Season In Review: The West Wing (S1)

1×01 – Pilot

There are no ordinary events in the life of the nation’s Chief Executive. A minor bicycle mishap becomes a mini-crisis for his staff, while a remark Josh made on TV may get him bounced from his job.

  • This is definitely one of the shows on my list that I don’t know much about. Other than the show was created by Aaron Sorkin and it’s about politics, I didn’t know much of anything else about it.
  • And quite honestly I’m not interested in politics. I pay attention to them, but they usually just end up making me angry or sad. So I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the show, but with Sorkin’s classic dialogue and loveable characters I think I’m in safe hands.
  • I spent much of this episode learning which character is which, but by episode three I knew them all and by episode 9 or 10 I had already fallen in love with all of them, well except Mandy.
  • Speaking of Mandy, she is played by Moria Kelly who I know well from One Tree Hill.
  • I also wasn’t expecting the cast to be as star studded as it is, there are no weak links.
  • I enjoyed seeing all of them assemble with the word of the president being in a bicycling accident.
  • Also did people in 1999 not know that POTUS stood for President of the United States because Laurie thought that was just a name?
  • We hear POTUS so much recently it’s pretty much burned into my brain.
  • Speaking of which can you imagine any of our presidents being in a bicycling accident? We all would’ve had a good laugh at that no matter who the president was.
  • I like that we didn’t meet President Bartlet until toward the end of the episode, made him showing up the more impactful.
  • Aaron Sorkin based the character of Sam Seaborn on George Stephanopoulos, President Bill Clinton’s Communications Director and 1992 campaign adviser. – Yeah I can see that inspiration in Sam’s character.
  • Janel Moloney (Donna), appeared in another Sorkin TV show, Sports Night as Monica Brazelton from the wardrobe department. – Speaking of Sports Night, that show was my first introduction in Aaron Sorkin. Sad it got cancelled, it was a pretty good show.
  • The Lambs of God are based on a real life group “The Lambs of Christ”. – Of course they were.
  • The Press Briefing Room shown early in the pilot is a different set than the one used in subsequent episodes. – That happens a lot in pilots where the sets are different for the rest of the show.

1×02 – Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc

The President and the Vice-President may have been on the same ticket, but they’re not on the same page over a particular legislative bill. News of a terrorist attack comes to the White House.

  • If you are like me then you’re probably wondering what the f*ck does that title mean?
  • The title of this episode comes from the Latin expression post hoc, ergo propter hoc, a logic fallacy which President Bartlet references in the episode. – Well there you go.
  • Toby Ziegler: You accidentally slept with a prostitute?
  • Sam Seaborn: A call girl.
  • Toby Ziegler: Accidentally?
  • Sam Seaborn: Yes.
  • Toby Ziegler: I don’t understand. Did you trip over something? – I say this exact same thing when somebody on television show says they “accidentally” cheated. Great minds think alike.
  • Mandy’s character is written a little too crazy at least for the job she’s doing.
  • The episode did a good job at creating tension with the Vice President possibly going route and the Bartlet’s doctor being killed.

1×03 – A Proportional Response

C.J. strikes a deal that may save the staff from national political embarrassment. On the international front, an increasingly on-edge President weighs potential responses to the recent terrorist attack.

  • This takes the last episode’s conflict with Bartlet’s doctor’s plane being shot down to the forefront.
  • This is the most serious episode of the first three and it feels like the show has earn it.
  • Seeing both sides on the topic of what would be the proportional response to a plane full of doctors and nurses being shot down made the whole episode a interesting watch.
  • Aaron Sorkin’s (1995) movie The American President apparently deals with a similar plot with this episode.
  • A line from that movie includes “Someday someone’s going to have to explain to me the virtue of a proportional response”. That line is mirrored almost word for word by President Bartlet in this episode.
  • Bartlet says “What’s the virtue of the Proportional Response?”
  • This episode also introduces Charlie aka a young Dulè Hill pre-Psych.
  • Josh calls C.J. a “shiksa feminista”. “Shiksa” is a Yiddish word used to refer to a non-Jewish woman. “Feminista” is a slang word used to describe a modern feminist. – I was wondering what he meant by shiksa in their argument.

1×04 – Five Votes Down

When an admittedly weak gun-control bill the White House has been backing turns out to be five votes short of House passage, Josh makes deals and threats to several Democratic reps, while Leo appeals to Hoynes for help. Elsewhere, while working the bill, Leo misses his anniversary, which he tries in vain to atone for, but eventually his wife Jenny decides to leave him.

