West Wing 10/8

Since I haven’t seen a thread started on this one, I thought I might.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve heard complaints on about the WW’s change in tone and structure. To be honest, I didn’t really see it. There was a lot going on over the last two weeks and if the characters weren’t themselves I could chalk it up to the fact that the situation itself is so far out of the ordinary that of course the characters wouldn’t be themselves.
Any perceived slowdown in the action I felt was just to heighten the sense of drama within the episode.

But tonight’s change of pace just could not be denied. The episode moved slowly. Slow isn’t a criticism. What is a criticism is that the episode moved unnecessarily slowly and for a series built upon the frantic pace of the WW, this is extremely jarring.

I’m also distressed with the choices that the writers are making for the actors. First, let’s summarize the V.P. plot:
Democrats: We have a great person for VP. I think for the good of the country, you should confirm him.
Republicans: You know, we’re kinda thinking not.
Democrats: Curses! You have bested us.

That’s it? They didn’t even prepare for the possibility that the opposition wouldn’t accede to their wishes? Worse, the WW’s response was “well, no need to squabble, I guess we’d better pick one of your guys.”
Secondly, the First Lady’s attitude seems a bit bizzare. Yes, the President killed Abdul Sharif. No, he didn’t consult his wife about this.

  1. There’s no evidence that the people who kidnapped Zoey even knew about the President killing Abdul Sharif.
  2. How would these people have known anyway? Did the kidnappers attend the secret meetings about the downing of Abdul’s plane?
  3. The president has to, by the very nature of his job, make decisions every single hour of the day that piss people off enough to kill him, if they were so inclined. He can’t consult his wife about every single one.
  4. The First Lady knows this! She knows all about the nature of his job. She knows that there are random lunatics out there. How in the world can she blame Jed for this?

While I really, really, really do not want this to happen, I’m going to make a prediction now. The season finale in 2004 will be the First Lady telling the President she wants a divorce.
I just know this is where they’re going with this and I cannot even begin to describe how monumentally stupid this idea is.

So, um, yeah. That’s my review of the episode.

I’ve been a little bored by the last two episodes. There aren’t as many good moments and there are fewer standout lines or exchanges. With this ep I felt they were desperately trying to inject drama where there was little to work with.

If someone doesn’t mind explaining, what’s the history between Josh and that chick? Is their kissing supposed to be a big deal? I haven’t been watching the show long enough to know the histories of these characters, so I kinda regarded that makeout encounter in his office as a cliché <insert significant moment here> scene. It felt like that when the First Lady bitched at Leo, too. Was it, or is there something deeper I should know?

Man, I can’t believe that I totally forgot it was Wednesday yesterday. How’d that happen? I wasn’t even doing anything at 9 pm.

Was it any good?

AudreyK, Josh and ‘that chick’ (Amy?), go back to last season. She was working as the chief advisor for NOW, or some fictional group that represented NOW. He had a crush on her and was looking for a way to ask her out. Eventually they got pretty serious, kind of even living together. Somewhere in there, probably before they were dating but I don’t recall, she started working for the White House. Then there was an issue that she thought was really important but he perceived as politial suicide for the Dems. She tried to get it to pass and he trumped her, so they broke up. No idea on the Leo / Mrs. Bartlet thing.

I actually thought the writing was a bit better in this episode.

I was somewhat thrown by the timeline, when they mentioned they could celebrate the holiday. I said, “What holiday?” I’m still not sure it works:

Zoey graduated at the end of May from Georgetown and was kidnapped that night.

She spent three days missing before being rescued.

Say a week in the hospital, long enough to recover but not long enough for her bruises to fade.

That would make it what, early June? Why would they be getting ready for the 4th of July already?

I’m not sure either why Berryhill was not a good candidate. There was no scandal, no opinion pieces written 30 years ago in which he denied the right to privacy, etc. What was up with him?

It was nice to see Gary Cole, but I felt a bit uncomfortable at him listing his qualifications to the President. It seemed like he was begging.

I think Abby is being very unfair. She blames Jed, she blames Leo, but for crying out loud, she’s married to the President of the US. There are going to be some things he CANNOT discuss with her, and as the wife of a politician, she should know that.

I thought Amy was too cute sitting quietly staring at her watch for one minute. I guess Josh thought so too.

I want to see a conversation between Zoey and Charley. And why hasn’t she asked where Prince Smarming is?

