The West Wing (1999-2006)


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.

So when I write about the West Wing, I don’t recount all the events. For that there are plenty of resources like The West Wing Wikia or The West Wing Episode Guide.

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 reviews

The West Wing, Season 1

Episode 1: Pilot

Episode 2: Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc

Episode 3: A Proportional Response

Episode 4: Five Votes Down

Episode 5: The Crackpots and These Women

Episode 6: Mr. Willis of Ohio

Episode 7: The State Dinner

Episode 8: Enemies

Episode 9: The Short List

Episode 10: In Excelsis Deo

Episode 11: Lord John Marbury

Episode 12: He Shall, from Time to Time…

Episode 13: Take out the Trash Day

Episode 14: Take This Sabbath Day

Episode 15: Celestial Navigation

Episode 16: 20 Hours in LA

Episode 17: The White House Pro-Am

Episode 18: Six Meetings Before Lunch

Episode 19: Let Bartlet Be Bartlet

Episode 20: Mandatory Minimums

Episode 21: Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Episode 22: What Kind of Day Has It Been

The West Wing, Season 2

Episode 1: In the Shadow of Two Gunmen I

Episode 2: In the Shadow of Two Gunmen II

Episode 3: The Midterms

Episode 4: In This White House

Episode 5: And It’s Surely to Their Credit

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