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All Episodes Talk: Walk With Me


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Sorkin's political drama.

Watch it from the beginning and stayed til the end. Favorite season is 2 and loved the big block of cheese day episodes. Noel and In Excelsis Deo are my favorite Christmas episodes. Wasn't happy when Ginger and Bonnie seemed to disappeared and we got Rina and Ryan Pierce during season 5, but the highlight was The Supremes. It's still sad to rewatch Election Day: Part 1, Part 2 and Tomorrow. RIP John/Leo

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I watched the first four seasons, but really started to flag when I found out Rob Lowe was leaving. Once he did, and then Sorkin left at the end of season 4, I took a step back. And then never got around to watching any more episodes.

I think something that really bugged me was Bartlett's haranguing of Zoey back in season 1 about the dangers of being daughter to POTUS were acted out, almost exactly as he predicted. There was just something so schlocky about that.

Characters disappearing? That was a trait of the show as a whole. Mandy (who I didn't like), Ainsley (who I did), Mallory, Lily and others. Sorkin just seemed to forget about them, and it was quite frustrating.

Seasons 1 and 2 are still a high point in the history of television though, as far as I'm concerned.

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My all time favorite show!  I watch the whole series at least once a year, usually around Christmas, and watch sporadically throughout the year.  It wasn't the same once Sorkin left, but I still loved it.  It's hard to pick a favorite character, as I loved most of them, but I will go with Josh.  Leo, Toby, and President Barlett are right up there with him.  I couldn't stand Mandy, Kate, and sometimes Will.  

A few of my favorite episodes are: the Pilot, In the Shadow of Two Gunmen 1 & 2, In This Whitehouse, Noel, and Two Cathedrals.  Really, I could go on and on.  Oh and I still wish that President Bartlett was real!

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Well, 'ol Jethro is my fave, but of the non-Presidents, I gotta go with Josh. Then, Toby, Leo, Sam, and Donna. Was disturbed that they turned Leo into a warmonger in season 5. Not exactly the same guy from "A Proportional Response". I get the Israeli defense minister's plane getting shot down in season 4 affected Leo, but gloriosky, people!

A special thumbs-up to Fitz, Ron Butterfield, Nancy McNally, Mrs. L, and Margaret! NOBODY had a better bench than TWW!

Edited by Dave23
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Yeah, I'm at least a decade late but I'm binge-watching The West Wing for the first time.  (Thanks, Netflix.)  I'm in the midst of the third season and I freaking love it.  That being said, I hope the love lasts past Sorkin's departure.

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Season 5 is the worst of the 7 seasons. It's has its moments, but it's not nearly at the same level as the Sorkin Era. Unfortunately, John Wells and Alex Graves make it more like a political version of ER. Not nearly as subtle, clever, or rhythmic. A little overly dramatic at times. A certain scene with Josh and a building had me embarrassed for Bradley Whitford. Maybe the nadir of the series. That, or the epic fail of the CJ doc. Or the season 6 ep which had Leo going to Cuba. Yowza!

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Season 5 is the worst of the 7 seasons. It's has its moments, but it's not nearly at the same level as the Sorkin Era. Unfortunately, John Wells and Alex Graves make it more like a political version of ER. Not nearly as subtle, clever, or rhythmic. A little overly dramatic at times.

Thanks for confirming my concern.  It will help me temper my expectations.  I don't consider myself a Sorkin aficionado, but what I love about the series so far is the crisp dialog and the well-defined characters which as I understand it are the hallmarks of his work.  It manages to zing yet be sublime at the same time.  To achieve that is an amazing feat, but to maintain that level of quality throughout all seven seasons would be even more impressive.

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Ah, the show that drove me to become a politico (for a few years)!  It's tough because on the one hand, it is spectacular and inspiring in so many ways. 

But on the other, there were some serious problems:

Characters disappearing? That was a trait of the show as a whole. Mandy (who I didn't like), Ainsley (who I did), Mallory, Lily and others. Sorkin just seemed to forget about them, and it was quite frustrating.
 

note that Sorkin's wormhole to Mandyville fast-tracked female characters especially well.

I see it as layered in terms of quality: S1-2 are the juicy, delicious core, S3-4 are a bit chewy, but still have flavor, S5 gets stuck in your teeth, but you have to bear through it, S6-7 are for those who want the full experience (and J/D slowmance payoff).  The S4 debate episode is enough to get me to rewatch S3-4 and enjoy the flashbacks, but otherwise I'd be tempted to just stick with 1-2. 

