and then BAM! This show was completely devoid of any sexual relations throughout. Then, in one episode, everyone's getting a piece. I don't know what happened here. Seriously, it all starts in one episode out of the blue.
2. That Kristen Chenoweth (sp?). Annoying. I think she's a good actress, so this isn't about her. It's about her character. I always suspended my skepticism about how everyone has a photographic memory and is extremely brilliant. Obviously we know the real world is filled with very few of these individuals. But I was able to "get past" this simply because the backgrounds of these people were either built up or left vague. Everyone was an ivy league grad who have been in politics for years, etc. Yet Kristen's character just showed up one day applying for an assistant job to the press secretary. No one had heard of her (they specifically wrote in that she was an unknown), so that means she had no history in politics. Yet, immediately, she's hired, gets an office, and she's coaching the "experts" in the show on how to do their jobs. Instant respect. Oh, and of course her character's brilliant. Call me crazy, but it always rubbed me the wrong way. That just doesn't happen. I thought her addition to the show needed a little more TLC.
3. Dule Hill's character (Charlie) is in the same boat as #2, except that he was there for a long time and I can easily cope with the fact that he's a smart kid who learns quickly. It might've been good to have him make more mistakes in the beginning or something.
4. Moira Kelly's character just disappeared. No one ever spoke of her again. I didn't read to find out what happened regarding her leaving the show, but it was as if they expected us to forget. And, to be honest, soon after you did forget. But they wrote in John Spencer's untimely death brilliantly, IMO. They should've just had her die at the assassination attempt or something. Whatever, I'm not a writer.
5. Season 5 kind of sucked. It had its moments, but we all know this was the first season without Sorkin. It really showed, IMO. However, I thought the last two seasons were beautifully executed, except that damn, short blonde (see #2).
6. No one could do anything about this, but... I wish the show had been on a channel where profanity was allowed. Call me stupid, but there is just something more realistic when people curse at each other. It happens in the more professional of offices, and the White House is no exception. Obviously, this is so minor I shouldn't have even mentioned it.
All in all, this show is the best I've ever seen (it's above MASH, even). Anyone whom I can get to watch this show, I lend out the DVDs (on a short leash). No one's been disappointed yet.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As the final minutes drew to a close on the series finale of this sensational drama, seasoned viewers were rewarded with images of our fictional friends entering their new lives, either outside the Barlet White House or within the Santos administration. With the death of Leo McGarry, the hallowed halls fell silent and memories of his quips put our hearts at ease. As Donna entered her new office, it was easy to see the reward of her years toiling inside her glass box come to fruition. And, as CJ Cregg, that lovable Chief-of-Staff who never really stopped being the Press Secretary, emerged from the White House and traversed its gates for the final time, we were told that it was time that we, too, turned the offices over to new faces and experienced the life we'd shut out for seven miraculous seasons. Goodbye my friends; thanks for the laughs, the tears and the memories. I will miss you all.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's 4 years after the last episode and I still watch the shows on DVD and Bravo. It's the only show I have on DVD (2 sets in case something happens to the 1st) + VHS. I watched this last episode at my folks house (it was their anniversary). It was a wonderful goodbye to an old fiend. I tried to keep it all together and I think I did a good job. But then I tried to explain to my mom the framed "Bartlet for America" napkin that Mallory gave wrapped to CJ for the President. I felt like Jerry Lewis singing at the end of the Telethons - I couldn't get it out (heck, I am welling up now). I stopped and tried again a few minutes later. Couldn't get through. I finally explained it to her a couple of days later. For those who don't know or remember, "Bartlet for America" was the 3rd season Christmas episode where through flashbacks we see how Leo convinced Gov. Bartlet to run with a simple napkin and message, and then later fell off the wagon. It referred to the previous Christmas episode through a story Leo told Josh and then Josh repeated to Leo to demonstrate pure loyalty and friendship. At the end of the episode President Bartlet gives Leo back the napkin, wrapped and framed. It moved Leo and me to tears and still does today. Now, fast forward to "Tomorrow". When Mallory gave the wrapped package o CJ all I could say was "No, it can't be." But, based upon it's size, it had to be. Then, when The now former President opened it on his return trip to New Hampshire, all was confirmed and a beautiful but simple gift had went full circle. Yes, I had problems with that Jan 20 reference, but I will give them a pass. The moment where Donna looks at her new office after working so hard for so long was worth the wait. And watching Josh sit down with the newly inaugurated President Santos was satisfying too. I wish I would have had some time to see the Santos administration in action. The artistry that went into this and every other episode was so expensive it will never happen again on network TV. You have just seen the best there ever was and the best there ever will be. "Moving" and "touching" does not begin to describe that last scene. Since then I have watched America's worst president mangle the English language that President Bartlet brought to new heights. I have listened to then candidate Obama raise a nation in pain with a speech in Denver that sounded just like President Bartlet - and then find out that it very well may have received help from Weest Wing writers.