I felt that the writers seemed to be at least trying to capture the rhythm and style of Sorkin’s dialog. That is encouraging. They still don’t have a handle on how he used to build the different plot threads over the course of an episode, though. Now, if they can stay away from the melodrama they might save themselves and the series. I’m not holding my breath, though.

ShibbOleth, the relationship actually started a year before that. She worked for NOW and she was fired (in part because of a West Wing policy shift that Amy didn’t anticipate). At the beginning of last season she was working as an advisor to a Democratic politician that, had he announced his intention to run for president, would have greatly reduced Bartlet’s chances at picking up key votes.

I think then she started doing independent consulting with another women’s group until she was hired by the First Lady to be her chief of staff early last spring.

Which brings us to last night, where apparently Amy is discovered to have phermones in her feet. I think that’s a key attribute to moving up in the political arena.

NBC needs to get on its hands and knees and beg Sorkin to come back, because last night sucked.
The first 2 weeks, I kept hearing “they’re using the weird camera angles and no talking to show that people are jarred and its a different time at the WH” ok. Maybe.

But what was the deal last night with the cameraman from hell? Yeah, Amy was cute waiting for a minute. But I didn’t need to see quick cuts from her feet to Josh’s knees and back. Why are they still doing it? Why did these formerly brilliant people who wouldn’t shut up stop talking? They stopped using words! They used to like the sounds of their own voices so much they’d comment on it themselves while talking over each other. Last night, they couldn’t finish sentences. What’s with that?

BTW, to add to the list of people they absolutely can’t write. Amy. They don’t get her at all.

It showed all the way through. It showed with the republicans - yes, they’ve always been the ‘enemy’ but there were very specific reasons they were the enemy. They were against raising the minimum wage, or they were against the gun bill, or they were for something that the staff was against. Last night, they were just ‘evil republicans.’ It showed in the VP final interview with cowboy boots guy - he sat there and asked for more face time…and asked for his own agenda. But didn’t say what the agenda was. Before Hoynes ever showed on screen, I knew that he cared about the ethanol tax credit, among other things. This guy? Colorado is a huge state…there are actual issues in Colorado. What does he stand for and why wouldn’t they tell us, and do they even know or understand why that might be interesting to the home viewer?

Abby is so ridiculous, it hurts to watch such stupidity.

But the 15 minutes of silence at the end of the episode… not to mention the significant pauses throughout (and did anyone else hear the soap opera minor key music when Zoe was packing).

Please, please, please bring him back? (This is the second drama that NBC is killing…boomtown isn’t that bad, I only had one season, and it was slow to build. But this? 4 years of good to great TV reduced to this… how could they possibly think this is even mediocre? much less adequate?)

As to Josh and Amy. She used to date his roommate/best friend in college. He definitely had a crush on her - but it’s more in the air as to how she felt about him… noticed him, definitely, but she was dating other guys. They met again and began making overtures to each other about a year and a half ago when she was at an organization that was supposed to remind us of NOW, but wasn’t actually NOW.

Please bring Sorkin back. Man alive, last night’s show was poor.

And am I the only one that was disappointed that they found Zoey so quickly? Is that really awful of me? John Goodman was deliciously awful, I would have liked to have seen more of him but it looks like they chickened out. They really could have gotten a few more good episodes out of him.

The dialogue has definitely suffered. About the timeline, though:

It was definitely the Fourth of July, hence the giant fireworks display at the end. However:

What the hell year is it? Pres. Bartlett referred to the signing of the Declaration as being “227 years ago.” That would put the date of the episode as July 4, 2003. But it can’t be 2003 in the universe of the West Wing, because it’s only the first year of Bartlett’s second term. It has to be either 2001 or 2005, unless the alternate history of the show is so different that presidential elections are two years off from the real world.

Maybe this is connected to all the trouble they’re having with the imaginary country of Qumar. Throwing in a whole imaginary country really damaged the verisimilitude of the show, I thought.

Still a good show, but not amazingly good, as it’s sometimes been.

I personally think the new writers have no idea how to write for women the way Sorkin did.

They are turning the First lady from a funny, intelligent and fromidable woman into a shrew.

Amy and Josh making out in the West Wing. Let’s throw these two characters professionalism right out the window.

(and that hand held camera work was dumb)

Then there is CJ.