  • First episode with the focus on a legislative bill, but not the last. Not even the last of the season.
  • I like that the staff is working to get this bill, although it’s not even really what they want they’re still doing it because they know they have to.
  • This is the first episode that introduces Leo’s problems with alcohol (which plays a bigger role in later episodes) and his home life.
  • Though Leo is great at his job this means he’s neglecting his wife and even forgot their anniversary.
  • I wonder if any of the staff is going to ever be able to have a normal relationship without this being an issue, but I doubt it.
  • Leo: “Sausages are like laws. It’s better not to see them being made.” – What a perfect and true line.
  • This episode features one of the funniest scenes of this season with President Bartlet being high on his back pills.

1×05 – The Crackpots and These Women

Josh is troubled when he receives a special card informing him of where to go in the event of a nuclear attack — a privilege denied to most of his White House co-workers — while Leo instructs the senior staff to meet with various special interest groups, some of whom have wacky agendas. Prior to an important press conference, Toby voices strong opposition to many of President Bartlet’s plans for an upcoming California trip and later checks out the rumor that he was not the chief executive’s first choice for the job. The President, meanwhile, virtually orders his staff to sample his prized chili when he arranges a reception for his Georgetown-bound daughter Zoey.

  • Block of Chesse Day was just so fun to watch.
  • Seeing these characters have to deal with these crazy cases was endearing especially Sam with the UFO case.
  • We get some backstory on Josh this episode when we learned his sister died when they were both kids.
  • I audibly said “aww Josh” several times in this episode especially with the guilt he felt about being the only one of his friends having a NSC card. It was adorable.
  • As CJ said, Josh can be really sweet sometimes.
  • CJ: Number of people killed last year retrieving change from a vending machine: four. Number of people killed by a wolf attack: zero. – You know what I can believe that whatever that’s true or not.
  • A very young Elizabeth Moss plays Zoey, President Bartlet’s daughter.
  • Also Nick Offerman is in this episode too, just a fun lineup.
  • Aaron Sorkin got the idea for a story about the NSC card after George Stephanopoulos showed him his card. Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers assured Sorkin that the card didn’t exist, unaware that only certain people were issued one. – He sure did get a lot of inspiration from George Stephanopoulos.
  • So Block Of Chesse Days are real because of The West Wing…
  • On January 24, 2014, the Obama White House announced that in the spirit of both Andrew Jackson and the television program The West Wing, they would host a real version of the show’s “Big Block of Cheese Day,” in which White House officials would be available to answer questions from ordinary Americans (albeit online instead of in person, as the “cheese day” meetings were on the show). This announcement was kicked off by a video, posted on the White House’s official website, that featured West Wing stars Bradley Whitford and Joshua Malina and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. The first real Big Block of Cheese Day took place on Wednesday, January 29, 2014. On January 16, 2015, the White House announced that they would again be holding a Big Block of Cheese Day. This time, the video announcement (titled “Big Block of Cheese Day Is Back, and It’s Feta Than Ever”) featured White House Press secretary Josh Earnest and West Wing cast members Bradley Whitford, Joshua Malina, Mary McCormack, Dulé Hill, Richard Schiff, Allison Janney, and Martin Sheen. The video described the event as “like Reddit, but without the weird stuff.” – How f*cking COOL is that!?!

1×06 – Mr. Willis of Ohio

Toby and Mandy work to convince some Congressmen—including Mr. Willis, an eighth grade social studies teacher who assumed his late wife’s office—to approve a commerce bill that includes a vital census-counting provision, while the President’s daughter gets into an ugly fracas in a Georgetown bar along with Josh and Sam. Elsewhere, C.J. swallows her pride and asks Sam for help to understand the basic components of the administration’s stance on census-taking, and a peeved President Bartlet scolds Leo when he learns that Leo’s wife has left him.

  • The opening scene in this episode made me look up so much stuff.
  • Even though I guessed strawberry, apparently strawberry don’t have seeds on the outside, it does have many tiny fruits that each contain their own seeds.
  • “There are three words in the English language, and three words only, that begin with the letters ‘dw’,” claims President Bartlet – Not true President Bartlet.
  • I looked it up and there are more than three words that start with “dw”.
  • Here are a few, dwarf, dwelt, dweeb, dwine, dwaal, dwams, dwale. So, sorry Mr. President, but you’re wrong.
  • Mr. Willis has replaced his deceased wife in Congress as part of a real life practice called widow’s succession. Although rare in modern times, this has occurred regularly in the early 20th century. In all these cases the widows were female however.
  • Eric Balfour shows up again!!!
  • Eric Balfour has made guest appearances on other shows I’m currently watching from my 19 Greatest Shows List, including Six Feet Under and 24. Should I just keep track of his appearances on these shows just in case he shows up again on any of the other 16 shows I’m watching? Yeah I’m keeping track now.
  • On the podcast West Wing Weekly, actor Richard Schiff (Toby) said the on-set TV in the final scene of this episode was blank, so he had nothing to react to. When Toby is watching with admiration as Mr. Willis cast his only vote, Schiff said he was actually imagining what it would be like to have sex with Allison Janney. – That is something I didn’t need to know lol.