The songs used always hit me in the feels too: "The Little Drummer Boy" (the only Christmas song I really like) from "In Excelsis Deo", "Brothers in Arms" from "Two Cathedrals" (which I still listen to while envisioning the montage of awesome), and "Hallelujah" from "Posse Comitatus".  Oof.

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note that Sorkin's wormhole to Mandyville fast-tracked female characters especially well.

 

Yes, it does seem to be the women who get neglected. I know Sorkin has received much criticism for the way he writes women, and I don't agree with a huge amount of it. I think he writes intelligent women well, for the most part. But I do think his writing shows a paternalistic attitude to women, through the way the men react to these intelligent women. And Mandyville is full of intelligent women that he seemed to get bored of.

Anyway, as to favourite characters? I loved all of them, but the softest spot in my heart is always for Sam Seaborn. The idealist, the one guy who wasn't jaded and caught up in the idea of winning at all costs. He believed, as so ably explained in 100,000 Airplanes, that government should be good and optimistic and hopeful. He got that optimism dented often enough, but it never broke. It's a shame he also disappeared to Mandyville (though I guess he got to hang out with Ainsley and Mallory... and Connie, when he got there). I know Rob Lowe left the show, but the rest of the cast immediately seemed to forget his very existence.

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It was too bad that Sam disappeared (but I admit to not being a big fan of Lowe's portrayal) because I recall Pres. Bartlet foreshadowing that Sam would be President someday.  One of many threads that fell through. 

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We did see Sam late in season 7, so he did manage to be rescued from Mandyville, as did Mallory and and Ainsley.

I never watched the episodes, but I read about them, and they all seemed like rather limp, too-little-too-late epitaphs for characters that I liked a lot. By the time season 4 was airing, I had realised that Sorkin had his favourites (and they were apparently the same favourites as the writers who took over), and was content to just sketch out the lives of the rest of the characters. Sadly, my favourites and Sorkin's really didn't match up.

Of all the main characters, I think Josh was the one who interested me the least, and his thing with Donna was something that I never cared about, beyond the fun aspect of their banter.

And luckily Mandy stayed where she belongs, as mayor of Mandyville.

 

This is one continuity lapse I was happy to forgive Sorkin for, because Mandy was a horrible, unnecessary character, right from the beginning. Huh... and she was a past/potential future love interest for Josh. Funny, that.

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I still love this show and watch it frequently!  In fact, I listened to it on the way to Blue Ridge this weekend--put it in the portable DVD player and closed the lid so I could listen but not watch (which you shouldn't do when you're driving 80 on I-85!)  Listened to Annabeth find Leo dead in his hotel room.  Kills me every time and I've watched it probably 30 times!

Sam is still my favorite character and Mandy?  Well, let's just say I didn't miss her at all once she was sucked into the woman-eating vortex of Mandyville!

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During or shortly after the heyday of The West Wing, I was watching something on PBS that Martin Sheen was narrating. I swear to you my first thought was "Wow, he's very eloquent for a politician." That's how much I wished Jed Bartlet was real.

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During or shortly after the heyday of The West Wing, I was watching something on PBS that Martin Sheen was narrating. I swear to you my first thought was "Wow, he's very eloquent for a politician." That's how much I wished Jed Bartlet was real.

I watched so much WW during GWB's presidency that when I saw him talking on the news, I'd think, "Who's that guy?"  I swear that I had somehow imprinted on Jed Bartlet.  I still perk up when I hear Martin Sheen narrate something; I expect him to start nerding out about economics or theology.

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A place to discuss particular episodes, arcs and moments from the show's run. Please remember this isn't a complete catch-all topic -- check out the forum for character topics and other places for show-related talk.

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(edited)
Yes, it does seem to be the women who get neglected. I know Sorkin has received much criticism for the way he writes women, and I don't agree with a huge amount of it. I think he writes intelligent women well, for the most part. But I do think his writing shows a paternalistic attitude to women, through the way the men react to these intelligent women. And Mandyville is full of intelligent women that he seemed to get bored of.

I have to disagree.  I think Sorkin gets credit for writing women intelligently based solely on the CJ character.  And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that he used Allison Janey for inspiration.  The character of Donna gets a much better handling under Wells than it does under Sorkin.  She was frequently pathetic.  Mandy was one note (shrill) and while I liked the character of Amy, Sorkin's inability to understand feminism was glaring in his writing of that role.  Zoey had no depth.  The only other two characters I think were handled well were Nancy and Abbey but really, Nancy's role as head of NSA made it almost impossible to write any way but competent and in charge and I think Stockard Channing brought nuances to Abbey's character that weren't necessarily on the page.  Plus, her chemistry with Sheen was perfect.  As for Ainsley, she was just the voice of the opposition so I don't know if we can judge that character.  We didn't really know much about her.  The main thing I want to do is jump into my television screen and show her Scalia's comment on how the 14th Amendment doesn't protect women against discrimination when she's arguing against the Equal Rights Amendment.

