Friday, January 28, 2011

The West Wing - My Loves (and a few hates)

It's no secret my favourite writer is Aaron Sorkin with The West Wing being the greatest expression of his talent, notwithstanding that he is expected to win an Oscar for The Social Network. 'Sorkinese' has entered the lexicon as a description of the rapid-fire, exquisite dialogue of the kind that only Sorkin can write. It is indeed music to the ears.

Perhaps I am in a melancholic mood, or the heat is annoying me today but here is a rambling (and incomplete) list of my Loves (and some hates) from seven seasons of Sorkin's masterpiece:


Any scene written by Sorkin that features Martin Sheen and Stockard Channing. A master class in writing and acting every single damn time.

Mary-Louise Parker as Amy Gardner - a smart, sharp, sexy actor who laps up Sorkin's dialogue like no other.

All the characters that stand up to Bartlet - Toby (especially Toby), Leo, Abbey, John Hoynes.

That Emily Procter will always be Ainsley Hayes no matter that she moved to Miami.

That Oliver Babish was the best work I have ever seen Oliver Platt do.

Ditto with Matthew Perry and Joe Quincy.

Bartlet's rant at God in Two Cathedrals gave me goosebumps when I first saw it... and still does.

Sam Seaborn for being a 'freak' writing "the streets of Heaven are too crowded with angels tonight" in the car.

Toby wailing on the President in the Oval Office during 17 People.

Charlie being all class when he says he'll walk out with Toby after Leo's funeral.

Dr. Stanley Keyworth for not caring that Bartlet is the President.

Writing Sam out with a multi-episode story strand that was both entertaining and respectful. They didn't do a 'Mandy' on him.

Sam returning at the end of Season 7 to be Deputy Chief of Staff.

Bartlet telling Sam he'd run for President one day and that he could do it.

Bartlet firing Toby 'for cause' that was as gutwrenching as it was devastating.

Allison Janey for being so damn good she could go from 'The Jackal' to Chief of Staff without skipping a beat. and CJ's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest analogy.

Josh telling a Senator to "take your legislative agenda and shove it up your ass".

Toby and Sam being the 'Batman and Robin of speech writing'.

Bartlet for being an oratorical snob.

Bartlet's entrance in the Pilot capped off with his dismissal of Mary Marsh ("Find it now.")

Bartlet eviscerating Dr. Jenna Jacobs over her opposition to homosexuality by quoting the Bible 'chapter and verse'.

Ainsley's fascination with muffins and cupcakes.

For casting Alan Alda as Arnie Vinnick and sending him off with class in The Last Hurrah.

My favourite epsiodes - The Shadow of Two Gunmen Part 1, Two Cathedrals, 17 People.

The greatest 6 episode stretch in television history from The Stackhouse Filibuster to Two Cathedrals.

For "Toby, come quick, Sam's getting his ass kicked by a girl." "Ginger, get the popcorn."

For Andy delivering the most devastating putdown ever to Toby - "you're just too sad."

Leo's "ain't nothing but a family thing."

"You're still mad, right?" and every other time Sam kicked ass when riled.

Bruno Gianelli for "I will stick a pitchfork so far up your asses you will quite simply be dead."

For John Wells finding his feet in Season 7 and delivering a brilliant final season.

For Bartlet simply saying "What's next?"

Hates (there had to be a few)

John Hoynes sacrificed for a plot point (even though it was a doozy - 25)

Trying to resurrect Hoynes including the notion he had a one night stand with CJ.

That French kid Zoey was seeing after Charlie.

That Fruit Fly guy Ellie married.


The episodes The Long Goodbye and Access.

Killing Percy Fitzwallace.

The way Here Today was directed even though I know it was done to unsettle and shock.

The fight between Toby and Josh in Toby's office - the worst moment in West Wing history.

Toby talking about the twins' hats.

Not knowing what to do with the Will Bailey character once Sorkin left.

Bruno going to work for Vinnick's campaign.

Kristin Chenoweth singing 'For Once in My Life'.

Sorkin leaving after Season 4.

Rob Lowe leaving after Season 4.

Most of the humour leaving after Season 4.

The Loves substantially drown the hates and there are simply far too many to mention. It will always be my favourite show (though The Wire comes close) and is a constant source of inspiration and depression for exactly the same reason - that someone could write that brilliantly.

What are your most memorable West Wing moments?


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  3. Yes, you will indeed find a nice companion piece on Sherry's blog at:

  4. Worst moments:
    1) CJ becoming the new Chief of Staff. That made absolutely no sense at all, it was like they broke the 4th wall!
    2) The fight between Toby and Josh in Toby's office.

  5. I hear you, Jack re CJ. But Allison Janney is such a good actress they kind of got away with it. Though I missed the fun side of CJ's personality.

    Not as bad as BSG where Lee Adama went from CAG to Major to Commander to Admiral to Vice-President to lawyer to President to every damn role in the Colonial Fleet and Government in 4 seasons!

    As for the fight... *shakes head*... just awful.