Presidential advisers get their personal lives hopelessly tangled up with professional duties as they try to conduct the business of running a country. Fictional Democratic President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet suffers no fools, and that policy alienates many. He and his dedicated staffers struggle to balance the needs of the country with the political realities of Washington, D.C., working through two presidential terms that include countless scandals, threats and political scuffles, as well as the race to succeed Bartlet as the leader of the free world.Written by
Traditionally, during a Republican administration, a portrait of Theodore Roosevelt is hung in the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing of the White House and, during a Democratic administration, a portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt is hung there (the former Roosevelt being a Republican and the latter a Democrat). In the Roosevelt Room of the Bartlet White House, portraits of both Roosevelts are hung. See more »
At one point, National Security Advisor Nancy McNally makes a reference to "M2 Bradleys with 120 mm guns". In reality, M2 Bradleys are Infantry Fighting Vehicles and are armed with 25mm guns. This was most likely a mixup with the Main Battle Tank M1 Abrams, which is armed with a 120mm gun. See more »
Sen. Arnold Vinick:
[closing remarks at Republican Convention]
My commitment to strive to be worthy of the example of the great men who have gone before. Presidents walk in giant footsteps. They have magnificent legacies to uphold. I stand here on this day and put my name forth, as one who aspires to their example, who will daily make that sacrifice, who will honor not just the office, but the people that office serves. *Their* President of these United States of America.
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Episode titles are usually the first thing shown on screen (after recaps). This is one of the only American series to show episode titles before its opening credits. See more »
The first airing of the episode "20 Hours in America" contained a scene between President Bartlet and the First Lady in which they good-naturedly tease each other, calling each other Medea and Jackass. This scene was not included in subsequent reruns because of commercial limitations and was also not included on the DVD. See more »
I absolutely love this show. I can't really convey how much I like this show. To say that I think that it's the best show I've ever seen would not be exaggerating. For those who haven't seen it, The West Wing is about the administration of President Jeb Bartlett (D, NH). What makes this show special is an amazing combination of writing and a perfect ensemble cast.
Before I get into the detailed character rundown, let me say this: there is something common to all of these characters, something that is a large part of what makes this show great: All of these characters are extraordinarily intelligent (well, compared to the common person; maybe all White House staffers are like this), have incredible recall, and have wonderful senses of humor and timing. (Yes, I know. We can thank the writers for that. That's the point here, though, isn't it?)
Martin Sheen (playing President Bartlett) makes, in balance, quite the likeable President. I say "in balance" because there are times when you find him annoying or condescending. But, well, you'd kind of expect that of a President, no? He is brilliant, sarcastic, funny, and has a great dry sense of humor. He is, of course, compassionate (I mean, he's a Democrat, right?). He's been shot. His Vice President doesn't like him much. Oh yeah, and he also has MS.
Leo McGarry is the White House Chief of Staff. John Spencer seems to land a lot of these roles, probably because he's perfect for them. Looking at him, you just know he's a good authoritative man who's worked in the government in some capacity for most of his life. He's a solid man, one you can always run to, who will provide guidance and leadership. Sounds like a perfect Chief of Staff, doesn't it?
Leo's Deputy Chief is Josh Lyman, portrayed by Bradley Whitford. Josh is the... softest... person of the staff, in my assessment. That doesn't mean he's a wuss. It just means that he seems to lack the harder edges that most of the rest of the staff has. This doesn't diminish his passion or his dedication or his willingness to fight in the least. It's very hard to explain.
Toby Ziegler is the Communications Director, and is played by Richard Schiff. You might recognized Mr. Schiff as one of those "that guy" actors. This is by far his biggest role, and damn, he's good at it. Toby crafts the President's words, and is one of the major players in the White House staff. He is also the brooder of the staff. If there is something deeply troubling about which to worry and fret and develop angst, Toby's going to be the one to do it best.
Rob Lowe, making an impressive comeback from his unfortunate incident, makes a brilliant Sam Seaborn, Deputy Communications Director, Toby's second-in-command. In a cast of characters which all possess an impressive memory and ability for recall, Sam stands out. He has a near encyclopedic memory. He's also the geekiest character on the show, and I mean that in the endearing way.
Allison Janney plays CJ Cregg, the White House Press Secretary. She fills her role in the White House administration with an amazing amount of grace under pressure. (Trust me, in this administration, the White House Press Secretary is almost always under pressure.) I can't even begin imagining doing her job, much less doing it as well as she does. I'd fly off the handle about 9,000 times a day.
Dule Hill portrays Charlie Young, who is quite possibly my favorite character on the show. Charlie is President Bartlett's aide, and as such, doesn't have the impressive pedigree that the rest of the crew has. In fact, he showed up at the White House looking for a job as a courier when he got tossed upstairs. But, just because Charlie doesn't have a wall full of degrees, don't write him off. Charlie has expressed amazing integrity and fortitude, and regarding his intelligence... well, Sam was once so impressed by hints of Charlie's mental aptitude that he asked, "Charlie, just how smart are you?" (To which Charlie responded, "I got some game.")
Even the supporting characters are amazing. Emily Proctor plays Ainsley Hayes, the token Republican on staff. She's flighty, she talks a mile a minute, she's constantly flustered... and she's insanely intelligent, and she can outtalk Sam. Stockard Channing plays Mrs. Abigail Bartlett, the First Lady. Or perhaps I should say Dr. Abigail Bartlett. The First Lady's got some game of her own. Janel Maloney is Donna Moss, Josh Lyman's assistant. She's got a great sense of humor, and I keep hoping she and Josh will figure out they're supposed to be together (though, I'm also hoping they don't, you know?). Anna Deveare Smith (an amazing woman in real life) plays Nancy McNally, the National Security Advisor. She fills this historically male role with a wonderful competence. Joey Lucas, the primary political consultant used for polls, is beautifully portrayed by Marlee Matlin. Oh yeah! Oliver Platt as Oliver Babish, White House Counsel! Wonderful stuff.
Oh yeah, and the show itself. Wow. This show has tension and comedy and hints of romance, and tension and comedy and... And the writing. Genius. Check out some of the quotes. And really, just give the show a chance. The next time someone tells you that there's nothing worth watching on TV, you'll have a rebuttal.
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