I will give Sorkin and Schlamme credit.  They knew how to cast.  A lot of the weak plotlines were saved by the acting.  There is a lot to like about The West Wing.  I was a big fan of the show.  But there were definitely weaknesses in the show and I believe the thread of sexism that is woven through Sorkin's writing is one of them.

Edited by mjforty
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I disagree.

I don't think CJ is the only example of intelligent women in his writing at all. On this show, other women were written as intelligent, but were not written as often. Mallory was intelligent, and I think Ainsley clearly was as well, even if she was there to be the voice of the opposition. Both of them knew what they were about and were always written as capable. Were they occasionally sources of humour? Sure. But I never saw any woman sit down where there was no chair or slip and fall over in a corridor, like Josh did.

Nancy was smart and capable, the Surgeon General was. Mrs. Landingham was a source of wisdom and sound advice and solid dependability, from start to finish. Abbey absolutely was intelligent, and I think she was written to be that way. Stockard Channing's performance was excellent, but I think the dialogue written for the character clearly showed her brains, her general competence and strength. There was also Jorja Fox's character in season 1, who was never anything but a bright, competent and effective Secret Service agent.

Donna was often pathetic under Sorkin? Yes, I agree with that. But she was his designated 'voice of the audience' giving him the opportunity to have characters explain things that the audience might not understand, like how tax rebates work and the different political viewpoints attached to them. But she wasn't a political operator. She fell into the job of Josh's assistant, and I don't think that Sorkin should have been obliged to write her in a way that would feel inauthentic to her background as a mid-western student with little to no prior interest in politics. She was still good at her job, though, even if she didn't understand a lot of the stuff Josh was dealing with.

And then when I look at Sorkin's other work, I see intelligent women. The Newsroom received criticism for many things, including the women, but they were intelligent. Sloan and Mackenzie, at least, and Leona Lansing. Again, were they sources of humour at times? Yep. But so were the men. Maggie was one character singled out, but it always seemed clear to me that Sorkin deliberately wrote her as in over her head and struggling to keep up, and highlighted that quite plainly when he had her promoted accidentally, prior to the pilot episode. Similar to Donna, in a lot of ways.

As I said, I don't think Sorkin's writing of the women themselves is sexist, but I do think that his writing of the way the men on his shows react to women is sexist. Perhaps that boils down to the same thing, but that's really a bigger discussion. I also think that he has less interest in writing intelligent women than he does in writing intelligent men, which is part of why CJ and Donna were the only regular cast members who were women (and part of that reason would also be that many more men than women do work in the White House) but again that's a bigger discussion.

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I got Jed too. I kind of thought I'd get Toby, but I suppose it was choosing Leo as a confidant that did it for me. But how could you choose anyone but Leo? He was an absolute rock of understanding and reliability?

I remember the first time I watched the "Five Votes Down" episode, I thought the opening scene was a bit ambitious, and remember thinking to myself, dang, I didn't see any cuts. Come to find out, it really was ambitious, longest uncut walk and talk scene of the series.

 

It's a very good scene, with several nice little jokes in it, and makes good use of all the characters. But it's not my favourite 'walk and talk' of the show. That would have to be "Holy interruptus, Batman!" from The Midterms.

It's just absolute perfection, both in the writing and in the performances, showing these characters all bouncing off one another, Sam, Toby and Leo all drifting into CJ's orbit as she makes her way through to the briefing room, and imparting important info while getting to have a little fun, CJ taking in everything they say without breaking stride. And then there's the bracing joke of the psychics at Cal Tech. Sorkin really knows how to craft scenes that put big, daft smiles on peoples faces.

And yeah, I'm pretty sure there are cuts in this one, but I still love it.

Edited by Danny Franks
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Ok Danny, that is pretty good.  Yeah, there were cuts, but I agree with you, it was great.  The sweet names she came up for each person that joined her world:

For Josh: Sweet Pal of Mine and then Mi Amoire

For Toby:  Yes Ma'am

For Leo:  Leopold

For Sam: Batman (you work alone?)

Pure GENIUS! 

