Author Topic: "The West Wing"  (Read 1909 times)

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Offline Dundonnell

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"The West Wing"
« on: March 04, 2009, 07:09:49 PM »
I guess that there are probably a few fans of 'The West Wing' on here?

When the series were first shown I watched each episode avidly. Although I am a Scot I have always been fascinated by American politics and the marvellous ensemble acting, the incredibly sharp and witty scripts and the relevance of the storylines to both international and domestic American issues had me totally captivated week after week and then year after year.

Although there was a definite falling-off in the quality of the scripts after Aaron Sorkin left I was still saddened when the whole thing came to an end with Series 7.

Back in January I got out my boxed sets again and started a massive 'West Wing' binge-two or three episodes a night ;D Now approaching the end of Series Five and enjoying it as much as ever :) In fact- in some ways more so since I am picking up on all manner of subtleties in plot and in characterisation I had missed before. And of course the parallels between the fictional 'West Wing' and what has happened in American politics since are quite remarkable!

Sometimes the 'Democrats good, Republicans bad' motif grates just a little on my own (moderate) conservative opinions but I can recognize the attempts made-at times-to present alternative views.

I firmly believe that the 'West Wing' does represent a shining example of intelligent but entertaining TV and will continue to remain in a class of its own compared to most of the rest of the stuff shown both here in Britain and, no doubt, in the USA.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2009, 06:49:16 PM by Dundonnell »

Offline knight66

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Re: "The West Wing"
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2009, 10:29:26 AM »
Yes, another fan here. Because I cannot make a date with TV, I buy the sets when they are available at a reasonable price. I agree with all you say; though I found it a bit pathetic that the only Brits portrayed are caricatures, as against the many well written characters going through each series.

I learned a fair amount about the mechanisms of the US system; it cleared up a fair few things I had not really grasped.

It did fall off a bit towards the end, but came through strongly with coverage of the time when the new president was in waiting.

I enjoyed the way that moral dilemmas were handled; even with the best will politicians were seen to dirty their hands to get things done. Politics being the art of the possible. I also really enjoyed Alan Alda; the writing here so much more interesting than had he been made mendacious.

My son is currently on his second run-through, Leo has just died.

Mike

« Last Edit: March 05, 2009, 11:32:01 AM by knight »
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Offline Solitary Wanderer

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Re: "The West Wing"
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2009, 11:23:47 AM »
Fantastic show.

My wife and I watched the entire seven seasons on DVD boxset a couple of years ago.

We'd be happy to rewatch the whole lot again in another couple of years.

I thought season five [the first one without Sorkin at the helm] was the only really weak one.

Seasons six and seven were great!
'I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.' ~ Emily Bronte

Offline Szykneij

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Re: "The West Wing"
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2009, 12:43:28 PM »
I've never seen an episode, but I know the show has a great theme song. I found a nice orchestra arrangement of it a few years back that I used with my high school students.
Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it.  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines. ~ Satchel Paige

Bulldog

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Re: "The West Wing"
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2009, 03:55:06 PM »
Good show, but I never liked its preachy elements nor the self-importance that most of the staff members exhibited.

Offline DavidRoss

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Re: "The West Wing"
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2009, 06:26:31 AM »
Despicable propaganda. 
"Maybe the problem most of you have ... is that you're not listening to Barbirolli." ~Sarge

"The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money." ~Margaret Thatcher

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: "The West Wing"
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2009, 06:42:12 AM »
Despicable propaganda. 

Well that's certainly a succint alternative viewpoint :)

I did say that I recognised the show's liberal bias- which does not happen to coincide with my own political views- but I equally recognised superb acting, vivid characterisation, relevant plot lines and a fantastically sharp and witty script. Whilst the bias grated on me at times I relished-and continue to relish-the show as drama.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2009, 08:28:41 AM by Dundonnell »

Offline DavidRoss

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Re: "The West Wing"
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2009, 07:08:22 AM »
It's not just the show's sappy, pervasive, Hollywood "liberalism," but the insidious subtext presenting a false view of how things actually work and how dangerous that is in shaping the beliefs of the uncritical and ill-informed mass TV audience.  This judgment is based on seeing only a couple of episodes (in the company of fans of the show), but I found them as appalling as listening to Rush Limbaugh, which I've also done a couple of times under similar circumstances.  Imagine if Limbaugh had a similar slickly produced TV show brainwashing the gullible masses!

