Last fall I began watching The West Wing. How I had never noticed it before is beyond me. I watched all of the Emmy telecasts when it won for best drama series (I'm a sucker for awards shows) and still didn't get the urge to watch the show...big mistake. So last fall I started watching it and I was hooked. Over Christmas break I watched seasons 1-3. Straight through. I'm not sure I even slept for days. It was crazy.
In less than a month I was completely hooked. It started so innocently, it all started with the episode "A Change is Gonna Come" in season six, the first of December. I'd been toying with the idea of actually watching an entire episode for weeks. I had watched about fifteen minutes of the episode when Jimmy Smits joined the cast in November and finally jumped in. Little did I know it was going to engulf me. Like I said I watched three seasons back-to-back over Christmas break. I laughed through season one's "The Crackpots and These Women," I was thrilled and amazed by "The Stackhouse Filibuster," an episode in season two that remains my favorite even to this day, and I cried in the season three finale "Posse Comitatus" when Secret Service Agent Simon Donovan (aka the one and only Mark Harmon) was killed.
Can you tell I'm obsessed? I haven't seen all of seasons 4 and 5, I catch reruns on the Bravo channel as often as possible, and I haven't seen all of season 6, but it doesn't matter. I'm hooked.
In all my watching I've learned quite a bit. Not only do we get to know some presidential trivia, historical tidbits, and Latin along the way, we get an inside look at how the White House operates and we get in hypothetical terms, big time news stories brought to us in our living rooms.
This season proves to be a difficult one for the writers. The Bartlett administration is on its way out, Martin Sheen can no longer be president, and the show is truly on its last leg. It wouldn't surprise me if this was the last season, just as it wouldn't surprise me if they let a Republican candidate win the election. So here's my prediction... they have staged Matt Santos (played by Jimmy Smits) as a great candidate. Even better staging is the choice to make Leo McGarry (played by John Spencer) the vice-presidential candidate. Problem is this... Leo's an alcoholic. He's been through so much in six seasons that they'll dig up his past. Second problem--Leo is devoted to his best friend Jed Bartlett. He'll never be to anyone what he has been to President Bartlett. Alan Alda is the Republican senator running against Santos. He's amazing. You can't put the man on the screen and not expect greatness. My only question is, historically congressmen (senators or representatives) have not had great success making the transition into the White House, will the writers ignore history and let this happen, or will they as they have in the past stick true to history??
Now, I realize that if you've never watched The West Wing , I have thoroughly confused you and caused a great deal of boredom, but I just wanted to give my two-cents on the situation and encourage you all, if you care at all about history and politics, to give the show a minute of your time. I'm kicking myself for having not realized the show's greatness sooner.
The West Wing premieres tonight at 7pm (Mountain) on NBC.