1×07 – The State Dinner

As a state dinner honoring the Indonesian President looms in the background, President Bartlet and his staff keep their eyes on several potentially explosive problems: an FBI hostage standoff with dozens of militant survivalists, a Class-4 hurricane bearing down on a carrier group at sea and an impending national trucker’s strike. Behind the scenes, the gracious First Lady prepares to host the dinner, a reporter flirts with C.J., Josh and Toby set up a meeting with an Indonesian government official to ask a favor, and a surprised Sam runs into his call girl friend Laurie at the event

  • Well hello Stockard Channing aka Rizzo from Grease. I already like her as Abbey The First Lady.
  • Stockard Channing had only just met Martin Sheen and established that their two characters had three daughters when she shot her first scene with him.
  • Speaking of I think Stockard and Martin play off of each other great here and the rest of the episodes this season.
  • When the hurricane changes direction, the carrier group gets caught in it. This would never happen, as a carrier group can quite easily outpace a hurricane. – So that emotional last scene is pretty undercut because of this, oh well.
  • When Sam told Laurie he would pay her 10,000 to not go home with her date was a classic Sam moment. She already told him that he can’t change her, he needs to accept that.

1×08 – Enemies

A crucial banking bill is at risk when political rivals of environmentally sensitive President Bartlet attach a land-use rider to it that would allow strip-mining some of the Montana wilderness while C.J. tries to kill a story that the Chief Executive chastised the Vice President during a cabinet meeting. An overworked Leo isn’t too keen on his daughter Mallory dating Sam.

  • Oh this episode cemented my love for Sam and it was a such a simple moment too. Him working on a birthday message from Leo and Bartlet (that was just to stop him from going on a date with Mallory) because he wanted too. He’s a nerd, but I love him for it.
  • I’m glad that Bartlet and Hoynes finally had it out, I don’t think they got all their issues resolved, but better to have it out then to hold it in.
  • CJ and Danny have potential to be a good couple, but I doubt it will work out because of their jobs.
  • This was the first of only three episodes to have not been written or co-written by Aaron Sorkin during his tenure as executive producer, we’ll get to the other two episodes in season 4.
  • In the opening scene President Bartlet lists of places he’s visited to Josh. One of them is “Badlands.” Martin Sheen starred in a movie called Badlands (1973) in 1973 with Sissy Spacek. – Ha, I caught that too.
  • John Hoynes: This just in the Internet is not a fad. – It indeed is not a fad. Ah, I had a good laugh at that.

1×09 – The Short List

When a Supreme Court justice retires, President Bartlet has a golden opportunity to impact the court’s composition by nominating a favorite judge — but when further study reveals the candidate’s conflicting ideology and cloudy social affiliations, the President might change his mind and opt for another judge. In addition, a headline-seeking congressman on the House Government Oversight Committee accuses the White House staff of substance abuse — a dicey issue for one important member.

  • Ah this episode! The episode that cemented my love for all these wonderful characters (expect Mandy).
  • It was because of the wonderful opening scene with the victory dance. I want these characters to be happy more often.
  • The plot of this episode is also very interesting with Bartlet’s first choice for the job becomes less appealing when the White House learns this judge isn’t committed to privacy rights and he has to reevaluate the candidates the staff passed on.
  • Which leads us to the great line when Bartlet finds his man “You were not the first choice, but you are the last one, and you are the right one.” – Sorkin’s dialogue at it’s best.
  • Actually this whole episode’s dialogue is pretty fantastic.
  • When Josh told Danny that CJ liked goldfish, I said out aloud “The food or the animal?” Danny should’ve done the same.
  • But I’m glad he didn’t because that scene with him and CJ was hilarious. “The crackers, Danny.”
  • “You should be nicer to me. I could be dead right now.” – I love Josh and Donna’s banter so much.
  • The quote “If we list the set of rights, some fools in the future are going to claim that people are entitled only to those rights enumerated and no others” attributed to the 1787 Georgia delegation is fictional. – Still a good quote.

1×10 – In Excelsis Deo

As Christmas Eve approaches, President Bartlet eagerly sneaks out of the White House for some last-minute Christmas shopping, while a haunted Toby learns more about a forgotten Korean War hero who died alone on the district’s cold streets while wearing a coat that Toby once donated to charity. In other hushed corridors, Sam and Josh ignore Leo’s advice and consult Sam’s call girl friend concerning her confidential clientele when one political rival hints at exposing Leo’s previous drug problem. C.J. wonders aloud about the President’s public response to a notorious hate crime while her personal resolve weakens as a persistent reporter continues to ask her out.