I really enjoyed the sixth season of this show, mainly because it had
good things about it but partly because it was at least better than the
previous two seasons. The addition of Alda and Smits to the show really
helped freshen it up and I looked forward to it continuing into this
final season. This does mostly carry on as the first two-thirds of the
season is very much about the election campaign and as such it has
momentum and energy. It doesn't have grit or cynicism about it though
not even a hint - and this does hurt it somewhat, because it does feel
like such a fantasy and so very safe. I would have preferred more
comment, more insight and perhaps a hint of the reality of politics,
but instead it is all a dream.
As such it works for those viewers that enjoy the show for sure those that liked the previous seasons enough to keep going (or, like me, just put up with some of the weaknesses) will find plenty to like because it is a very safe pair of hands. The tone is worthy and the only time dirty politics come into it is really when the two sides fight who can do it last. As such it does seem unrealistic and it didn't have some of the edge that I enjoyed in the previous season. It gets even softer once the election is decided because it has an air of a reunion of old characters and of a farewell to the viewer. This is understandable at the end of seven seasons, but it really does feel very smug and satisfied with itself not as bad as that first season but still it wallows a lot.
The cast help it in particular Smits and Alda. Although they are simplified characters, their performances are really good and you do grow to like them both. For the "main" cast, Whitford and Janney lead the way and do well, but you do get the feeling that they were available while the others moved on and filmed several "pop-ins" in a week (eg Hill). Spencer gives a very good performance in one episode where he is preparing for a debate, and is solid otherwise. His loss during the season is not handled well at all not just plot-wise but how much the show lingers on it and becomes about it.
It is still a solid season though does what you expect, faults and all, and bows out with some grace even if it makes zero impact. Glossy and polished to the end, if you generally liked the show (as I did) then generally you'll like this season but otherwise it must be said it is a rather smug stroll to the finish line.
The first two seasons of this show were amazing, the third and fourth
not as good, but still fine.
And then Rob Lowe left, then Aaron Sorkin, and the show got so bloated by its own self importance it went downhill. It also had to deal with the sad loss of John Spencer late in the run too.
So where does that leave us for this final episode? Well, many of our favourite characters have been pushed to the sidelines, replaced by ones not half as likable, so as an audience we feel as lost as Charlie/Will do.
There are nice moments, but it just doesn't feel like the swashbuckling 'West Wing' that debuted seven seasons earlier. The fact that Toby doesn't appear also feels odd. I mean we get Rob Lowe back (for about two lines) but come on - it's Toby! We've come a long way since 'Two Cathedrals', arguably the show at its best. And sadly it's been a rocky rode.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the opening scene to the last episode of The West Wing, Mrs.
Bartlett asks the President who had the dumb idea of having an outdoor
event in January... meaning the Inauguration of the President-Elect
Matt Santos. The brilliant writing staff has President Bartlett answer:
"I don't know... Washington? Jefferson? Maybe Adams?"
This is coming from a President with an I.Q. in the 150 range. The problem is the Inauguration was always held on March the 4th, that is until they changed the law in 1933, when the Inauguration was changed to be on January the 20th, so that there could be a quicker change of office.
Back in 1789, they needed the extra time to make sure that ALL the votes across the country were counted, then delivered by horse, and then they needed to set up for the actual Electors to cast their ballots to finalize the Presidential Election.
In the heady days of 1933, telephones and telegraphs eliminated the need for all that extra time. Although Gore would have loved to get the 2000 Inauguration pushed back to March.
It was a REAL surprise to me, that this normally superior writing staff would make that kind of mistake.
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