Thoughts on The West Wing?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Holadem, Jan 18, 2005.

  1. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I have started renting this show as well from the local library. I have watched 16 to 20 eps of S1 (can't remember).

    It's quite interesting in the way it portrays Washington politics.

    However, this how has on BIG minus for me: it lacks conflict. That's the best way I can put it. Conflict, for example, is seeing two characters you care about hate each other. While issues are dealt with are appropriately complex, the people are not. All our guys are unequivocally good guys. As it is, the show is too one sided. This issue is embodied by the character of the Vice President. His antagonism with the President would be far more interesting if the show was fairer to him i.e., if he were likeable in any way.

    I find the much praised dialogue too cute for it's own sake. I love snappy exchanges as much as the next guy but they frankly go overboard with the back and forth where no information are exchanged. Buffy features similar dialogue, with much more restrain.

    Overall, pretty good show, I am just not sure if I want to go out of my way to watch it (like start nexflixing seasons not available at the library). Love the politics, like the characters, but mostly because of their positions, not because of who they are. I just wish they were a bit more nuanced and colorful.

    So, does it get better, worse, more of the same, what are your thoughts.

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    H
     
  2. JasonBrown

    JasonBrown Stunt Coordinator

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    Most will say that the series peaked after Season 3 or Season 4, but the first two seasons are considered among the best of network TV drama.

    I'd watch the first 2 seasons before deciding to abandon the series. It deserves at least that.
     
  3. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    Somehow, if H gets to "Two Cathedrals" (S2 finale), I doubt he'd abandon West Wing at that point...

    I'm currently about a third through S5 (currently being broadcast out here). The dialog isn't as "snappy" as it used to be, since Sorkin left, but so far it's been pretty good. No complaints from this fan at this point in the series.
     
  4. David Williams

    David Williams Cinematographer

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    I think the show lost its focus in S3 and I made the decision to stop buying the show on DVD after S2. S2 is the show's strongest season, with its best episodes being the 3-part cliffhanger that bridged S1 & S2.

    S3 became a show about one thing and it really focused on it to the exclusion of other storylines and Aaron Sorkin's tendency to get really interested in a character and then go off on another tangent tended to leave a lot of character arcs just dangling which started to really annoy me. Mallory, Nancy McNally, Danny, Gina Toscano, Zoey, Ainsley, Mandy, Lionel Tribbey... the list goes on. Sometimes the character comes back, sometimes it's like they never existed (Mandy & Ainsley being the best examples of this). Of course, it didn't hurt that they killed off my favorite character at the end of S2, either.

    But still, two seasons of something great is better than none at all. [​IMG]
     
  5. Kevin Porter

    Kevin Porter Supporting Actor

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    As you go on throughout the series you'll tend to see that VP Hoynes is a good guy. You'll especially be longing for him during post S4 Bingo Bob years (blech). To me, I think there is conflict in the show but it comes from a place not often seen. I think Sorkin at least makes an effort to present both ends of the political spectrum equally, even if our guys end up on the left side almost every time. The conflict to me has always been, two people in a room who disagree with each other but both have valid points. I think that goes back to Jack Nicholson's "guarding the walls" monologue from Sorkin's A Few Good Men. The film up to that point built his character to be some war-monger power-hungry bastard but at the end of that little speech you kinda go "He's got a point". That's where I think the conflict is. It doesn't have to be C.J. and Toby hating each other because one of them got a promotion or something. Season 5 and beyond has become that and it is wretched. The Sorkin conflict is two intelligently presented viewpoints shared by two protagonists. Take, for example, C.J.'s stance on affirmative action in "The Two Bartlets". That's what I find compelling. As for the whole dangling plotlines/bad continuity stuff, let Joss stick to the brilliant continuity. I don't much mind because I watch West Wing for different reasons than Jossverse shows.
     
