November 7, 2005

Shark Jumping in the Oval Office

Did anyone watch the over-hyped "West Wing Live Debate Event" last night?

The West Wing used to be the best thing on television. I'm talking ever, in the history of the boob tube. It was the best written, acted and produced show on the air. That is, until it completely jumped the shark last year. Don't even get me started on how many ways it nosedived in the space of 20+ episodes. And while some people say it's rebounded this year, I'm not buying it.

Last night's episode confirmed what most of us have known for years - debates are boring. NBC would have been better off airing the "Sod On The South Lawn Of the White House Live Grass Growing Event." It would have been just about as interesting and, perhaps, a bit more nail-biting.

My comment at the first sign of the closing credits? "Dude, that sucked!" From what I understand, that's not the sign of fine television entertainment.

Posted by Chris at November 7, 2005 8:24 PM

I love West Wing too - but this time I got so bored that I actually went upstairs and began the 10-minute face-washing process that preceeds bed!

Posted by: Marie at November 7, 2005 8:28 PM

Glad to hear it, since I keep forgetting that WW is on Sundays now. I loved Seasons 1-4 I own them on fast dying DVDs (from over playing them). I can name episodes that I love and I can tell you what happened on each season but when Aaron Sorken quit writing the show, it should have died with his departure.

Posted by: goodsnake at November 7, 2005 8:35 PM

I didn't even know about it until about an hour or so ago. At first I was disappointed that I missed it, but this makes me feel better.

Posted by: JuJuBee at November 7, 2005 8:47 PM

I still like it. But yeah, I can see how the debate probably lost a lot of viewers. The only thing I'm finding kind of tiring is the constant switching back and forth between what's going on in the WH and what's going on with the campaigns. But the possibility of Jimmy Smits as the next president fills me with joy for obvious reasons. I don't think it will happen since another six years of a democrat in office is a little beyond ridiculous but still, good to think about.

Posted by: patricia at November 7, 2005 8:49 PM

Well at least you didn't get stuck watching Category 7. I'd say it was a -7 on a scale of 1-10. What the hell was up with those camera clicking moments?? It was so irritating.

Posted by: dragonlady474 at November 7, 2005 9:00 PM

I do enjoy it normally, but I will have to agree with you last night. It was SO boring! I kept wondering off in thought, I couldn't even stay focused on it, it was so bad.

Posted by: Emily at November 7, 2005 9:33 PM

My hubby and I were having this conversation just last week! Even last year, it really didn't catch our interest. What a bummer.

Posted by: Lisa B at November 7, 2005 9:43 PM new writers! I should have known! Disappointment abounds!

Posted by: Gypsy at November 7, 2005 11:06 PM

I've never seen The West Wing. I've never been into politics, CSI is way more my thing (although, I'm not too into looking at dead people either, however CSI makes it interesting).

Posted by: Greg at November 7, 2005 11:21 PM

I couldn't agree with you more. Watching anything in the first two seasons has me so caught up with laughter, I feel like I've done crunches the next day. Tears stream down my face to this day when I hear "foggy bottom."

Last night's episode (I watch because I am a glutton for punishment) was painful. The only thing I got out of it was holy shit... the actors aren't as well spoken as real politicians... they both tripped themselves up so many times it was nuts. Scary.

Posted by: L at November 7, 2005 11:38 PM

I stopped watching West Wing years ago...although I think it's been a fabulous show in the past. But when my mother told me about last night's 'live' debate, I tuned in out of curiosity. Glad to hear it sucked...I feared the fact that I fell asleep might be attributable to old age...

Posted by: Marilyn at November 8, 2005 12:05 AM

Sure Alan Sorkin may be an idiot who can't remember to take the 'shrooms out of his luggage, but he was the spark that powered that show. It died when he left.

Posted by: Nic at November 8, 2005 3:29 AM

Sorry Chris, I have to disagree.

Buffy was the best show on television ever. And when Bush and Kerry had that first debate where Bush totally choked... that was the bestest and funniest and most fascinating thing ever. I laughed and cried. Unfortunateely, since the election, it's only crying.

Posted by: Sepra at November 8, 2005 7:15 AM

Im so glad you said it first. Where has my favorite show gone?

Posted by: That Girl at November 8, 2005 8:01 AM

I am a Wing-nut. I admit it. But I don't get 'regular' tv - so I watch the Monday marathon of West Wing re-runs on Bravo until the wee-hours. Almost an entire season (in sequential order!) in one night. Love it...lovelovelove it.

Posted by: Northern_Girl at November 8, 2005 10:19 AM

I watch the West Wing, and while I agree the older episodes are better, I thought it had been getting more interesting this season. Not so much with the debate episode. I stopped watching halfway through because I just didn't care.

