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"Disaster Relief" | View Comments1 | Unpaid Intern StafferJan 19, 2017
"Constituency of One" was admittedly a low point of the whole wretched affair, but for me this episode was the true nadir. The 'Josh screams at building' scene was absolutely painful, as you described, but what I hated most was CJ telling Bartlet to go back to the White House.

Up until that point, I thought the scenes like Bartlet helping that person wash dishes were tremendously effective and helped to showcase his human side. And then CJ, previously a character who would have been all for helping the little people, completely ruins the moment. Obviously a President's job is to help people from the White House, but the unearned melodrama of the moment just made CJ seem mean and uncaring. It was probably the exact moment I realized the tone of Season 5 wasn't for me.
"Jefferson Lives" | View Comments2 | Unpaid Intern StafferJan 11, 2017
Replying to Boscalyn (#4)
Yeah, I have to agree with Jeremy on this one. It's like the writers didn't even *watch* the episodes of Season 4 Joshua Malina was in. Granted, it's hard to find drama when a character is a fine, upstanding human being, but turning Will into a complete sell-out who compromises his integrity not even six months into his job at the White House would be horrifyingly cynical if I didn't know it was simply the result of a badly thought out writing decision.

SPOILER ALERT FOR LATER SEASONS

The best (worst?) part of the whole thing is that absolutely surreal scene in Season 6 or 7, it's been so long I forget which, where Will flat-out tells Josh or Toby, again I forget which, that he only went to work for Russell because he thought they all loved him. Whether you look at it as a terribly lazy retcon or confirmation that Will is just the dumbest human being on the face of the planet, that was one of the most laugh out loud moments of the series for me.
"Jefferson Lives" | View Comments3 | Unpaid Intern StafferJan 11, 2017
Replying to Jeremy G. (#2)
I can sympathize with any writer who got stuck with a barely established character to a degree, but Sorkin literally set up a very simple role for that character (New Sam), one that Wells could have just run with quite easily. Instead we got one of the most nonsensical face-heel turns in TV history.
"Jefferson Lives" | View Comments4 | Unpaid Intern StafferJan 10, 2017
Gary Cole is a terrific actor and I actually think the character of Bob Russell wasn't the worst thing in the world. It was good for the show to round out the different kinds of Democratic politicians they portrayed. Unfortunately, the arrival of Russell heralds the complete ruination of a character that I had actually enjoyed a lot last season when Sorkin was still writing for him. I don't know if John Wells just hated that actor with a fiery passion, but he sure screwed him over in a way the character could never recover from.
"The Dogs of War" | View Comments5 | Unpaid Intern StafferJan 6, 2017
Your review does a really great job of pinpointing why exactly this arc fell apart. The two halves never came together as one whole. One thing to add though, I believe Sorkin did actually have an idea on how to resolve the plot, but NBC had already fired him so they didn't quite care about his ideas for the show anymore. I think the original conclusion had something to do with Zoey being kidnapped by domestic terrorists rather than foreign as Wells decided to go with.

In the end, I think John Wells just wasn't the type of showrunner at all who could write a TV series about a presidential administration. Ironically, he turned out to be quite adept at writing presidential *elections*.
"7A WF 83429" | View Comments6 | Unpaid Intern StafferJan 5, 2017
The Season 5 premiere review up before the Season 4 review? Shame, shame!

I jest, of course. This was quite an uninspiring premiere obviously, but it wasn't a total trainwreck. We have a few episodes to go before Season 5 sinks the ship in "Disaster Relief" (the most ironically titled episode in the world)
"Twenty Five" | View Comments7 | Unpaid Intern StafferDec 9, 2016
Replying to Jeremy G. (#5)
"20 Hours in America" is in fact two episodes, at least according to Wikipedia, making "Slow News Day" the 100th. And if I can't trust the Almighty Wiki, who can I trust?

Anyhow, for a season that seemingly took a perverse pleasure in stomping optimism into the ground ("Disaster Relief" and "Talking Points" stand out as the most egregious offenders in that regard), a little over-indulgence in Sorkin-era feel-good material was a pleasant surprise every now and then.

I don't know if this is going to ruin the surprise or anything, but what's your favorite episode of Season 5 personally?
"Twenty Five" | View Comments8 | Unpaid Intern StafferDec 9, 2016
Replying to Jeremy G. (#2)
"Slow News Day" gets a lot of love from me because it's one of the few episodes to feel like it really embraced the Sorkin-era optimism again. It's also got a great spotlight on Toby, which is always good, and it's a nicely subtle way of celebrating the 100th episode without overtly acknowledging that's what they're doing.
"Twenty Five" | View Comments9 | Unpaid Intern StafferDec 7, 2016
One can only assume that the *first* weakest season to which you obliquely referenced above is the next one. Truly, Season 5 almost made me stop watching The West Wing entirely, and if it hadn't been for one or two momentary bright spots (Shutdown, Slow News Day, and The Supremes are the only three episodes I would really call worthy of the West Wing brand in that season), I probably would have. Thankfully 6 and 7 get back to basics, but this episode was probably the series finale of the REAL West Wing, all things considered.
"Life on Mars" | View Comments10 | Unpaid Intern StafferNov 30, 2016
Replying to Jeremy G. (#4)
Aaron Sorkin could at times be one of the laziest writers on planet Earth, you'll find no argument from me on that point. And if the episode had focused more on the characters of Hoynes, Bartlet, and Leo from the very beginning, it would have probably been one of the top 10 best episodes of the entire run. So I suppose our only difference here is that I forgive a lot of bad execution if the concept underneath it all is good enough. Probably not the mindset to have for a critical reviewer though.

Mostly I'm still peeved that Sorkin wrote out Tim Matheson just for the sake of an absurd season-ending cliffhanger. Just a criminal waste of Tim Matheson.
"Life on Mars" | View Comments11 | Unpaid Intern StafferNov 30, 2016
I do understand the lion's share of your frustrations with this episode (I certainly wanted more focus on the outgoing Vice President rather than Chandler as well) but I think a C is a bit harsh. That big scene toward the end where Bartlet, Leo, and Hoynes discuss his resignation may not make up for the rest of the episode's faults, but it is, to me at least, one of the most powerful scenes of the whole series, featuring three of the show's most talented actors doing a superb job selling us on the enormity of what's going on. Sad to see that scene didn't get any shoutout in the review or even in the Pros/Cons section.
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