  • I believe this is the best episode of season one. It’s the show’s first classic episode in my opinion AND it’s a Christmas episode. What else do you need?
  • It seems like I’m not the only one who was touched by this episode.
  • In the first season episode “In Excelsis Deo”, after reading through the script, the Pentagon was very touched by the handling of the story line dealing with the death of a homeless veteran of the Korean conflict. In fact, they were so impressed that they gave the show access to film at Arlington National Cemetery, (ANC is administered by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington). The Department of Defense then supplied the Marine Honor Guard and chaplain, and set up the whole funeral. During the funeral scene, all persons in uniform are members of the U.S. Armed Forces, performing their actual roles in a military funeral. Richard Schiff, (Toby) has said that it was such a powerful and moving story, that after every take, he broke down and cried. – I’m getting teary eyed just reading that. Television can be more than just television sometimes.
  • After Aaron Sorkin and Rick Cleveland won an Emmy for writing the episode “In Excelsis Deo,” only Sorkin spoke at the awards ceremony. Cleveland published an article in Writers Guild Magazine expressing his disappointment at not being allowed to speak because the homeless veteran aspect of the episode’s plot was based on Cleveland’s own father, who was a veteran who died a homeless alcoholic. Sorkin posted on the TV message board mightybigtv.com (later renamed televisionwithoutpity.com) that he had written most of the episode and had only given Cleveland a co-writing credit as a courtesy because Cleveland had worked on a previous draft that, according to Sorkin, bore no resemblance to the final shooting script. Sorkin also said that this was true of almost all of the The West Wing (1999) scripts written up to that point (mid-2001), that he was the true and only writer of nearly all West Wing episodes, and the rest of the writing staff only helped him with research and “kick[ing] ideas around” – so he gave “them each a Story by credit on a rotating basis…by way of a gratuity.” – Just thought that was interesting, these episodes do seem Sorkin heavy.
  • The story line for Lowell Lydell was taken from real life. A gay college student named Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, was beaten, pistol whipped and hung on a fence post and left overnight. He died and the country cried out for more Hate Crime Legislation. (See also the The Laramie Project (2002).
  • Both storylines were handled with such care which this episode as touching as it is.

1×11 – Lord John Marbury

The Kashmir border powderkeg becomes more explosive when the Indian army invades Pakistani-held territory, making the threat of a nuclear confrontation frighteningly real to President Bartlet, who calls in Lord John Marbury, an eccentric British diplomat with ties to both warring nations – and a weakness for booze. An angry Josh is subpoenaed to testify as the investigation into substance abuse among White House staffers grinds on towards its inevitable target: chief of staff Leo McGarry. Mandy floats a trial balloon among the staff to test their reaction to her notion of representing a liberal Republican. The President is surprised when Charlie asks him if he can date his willing daughter Zoey.

  • I think I read we’ll get more Lord John Marbury in the future episodes and I’m looking forward to it.
  • I hear the show gets a lot of flack for being mostly liberal, but I think the show does a great job at exploring both sides in politics.
  • Even with the Sam, Toby, and Josh rejecting Mandy’s offer to represent a liberal Republican.
  • The show is definitely liberal bias, but I do think it does a good enough job at looking at the flaws of the liberals and the Democratic Party.
  • Erick Avari plays the Pakistani ambassador and Iqbal Theba plays the Indian ambassador in this story about a war between India and Pakistan. In real life, Avari is Indian and Theba is Pakistani.

1×12 – He Shall, from Time to Time…

The White House staff is in full crisis mode when President Bartlet is found unconscious as he prepares for the State of the Union speech while the India-Pakistan border skirmish flares again when a fearful Pakistan gives its field commanders control of its nuclear arsenal. While the President’s condition is officially blamed on the flu, the First Lady knows better, and Toby is too busy to notice as he polishes his boss’ upcoming address. Equally distracting is the inevitable disclosure of Leo’s former substance-abuse problem by political rivals, as well as the reappearance of the amusing Lord John Marbury — a besotted ladies’ man who doubles as a key adviser on the India-Pakistan conflict. Despite the crises, C.J. and Mallory express their romantic feelings about two very different men. In addition, Leo learns from the First Lady of the Presidents true condition, which turns out to be a secret that’s even bigger than Leo’s drug and alcohol problem

