Sympathetic Stupid

Sunday, October 02, 2005

West Wing Season 4

The moment when the snare drums roll for the start of a West Wing episode gets me every time. The West Wing is like love; after not having it for a while, you forget how good it can be. The pair of episodes which start Season 4 are not even among the best, they're kinda gimmicky (Toby, Josh and Donna missing the motorcade) and end in a wash of schmaltz (the same trio returning to the White House). There's not enough character interaction, some preaching (the ordinary Joe in the bar) and the climactic event (pipe-bomb attack) seems underdone (possibly because real life continues to trump it).

But it also reminds you of how good it can be. The production values are always sky-high and there's constantly impressive ballroom scenes and Air Force One shenanigans. I love the discussions of policy, and the constant jockeying between huge-picture foreign affairs and tiny-picture individual concerns; repeatedly reminding me of the scope of governing any country, let alone the indisputably most powerful. And it's almost assumed that the characters, with all their idiosyncracies, quirks and weaknesses, are well-drawn and sensibly played. And they all look so intelligent, always drawing card for nerds like me.

Look, it just all works, and if you haven't yet been initiated into the fold, steps must be taken to remedy this. For me, two down, twenty to go - maybe I'll take the week off work...