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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » West Wing (Page 1)

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Author Topic: West Wing
JonHecht
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Should I watch it?
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Lyrhawn
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Do you think you would like it?
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Strider
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Do you think he would like it?
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JonHecht
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Strider has the right question.
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Lyrhawn
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Without knowing what you like, it's hard to say.

I think it's fantastic. I usually watch the whole thing every year. They pioneered the walk and talk steadycam thing, and I think the comedy on the show is often undersold; it's hilarious. I think it has one of the best ensemble casts ever assembled. It was a bit of a bumpy road after Sorkin left and they shuffled the cast around, but it still does well in the closing seasons. I still think it shines in the first four seasons or so.

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Strider
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I was actually just hoping that someone would follow up with:

Do you think that he would think that he would like it?

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El JT de Spang
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First four seasons are FANTASTIC television. Smart, funny, poignant, informative, and at times heart wrenching.
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Kwea
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I loved all of them.
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Bella Bee
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I liked how in in the alt-universe in Fringe they had got up to about season 12 of the show.

The West Wing was strangely prescient in the last season about some future events, too, which makes it all the more fun to watch now.

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Jeorge
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Jon - I don't know you at all, so I can't guess what you would like, but yes, it's a wonderful show. (I was going to say "fantastic" but realized two other members had used that word, so I figured I should say something different).
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JonHecht
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I'll watch it. Thank you.
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Marek
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Don't do it! you'll end up having to watch every season! I'm warning you!
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Rakeesh
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I'm with JT. I watched and enjoyed all of it, but the first four seasons of the show were simply excellent on many levels.
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Ron Lambert
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I always thought West Wing was a great show, and never missed an episode, even if I had to record it. The political premises always seemed to be quite reasonable, with no liberal extremes or conservative extremes. Everyone seemed to have a sense of honor. We only wish that were true in real life. If Martin Sheen's President Barlett was a Democrat, he was a Democrat in the mold of JFK, not of a Clinton or Obama, who demean the office.
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Rakeesh
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I'm sure while he was alive, you would've said that of Kennedy-the adulterous Ivy League elite liberal with a family history of mob ties.
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mr_porteiro_head
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I only caught it occasionally when flipping through channels, but I don't think I ever watched it without it making it clear that liberal > conservative (in the American political spectrum sense). That's not a dealbreaker, but it dampen my enthusiasm enough that I've never really wanted to watch more of it, despite absolutely loving Aaron Sorkin's previous TV show, Sports Night. (And that despite the fact that I have almost zero interest in sports.)

[ June 21, 2012, 03:25 PM: Message edited by: mr_porteiro_head ]

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Ron Lambert
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Perhaps so Rakeesh, but Marilyn Monroe and his family's Prohibition Moonshine business aside, his politics and especially his grasp of economics was practical and sound. And I thought his Ivy League accent was charming.
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advice for robots
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I love West Wing. Seven seasons was not enough. Absolutely amazing show. I don't buy TV shows or movies as a general rule, but I'm considering buying West Wing just so I don't have to live without it.

I enjoyed what I watched of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip as well, although that was not quite as sunlit as West Wing. I'm hoping good things of Newsroom now. Sorkin is in a class by himself.

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mr_porteiro_head
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Heh. Here's a quote from NPR about Sorkin's latest:

quote:
The Newsroom makes it clear that Will's not merely telling the truth, but that any intelligent, right-thinking person knows he's telling the truth.
That sums up the vibe I got from West Wing.
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Lyrhawn
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I can see how you'd get that vibe, and I can definitely see why that might turn someone off.

I'll add though that Bartlett is not your typical Democrat, nor is the saint/sinner line clearly divided as Democrat/Republican throughout the show.

There are plenty of good Republicans and bad Democrats.

Bartlett's use of the military looks, I suppose, a bit more like Obama's use of the military with regards to some things I won't spoil anyone on. But back when it was on the air it was pretty unlike anything we've seen before. Other than that he actually falls anywhere from uber super duber liberal to moderate to somewhat conservative, especially in his religiosity.

I always sort of got the idea that Republicans were the bad guys only because they happened to be on the other side. For example, during the last two seasons of the show when the election is going on, both the GOP and Dem candidates bust the stereotype, and are pretty moral and likeable. There's no clear line.

[ June 21, 2012, 11:45 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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Rakeesh
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Oh, I enjoyed the show immensely, but that vibe was positively thick in the atmosphere of most episodes. In some of them it was even cloying, but I went into it regarding the show as a sort of political liberal...hmmm, heroic journey?...sort of story when it attempted to deal with the broader strokes of Rs v Ds. But on a smaller scale, particularly when it dealt as it so often did with the Congressional wrangling so constantly necessary, that felt a lot more true to actual life to me-foolish or duplicitous or even downright nasty Democratic politicians were often encountered there, too.

