Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Well, it's official: This will be the last season for The West Wing.

Facing sagging ratings and the death of one of the principal actors, NBC has officially announced that this will be the show's final season. They will deal with the death of Leo McGarry (John Spencer) in the final episodes. I would imagine they have their best legal minds working on what happens should the Vice-Presidential candidate of a major party die before the election--to the best of my knowledge, that hasn't happened before.

So, with the end of one of my favorite shows, I would like to share with you my five favorite moments from the show.

5. Season One. Episode: "In Excelsis Deo" Moment: The funeral

At the end of the episode, as the rest of the West Wing staff listen to a children's choir perform "The Little Drummer Boy", Toby and Mrs. Landingham attend the military funeral of a homeless Korean war veteran that Toby helped to arrange. Shots of the two of them looking on somberly and the honor guard performing all the rituals attendant to a military burial are interposed with the smiling staff enjoying the Christmas music. I bawled the first time I saw it. Dammit, it makes me teary just thinking about it now!

4. Season Four. Episode: "Game On" Moment: Abby cuts off the President's tie.

Throughout the episode, President Bartlett has been fretting that his "lucky tie" will not be available to him for the Presidential debate. Apparently, it was one he borrowed from Josh at the last minute when his own tie picked up a stain right before his first Presidential debate four years ago. He feels it's his "lucky tie", and he is worried that his debate performance will suffer without it. So, Abby, perhaps in an effort to convince him how foolish that notion is, cuts off his tie seconds before the debate, forcing him to borrow Josh's tie once again. Her action perhaps forces him to realize that the tie he is wearing has NOTHING to do with his debate skills. It's one of the funniest--and cleverest--moments of the show.

3. Season Seven. Episode: "The Debate" Moment: The entire episode.

Few if any taped TV shows in this day and age are willing to broadcast a live episode. I thought the concept of a live debate was brilliant. And with this being the last season, I'm glad they were willing to take a few risks.

2. Season One. Episode: "Mandatory Minimums" Moment: Leo roughs up congressional aides.

A newly revived Bartlet administration is discussing, among other things, alternatives to prison for drug-based offenders. And before some congressmen start making noises about "soft on crime", Leo calls seven congressional aides into the White House press room and proceeds to detail how family members of their bosses were given leniency after committing drug-based crimes. He then threatens to give these stories to the press if their bosses start sounding off about being soft on drugs. It's one of many "Stand Up and Cheer" moments.

1. Season One. Episode: "Pilot" Moment: Bartlet berates religious conservatives.

In the midst of an argument between a group of religious conservatives and White House staffers, Bartlet storms into the room and proceeds to beat the conservatives up one side and down the other for failing to denounce a militant extremist right-wing religious group. He then tells them that until they do, they can "get your fat asses out of my White House." In this day and age where Right-Wing groups use the executive branch the way Edgar Bergin used Charlie McCarthy, it gives me hope that maybe they will someday push too hard, and be kicked to the curb.

So, that's my list of favorite West Wing moments. I welcome any contributions by the three readers of this blog on theirs.

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