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West Wing Special


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#1 of 38 OFFLINE   Chris

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Posted October 03 2001 - 06:08 PM

Ok, having watched this I have to say: I was rooting for West Wing to hit a homerun. I truly enjoyed WW's first season, was pretty dissapointed last season, and had hopes that maybe things would turn around. Tonight's episode (IMHO) was not a home run. Probably a standup double, at best, a sliding triple. The layout of the show was well done, the conversational format was well played, executing several sides of the case, and the issues were laid out in a relatively interesting manner. The big problem I had with WW last year had nothing to do with it's acting.. which was once again exceptional. Nor did it have anything to do with the story format; also good this year. The problem that they had last year had to do with fact checking, in which the WW had a tendency to sometimes create facts in order to serve it's purpose.. something that Sorkin later said was needed for "creative purpose" and then, over the summer promised would be gone from this year's set. (Good for him, IMHO, again) Tonights episode was fairly well researched, with only two errors (though they were relatively big ones) which didn't impact the storyline. The problem with the errors last year was that they impacted the storyline.. this year, it was somewhat like quick spouts of facts which were in error, but quickly run by.. so it didn't impact the overall story. The students provided a good sounding board, and the method of presentation was also solid. I give it a *** out of ****
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#2 of 38 OFFLINE   ChristopherS

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Posted October 03 2001 - 06:15 PM

What were these two "relatively big" errors? Chris

#3 of 38 OFFLINE   CharlesD

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Posted October 03 2001 - 06:24 PM

I was impressed with tonight's episode. For TV it was quite thoughtful and tried to get below the surface of the issue. As always it was very well written. I'm not sure what the errors Chris is referring to are, but I would point out that the episode was written, filmed and edited in the last 3 weeks and as such was exceptionally well done IMO. ------------------ -- Will Work for Five Million Dollars

#4 of 38 OFFLINE   Clinton McClure

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Posted October 03 2001 - 07:40 PM

Tonight was the first time I've watched West Wing. I thought it was an interesting, well written show. Posted Image

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#5 of 38 OFFLINE   Chris

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Posted October 03 2001 - 08:23 PM

The only really big one went by quickly:

"Didn't the founding fathers intentionally make the executive branch the weakest of the three" followed by a little disertation on why the legislative branch (or as they referred to it, the "people's body" was the most powerful) but all branches are equal but separate, it's what makes checks and balances work; and the legislative branch was not really a "people's body" until recently; the founding fathers distrusted the people far more then the executive, which is why until last century, senators were appointed by state legislatures, not voted on by the people.

The other one was in regards to search & seizure powers of the CIA, but isn't worth getting into...

Look, all in all, it was well presented, and well done. And I look forward to the new season. WW in it's first season became a great show; I do think that it won (unfairly) over "The Sopranos" at the emmies because of the subject matter of both programs, but the West Wing, at its best is amongst the best on TV. Tonight was a really good start to that.

All of that having been said (and I nitpick more, as a former debator/history/poli-sci wonk) the episode was -far- better about fact checking and representation then it has been in a while, and Sorkin's announcement this summer that he would be more diligent to prevent some of the errors that happened last year is something that I will believe him on. If he can keep turning out programs with fantastic performances by the acting staff and with well executed scripts, minor errors can be handled Posted Image

[Edited last by Chris on October 03, 2001 at 11:51 PM]
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#6 of 38 OFFLINE   Jim_C

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Posted October 03 2001 - 09:12 PM

I thought that it was well done. When I first heard about it I was concerned but I thought that it was handled in an intelligent, informative manner. The discussion with the students was an interesting way to 'teach/inform' us, the viewers, of all of the relevant issues. ------------------ You want to upgrade again?!!
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#7 of 38 OFFLINE   Frank Anderson

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Posted October 04 2001 - 04:20 AM

An excellent episode. I am glad to see it was nothing like what some people thought it would be. Not once did they even mention the World Trade Center of Pentagon crashes. This show was strictly to inform and educate viewers.