(Note:  I recognize that most of the contributors to this thread so far are not Americans.  Just bear in mind that the show is entertainment and don't mistake it for an honest presentation of American government or our political process, which is really a much more tawdry affair of power brokers selling favors to special interests.  Personally, I find the real politicians much more entertaining and that is really the only value all too many of them have--unfortunately, the price they extract is far too high for their entertainment value and the public has no choice but to pay.)
"Maybe the problem most of you have ... is that you're not listening to Barbirolli." ~Sarge

"The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money." ~Margaret Thatcher

Offline Jay F

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Re: "The West Wing"
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2009, 07:12:44 AM »
(Note:  I recognize that most of the contributors to this thread so far are not Americans.  Just bear in mind that the show is entertainment and don't mistake it for an honest presentation of American government or our political process, which is really a much more tawdry affair of power brokers selling favors to special interests.
I saw it as a fantasy of how some wished the world were after Bush took office.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: "The West Wing"
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2009, 08:50:39 AM »
It's not just the show's sappy, pervasive, Hollywood "liberalism," but the insidious subtext presenting a false view of how things actually work and how dangerous that is in shaping the beliefs of the uncritical and ill-informed mass TV audience.  This judgment is based on seeing only a couple of episodes (in the company of fans of the show), but I found them as appalling as listening to Rush Limbaugh, which I've also done a couple of times under similar circumstances.  Imagine if Limbaugh had a similar slickly produced TV show brainwashing the gullible masses!

(Note:  I recognize that most of the contributors to this thread so far are not Americans.  Just bear in mind that the show is entertainment and don't mistake it for an honest presentation of American government or our political process, which is really a much more tawdry affair of power brokers selling favors to special interests.  Personally, I find the real politicians much more entertaining and that is really the only value all too many of them have--unfortunately, the price they extract is far too high for their entertainment value and the public has no choice but to pay.)

First of all-I hope that I am not "uncritical", "ill-informed" or "gullible" ;D

I recognise your concern that "the gullible masses" might conclude that the show represented how things actually happened in the political process. I doubt however whether these sadly ill-informed individuals actually constituted much of the real, regular audience. I fear that the speed and complexities of the scripts would have left most of them hopelessly confused :)

For those of us better informed(whichever side of the Atlantic we come from) the 'West Wing' represented a mixture of fantasy, as has been acknowledged, and an insight into some of the grubby compromises which are the stuff of real day-to-day politics in all countries and political systems. One of the messages of the show which did become much clearer and more explicit as the series developed was how the idealistic liberalism of this imaginery President and his entourage was compelled to yield to harsh political realities in the course of office.

You admit that you have only viewed a couple of episodes so I must simply ask you to take that last point on trust. I can confirm that the characters were not personally corrupted by power-which might, or might not, have been even more realistic but would have made for a different sort of drama.

I am not politically naive. I can recognise fantasy when I see it but I can also relate many of the story-lines in real events both past and present.

Oh...and I continue to derive huge enjoyment from good acting....whenever and wherever I see it :)

Bulldog

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Re: "The West Wing"
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2009, 09:16:22 AM »
Despicable propaganda. 

It's just fiction.

Offline knight66

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Re: "The West Wing"
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2009, 02:22:29 PM »
I saw it as a fantasy of how some wished the world were after Bush took office.

Yes, exactly.

Dundonnell
Quote
One of the messages of the show which did become much clearer and more explicit as the series developed was how the idealistic liberalism of this imaginery President and his entourage was compelled to yield to harsh political realities in the course of office.

Again, yes, one of the things that held interest over such a long span of storyline. And as David said, the reality was a great deal more tawdry.

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.