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The West Wing - JHyde - 11-01-2010 06:09 AM

There seem to be a few of us on here who love this show so I thought it would be nice to have a special thread for it where we can discuss it exclusively.

Favourite episode? Favourite character?

I loved the idealism of this show, and saw Sorkin's writing as a continuation and bettering of what he'd started on Sports Night - also highly recommended. I still think the pilot of this show, and even the first season, weren't indicative of what the show could really produce at its best.

Season 3 is my favourite season, because I think it was the most consistent across the board, but it's a near thing. There were episodes and storylines right across the show that I loved. One of my absolute favourite episodes was Institutional Memory, a wonderful Debora Cahn script that was the penultimate episode of the series in 2006.

Did you think the show went downhill after Sorkin left? I'm actually of the opinion that the back third of season 4 was appalling and very disappointing given how excellent the first half was. But some of the worst episodes of the show were in those last 10 or so of season 4, so it would be unfair to say it was just down to Sorkin and Rob Lowe leaving the show.

What's interesting is that even though they're very different, I've always seen Spooks and The West Wing as having quite a lot in common. The close personal bonds developed while working with people who become your family. High pressure working environments. Admittedly one is very much in the public eye, while the other exists on the condition of anonymity, but they are also both about a fundamental commitment to public service, with all problems that come with it, financial and personal.

RE: The West Wing - Silktie - 11-01-2010 06:57 AM

I love you for creating this thread!

It's very hard to choose a favourite episode, there are so many great ones. But I would probably say the season 2 finale, Two Cathedrals, was the best episode. That scene of Bartlet in the cathedral cursing God in Latin was poetic, as was the final scenes with the Brothers in Arms song.

My favourite funny episode has to be Celestial Navigation, it was absolutely hilarious.

I loved all the main characters, but particularly Bartlet, Leo, Toby and CJ.

I also agree that there are parallels between this show and Spooks. One of the funniest quotes from West Wing for me is in the episode about the Cuban refugees, when Josh briefs Leo and it becomes clear they really don't have any good information:
Leo: "True or false - If I were to stand on high ground in Key West with a good pair of binoculars, I would be just as informed as I am now?"
Josh: "That is true."
Leo: "The intelligence budget is money well spent, isn't it?"
Big Grin

RE: The West Wing - JHyde - 11-01-2010 07:06 AM

I was tempted to start a thread purely for West Wing quotes, let alone the show.

I said on the TV thread that I wanted to be CJ growing up, she was easily the only woman on TV for a few years that you could point to and say "I want to be her." But I'm more like a cross between Toby and Bartlet, actually. I hated season 1 Bartlet, so annoying. In season 1, I love "He shall, from time to time" - that exquisite Toby line. "Government should be a place where people come together, where no-one gets left behind." Is it bad that I so identify with Harry and Toby who are both balding, middle aged men?

Two Cathedrals is a popular choice. I was watching that episode with relatively fresh eyes last week, and it works wonderfully. I especially love how those young versions of Landingham and Bartlet picked up on the mannerisms of their older version actors to make them authentic.

I have favourites from each season but will wait and see what other people say. I love the dynamic between Toby and CJ, it's very true of many friendships I have with close male friends, except they're not usually as sharp as Toby, and I don't have Allison Janney's legs. Nor am I quite as high an achiever.

Celestial Navigation is a great episode. Josh in that briefing just cracks me up. And Toby telling CJ not to say "Pwesident" or "bwiefing" - we could just talk West Wing alllllllll day.

RE: The West Wing - Silktie - 11-01-2010 07:15 AM

True! Not to mention the scene where they have to brief Bartlet on the disasters of the day:
Leo: "Mr President, we have experienced a few public relations, erm, what's the word..."
Toby: "Catastrophes."
Leo: "...INCIDENTS, while you were away."

Hahaha! I love Toby's gloomy outlook on life. And yes, I loved his friendship with CJ, those two played off each other really well.