  • The title of this episode comes from Article II Section III of the U.S. Constitution, which calls for the state of the union. – That probably should have told me this episode was dealing with The State of The Union.
  • It was pretty scary seeing Bartlet on the floor collapsed like that.
  • This is the episode we find out that Bartlet doesn’t just have the flu…he has muplite sclerosis. Which makes me believe how long does he and Abbey think they can hide this from at least the rest of the staff.
  • There’s a chance that Bartlet’s health could deteriorate, I don’t know if keeping it a secret is such a good thing.
  • This episode marks the first, and one of the only, times in which Leo refers to Bartlet as “Jed”. – I’m guessing the other time must be something serious.
  • The soap opera that Bartlet watches while laid up in bed with the flu is NBC’s Passions (1999). – So, Spike isn’t the only person (in Spike’s case, vampire) that watches that show?
  • Speaking of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harry Groener shows up in this episode and if you didn’t know he plays the Mayor in season 3 of Buffy.
  • CJ and Danny’s kiss was amazing.
  • Danny: “CJ are you taking that fish with you?” CJ was swooning like myself.

1×13 – Take Out the Trash Day

While President Bartlet and his staff debate the appropriate response to a controversial new sex education study, there are fears that the parents of a murdered gay teenager should be excused from attending the signing of a hate crimes bill because of the father’s embarrassment about his son’s homosexuality. Josh and Sam meet with an appropriations subcommittee which is investigating Josh’s lack of cooperation in the White House staff drug probe – all of which is designed to expose Leo’s former substance-abuse problem.

  • The Hate Crimes Prevention Act dealt with in this episode is a reference to the real-life “Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.” The real act was named after Matthew Shepard, the University of Wyoming student who in 1998 was beaten and murdered because of his homosexuality; and James Byrd, Jr, who in 1998 was dragged behind a Jasper, Texas, pickup truck and murdered because he was black. The real bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009, almost ten years after this episode first aired.
  • The scene where Mandy and CJ meet with the parents of a teen killed in a hate crime, and discover the father’s resilience isn’t about homophobia, but about shame over the administration’s weak position on gay rights was rough to watch because it’s true.
  • The characters are liberal and consider themselves to be the good guys, but they are on a weak position in terms of gay rights.
  • “Lady, I’m not ashamed my son was gay, my government is.”
  • This episode also deals more with Leo’s issues with alcohol and drug abuse.
  • The scene with Leo and a junior staffer (a young Liza Weil aka Paris from Gilmore Girls and Bonnie from How To Get Away With Murder) trying to understand each other. Him trying to understand why she outed him and her trying to understand his alcoholism was extremely well done. I would say it’s the best scene of the entire episode.
  • This episode holds special meaning for John Spencer, who plays Leo. Spencer himself was a recovering alcoholic.

1×14 – Take This Sabbath Day

After the Supreme Court refuses to stay the execution of a Federal prisoner convicted of killing two drug kingpins, President Bartlet must decide whether or not to commute his sentence in less than 48 hours, so he calls upon his sagacious childhood priest for guidance. Meanwhile, even Toby feels the heat over the controversial issue when he hears a sermon on capital punishment from his rabbi. Elsewhere, a deaf, combative campaign manager begs for an audience with the President when her Democratic congressional candidate has purposely been underfunded by his party before the upcoming election to unseat an incumbent.

  • This episode also finds President Bartlet questioning himself. This time with what to do with a execution of a convicted murderer.
  • Episode does a great job at showing the inner turmoil Bartlet faces making this decision.
  • We also meet Joey Lucas in this episode, I like her. Would like to see more of her I’m fascinated by her relationship with Josh.
  • This episode guest stars Karl Madden in his last acting role before his death in 2009.
  • Martin Sheen had been a guest star on Karl Malden’s series The Streets of San Francisco.
  • The small bible used by Karl Malden’s character is the same one he used in On The Waterfront (1954). – Fun little tidbit.
  • According to The Hollywood Reporter, the anti-capital punishment sermon delivered by Toby’s rabbi specifically to sway Toby’s opinion on the subject was actually written by Steven Leder, a rabbi at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles. Leder, who performed showrunner Aaron Sorkin’s wedding, was asked to write the sermon by Sorkin just for the episode.
  • Sam tells Charlie that the US is among five nations who execute people under 18 years old. In 2005, the United States Supreme Court outlawed execution of minors convicted of capital crimes through the case Roper v Simmons. – I’m surprised it took that long to outlaw that…
  • Richard Schiff (Toby) argued to Aaron Sorkin and Lawrence O’Donnell that Charlie should not rollback his statement that he himself would kill his mother’s murderer, as Schiff found the notion of revenge interesting in the exploration of that character. – Yeah I thought what he said was interesting because his character seems so calm and collected, but I think that just shows that there may be another side of Charlie we haven’t seen yet.
  • In the DVD commentary, it is mentioned that Allison Janney was very sick during the shooting of this episode and had trouble getting through one scene. Luckily her character was supposed to be very upset in that episode. – I didn’t notice her being sick at all when I watched the episode.