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#8 of 38 OFFLINE   Brent Hutto

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Posted October 04 2001 - 05:33 AM

I've never seen an episode of "The West Wing", it has never seemed like the sort of thing I'd be interested in, but I'll accept at face value the widely-held opinion that its acting and production values are exceptionally good. Having said that, I'm curious about all the discussion of "fact checking" and "inform and educate viewers". It seems like people expect a TV network drama show to serve as a source of enlightenment as to how the US political system works. Is that true? If so, that's pretty scary. What would induce people to believe that the producer of a mainstream entertainment product might possess an accurate understanding of or any special insight into the US system of government? Or that he would choose to share his insight in a complete and unbiased manner (assuming for the moment that such knowledge exists)? I don't intend this as a troll but am genuinely baffled as to why this particular program is believed by a good many people to be a source of enlightenment. Surely not many people feel the same is true about ER, Law & Order, NYPD Blue or Malcolm in the Middle. Brent Hutto

#9 of 38 OFFLINE   Hugh Jackes

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Posted October 04 2001 - 06:11 AM

Hhmm... I must have missed something. I thought it was dull, preachy, plodding, and repetitious. A weak effort.
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#10 of 38 OFFLINE   ChristopherS

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Posted October 04 2001 - 06:40 AM

Brent,

Why would anyone think you are a troll just because you are voicing an opinion on something you admit to have never seen? That's just the kind of educated opinion I look forward to. Posted Image

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#11 of 38 OFFLINE   Joel Mack

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Posted October 04 2001 - 06:50 AM

[quote]

Surely not many people feel the same is true about ER, Law & Order, NYPD Blue or Malcolm in the Middle.

[quote]

I dunno...I think you'd be surprised...

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#12 of 38 OFFLINE   Brent Hutto

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Posted October 04 2001 - 06:56 AM

Actually, I have no opinion on the show since I've never watched it. My question is about the viewers. I hear "The West Wing" mentioned in conversation all the time, more than just about any other TV show. And very often it seems from the bits of conversation I overhear that people are treating it as something more than an hour of evening amusement like other TV shows. Years ago there was the old cliche about the "housewife" who watched soap operas all afternoon and started confusing them with reality. That's not what I'm talking about, I haven't met anyone who thinks that Martin Sheen is the president. I suppose a better question to ask is this. Was there a large number of people out there who had long awaited a show about "back stage at the White House" and who have found what they were looking for? If so, then Sorkin and Co. were just lucky in tapping into a latent demand (or maybe they did good market research). Or did "The West Wing" in some way create a sub-culture of people who enjoy blurring the line between what they read about in the newspaper and what they see on Wednesday evenings on TV? If so, then the interesting question is whether it's a unique happening or something that can be repeated by some other show (about some other topic) in the future. Brent Hutto

#13 of 38 OFFLINE   Rich Malloy

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Posted October 04 2001 - 07:42 AM

quote:
Having said that, I'm curious about all the discussion of "fact checking" and "inform and educate viewers". It seems like people expect a TV network drama show to serve as a source of enlightenment as to how the US political system works. Is that true?[/quote] No one expects a TV drama to be necessarily enlightening; Chris' statement (and my opinion) is only that a show that concerns itself with our political system should correctly state those principles upon which the system is based. Having said that, I think Chris is taking the separation of powers issue a bit too literally. Yes, generally and theoretically speaking, each branch of government is co-equal, but the practical effect of Articles 1, 2, and 3 (and such subsequent developments as Marbury vs. Madison) were hammered out with just such concerns in mind as were given voice in last night's episode. Indeed, the "co-equality" of each branch is a somewhat amorphous concept - a perfectly equal assignment/limitation of powers with regard to each branch are certainly not identifiable with clear and absolute certainty a priori - and I don't think one can correctly say that a perfect balance of powers was achieved. However, an ideal balance in practical terms was achieved. (Which is why such limitations as presidential term limits - and the issue of congressional term limitations - the office of the special prosecutor, the War Powers act, etc., are so controversial as they tend to upset this balance, or change it ever so slightly.) One thing that makes the West Wing such fine TV, in general, is that it's one of the few programs, outside of news/history/documentaries, that even delves into such issues. And, generally, they do a fine job of it. After all, most of the audience weren't poly-sci majors, aren't constitutional scholars, and rarely are presented with the kinds of "hypotheticals" (generally based upon real examples) that allow a study of how our system of politics works (or doesn't work, as they case may be). A dramatic program, then, can be very enlightening, in that it's a good opportunity to mix theory with the nitty-gritty of day-to-day politics. In general, the WW does a very good job of this (and I say that as a libertarian with views that fall both to the right and the left of those of the "Bartlett Administration"). [Edited last by Al Brown on October 04, 2001 at 10:52 AM]
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#14 of 38 OFFLINE   LarryDavenport

