Monday, January 12, 2009

The West Wing

This past weekend, Becky and I concluded our enjoyable quest that began over a year ago. Back in 2006, we decided that a nice Christmas present to one another would be a subscription to Netflix. For we believed that this medium would be a nice way to watch old TV series that we had never had the chance to see the first time around. Our schedules made renting discs full of episodes unfeasible, and we didn't want to commit to buying entire seasons of shows that we might decide weren't worth our time or money. And so we subscribed to Netflix with the full intent to try the West Wing.

What followed was a delightful viewing of what I consider to be the finest television drama ever produced. Many a wonderfully boring Friday night was spent at the Wolf household watching the adventures of the Jed Bartlett White House and those who made the fictional government go round. This past weekend, we watched the final episode of the series and with it a bit of sadness as characters we had come to know and love concluded their existence.

What made the show special was an ability to create fascinating characters and place them in unique settings. Furthermore, over an eight year Presidency, one would expect people to shift roles and have different responsibilities, which is exactly what the West Wing gives the viewer. For just the President stays in the same position throughout the entire series, and in the last episode only when a new President is inaugurated does the show conclude. The reworking of different people in different roles rejuvenated the show, keeping story lines fresh for the seven seasons the program aired. A few new characters entered the West Wing, and while none of them were as memorable as the original crew, they did a nice job of mixing in and relating to the old characters.

What I enjoyed most was the witty, quick moving banter. In a day and age of "lowest common denominator" humor trying to appeal to the masses, I greatly appreciated the effort to slip in intelligent comedy. Aaron Sorkin gets a good deal of the credit here as the West Wing was his brainchild. While I would have loved to have had Sorkin write the entire duration of the show, those seasons after his departure still had value if not a little off pace from the killer early shows.

The series finale was a nice mix of nostalgia, wrapping up story lines, and even a bit of drama as the President waits until the very closing seconds of his Presidency on whether to issue a Presidential pardon. I was pleased with the last West Wing effort, which given some other disappointing series finales, was something I feared might happen. But alas, I walk away from the West Wing pleased and satisfied, wishing the show would continue yet longer.

And so I say goodbye to President and Mrs. Barlett, Toby, Josh, Sam, CJ, Leo, Charlie (who had the best closing scene of them all), Donna, Mrs. Landingham, Santos, and Vinnick. May readers of Wolfden V find your adventurers as delightfully wonderful as I did.

1 comment:

JR said...


I think it's telling when you actually remember the NAME of an episode that sticks out so memorably, as "Two Cathedrals" does in one of the first couple seasons. Poor Mrs. Landingham.