High brow televsion takes a bow and exits, stage right. The West Wing ends a long and glorious run. Political dialog may never be the same.
Unlike most West Wing Watchers™, I got in on the story lines late. For whatever reason, I was mostly busy on nights The West Wing aired during the early years.
That dought ended last year when I moved back to family and home in Los Angeles. During therapy and recuperation I had plenty of time to catch up on television.
Daytime TV isn’t much to write home about, so I won’t. There’s soaps, which I loathe. There’s Oprah. I admire her money and makeup.
There’s Dr. Phil. I have a special project for him to help AT&T. There’s CNN, MSNBC, Fox. More laughs.
Judge Judy is fun fare and a good chuckle, but gets old after her third or fourth demonstration of a professional life deeply embroiled in perpetual menopause. Times two.
Perhaps it’s easier to write snappy conversation when so much dialog is going on in a pharmaceutically enhanced mind. Then there’s the Bravo channel. I love those folks. And the people who invented the digital video recorder (DVR, PVR).
That’s where I found The West Wing. I don’t know which year of The West Wing reruns I started, but it didn’t matter. Bravo would run them six or eight at a time, and repeat again later in the day.
I recorded them all, one after the other. And watched each one with the same relish that makes a hot dog so good at a baseball game.
Why? What made The West Wing so special? Besides the fact that it won a record 13 Emmy Awards in the first year.
Two words. Aaron Sorkin.
There should be no doubt. When Sorkin was at the helm, dialog was crisp, crackly, realistic, poignant, and perfect. Each character carried lines that were in character, continuous.
No television drama was better. More dramatic, perhaps. Better quality writing, producing, directing? Nope.
From what I gather, seeds of The West Wing were sewn from another Aaron Sorkin adventure, The American President, starring Michael Douglas.
The West Wing was clearly better than the sum of the parts. My politics are somewhat neutral, though I couldn’t help but wonder how the country would fare with Jed Bartlett as president, instead of Jeb’s brother.
I’m convinced that the aftermath of 9/11 would have been substantially more decisive with John Goodman sitting in for President Bartlett.
Your political leanings notwithstanding, The West Wing was decidedly liberal in nature. My politics are decidedly somewhere else or not at all.
It didn’t matter that Sorkin’s agenda showed up week after week. For an unabashed liberal, Sorkin’s Jed Bartlett was able to pull the trigger when necessary.
Action. Drama. Emotion. That’s good TV. That was The West Wing then. West Wing now limps toward a Hollywood sunset.
As with music and sports and family, politics and agenda don’t matter much when the art is so good. The art is that good. Sorkin was arrested a few years ago at the Burbank Airport. His carry-on bag apparently contained carry-ons which should not have been carried on, and he was ordered to a drug-diversion program.
Perhaps it’s easier to write snappy conversation when so much dialog is going on in a pharmaceutically enhanced mind. I don’t know.
I’ll miss what was the real The West Wing and try to forget the past few seasons. After all, Seinfeld’s first season or two was crusty; the last season forgettable.
Let me remember only that which is best, and be able to tell the difference.