  6. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Kevin, it's not the wit that annoys me, it's the witless back and forth:

    - What is it?
    - Nothin.
    - Sure?
    - Yes.
    - Are you lying to me?
    - Yes.
    - What is it?
    - A thing
    - A thing?
    - Yes.
    - Are you gonna tell me?
    - No.
    - But it's a thing.
    - Yes.

    I made it up, but it's typical of a dialogue between say... Josh and his assistant (is he gonna screw her already or what?). It was fun at first, but it got old really fast. I find the rest generally brilliant, believe it or not.

    Listen, I like the show, I really do. I am used to (and probably prefer) darker shows, is all. As such, the general optimism in this show can be a bit nauseating, I am not sure how long I can stomach seeing good people doing the right thing all the time.

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    H
     
  7. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Producer

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    I think the conflcit really begins to show on seasons 2 and 3, as the show introduces more and more conservative characters. One of the things about this show is that it articulates many sides of an issue, and no one is made out to be right. It's a thinking man's show in that regard at least.

    The dialogue is good, but the snappiness that many of you reference does sometimes go too far. (I think it often goes too far on the Gilmore Girls, which is another well-written show but with dialogue that is often too-cute.)

    I stuck with the show through season 1 on DVD and I am hooked, and eagerly awaiting season 4 on DVD.
     
  8. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    Holadem, I gotta say that's a pretty good "counterfeit" of Sorkin-ese! [​IMG]

    I'd agree that Sorkin overdoes that sort of repartee sometimes. It's even worse in Sports Night, when I guess he hadn't learned to tone it down yet. Anyone else remember when Malina's character "got the call"? Ugh.
     
  9. Mikah Cerucco

    Mikah Cerucco Cinematographer

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    Apparently I'm a West Wing fan because as I was reading Holadem's ditty, I was thinking "cool, old-style West Wing... keep going.. " [​IMG]
     
  10. Jim DiJoseph

    Jim DiJoseph Second Unit

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    H, I highly recommend you continue through S1 and on to S2. You won't be disappointed. The conflicts to which you refer begin to surface as more time is given to back stories within the show and its characters. Sorkin handles it perfectly, IMHO. I also agree that his departure from the show was the death knell, thus it hasn't been the same since. I have S1-S3 and will enjoy them for years to come. I'll probably pick up S4, but I doubt I'll go any further than that.
     
  11. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Just finished S2.

    The cliffhanger isn't much of one (really who doubts that outcome?), but I enjoyed the finale anyway.

    I must admit that I am hooked to the show, and intend to at least watch S3.

    The dialogue has been dialed down significantly [​IMG]. The rythm is still there, which is good, but information is actually conveyed during the exchanges, they don't exist for their own sake.

    My main complaint remains, and at this point, I doubt it will ever go away: Good people who always do the right thing do not exist in the world I live in. When they screw up (like the whole MS thing), it's actually more of a false negative than anything else, right up there with the "obsessed with work" crap that you're supposed to tell your job interviewer when they ask you what your weaknesses are.

    But eh... that's the nature of the show, and I accepted it. I look forward to more.

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    H
     
  12. Rob T

    Rob T Screenwriter

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    you're not suppose to doubt the outcome which is why Bartlett puts his hands in his pockets, turns his head and smiles.
    It was Sorkins way of saying yes without saying yes. [​IMG]
     
  13. Jim DiJoseph

    Jim DiJoseph Second Unit

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    H, did you enjoy some of the more dramatic episodes in S2? I particularly enjoyed Noel and Two Cathedrals. I'd rate those episodes as some of the best television drama writing (and acting) I've ever seen.[​IMG]
     
  14. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Producer

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    Does anyone know if there are Easter Eggs on the season 3 set? I cannot find the segment called "Political Missteps" that is listed on the package.

    Also, I have to say I was not impressed with the quality of the discs themselves this time. My DVD player had more trouble reading these double-sided discs than any other discs in my entire collection.
     
