Sunday, January 8, 2006

Running Mates (TWW)

Is there any better way to memorialize a brilliant man than to flaunt his brilliance?

"Johnny it seems we hardly knew you. We love you. We miss you." --Martin Sheen on the passing of John Spencer.

In the last few episodes of John Spencer's career, we will see as we have hundreds of times before the brilliance, talent, and unbelievable presence of Leo McGarry. I have said before that Leo is my favorite. Nothing has changed. There are times, like in the episode Full Disclosure, that I am amazed by CJ Cregg, but there is never a time that I cannot admire Leo and appreciate the beautiful character the writer's created for John Spencer.

Tonight's episode was perfect. Only Leo could orchestrate a leak that would improve his standings in a vice-presidential debate. A leak to a blog outlet nonetheless. Only Leo could knock their socks off by lowering the American public's expectations. Only Leo could fire back about universal health care on a question intended to address his health and the potential of another heart attack. I found quite ironic and sad that such a thing came up in an episode filmed just weeks prior to John Spencer's passing due to a heart attack.

So much of this episode was hard to take. Leo looked so vibrant, but silently John Spencer's time was ticking away. So much of this episode made die hard TWW fans miss the days of Danny & CJ, Leo always near President Bartlet, and Toby & Josh pulling the strings behind the political scenes.

But in an episode that was hard to take, there were moments of comedic wonder and moments that even those who haven't watched TWW regularly could appreciate. There is something funny about two very articulate adults pondering Armageddon. There is something very funny about the National Security Advisor and the White House Communications Director contemplating the end of the world. Also something amusing about a candlelit dinner in an office in the West Wing. I'm not sure how long the Kate/Will dynamic will last, but let me just say I find it entertaining, and forgive the term, but cute.

Kristen Chenoweth amazes me. She's so small, yet she has this larger than life personality. She is the only woman that has graced The West Wing who could hold her own with Leo McGarry, next of course to Ms. Allison Janney. Kristen just fires back at the weird quirks and smirks of John Spencer's character and it is great. In what she called Spencer's "default expression," all the talk about Spencer's smirk was thoroughly entertaining. That "devastatingly sexy" (her words, not mine) smirk is the trademark John Spencer we've all grown to love. It is part of what drew me in originally and what continues to draw me in today.

The West Wing will never be the same without Leo McGarry. The talent John Spencer brought to the show will never be replaced. They can bring in the heavyweights like Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda, but they will never find another Leo.

On its last legs, this may turn out to be the most amazing season of The West Wing. And the previews suggested Danny's coming back!!! Stay tuned.

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