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Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Casual Critic — West Wing

There it was, right there in the Labor Day weekend version of the Inquirer's "Unconventional Wisdom." (My apologies to the author as I never wrote down her name, wrongly assuming I could get it in proceeding weeks. The column is apparently written by a different writer each week.) I could finally stop hiding. I wasn't the only one! I was free to admit it.

I, too, watch the West Wing marathons.

Holidays. Mondays. That week-long one they did, which was just freaky. Even just the daily reruns.

I admit it. I feel like I know more about how our government works because I watch the show. I followed the West Wing election more than Bush-Kerry. I'm fascinated by the prospect of seeing the show's entire cast change this season, though I'm guessing Jimmy Smits beats Allan Alda and retains most of the regulars. (They gave it away, if I'm right, by making "Leo" his V.P. candidate.)

Yeah, I know, it can't possibly really be what it's like . . . right? But watching the little things is the amazing part of the show, and the reason reruns are so popular. You pick up little things that must have some basis in reality. The bartering that gets bills, funding, and whatever else approved or not. The total, almost 24-hour a day commitment made by the staff. The lifestyle the President of the United States endures.

I thought the last couple seasons were a bit down by West Wing standards, and I don't get why they skipped a whole year of Bartlett's second term, but the show is still the best on T.V. The assassination attempt and kidnapping of Bartlett's daughter are two of the most intriguing sequences of episodes. The humor/wit of the first season is unmatched by later seasons or other shows.

The show's move to Sundays this season could signal the beginning of the end. After all, cast changes spell doom for most shows, and they're attempting at least a massive shuffle, if not overhaul, of the cast. If it survives post-Bartlett, it might be the most fascinating thing to see (if not watch) from television in years — an entire change of characters.

For the record, I'm guessing Santos wins, but is assassinated at the end of the season. It let's all the current main characters "move up," except Bartlett (and C.J. gets shuffled around), and stay on the show.

I haven't bought any T.V. show DVDs, but as far as television goes, you can't ask for more than the West Wing.

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