West Wing 5×19: Talking Points

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[Review by Jeremy Grayson]

[Writer: Eli Attie | Director: Richard Schiff | Aired: 4/21/2004 ]

“It’d be nice to roll back that tide, wouldn’t it?” – Bartlet

Writing in the Wall Street Journal in December 2013, Peggy Noonan referred to something she called “West Wing Disease.”

“Young staffers grew up watching that show,” she said, “and getting a very romantic and specific sense of how government works.” The show’s tight focus on the White House, she theorized, made it seem that the White House was the government, and disregarded the various complex and interconnecting agencies that surrounded it. Continue reading “West Wing 5×19: Talking Points”

Toy Story 2

Toy Story 2

[Review by Jeremy Grayson]

[Writer: Andrew Stanton, Rita Hsiao, Dug Chamberlin, Chris Webb (Screenplay); John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Ash Brannon, Andrew Stanton (Story) | Director: John Lasseter | Released: 11/24/1999 ]

“But they forget you.” – Jessie

It’s hard to remember in an age where every popular film must be repeated (or remade, or rebooted, or reinterpreted), but there was a time when animated sequels were never all that special. Following the commercial fizzling of The Rescuers Down Under, Disney decided that audiences weren’t all that interested seeing what happens after “happily ever after.” A few years later, they found an outlet for follow-up films in home media, and began producing direct-to-video sequels and threequels to films ranging from Aladdin to Tarzan to Beauty and the Beast. Some of these films weren’t bad (Cinderella III, for example, is among the most entertaining animated Disney films of the 2000s), but most were made on the cheap, with lackluster writing and animation, designed to catch the eye of the excitable child and soothe the mind of the exhausted parent.

When Pixar broke into the feature-film arena, it was very much the underdog to Disney’s mighty Mouse. But Toy Story proved to be a hit with audiences and critics, and gave the CG studio ample opportunity to grow and develop their ideas. Their next attempt, A Bug’s Life, was competent but unremarkable, and a few cynical minds began to wonder if Pixar hadn’t simply gotten lucky in its first time out of the gate. These fears were not quelled when Pixar announced that its next theatrical film would be… a sequel to Toy Story.
Continue reading “Toy Story 2”

West Wing 5×18: Access

[Review by Jeremy Grayson]

[Writer: Lauren Schmidt | Director: Alex Graves | Aired: 3/31/2004 ]
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“ZZZZZZZZZZZZ” – Me

You love CJ Cregg, right? I mean, of course you do. Everyone loves CJ Cregg. She’s wonderful. She may well be The West Wing’s most popular character, and is easily one of its most likable.

But this raises a question: Why are CJ-centric episodes so consistently bad?
Continue reading “West Wing 5×18: Access”

West Wing 5×17: The Supremes

[Review by Jeremy Grayson]

[Writer: Debora Cahn | Director: Jessica Yu | Aired: 3/24/2004 ]

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“Oh, my God. You’re putting my mother’s cats on the Supreme Court.” – Donna

“The Supremes” is the standard by which every post-Sorkin episode is measured. It’s a Season Five episode that’s liked even by Season Five’s biggest detractors. In terms of fan favoritism, it’s among the most popular episodes in the entire series.

So, is it ironic that I find it a little overrated?
Continue reading “West Wing 5×17: The Supremes”

15 Years Later, the “Kim Possible” Pilot is Still Fantastic

[Posted by Jeremy Grayson]

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Great pilots can be a mixed blessing.

It’s certainly important for a TV series to establish itself in its very first episode, the better to hook viewers in for the long haul. And given the many moving parts involved in crafting a new series – from characters to plot to tone to production – it’s always something of a wonder when a show hits the ground running in its very first episode. Continue reading “15 Years Later, the “Kim Possible” Pilot is Still Fantastic”

West Wing 5×15: Full Disclosure

[Review by Jeremy Grayson]

[Writer: Lawrence O’Donnell, Jr. | Director: Lesli Linka Glatter | Aired: 2/25/2004 ]

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“If I could take back one moment of my life…” – CJ

I don’t want to do this.

Seriously, I really don’t want to do this.

I mean, it’s not like I need to do this, right? There are 155 episodes of The West Wing. Skipping one won’t matter in the long run.

So, no review today. Come back next time.

Continue reading “West Wing 5×15: Full Disclosure”

West Wing 5×14: An Khe

[Review by Jeremy Grayson]

[Writer: John Wells | Director: Alex Graves | Aired: 2/18/2004 ]

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“I’ll take it from here.” – Leo

Leo McGarry is simultaneously The West Wing’s simplest and most complicated character. He seems easy to define – the well-meaning, wryly humorous conduit between the President and his staffers. But the actual Leo is more difficult to pin than that.

Continue reading “West Wing 5×14: An Khe”

West Wing 5×13: The Warfare of Genghis Khan

[Review by Jeremy Grayson]

[Writer: Peter Noah | Director: Bill D’Elia | Aired: 2/11/2004 ]

“But his music just left the solar system.” – Josh

The whole concept of Season Five is entirely at odds with itself. Wells was tasked with honoring Sorkin’s vision, while also branding The West Wing in his own style. So much of the season’s messiness comes from the inability to reconcile these two goals – idealism clashes with pragmatism; politics clash with soap opera; and characters constantly clash with each other. Continue reading “West Wing 5×13: The Warfare of Genghis Khan”

A Brief Unauthorized History of The CW (Part 2)

[Posted by Jeremy Grayson]

Welcome back to my brief and entirely unasked-for history of The CW. Part 1 can be read here. Go read that if you haven’t already. And then come back to this page for the Roman numeral-free Part 2…

While the WB was flying high on teen-targeting hits like Buffy and Charmed, rival network UPN wasn’t faring too well. Continue reading “A Brief Unauthorized History of The CW (Part 2)”

A Brief Unauthorized History of The CW (Part I)

[Posted by Jeremy Grayson]

These days, I find myself losing track of more TV shows than ever. It’s the downside of having so much on the air – series that don’t click (or used to, but have now lost their luster) tend to pile on my DVR for a couple of months, before it finally becomes too much of a commitment to catch up. Too many other shows – both new and old – have my attention at any given moment to make room for all of them. Continue reading “A Brief Unauthorized History of The CW (Part I)”

West Wing 5×12: Slow News Day

[Review by Jeremy Grayson]

[Writer: Eli Attie | Director: Julie Hébert | Aired: 02/04/2004]

“It’s the greatest sin in politics to be bad on television.” – Josh

Ask a fellow West Wing fan what they think the worst episode of Season Five is, and they’ll probably say… um, “Access.” But ask them what they think the other worst episode of Season Five is, and they’ll probably name “Slow News Day.”
Continue reading “West Wing 5×12: Slow News Day”

Mary Tyler Moore: A Trailblazer Onscreen and Off

[Blogged by Jeremy Grayson]

[Turning the World On With Her Smile]

There are few moments in the history of television as iconic as the one which caps off the intro to The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

In this moment, we watch Mary Richards, the character played by the titular actress, as she gazes in wonder at the bustling urban sights of Minneapolis. She twirls a Continue reading “Mary Tyler Moore: A Trailblazer Onscreen and Off”

The Great Debate About… Great Debates

[Blogged by Jeremy Grayson]

[Intro]

If you’ve spent a fair deal of time around the Internet, chances are you’ve gotten into the occasional online discussion. And if you’ve gotten into the occasional online discussion, chances are you’ve gotten into the occasional online… debate. Welcome to the club, my friend. Debating topics which Continue reading “The Great Debate About… Great Debates”