  15. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Thje show only got better in S2, I hope that continues into S3. I also really hope the MS issue isn't sweeped under the rug like Leo drub problems.

    S2 was gripping as hell, I ran thru it quite quickly. My current favorite character has to be the new white house counsel (Oliver Platt), I hope to see more of him next season.

    The Donna/Josh thing is getting frustrating.

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    H
     
  16. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    I have been a huge fan of WW since day one of this series, even the current season.
     
  17. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I have watched most of S3, have 3 eps left I believe. It was somewhat less enjoyeable than S2, although the episode with Leo's senate hearing was fantastic. But the rest... nothing really stood out, I am having trouble remembering individual episodes. It is as if the show had lost focus, the writing is not as tight, the stories got less interesting. Some characters seem to have dissapeared entirely (Zoey?). Situations are repeating themselves dilluting the tension they used to carry (the situation room for instance).

    What this show needs is some major character arcs, some growth.

    S2 is the best season so far.

    Does it get better or is the the begining of the end?

    Looking back, S1 and S2 really were some excellent drama. But in the any significant character growth and plot closures, the same situations are getting old.

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    H
     
  18. Dax P

    Dax P Stunt Coordinator

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    Season 4 is really good, too, I think... but considering your disappointment in 3, yeah- 2 might be the peak.

    Season 5 isn't very good in comparison to the previous seasons (Sorkin leaves- it's very noticeable, of course), but it's still 'good' stacked up against a lot of other television... and I give them credit for not COMPLETELY falling apart without Sorkin... but there were a number of 'boring' stories... the excitement was pretty much gone...

    Season 6 (just finished recently) was back to being really good. Probably still not on par with 1-4, but a huge improvement over 5 (I'd say it is easily the Most Improved Show of '04-05). The cast additions, the direction change (although it's bothersome to me that they broke continuity and are holding a presidential election three years after the last one), they made themselves 'matter' again. I'm looking forward to next year.
     
  19. Mark Silver

    Mark Silver Stunt Coordinator

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    Let me first state I love the West Wing, but considering your previous posts, I think you will not like it as much going forward. A lot of characters will not have any closure, but there are reasons for this:


    History lesson on the show: In year one of the show Sorkin was writing Sports Night and West Wing at the same time. He was notorious for writing scripts up until and including the week of shooting the episode. As a result, the producers of the show would never know what characters Sorkin would be needing and therefore, unable to secure the guest star's availability. This is why Admiral Fitzwallace gets replaced by Nancy McNally from time to time, because they needed a character to deliver that dialogue. Also, West Wing had the "problem" of being so good that its guest actors would end up getting their own series, (i.e. CSI and CSI Miami). Here endeth the lesson.

    Anyway, in my opinion after Sorking leaves, the show falls totally apart and totally disregards some of the rules he set up:

    In Season 5, an entire "documentary style" episode is devoted to CJ and ends stating that she is the only press secretary to make it through two full terms. Without ruining future Seasons, let's just say.....not true.


    Also I think the producers should be embarrassed about Season 6, I don't know what the show was, but it wasn't The West Wing.......The producers are the same ones who did China Beach and the show takes on a much closer tone to that show than The West Wing.

    OK.....rant over.....I will now go take my Prozac.
     
  20. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Yeah, I did notice the dissapearance of Fritzwallace as well - which was weird given how his name was mentioned at some key moments of S3. He did appear in one episode. It's too bad, he is one of the more charismatic characters of the series.

    I really thought they were gonna do somethng with Joey Lucas, Ainsley Haynes, heck, how about DONNA AND JOSH. Something, anything. How long can they drag out the stuff between these two? At this point, could anything happen to live up to the sort of expectations that were set? How about Danny? Vanished into thin air as if he never existed! How about Joey's ex girlfriend from that PR agency? I don't even think she was in season 2. Again, just... vanished. It can get frustrating.

    I may end up buying S1 and S2 some day.

    --
    H
     

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