Sunday, January 22, 2006

Let Bartlet Be Bartlet

Via Cliff I learn that The West Wing will end this year. This comes as no surprise at all, really, given that NBC this year moved TWW to a really bad time slot on Sunday nights that pretty much forced me to give up the show. (The eight o'clock hour pretty much gets ignored in our home, TV-wise, because of things like bathtime, homework time, and bedtime for The Daughter.) I have seen a handful of episodes this year, and the show's been doing pretty well. So, to NBC, I say, in the immortal words of Joey Lucas: thbbppppt!

The big question about TWW is just what will be done about the untimely death of John Spencer, who played Leo McGarry on the show. I figure they can either pretend he's still there and just not show him (and hell, since they're positing a Vice President figure with a history of nasty heart trouble, they might as well take the next step and posit his ensconcement in a "secure, undisclosed location"), or they can have Leo die on the show and then have Democratic candidate Matt Santos scramble to name a new running mate. I've seen some online speculation that Sam Seaborn could come back and fill that role, but personally, I think it would be cool if Toby Ziegler's ex-wife (a Representative from Maryland) got the nod.

(And it's worth noting that it isn't like TWW lacks for precedent in just having characters disappear with no explanation whatsoever -- they could have Leo just go off to wherever it is that Season One's Mandy, a fingernails-on-the-chalkboard character if ever there was one, vanished to on the very night of the assassination attempt on President Bartlet.)

TWW was a favorite show of mine for most of its run, even if I think that the much-derided Season Five was better than most thought at the time and even if I think that Aaron Sorkin started to lose steam early in Season Four (aside from "Twenty Hours in America", the Bartlet re-election campaign was a snoozer of a storyline). Thus far I only own the first two seasons on DVD, owing to a massive price markdown on them last fall, but I expect I'll at least pick up the remaining Sorkin seasons at some point, if I find them cheaply.

Anyhow, here's to The West Wing, which will be missed as NBC starts lurching for something, anything, with ratings.

(You can read about my favorite TWW episodes here, by the way.)

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