The West Wing - when does it get good?

Somehow I missed this show, but I’d seen folks talking about it here. After watching Studio 60, and liking a lot of its aspects, I thought we’d rent The West Wing. We’re through episode six or seven, and frankly it’s boring, silly, and even weirdly sexist.

So is this show just not my cup of tea, or did it really hit its stride after the point we’ve reached? I’ve read that Mandy disappears - I can see that being a turning point. But I don’t want to invest more time in this if this is representative of the series.


It starts getting good in the pilot. I think a better question is when does it STOP being good?

But chances are if you don’t like it yet, you’re not going to like it later.

I think Seasons One through Four are pretty uniformly fantastic, although in the first three or four episodes of the series everyone’s still finding their legs, Sorkin and Schlamme included. But yeah, I agree with Turek; if you don’t think it’s good now, you probably won’t.

I’ve just started watching it on Bravo, and was caught up immediately. I just wish they showed it every day, instead of 4 episodes on Monday. I’m thinking of going back in reading old CS threads about it.

I agree with everyone else who has said, if you’re not hooked now, you won’t be.

If the Big Block of Cheese episode doesn’t grab you, you’re not going to be a fan. It’s a shame, but to each his own. If you can make it to “Celestial Navigation” before giving up, though, I highly recommend it.

She does go away, which was a good thing to my mind. I started watching during the second season. When they showed reruns of the first season, I really couldn’t warm up to Mandy. I think that the series started to find its feet midway into the first season, and then kept the quality up for the next few years. Even though it started to lose a little steam after that, it was still better than 90% of whatever else was on television.

The first 2 seasons of West Wing contain several of the best episodes of any TV series I’ve ever seen, and the first of these is In Excelsis Deo, episode #10. So I’d suggest that you at least go that far. From that episode through the end of season 2 the quality is excellent. If you get into those episodes and you’re still not convinced, then the show is probably just not your cup of tea.

When does it stop being good?

When Aaron Sorkin gets busted for possession, Zoey gets kidnapped and found in the span of 72 hours, the President resigns temporarily and we get President John Goodman.

The first 3 seasons are, IMHO, the best dramatic television of the past 20 years.

MHO agrees with you, with the exception of The Wire. :slight_smile:

I’m catching up reading TwoP episodes. Two Cathedrals is the closest you can come to Shakespeare on network TV.

I’d say if you’ve watched The Crackpots and These Women and you still don’t like The West Wing, you’re never going to like it. There are better episodes in season 1, but if you didn’t like Crackpots, you’re not that likely to like them, either.

I watched the first few seasons when they first ran, but my husband never saw the show. We’ve been TiVoing them since Bravo started showing Season 1 a few weeks ago.

Warning: next Monday, Bravo is skipping showing the beginning of Season 2 and going straight to “Noel” and a couple of later episodes. When I saw that scheduling, I procured the full second season so my husband can see the somewhat important resolution to the first season’s cliffhanger ending instead of watching “Noel” and wondering what Josh is so upset about.

Anyway, the first season was great and the second season was the best. Like others have said, if you’re mid-way through Season 1 and don’t like it, I’m not sure you’re ever going to like it. In that case there’s definitely a problem with you, because the show was awesome. :wink:

I cry when I watch In Excelsis Deo.

But as others have said, Unauthorized Cinnamon, if you don’t like it so far - you probably won’t.

I particularly enjoyed the President making an entrance at the end of episode 1 (after Martin Sheen’s performance, they made his part much larger).
And the unusual twists in ‘Mr. Willis of Ohio’.

Thanks guys. I’m not trying to get up anyone’s nose, honest! I’m starting to think Sorkin works better for me in movie form. I love The American President, fully acknowledging it is a fluffy, dreamy, fairytale confection for liberals. But everyone is too noble for it to hold up for hours and hours for me. That and the civics lessons are just distracting to me. And I hated the “These Women” moment. So if that ep’s a high point, I think I will just move on to other things.

Still hanging in with Studio 60, even when it makes me crazy, if that makes any of you feel better. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m willing to accept that the “These Women” moment was a little schmaltzy, but I think it was entirely worth it for the corresponding Crackpots. :slight_smile:

0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 seconds into the pilot. Everything before that point is utter crap but serves to set up the remaining 4 seasons.

And there were no seasons 5-7. That was a vicious rumor. NBC abandoned the series when Sorkin left, and the kidnapping of Zoe plot was never resolved. Anyone who says differently is some sort of lunatic.

In Excelsis Deo is, IMHO, right up there as a contender for the best episode of any series. You will cry. Mr Willis of Ohio is also very good. An interesting one is the first one on the Season 2 DVDs.

Not everyone has to like it. I think it has it’s good points and it’s way better than most of the glop you get on network TV, but the way-too-fast-and-glib dialogue and constant stress and people taking themselves too seriously can be offputting.

But didn’t it bug you that right out of the gate they felt the need to set up a Krazy Kristian straw man to knock down? Granted, it did give Martin Sheen an awesome line to enter on, but it really pulled me out of the suspension of disbelief.

OK, I’ll shut up now!


Thanks, An Arky. Maybe part of the problem is I watch very little network TV, so my bar is way higher.

All right, I do watch *Bones * and Jericho, but I feel appropriately dirty afterward.

The ‘These Women’ moment is probably the lowpoint of that episode - but it’s a moment that’s very in keeping with the sentimental moments of the rest of the series. And the crackpot moments are very in keeping with the humour of the rest of the series. And the interaction between the cast members is very in keeping with the humour of the rest of the series. In short, I think it’s the earliest, best example of all the aspects of the West Wing. There are better ones, there are more emotional ones, there may even be funnier ones, but Crackpots is very representative, so if you don’t like it, it’s probably not for you.

If it helps, you’re not up my nose. I’d like everyone to like the things I like, since I like them, but hell, I had an entire conversation with people the other day who said that Everybody Loves Raymond is their favourite show on television. It’s not entirely obvious that they’re even aware that it’s no longer being made. As long as you don’t sink that low, I’m sure you’re fine.