Links to reviews are below this introduction.
A personal favourite
In the early 2000s I didn’t watch much television, and missed all but one or two original run episodes of The West Wing.
Late in 2007 I was ill long enough to make it possible for me to watch all seven seasons consecutively in a matter of weeks. The whole thing became addictive, and remains to this day a close favourite. Perhaps the favourite.
I have seen the entire show again a few times since. A sustained attempt to write about it, though, has always eluded me. Until a Google Plus friend, Randy Resnick, suggested to me participation in a collection he was putting together on The West Wing. A Google Plus collection is a series of posts clipped together by a theme reflected in the collection title. The intention was for me to post my reviews to Google Plus, and for them to be then re-posted by Randy to his collection.
With 155 episodes over seven seasons, that seemed like a big commitment in January 2016, when I began cycling through the drama again. But it’s something I always had in mind as a writing project.
A note on my reviews
Journalism, the way I was taught it, is not the attempt presenting a chronology of neutral facts. In that light, writing reviews was never the attempt at summarising plot or mise en scènes. The way that most so-called reviews actually proceed.
To write meaningfully about events and entertainment you should be able to write about what the events mean in a particular context, and what the entertainments made you feel or think. The idea behind this is plainly old fashioned now: an educated, intelligent observer writing for an educated, intelligent audience, taking away nothing from that audience’s own experiences and perceptions, but offering an insight from a perspective that becomes a known quality over time, for those who disagree with the perspective as much as for those who agree.
What I focus on instead is what each episode meant to me, and why. Given that the show in question ended years ago, I also make an attempt to reconcile my initial impressions with my more recent thinking. For a television drama about politics that seems pretty appropriate.
The West Wing, Season 1
The West Wing, Season 2
Episode 6: The Lame Duck Congress
Episode 7: The Portland Trip
Episode 8: Shibboleth
Episode 9: Galileo
Episode 10: Noël
Episode 11: The Leadership Breakfast
Episode 12: The Drop In
Episode 13: Bartlet’s Third State of the Union
Episode 14: The War at Home
Episode 15: Ellie
Episode 16: Somebody’s Going to Emergency Somebody’s Going to Jail
Episode 17: The Stackhouse Filibuster
Episode 18: 17 People
Episode 19: Bad Moon Rising
Episode 20: The Fall’s Gonna Kill You
Episode 21: 18th and Potomac
Episode 22: Two Cathedrals
The West Wing, Season 3
Episode 1: Manchester I
Episode 2: Manchester II
Episode 3: Ways and Means
Episode 4: On the Day Before
Episode 5: War Crimes
Episode 6: Gone Quiet
Episode 7: The Indians in the Lobby
Episode 8: The Women of Qumar
Episode 9: Bartlet for America
Episode 10: H Con-172
Episode 11: 100,000 Airplanes
Episode 12: The Two Bartlets
Episode 13: Night Five
Episode 14: Hartsfield’s Landing
Episode 15: Dead Irish Writers
Episode 16: The US Poet Laureate
Episode 17: Stirred
Episode 18: Enemies Foreign and Domestic
Episode 19: The Black Vera Wang
Episode 20: We Killed Yamamoto
Episode 21: Posse Comitatus