1×15 – Celestial Navigation

Sam and Toby are dispatched to Connecticut for some damage control and to secure the secret release of President Bartlet’s primary choice for the Supreme Court, who has been jailed for alleged drunk driving and resisting arrest. Meanwhile, Josh is a guest lecturer at a college class to talk about working for the President and he recounts the previous week’s flare-ups, which include: his feeble attempt to fill in as the White House spokesman at a press conference where he promises that the President has “a secret plan to fight inflation,” and the media glare that engulfs the African-American HUD secretary who publicly labeled a prominent Republican as a racist.

  • This episode is by far the funniest so far. So many things made me laugh in this episode particularly CJ having a root canal.
  • Even though most of this episode is hilarious fun it also touches on racism people of color still experiences today with Supreme Court nominee Mendoza being arrested for a false drunk driving charge.
  • I was confused as to how Sam and Toby got lost trying to bail out Mendoza, but then I remember these were the days before GPS.
  • I was surprised that the White House let Josh do a interview show after the events in the pilot.
  • The exterior of the police station in “Celestial Navigation” is the show’s post-production office.
  • Favorite quote of the episode: “It wasn’t a nightmare, you really are the President.”
  • But a close second would be between Josh and Bartlet’s dialogue about Bartlet’s “serect flight inflation plan”.

1×16 – 20 Hours in LA

President Bartlet and several of his staff head to Los Angeles for a whirlwind visit that is topped off by a star-studded fundraiser hosted by a wealthy film honcho who threatens to cancel the bash unless Bartlet announces his opposition to a congressional bill banning gays in the military. Back in Washington, Leo tries to convince a stubborn Vice President Hoynes to break the Senate voting deadlock over an ethanol tax credit favored by the White House. Elsewhere, Josh learns that feisty campaign manager Joey Lucas is staying in his Los Angeles hotel and he eagerly anticipates seeing her again. The President takes a meeting where he is warned about not supporting an amendment banning flag-burning and later checks up on Secret Service security for his daughter Zoey — and is unafraid to close down a celebrity-filled restaurant where she’s lunching.

  • The staff is in LA and they get to have a little bit of fun which is always nice to see.
  • Although that’s nice to see, there’s not much to the actual episode itself.
  • David Hasselhoff and Jay Leno make appearances here because they were still relevant then. Was that mean? I sounded mean.
  • Joey Lucas shows up again! Yay, I really like whatever you want to call her relationship is with Josh. Also I don’t think I’ll ever refer to her as just Joey, just doesn’t seem right.

1×17 – The White House Pro-Arm

The President’s and First Lady’s staffs feud over rival agendas when her public statements about foreign child-labor abuse inspires a Congresswoman to attach an amendment that will surely torpedo a long-delayed international tariff bill favored by the President. What’s more, when the revered chairman of the Federal Reserve dies, the President is under pressure to name the former head’s top lieutenant as his successor — the same man who seriously dated the First Lady in college. Away from the White House, Zoey clashes with her boyfriend Charlie when she suggests that they not step out together at an upcoming club opening at the request of the Secret Service which is concerned about recent hate letters concerning their interracial relationship. Josh asks opinionated Toby to mind his manners prior to parleying with important Congressmen.

  • Probably my least favorite episode of season one. Nothing wrong with it, but not very interesting.
  • There still is some good stuff in here particularly Abbey and Bartlet along with Zoey and Charlie.
  • It seems crazy to think that Charlie would be receiving death threats for dating Zoey, because interracial couples is so common these days you forget that there was once a time when that was a actual problem people had to worry about. And that time was only maybe little over a decade ago.
  • Abbey and Bartlet fight near the episode is extremely well acted and written. I thought it was phenomenal from top to bottom.
  • Zoey’s codename being bookbag is the most adorable thing ever.

1×18 – Six Meetings Before Lunch

When Zoey attends a college fraternity party in which one of her friends is busted for using illegal drugs, C.J. struggles to keep the embarrassing story out of the press while the White House staff celebrates the confirmation of their nominee, Judge Mendoza, for the Supreme Court. An uncomfortable Josh is assigned to talk with the administration’s controversial nominee for assistant attorney general for civil rights who advocates that African-Americans receive financial reparations for slavery. Elsewhere, Sam crosses swords with Mallory over the issue of private school vouchers while Mandy lobbies to secure two new pandas for the National Zoo.

