West Wing - 10/30 - The Al Smith Dinner

Not as strong an episode as last week, but moved things forward to the live debate for next week.

AND DONNA’S BACK!!! Yea!!! I loved the ‘interview’ Josh was putting her through - not because of Josh doing it, but because of the answers Donna gave. He so deserves getting put in his place by her.

I like Louise a lot more (not that I never liked her.) That character seemes to be growing more with each episode. I think that this may be some of the best work Janeane Garofalo has done (and she’s done quite a bit.)

I can’t decide what my favorite line last night was. It was either Will telling the press that he’s not going to get back to them with some information, or it was Vinick’s last line just before the credits: “Who is {the name of the 527 group}, and why are they dragging abortion into my campaign?”

Great episode! I am looking forward to the live debate. It will be interesting to see the left and right view presented without the mud slinging. Well at least I hope thats what they aer going to do.

Dito on seeing Donna again! Any scene with her and Josh are always good.

Agreed on Donna and Josh together. I understand why they broke them up, sexual tension can only last so long before people tire of it, but it is good to see them back together again.

It seems that Santos and his wife are the only people on the show getting any at all. They do seem to make up for the apparant celibacy of the rest of the cast.

Good episode, but I’m more sticking around to see what the “new administration” is going to be like.

The thing that annoyed me most this episode… and not to be too snarky… but what was the deal with Janeane Garofalo’s eyebrows??? You’d think with the budget this show has they could afford a good make up person. They looked like Halloween Graucho Marx paste-ons.

Okay, I have a confession to make: I keep forgetting they move TWW to Sundays, and I keep missing the first half of episodes.

As a result, the first thing I saw last night was Louise reading magazines through what was supposed to be the debate negotiations. I gather this was part of some grand ruse (Josh didn’t seem to be benched or anything), but I don’t get what exactly they were trying to do. Get the public/media to more or less mandate a debate without the Santos campaign having to give up anything by way of negotiations?

Either way, really looking forward to next week’s episode!

I loved the callbacks to past episodes:

  • Will finding Toby’s ball and doing the bounce against the wall.

  • Vinick calling Donna “Tippi Hedren,” which she used to describe herself during “Life on Mars” when the bird kept stalking her.

I’m not so sure about this live episode. It really depends on how well Alda and Smits can ad-lib.

Janeane Garofalo had to lower expectations about Santos’s performance and get a debate deal done, so she intentionally blew up the debate negotiations with Bruno.

I enjoyed the episode, but I was totally baffled by Vinick’s motivation at the end. So let’s see, he agreed to:
(a) not attack Santos on partial birth (a win for Santos)
(b) run no negative ads at all (probably a win for Santos, as everyone seemed to agree that the Republicans had more money and were better at negative ads) (or at best, neutral)
© have a debate (a win for Santos)

What was his motivation? Just being an idealistic guy?

I hate to sound so shallow, but didn’t Donna look terrible? Okay, maybe not terrible (I like lanky, gaunt women), but at least different. Her face seemed all puffy and overly made up. Is she pregnant, or has she experienced some recent trauma (accident, surgery, etc.) in real life?

I think it was her hair. Too short, too bleached-out.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say this is the best episode in terms of presneting politics ever, at least as far as I’ve seen.

By showing us both sides, we got to see how special interests forced artificially into either side, and framed both reactions in as adversarial, even paranoid terms as possible, and made two principaled men almost get in a very messy fight over something they essentially agreed on, instead of debating over their many real differences.

Excellent indictment of the two-party system.

Speaking of hair, Margaret’s new haircut was very flattering, IMHO. And I really liked the rest of the episode, too, particularly Will: “I will now evade your questions.”

I’ll spot you the first two, but I think you’re wrong on the third.
Vinick is probably the best public speaker in the the world of The West Wing. Santos made a reference early in this episode of how everyone thinks he’d get waxed by Vinick in a debate. And Leo, when Vinick first announced he was running for president last season, told some great anecdotes about how he (Vinick) is in a room full of people. It is presumed that Vinick would be the odds-on favorite in any public debate between the two.

And if Vinick talks about Santo’s abortion views, he is going to have to answer the same questions. He even told Santos that it was silly for them to argue on the only point they agree upon. Vinick’s views are similar to Santos’s, and by publicly airing them, he risks enraging his more conservative voter base, a group he cannot get elected without (not that they would vote for Santos, but that they would just stay home on election day and not vote.)

Speaking of which, first he found it in the drawer and bounced it. The next time he came in the room, he found it on his desk, wrapped in a red ribbon - as if it were a gift from someone.

Did Toby get in there and tie the ribbon on the ball?

It wasn’t the next time he came in, it was after he’d gone through the feeding frenzy of the press for 3 days (or so) and had survived. I think it was from CJ.

My theory: If you remember, he bounced it the first time CJ came in before the first briefing & she looked unhappy/disappointed/uncomfortable about his using it. After he survived, she gave it back to him as an “atta boy”, to signify he fit in.

I could be wrong, of course, but that’s how I interpreted it.

I thought she looked bad too. And I’ve never like the Josh-Donna dynamic. I don’t see how he could have been more condescending and dismissive of her for the past several seasons. It is a sad fact that his saying to add her question to the poll was a watershed moment in their relationship. He owes her plenty, and I hope she doesn’t just roll over and fall for him all over again.

Mine was this exchange between Will and CJ:
Will: How can I go back in there?
CJ: Just follow your instincts.
Will: My instincts are to curl up in a ball and hide in my office.
CJ: Then follow your job description.

I may have missed it but I don’t think Martin Sheen appeared at all in this episode. True?

I think he did. Bartlet’s denunciation of him was not convincing, and I don’t think he’s really gone.

He’s Donna Moss gone, not Sam Seaborn gone.

I thought CJ did that. It followed nicely from her otherwise rather unflappably uncaring attitude toward Will’s plight. (And the scene followed the scene of her walking down the hall, sort of brushing him off.) I took it to mean that she was reassuring him that she cared and that she understood what he was going through. She has to say the official words, but she can use gestures to make a point. Besides, I don’t think Toby could possibly sneak back in the White House.

I noticed the whole ball thing while it was happening, but completely forgot about it after the show.

Oh, he is definitely persona non grata at the White House. And probably many other government buildings now. Except for a courthouse or two.