West Wing 5×22: Memorial Day

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[Review by Jeremy Grayson]

[Writer: John Sacret Young & Josh Singer | Director: Christopher Misiano | Aired: 5/19/2004 ]

“Today’s priority is not world peace.” – Leo

Since John Wells took the reins from Aaron Sorkin at the start of this season, we’ve watched him tug them this way and that. At various points in Season Five, The West Wing has been a bipartisan political drama, a romantic soap opera, an examination of Bush-era policies, a pulp novel, and even (shudder) a documentary. There hasn’t been a consistent tone, or even a consistent arc for the show to use as a guidepost. The season wanted to be too many things, and ultimately, it didn’t succeed at very many of them.

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West Wing 5×20: No Exit

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[Review by Jeremy Grayson]

[Writer: Carol Flint, Debora Cahn, Mark Goffman | Director: Julie Hébert | Aired: 4/28/2004 ]

“On a need-to-know basis, who needs to know this much.” – Bartlet

“No Exit” deserved better.

Coming near the end of The West Wing’s most troubled season, it is designed as an antidote to the year’s earlier missteps. It clearly wants to take the show in a fresh new direction. And it wants to tell a compelling story at the same time.
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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”

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?
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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?
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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.

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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”

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”