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So a Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate is inviting his opponent to debate him in every Wisconsin county. If she doesn't accept, he plans to have someone in a chicken costume trail her at all campaign events. It would be clever if it hadn't already been done on The West Wing. Wait, maybe it wouldn't be clever ever. Oh, Wisconsin, what happened to you!

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Martin Sheen using his Jed Bartlett voice to argue against mandatory minimums:

I swear, he could use his Bartlett voice to suggest I try eating dirt and I would probably consider it.  #StillMyPresident

(we didn't have a "cast in other roles" thread yet - I can start one, but we need a good subtitle for it)

Edited by Zalyn
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I think I could use a rewatch sometime.  I'm going to come down off the current political news of the Nevada rancher dude and need a hit of something positive.  And I'm still not sure if I'm ready to handle House of Cards; everyone tells me I should try it, but it just feels like Evil West Wing and too evil for me to take now. I need some positivity. 

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This is my favorite show of all time.  I used to rewatch twice a year, in the background while I worked, but now I'm lucky if I manage it once a year.  I started college the year it premiered, in DC, and we were all glued to the TV.  My roommate got up early one day and happened to be down at the Vietnam Vet memorial when they were shooting down there.  They said "come back tomorrow and we'll put you in the background".  I never forgave her for not telling me - you can see her and 2 guys from down the hall reflected in the wall, and in the background when Toby's there to see the homeless man's body.

 

Season 5 is terrible, except for the Glenn Close ep.  It really does get good again in Seasons 6 and 7, but so many people didn't make it past Season 5.  It's far easier for me to pick the worst episode (the CJ documentary) than the best, but I do keep a running list each time I watch.  Favorite character has changed over time, but these days, it's Leo.  He reminds me of my father a bit.

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Season 5 is terrible, except for the Glenn Close ep.

 

I prefer to think that the whole season never happened and that Sorkin either wrote The Supremes and gave it to Debra Cahn or she was totally channeling him when she wrote it.

 

Least favorite is either Access or 90 Miles away or Isaac and Ismael.

 

Favorite is Bartlet for America, unless it is He Shall from Time to Time, but then again maybe it is Shibboleth ("It was made for my family by a silversmith named Paul Revere" always gets me), but I am always partial to Galileo, and then it is tough to beat In Excelsius Deo or....... This is like choosing among your children, 

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(edited)

Just started watching The West Wing for the first time a bit ago and I am just getting into the 6th season. I agree that the 5th wasn't the best by any means. Loved the first 3 seasons, hated Mandy, loved Ainsley. Josh and CJ are my favorite characters! I'm going to be so sad when im done with it I feel like these characters are my buddies!!! Haha

Edited by SiobhanJW
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Just started watching The West Wing for the first time a bit ago and I am just getting into the 6th season. I agree that the 5th wasn't the best by any means. Loved the first 3 seasons, hated Mandy, loved Ainsley. Josh and CJ are my favorite characters! I'm going to be so sad when im done with it I feel like these characters are my buddies!!! Haha

 

See that's when you just start watching again :)

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I have always wanted to watch the West Wing. As far as I can remember it was never on Australian TV, unless it was on really late and I did not know. What year did it start and finish. I have heard this show has some of the best writing on a TV Drama. Given that I have become totally disillusioned with Grey's Anatomy for years now and Scandal is starting to play out like another one of Shonda Rhime's soap operas, I am looking for quality drama to watch and I do love a good political drama. If anyone here has the time and inclination, I would love some background on the show. The creator's name Sorkin, sounds familiar to me as well so he must have had something to do with another show that I liked I am thinking. Anyway, thanks in advance. DQ

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You wont be sorry if you spend time watching this series.  It's awesome, all the way through.  Even with some major changes behind the scenes, and some slow spots during it's run, it all works out in the end.

 

1999-2006

 

Aaron Sorkin, author of things such as The American President, A Few Good Men, Sports Night, Studio 60 and The Social Network, to name just a few was the brains behind the writing for the first four seasons.  You have to love dialog to appreciate Aaron, his characters are fast and furious with the word games.

 

It's a show about The West Wing of the White House in America.  It focuses on the President and his aides, and how personal lives are affected via the decisions made inside the White House.

 

Someone else can fill in more...

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It's also available streaming on Netflix.  The show was specifically designed to be an ensemble cast (initially the President was supposed to be a relatively minor character, but Martin Sheen's performance was really too good to be denied), and the show generally sticks to that - all of the characters get generally equal play and there's a lot going on during each episode.  It's smart and well written and I agree with BigBuzz -- definitely worth the time.

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