Posted by: bad penguin at November 8, 2005 10:23 AM

I didn't think it was that bad. You're definitely right, though, the show is not what it once was. I'm just not ready to throw in the towel yet.

My biggest complaint about the debate is this: it made me cry about the realities of politics. In real life, I have never faced a presidential election in which I respected both candidates. I would love, someday, to have to make a difficult choice between two (or MORE!) moral, intelligent public servants, instead of choosing the lesser of two evils.

Posted by: Julie at November 8, 2005 11:33 AM

Two weeks ago was one of the best episodes I've seen in years, when Toby admits his role in the leak. This was the opposite end of the spectrum. Moderately interesting in that I could actually listen to a Republican candidate without wincing for once, but zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

By the way, those were the fakest hecklers I've ever heard.

Posted by: CroutonBoy at November 8, 2005 12:33 PM

I don't feel so bad that I've abandoned the show now. Thanks :D

Posted by: Heather at November 8, 2005 12:53 PM

I couldn't agree more. I actually miss Rob Lowe. Favourite moment? When President Bartlett walked from teh cathedral to the auditorium to announce his MS with Dire Straights' Brothers in Arms providing the soundtrack -- truly amazing television

Posted by: Kathryn at November 8, 2005 1:14 PM

West Wing was awesome until Aaron Sorkin left. And no offense to the guy who plays Will, but he is no Rob Lowe and his character doesn't hold a candle to Sam Seaborn.

They had a great thing going and should not have messed with it. Granted, some episodes are better than others and they do have an incredibly talented cast all around, but it's been mostly downhill since Sorkin left.

Also, if Josh & Donna don't get together by the end of this I will be seriously annoyed. Waiting for them to hook up is one of the few reasons I bother tuning in.

Posted by: erin at November 8, 2005 2:00 PM

i agree...west wing USED to be the best thing on television.

it's since been replaced with Grey's Anatomy. at least for me.

Posted by: ali at November 8, 2005 3:35 PM

Wow, I'm a little shocked I'm the first person here to think otherwise.

First off, I agree that the show tanked after Sorkin left, but I do think that the efforts to reinvent itself this season have worked well--I think Kristin Chenoweth and Mary McCormack have great characters, I like Leo's new role as potential VP, and my only real sadness is that the best chemistry was among Josh, Charlie, Leo, and the President, and they're never in the same room anymore. And Bartlett just looks fucking old. That's pretty sad.

However, I was--yeah, I'll say it--riveted by the live debate. Julie said it well above--it's a little depressing to realize that fictional characters are way more inspiring than what we're faced with now, but the fact that it was such a contrast really got me. I disagree that it reiterated the boringness of political debates--I think it demonstrated how political debates COULD be if we allowed our presidential candidates to show the slightest amount of cojones without railroading them for being "angry" or "crazy." To see a candidate defend liberalism? To see a candidate at least put forth the argument that he would create NO jobs because it's not his place? To unabashedly admit that aid won't solve African poverty? I didn't agree with everything the candidates said, but I was compelled to think. It was ideas over soundbytes, substance over schlock. The two candidates were genuine examples of quality Americans, not the lowest common denominator.

Also, I think Alan Alda in particular did a tremendous acting job under the live pressure, and that both stayed in character remarkably well.

Posted by: susannah at November 8, 2005 4:58 PM

I can't comment on good TV. I've worked in PR and on local campaigns and well I was addicted to first two season... remember the finally with Brothers in Arms. I mean who wouldn't want to work a dedicated team like that! It was, well, what we all hoped are careers in spin would be. (Reality is much more banal I'm afraid.) Haven't really watched it since Sorkin left... sorry it sucked.


Posted by: Nat at November 8, 2005 5:44 PM

I don't watch "West Wing" and it looks like that's a good thing.

TV is pretty crappy these days. The sad thing is that I still watch too much of it.'s all about more books!

Posted by: Isabel at November 8, 2005 5:54 PM

I was pretty excited ahead of time, but then it lost my interest after about 15 minutes. It just didn't have any life to it. I need drama, people. Reality is boring, and I want to see Josh. It just isn't the West Wing without Josh.
Okay, so I'm also shallow. I can live with this.

Posted by: Raybelle at November 8, 2005 10:59 PM

Worst.Episode.Ever. I believe I said eactly the same thing you did as soon as the credits rolled - I thought a live debate with some behind the scenes stuff going on would have been great, but this just bored me to tears.

Posted by: Mr. Big Dubya at November 9, 2005 9:35 AM