But when it came time for a politician to do something really nasty, it was almost invariably a conservative Republican, and when there were many opportunities and temptations for the WH to do so, they very rarely did, or if so it was under incredible offense and justification.

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Lyrhawn
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Off the top of my head, I can think of at least five occasions where the douchebag was a Democrat and the hero was a Republican.

Josh did a ton of douchey things throughout the show as well during his time as Bartlett's hatchet man. He was always the one willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and was often reprimanded for it.

The only real cartoonishly stereotypical Republican we got that looks anything like a present day stereotype was Steven Culp's Speaker of the House in the later seasons. But even he has an air of character to him, I thought.

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JonHecht
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It's good.
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Hobbes
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I loved the first four seasons (when Sorkin was writing) but I never for a moment felt the show did anything but fake a head nod toward contrition to conservatives. When they did have conservative "good guys" it was always when they were acting as moderates, outside of politics, or acting conservative but on some extremely minor topic of conservative politics (e.g. a bill to lower theft from the workplace was nominally a conservative bill).

Actually, the thing that bugged me more than that was the creation of fake charecters. They were all fake of course, but fake within the reality of the show. Just like when the writers want a smart person in their story so they have everyone around that person say how smart they are, but then prove themselves incapable of writing anyone intelligent and so it just ends up a massive lie. Same with conservative thought. As an example: Ainsley Hayes is one of the contrition, conservative repeaters. She holds conservative view points, attends conservative events and seems to hold to conservative morals and life styles. Except no, she doesn't at all. Other than one, half-hearted speech about the equal protection act she's never shown doing anything conservative, talks about how much (pre-maritial) sex she has, and is constantly acting in concert with and evena agreeing with the liberals. Any time Sorkin tries to put in a conservative hero, he makes them nominally liberal.

[Having pre-maritial sex doesn't make one nominally liberal, but Sorking seems incapable of writing a character that actually has what most would consider "conervative morals" no matter how much he talks about them being moral conservatives]

Hobbes [Smile]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
She holds conservative view points, attends conservative events and seems to hold to conservative morals and life styles. Except no, she doesn't at all.
So she's like most real self-styled conservatives, then, is what you're saying? [Wink] *ducks*
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mr_porteiro_head
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So, I just watched the pilot.

The "conservatives are gross and smell like poo" vibe was even stronger than I remembered it being.

I did chuckle, though, when one of the good guys got to snidely correct the religious nutjob because he got the number wrong on one of the 10 commandments. And proceeded to get it wrong himself, with nobody catching it. [Smile]

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:

The "conservatives are gross and smell like poo" vibe was even stronger than I remembered it being.

[ROFL]
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
So, I just watched the pilot.

The "conservatives are gross and smell like poo" vibe was even stronger than I remembered it being.

I did chuckle, though, when one of the good guys got to snidely correct the religious nutjob because he got the number wrong on one of the 10 commandments. And proceeded to get it wrong himself, with nobody catching it. [Smile]

Well, in the first episode it was "smarmy religious fundies are gross and smell like poo" though I can see why they'd be conservative by association. But I don't think Toby was any more snide than Mary Marsh. And for that matter, the Rev. character comes back a couple more times and at various points they go out of their way to point out that he's actually a pretty decent guy, it's just the bitch he hired that's evil.
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mr_porteiro_head
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I only mentioned the snideness because it was unintentionally funny that he (and the writer) was so snide about the others' mistake even while making the exact same mistake.
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Lyrhawn
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Fair enough. [Smile]
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JonHecht
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"Just like when the writers want a smart person in their story so they have everyone around that person say how smart they are, but then prove themselves incapable of writing anyone intelligent and so it just ends up a massive lie."

This has stuck out on a number of occasions. "Oh shit, the President's supposed to be smart, let's have him cite random trivia, do some math, and rant in Latin. The other characters aren't *as* smart, so let's just have people say that they're smart."

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Jeorge
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I did chuckle, though, when one of the good guys got to snidely correct the religious nutjob because he got the number wrong on one of the 10 commandments. And proceeded to get it wrong himself, with nobody catching it. [Smile]

That little goof provided a learning moment for me; I hadn't realized until then that the numbering of the commandments differs depending on your tradition (Jewish, Catholic, Protestant). Since all three traditions were represented in the room, they could have had quite a mess of disagreements. But yeah, I think Toby should have said 5, and Bartlet should have disagreed with him and said 4?
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Hobbes
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The first episode is probably the worst of the first 4 seasons. Which isn't incommon for pilots but it is true for West Wing. It seemed pretty dumb to start the show that way: alienating half the country before you have a chance to build up trust or a connection of any kind. I guess it still did fine but I'm glad I didn't see the first episode first.

quote:
This has stuck out on a number of occasions. "Oh shit, the President's supposed to be smart, let's have him cite random trivia, do some math, and rant in Latin. The other characters aren't *as* smart, so let's just have people say that they're smart."
This is a habit of just about every TV show featuring smart people ever. It bothers me more in West Wing because it claims to be (and in most cases is) a smart show. I think my favorite example was when the president was quoting whole passages of Revelation and still called it: "Revelations". It's the perfect example (to me) of how writing about things you know nothing about will eventually lead to you showing off your ignorance. Every time Sorkin gets involved with religion (which is every TV show and movie he writes) he reveals a complete lack of understanding. Especially when he's trying to pander to religious people. He should just stay away from it: he's a perfectly engaging writer without trying to pretend to fit in.