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Posted October 04 2001 - 07:53 AM

I think the body of the episode was fine and it echoed a lot of the voices and topics that have come up these past three weeks (has it only been three weeks?). But I thought the introduction of the episode came off as smug and self serving. If NBC was really doing this episode in honor of the heroes and victims, they should have shown it commercial free, and not had those annoying icon promos running during the show. ------------------ These chicks know how to party! - MoJo JoJo

#15 of 38 OFFLINE   Mitty

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Posted October 04 2001 - 08:24 AM

[quote]

If NBC was really doing this episode in honor of the heroes and victims, they should have shown it commercial free...

[quote]

But the revenue (profit?) generated from the commercials were being donated to charities. No commercials = no revenue. Plus, they'd have to write and produce a show that's ~16 minutes longer. The intro might have seemed self serving, but only this week we had someone on this forum start a thread saying something to the effect of "West Wing to capitalize on disaster." When you let people jump to their own conclusions, a lot of them will jump to the wrong ones. I don't see anything wrong with setting the record straight right from the start.

#16 of 38 OFFLINE   Dan Paolozza

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Posted October 04 2001 - 08:58 AM

On Brent's discussion: Where I believe that most viewers don't look to dramas and fiction for the equivalent of news or education, I think there is always a group that does so. There have been many pseudo-fictional films, shows, and books that some people come away from feeling enlightened, if not view with the intent of being enlightened. Part of this phenomenon, I think, is driven by the audience - many of us get greater satisfaction out of a more "realistic" storyline in certain genres. Again, most viewers can understand that even a realistic, detail-oriented piece is nonetheless fiction and entertainment foremost, and to take anything that seems like fact with a grain of salt. However, there are many out there who, as I said, walk away as if they have attended a seminar on the subject matter of the film, book or television show. That said, this section of the audience is small, and I don't think the general viewing public takes any information relayed or included in shows like The West Wing to heart, unless they already "know" such facts to begin with.

#17 of 38 OFFLINE   LarryDavenport

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Posted October 04 2001 - 09:38 AM

Mitty, thanks for pointing out that NBC donated the ad revenue. I wasn't aware of it. Still the NBC Icon's advertising Will and Grace and such were annoying. ------------------ These chicks know how to party! - MoJo JoJo

#18 of 38 OFFLINE   Scott DeToffol

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Posted October 04 2001 - 09:57 AM

I liked it. I was relieved to see that it didn't glorify the drama of the actual attacks. It presented many issues in a consise way. I agree that the intro was a little over the top.

I really liked the "Islam is to Islamic Extremists as the KKK is to Christianity." Good analogy.

I also liked the bit with Leo and the Muslim "kid." The kid stood up for himself and made Leo think. We all have to be careful of our emotional reactions.

I think West Wing has the best acting on TV. What a great cast.

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#19 of 38 OFFLINE   Chris

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Posted October 04 2001 - 10:12 AM

Yep, Al, we would tend to agree that it needs to correctly enlighten. I'm not at all saying that the balance of powers can be adequately explained in a television show (and you hit a few of the issues regarding this well; and there are other debates like WPA, etc.) but the statement that was uttered (that one branch was intentionally created weaker) was a misrepresentation Posted Image

But, compared to the past (where -big- misrepresentations of facts happened in the middle of last season for "dramatic effect") it was, relatively minor.

I believe Sorkin when he says he will avoid doing that.

It is unfortunate that some treat WW as though it were news.. but a lot of people do.. and last year made it difficult to successfully talk to people about certain issues.. because both people on left and right had a hard time getting around scurilous facts someone "just heard" which were not facts at all...
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#20 of 38 OFFLINE   Rey L

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Posted October 04 2001 - 10:24 AM

While I agree that WW should not be construed as a fair representation as to what really goes on in the White House, it's also fair to point out that many administration "insiders" contribute to the show. Former press secretary Dee Dee Myers has been involved in consulting and writing since the pilot.

As far as Mr. Sorkin sharing his understanding of government in an unbiased way, I'm sure that he will freely admit that he has used some storylines or rants in the past as his own political soapbox. Can you blame him? If I had that much control over a show that had millions of viewers week in and week out, I'd probably do the same. Posted Image




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