Jose’s Top 5 Shows: #1 – THE WEST WING

The West Wing

If you’ve been following my list of top TV shows, you’ve seen that I’m a fan of science fiction shows as well as some off-the-wall fare. Therefore you might be surprised that my top show of all time is the political drama THE WEST WING. For its seven season run on NBC, during which it won the Emmy for Best Drama four times, it was my must watch show every week.

What is the show about:

The West Wing shows us the inner workings of the White House from staffers to the President himself. Through the show we begin to understand the difficulties and challenges the Executive Branch faces on a daily basis as they try to do the right thing.

What I like about the show and you should too:

The West Wing was a great show to watch, and it stands the test of time due to three reasons:

  • The dialogue and the look of the show – When you watch The West Wing, you’re quick to realize that it’s an Aaron Sorkin show. The rapid fire, witty dialogue and the long “wall and talk” shots following cast members throughout the set gave the show a very movie-like quality.
  • The cast – It doesn’t matter much if the writing is good if the actors can’t deliver the lines right. The cast on The West Wing, from the main cast to guest stars were an extremely talented group. Any cast that starts off with John Spencer, Rob Lowe, Martin Sheen, and then has Bradley Whitford and Dule Hill as supporting cast members is going to do a good job with any script.
  • The storylines – It would have been very easy for Sorkin to turn this show into a preachy, Capra-esque show about government, where the cast always solves the problem they are facing while always doing the right thing. Instead, the show tries to play it straight (it did get preachy at times) and tried to address many of the issues the country was facing in an honest, realistic manner. You and your political ideology may not agree with the outcome of the episode, but odds are that you would respect the process the characters went through to reach the conclusion.
  • Why I like the show:

    Outside of the reasons above, the main reason I loved The West Wing is that I’m a political junkie. The show was basically my addiction for seven seasons, and it was full of enough political inside baseball to keep me entertained. Even if you’re as not into politics as I am, you’ll find yourself learning something new every few episodes. Think of it as a Civics class with a better production budget.

    Out of the seven seasons of The West Wing, I consider these to be my favorite episodes:

    5. “Posse Comitatus” – As the President attends an evening of Shakespeare for a Catholic charity, he deals with both an irritating Governor and the decision of whether to order the death of a man. The juxtaposition of Bartlet dealing with such issues in the presence of religious figures at a charity event was genius, and gave the viewer an understanding of the strength and the limitations of the powers of the President.

    4. “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen – Part I & II” – The cliffhanger at the end of Season 1 was the shooting at the President and motorcade as he left an event. At the beginning of Season 2, the White House staff began to deal with the aftermath, and meanwhile we were able to see how they became a part of the Bartlet administration through flashbacks. It was an excellent way to provide backstory for all these characters while tying it to a present event.

    3. “Bartlet for America” – It’s a few days before Christmas and Leo must testify before congress about the President’s cover-up of an illness, while we see flashbacks of Leo during Bartlet’s first presidential campaign. At the same time, Josh and Sam work to try to save Leo from an embarrassing revelation during the hearings. A powerful episode that allowed John Spencer to shine, and ended up earning him an Emmy for Supporting Actor in a Drama.

    2. “20 Hours in America – Part I & II” – After missing the bus at a campaign event, Josh, Toby, and Donna have to make their way back to Washington D.C. while Sam is the only senior staffer available to the President. It was almost an homage to an old Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour road comedy movie, as we get to see these beltway insiders experience “real” America through a series of encounters.

    1. “Two Cathedrals” – After losing his secretary, Mrs. Landingham, in a tragic accident, the President reminisces about their past history, going back to when she worked for his father. Martin Sheen is amazing in this episode and has a fiery scene near the end where he questions his faith and his will to run for re-election.

    Were you a fan of The West Wing? What is your favorite TV show of all time? Let me know in the comments below!

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