  • If you haven’t seen C.J. do “The Jackal”, then you haven’t seen Shakespeare the way it’s meant to be done. – I haven’t seen Shakespeare done right my entire life and I’m so sad I’m just now seeing it been done right.
  • But seriously that was incredible, can CJ do that every season please?!
  • Aaron Sorkin found Allison Janney lip syncing to Ronny Jordan’s The Jackal in her trailer, and wrote it into the episode. Janey was initially doing it too well, and was told to make it more awkward. – Boy am I glad he wrote it in.
  • The staff making a big deal about C.J. singing “The Jackal” is similar to another of Aaron Sorkin show’s episode plot. In the Sports Night episode “Sports Night: Dear Louise (1998)” the staff of the show makes a big deal about Dana (Felicity Huffman) drinking Margaritas and singing “Boogie Shoes.” – That is what this reminded me of.
  • Mallory: Don’t play dumb with me.
  • Sam: No, honestly, I am dumb. Most of the time I’m playing smart. – I’m stealing this for future conversations.
  • Sam arguing for something he doesn’t believe in is such a Sam thing to do.
  • Zoey and Charlie are adorable.
  • Mandy’s back in this episode after missing a few.
  • Glad to hear that Mallory asks Leo for permission before going on dates with fascists.

1×19 – Let Bartlet Be Bartlet

Rumors percolate about a scathing memo that outlines the weaknesses of President Bartlet’s administration for his political rival and grip the White House, until C.J. learns it came from one of the trusted staff. Now in someone else’s possession, C.J. finally tracks it down to one reporter and tries to dissuade him from publishing it. Meanwhile, Sam and Toby meet with opposing military officers and congressmen to discuss amending the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy towards gays in the armed forces. When two members of the Federal Election Commission resign, Josh sees opportunity and moves fast to meet with contentious senator’s staffers to suggest that the President appoint two campaign finance reformers as replacements instead of those wanted by the Senate leadership. Leo not only has trouble with the White House’s faulty e-mail system, he confronts the President and issues a challenge that could define or destroy his administration.

  • I loved the opening scene with the weather and Sam forgetting to change Bartlet’s speech.
  • I like the tension between the staff with Mandy’s memo about the staff’s weaknesses.
  • We don’t see a lot of tension between the staff a lot in season one, so I’m glad we got some here.
  • Even before this episode I had heard of phrase “Let Bartlet Be Bartlet” glad to see the origin of that.
  • Since Mandy’s memo is a work product of her contract with Russell, it would be owned by him, and therefore she could not legally show it to the Bartlet administration. (She could, however, create a new memo for them which said essentially the same thing.) – Which is what she did do I believe.
  • Leo gathering and assembling the team at the end to fix the legacy of the administration was a really fantastic end to a fantastic episode.

1×20 – Mandatory Minimums

A newly energized President Bartlet bucks tradition and throws down the gauntlet when he names two candidates of his own choice – both campaign finance reformers – to the Federal Election Commission despite threats from his political opponents to introduce embarrassing legislation that would dare him not to sign. Early reactions to his announcement are not encouraging, especially from top-notch pollster Al Kiefer. However, Kiefer’s arrival means his attractive cohort, Joey Lucas, accompanies him, and she again draws a smitten Josh’s attention. Toby agrees to seek out his ex-wife, a breezy congresswoman, to gauge her response to any future narcotics legislation that would emphasize prevention over enforcement. Leo, uncomfortably aware of his own brush with drugs, agrees to be the Chief Executive’s front man for positioning the high-voltage issue of revising the drug laws.

  • Josh: Hi Senator, why don’t you take your legislative agenda and shove it up your ass. – I love Josh, if that needed to be said.
  • Also doesn’t that sounds like something AOC would say to a Senator behind closed doors and that is probably the biggest compliment I could give to Josh.
  • Speaking of Josh, Joey Lucas is back once again and they are adorable together again!
  • This episode we also meet Toby’s ex-wife Andrea (which is my middle name) who is pretty charming. I can see why Toby married her.
  • Although it is well established that Toby is no longer married, he can clearly be seen wearing a wedding band. Richard Schiff said he purposely wore a wedding band even though Toby was divorced. This was his way of showing that the character wasn’t ready to accept being divorced. – That’s smart, it adds another layer to Toby’s character.
  • CJ was actually correct to say that the President was under no legal obligation to appoint a Democrat and a Republican. Though 2 U.S.C. § 437c(a)(1)-which has since been editorially reclassified as §30106 of Title 52, Voting and Elections-does state that no more than three members of the FEC may be affiliated with the same political party, it does not require that all the members be either Republicans or Democrats. President Bartlet could have legally appointed someone affiliated with a third party to either or both of the open seats. – See CJ, you didn’t have to be so hard on yourself.