As you can see, I have many, many West Wing quotes and will gladly share them with everyone on here. I'll try not to hog the thread, though. Smile

RE: The West Wing - JHyde - 11-01-2010 07:23 AM

I think the quotability of the show was one of the reasons it worked so well and garnered such a following. One of the things I love about Sorkin's writing is that he enjoys how words SOUND, and he works to make sure they trip off the tongue, and if they don't, there's a reason for it.

Such a great ensemble cast. The casting directors responsible also did The Sopranos two years earlier, and do the current casting on Mad Men, so they're pretty good track record wise.

"Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright." Sam, 20 Hours in America, Part II. Another excellent one from that is "First guy to miss has to shave his beard." Still makes me laugh. I adore Toby, and Richard Schiff has that wonderful, completely unique style of delivery. How the hell he wasn't nominated for another Emmy for the sixth season, let alone win another, I will never understand.

"How did nobody SEE THIS COMING?"
"Yeah Toby, I can't believe my psychic didn't tell me, but rest assured I'm gonna get my $20 back". (CJ)

RE: The West Wing - Tea Lady - 11-01-2010 10:11 AM

Hells Bells! I am digging my West Wing DVD's out now. I watched the entire series slowly over the last 3 years so need to refresh my brain to contribute.

RE: The West Wing - Silktie - 11-01-2010 11:28 AM

Yeah, me too. I haven't watched it in quite a while. What with the Spooks rewatch I'm a little pressed for time - maybe we should do an organised rewatch when the Spooks one is finished? In the meantime I'll dig out my favourite quotes once in a while.

I do think the quality decreased once Sorkin left, specifically the quality of dialogue, and series 5 is the worst in my opinion. They struggled to adapt to the loss of Sorkin and it showed in that series. It became better from series 6 onwards again, though.

RE: The West Wing - JHyde - 11-01-2010 12:27 PM

There are a few episodes at the back end of season 5 that I think are excellent, and amongst my favourite in the show. To be fair, given how controlling Sorkin was over the writing, it's wonder they picked up as well as they did at the beginning of season 5.

I think that would be fun after the Spooks rewatch. I'm watching West Wing in between moments at the moment as well.

RE: The West Wing - Tea Lady - 11-01-2010 09:46 PM

I don't know if I can name my favourite episodes but I can name my favourite scenes. Actually come to think of it, some episodes just seemed to plod along and then bang, you were hit by a scene that knocked your socks off.

I think that is true of what is probably my favourite scene overall which is at the end of "20 hours in America" - Season 4. Right at the end there is a university fire which kills 44. Bartlet gives a speech "the streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight" while "I Dont Like Monday's" is playing over sung by Tori Amos. It is such a beautiful and sad scene and the speech still gives me goose pimples.

This scene is followed by the following in no particular order:

- The State Dinner - Series 1 - where Bartlet stays at the radio to talk to the sailor injured in the storm. Such leadership.
- In Excelsis Deo - Series 1 - where Toby gets the Korean War Vet a military funeral. It was the right thing to do.
- Two Cathedrals - Series 2 - for the reasons already mentioned and Jed putting his hands in his pockets.
- Posse Comitatus - Series 3 - at the end where the secret service agent is shot and Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah is played over. Poor CJ.
- The Ticket - Series 7 - for the line "and if you think I dont miss you every day" - Josh to Donna. That line got me.
- 18th & Potomac - Series 2 - when Charlie gets off the phone and tells Leo that Mrs Landingham had been killed. That hit me like a truck (oops.) So cruel after her only two boys had been killed together in Vietnam.

As for favourite characters, that is difficult. I would probably find it easier to comment on who I didnt really like and that would be the First Lady and Josh's girlfriend who kept popping up later on in the series. She was such an argumentative men hating so and so.

I didnt really like series 7 but that was probably more to do with my favourite characters having less screen time and I knew this was going to be the last series.

RE: The West Wing - Silktie - 12-01-2010 05:42 AM

I love all those scenes you mentioned, too. They really used music extremely well, didn't they? What I like is that they didn't overdo it, making the impact when they actually did use songs so much greater.

I HATED Amy (Josh's girlfriend) too. She really was annoying and just didn't fit with Josh for me. Also, there was no real chemistry. I liked the First Lady, though.