Hobbes [Smile]

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
That little goof provided a learning moment for me; I hadn't realized until then that the numbering of the commandments differs depending on your tradition (Jewish, Catholic, Protestant). Since all three traditions were represented in the room, they could have had quite a mess of disagreements. But yeah, I think Toby should have said 5, and Bartlet should have disagreed with him and said 4?
Toby should have said 5, and Bartlet should have said nothing, because Toby wouldn't have been wrong, and Bartlet probably would have known that.

But that couldn't happen, because it would have given the writer no opportunity to show how ignorant the other side really is.

[ June 26, 2012, 10:27 AM: Message edited by: mr_porteiro_head ]

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JonHecht
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I forgot to mention that I like that there were episodes about reparations (both to American Indian and African Americans). It's unfortunate, though, that there was only one episode each, which is about as long as most people think about it before wrongly deciding reparations are absurd.
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Lyrhawn
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I doubt anything other than a miniseries would really get that message across. It took two complete semesters of intense grad school reading before I starting taking Af-Am reparations seriously. The discussion on reparations in West Wing wasn't even particularly good.
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JonHecht
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But there was a miniseries, and it was quite popular.
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advice for robots
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I agree about the pilot episode being the worst one of the whole series. Good thing so little of what happened in the pilot went on to have any bearing in the show.
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JonHecht
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It doesn't help that Bartlet just said "You're using the Fibonacci opening" (in chess) when it doesn't exist. He also said that Toby was playing the Evan's Gambit after Toby played 1. e4, but the Evan's doesn't start until move 4. I think he meant the fianchetto instead of Fibonacci. but even that's a type of move rather than an opening (though one can open with a fianchetto). While I'm complaining, when Bartlet went on a rant in Latin, the Italianesque accent was way over the top--though I haven't heard been to a Latin Mass so maybe all Catholics sound like that.

Even so, I'd appreciate it if the writers could do actual research instead of just making stuff up.

Edit: Could have done*. I guess it's too late for them to do research now.

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Rakeesh
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Wasn't that screwing with Sam, though?
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JonHecht
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First time was, second time wasn't.

Edit: And since all these openings have real names, he could have just as easily screwed with Sam by using it.

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mr_porteiro_head
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I could not exist in the universe of the West Wing.

There, people are smart because they're good at spouting trivia. (And depressingly often getting it wrong, lazy scriptwriters.)

But they're also morons if they disagree with the writers on the Important Issues.

I'd qualify for both. (Especially the part about getting trivia wrong.)

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Lyrhawn
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Well, it's also a microcosm. It's a tiny group of insiders in the organization.

Based on what I've read of the Bush Administration from the numerous history books that have come out over the past few years, if you were to base West Wing on them and present it as reality, I suspect you'd have the exact same reaction. But that reality existed for a certain group of people who created it and tried to base policy around it.

That universe exists and is recreated every four years, it's just in a pocket of subspace called Washington D.C.

I've given up expecting anyone in that city to believe or act on much of anything based on actual reality.

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mr_porteiro_head
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I've been giving this show another chance, but I think I'm done with the good guys taking the stance that if a part of the U.S. Constitution is "archaic", that means that it simply doesn't have to be followed.
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Rakeesh
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Is that re the census and sampling?
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Lyrhawn
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I think so.

It sounds like he's talking about Mr. Willis of Ohio.

In fairness, isn't the archaic argument the very basis of the "living document" school of interpretation?

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Hobbes
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Yes, I think actually posted something here many moons ago about how much that bugged me. The fourth season is, I think, the best in terms of making the show less based on left wing = good, right wing = bad. But none of the seasons are free of it by any means.

Hobbes [Smile]

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Is that re the census and sampling?

Yup.

The quote, as best as I can recall, is something like this: "The only argument against doing this is that this article of the constitution is not archaic."

What a bunch of poppycock. The most obvious argument against it is that it's against the constitution, and you follow the constitution regardless of whether it's archaic or not. What kind of morons are they writing this show for? Bleh.

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kmbboots
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Or when it is archaic (as it often is) change it. Moses didn't bring the Constitution down off the mountaintop.
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Dan_Frank
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Kate: Most conservatives don't have a problem with changing the constitution, since, you know, there's a mechanism for doing so built right in.

What they object to is "changing" (disregarding) the constitution without using that mechanism.

The reason for that has less to do with Moses bringing down the Constitution and more to do with respect for civilization and the law of the land.

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