1×21 – Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

While President Bartlet and his staff nervously await the results of a poll to determine his favorability rating, he begins a heady transfer of ambassadors and members of the Federal Election Commission designed to kickstart campaign finance reform and defuse a embarrassing incident overseas. Specifically, wheeler-dealer Bartlet recalls the married Ambassador to Bulgaria who is discovered to be romancing the daughter of the country’s prime minister, but faces another crisis at home when Sam is photographed by a newspaper giving a graduation gift to a known call girl. Meanwhile, C.J. anxiously paces the White House corridors and wonders if she is being marginalized by Leo for past mistakes. In addition, Josh clashes with opinionated pollster Joey Lucas.

  • The full saying referenced in the title of the episode is “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies, and statistics.” The phrase was made popular in the United States by Mark Twain, among others.
  • Donna: I’m beginning to regret not getting the waffles.
  • Leo: I am beginning to regret having hired any of you! We have a 42% job approval and you’re talking about waffles and something with Josh I don’t understand.
  • Donna: He’s wearing a special suit for Joey Lucas.
  • Leo: You got dressed up for a guy named Joey? – I love this show.
  • I’m pretty Laurie’s friend in this episode was Michelle from 24 (I think). Speaking of 24, I’m already done with season two.

1×22 – What Kind of Day It’s Been

President Bartlet prepares for a town hall meeting with college students while the U.S. military races to find a downed American pilot in the Iraqi desert before the Iraqi military captures him. C.J. doesn’t relish the notion of misleading the press over rescue preparations. Likewise, Toby tries to ignore updates from the distressed orbiting space shuttle which includes his brother, a payload specialist aboard the craft which cannot close its cargo doors. Meanwhile, a huffing Josh is dispatched to run down and convince the wayward vice president to re-think his position on campaign finance reform.

  • What kind of episode this was…see what I was doing there. That was my way of trying to be clever.
  • The last episode of the first season of all three of Aaron Sorkin’s TV shows The West Wing, Sports Night, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, as well as the series finale of The Newsroom (2012) is entitled “What Kind of Day Has It Been?” – It’s a good episode title.
  • I can’t imagine waiting months for season two to air after watching this because that was quite a cliffhanger. Heck the whole episode was teased because of the cliffhanger which I did not appreciate.
  • This episode itself is a wonderful season finale that is elevated by a so-good-it-should-be-illegal-cliffhanger.
  • It such a good episode that I can even possibly try to say everything I loved about it, just incredible episode.
  • The Space Shuttle Columbia, which Toby’s brother is on and has technical difficulties in the episode, would go on to disintegrate upon re-entry on February 1st, 2003, killing all seven crew members on board. – That’s terrible, I can’t believe I’m just now hearing about this. I hope this isn’t a trend that this show starts predicting stuff like The Simpsons.
  • In this episode Charlie tells Josh ‘you’re right, it doesn’t go away’. This is not explained in the episode. It references episode 3, the one where they first hire Charlie. At the end of that episode, Charlie tells Josh (as the President is about to address the nation) ‘I’ve never felt like this before’. Josh replies ‘It doesn’t go away’. The statement by Charlie in this episode is a direct reply to this. – I sure didn’t know what he was talking about there. I guess I wasn’t paying attention hard enough.
  • During the taping of the final scene, Jorja Fox’s foot was run over by one of the limousines. She continued working on the scene until Aaron Sorkin was informed by the driver of the car that her foot had been run over. She was taken to the hospital and treated for a broken foot before returning to work. According to Sorkin, Fox apologized and said that it was her fault for missing her mark. – She’s a trooper I would have immediately started to cry and had ask to go to the hospital instead of continuing on like that.

What a season, I went from knowing mostly nothing about this show to loving the characters and eventually the show itself. My favorite episode would be In Excelsis Deo and favorite character… I really don’t want to choose because I really do in fact love them all (once again except for Mandy). I took to this show a lot quicker than I thought I would because politics isn’t necessarily my favorite thing in the world. However, I’m pleased to say that I really am loving the show so much so that I have already started season two. Sorry! Probably should have waited until I finished writing this first, but I couldn’t that cliffhanger got me good. That’s it for The West Wing season one, on to more of season two I go.

Pros: Dialogue (duh, it’s a Aaron Sorkin show), the characters, the cast’s chemistry, good writing, the acting, episode: In Excelsis Deo, and the finale’s cliffhanger.

Cons: Mandy (the show did not know what to do with her), episodes can tend to start slow (but once they get going they are really good), and some episodes weren’t all that interesting.

Other Seasons In Reviews: The Office – S1, 24 – S1, Breaking Bad – S1, Dexter – S1

15 responses to “Season In Review: The West Wing (S1)”

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