Fisrt off she wasn’t in the show very much and looks like they are starting to write her off. CJ is a great character. She is smart, competent and sexy. She is well respected by her male co-workers. These new writers have no idea how to write her or any other woman with a brain that isn’t having sex with someone.

Oh and the first lady and daughter leaving town and not watching fireworks on the 4th of July was ridiculous.

Yes, the show is set two years off from our presidential cycle. It’s been like this from day one and is very deliberate so that they don’t have to suffer week by week comparisons to what is going on in the real world.

I also thought that this show was much better written than either the first two this season.

Of course, that only proves my utter contempt for the first two shows. Mediocre may be a higher level than execrable, but it still ain’t what I want for the (former) Best Show on Television.

There is no way on this or any other earth that the Republicans could dictate to a sitting Democratic president his choice of vice. (No, I won’t rephrase that.) Obviously, the writers have decided to make this a big issue and Bingo Bob (which name they still haven’t explained) a continuing annoying character.

And character is the big problem. The show used to be about issues, about the political process, about the unbelievably hard decisions required to run a country. So far this year the writing has ignored all this for soap opera versions of character clashing. And the characterization has been terrible.

It has to improve. Not just for the sake of all of us here, but simply because this will be the last season if this failure is dragged out interminably.

It has been well-established that presidential elections are two years off in the WW world. Bartlett was originally elected in 1998, and won re-election in 2002. IIRC, this was done intentionally so that the show could play out its election drama without conflicting with any real-life election drama.

I thought the first episode of this season ranked with the best West Wing episodes of all time, the second was so-so, and last night’s was pretty bad. But I haven’t lost faith; this is still one of my favorite shows. I’m only sad that Abby and Jed have hit such a rough patch. I love to watch Stockard and Martin together (I only started watching this show initially when I heard that Stockard would be appearing).

So now we know Josh has a foot fetish.

That was the point. Berryhill was too good a candidate. Everyone realized that making him VP was virtually a nomination to be the next Presidential candidate. That’s why Bartlett chose him and Berryhill accepted. That’s why the Republicans talked about giving the job to Walken and, when that failed, pushed for a non-entity who they felkt was defeatable. And that’s why the Democrat leadership wouldn’t support Berryhill - many of them want the job.

But it was unrealistic that Bartlett wouldn’t have fought for Berryhill. After this last crisis, everyone must see how important a good VP is. Especially for an ill president. I can’t see Bartlett meekly giving in and accepting a weak VP and giving the Republicans a major victory.

And let’s not forget poor Donna, who’s on the verge of disappearing. The writers are getting bad when Lili Tomlin has the best written female role.

And is everyone else annoyed with intern boy? The show like this shouldn’t have a comic relief character - it should get its comedy from believable actions of the real characters. But I suppose that would be harder to write, so they took the easy way out.

Joining the nitpick bandwagon:

Aside from the bomb threat, they mentioned the VFW Hall was too small for the overflow number of Arabs becoming citizens. Pres said to look into finding a gymnasium.

Suddenly, there they are - all, what, 25 of them? - sitting in a little room in the White House. Hell, you could have booked a suite at the Motel 6.

Perhaps someone is not looking at the continuity of this show anymore.

Agree: the best part of the show (for me) has always been the women. CJ, Amy, the first lady, Donna, Lily Tomlin … they’re all fantastic, and there are so few fantastic women characters on TV!

Bleh. Now it’s getting all soapy. I’m annoyed. I didn’t start watching until last year, and it looks like I’ve missed the best of it.

Am I the only one who was getting a weird CJ/Tobey vibe from this episode? Because, I swear to Ghod, I may have to stick a fork in my head if they go there.

Thanks, ShibbOleth and Ender, for the background.

Trion, I got a similar vibe, but I blamed that on the Toby-CJ scene having been after the makeout scene.

Abby is not upset with Jed for putting his family in harms way without consulting her. She’s upset with him for putting his family in harm’s way period. Which is still kind of an odd reason, but it’s not as bad as some people are making it out to be.

I did like when Bartlett comes out of his office: “You were supposed to interrupt after five minutes!” “It’s only been three minutes.”

I was kind of disappointed at the end, during the citizenship ceremony. I was all set for an eloquent speech from the President about being American or something, but all we got was the Pledge of Allegience.

Trion - I definitely got that, too. And I really hope not.

And dammit! I want more Charlie!!!