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The West Wing is a fantastic American political series that gets you caught up in the characters from the pilot episode. The acting from all the cast from Margaret (Leo's assistant), all the way to President Josiah Bartlett played by the excellent Martin Sheen.
Special praise has to go to Sheen as the show was originally to be based on the people who work for the President, with the President making the odd appearnce. But his performance in the pilot episode, where he steals the show, was so good they decided to have him as part of the main cast.
I didn't know alot about politics let alone American politics before I watched the show but Aaron Sorkin always seems to find a way in the dialogue to explain what's going on. He usually does this by getting one of the main characters like Toby or Josh to explain why thy're doing what there doing to their assistant.
The only problem with the show is that it is a little obvious that Sorkin is a democrat and even though I believe he does try to be impartial in his writing at times, he doesn't really succed.
But what really impresses me with the show is that Sorkin and the cast are able to get excellent wit and humour into a vaery fast tempo show.
Quite often with high-powered series, such as the West Wing, they start off as a great idea but the characters and the story line do not develop into their full potential until they have one season under their belt. This is not the case with The West Wing.
The West Wing really hit the ground running and exploded with real life stories, events, characters and dialogue right from the very first episode. I loved Season 1 Part 1 and can watch it again and again. In fact, having seen them all, it is interesting to go back and see how the series started.
My favourite character is President Josiah Bartlett, played by an excellent Martin Sheen. He is what you would want from a political leader. He is sensitive, honest, noble and most entertainingly, extremely intelligent. It is like having Stephen Fry run a country.
The first season is so realistic. Although it is very fast-paced in terms of the filming and the dialogue, the characters are stuck in a new administration full of compromise. Their frustration is clear when they just want to make changes and get the job done.
This is the best political drama I have seen in many many years. It started well and kept me hooked throughout the whole series. It was only able to do this by getting off to such a good start and getting me hooked right from the very first episode.
I always heard great things about the West Wing when it was shown originally almost 10 years ago, but I was working away and never had a chance to watch the show, on a whim we bought the 1st season on DVD to see what all the fuss is about and all I can say is WOW.
Martin Sheen plays President Josiah Bartlett, a well meaning Democratic president in the middle of his first year as president and among others Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn who is the Deputy White House communications Director and gives an incredible performance as the idealistic young seaborn.
At the start of the first season we see Bartlett and his staff stuck in the neutral having to concede and compromise on certain campaign promises ( apparently this may be based on Bill Clintons early days in office such as him having to compromise on Gays in the Military ) but later in the season we see Bartletts administration decide to get gutsy and fight for the battles they believe in, even if they lose them and ultimately end up losing re-election.
The show is incredibly well acted by the whole cast and extremely well written and produced by Aaron Sorkin, the show relies not on Showy effects or big extravagant scenes, but mainly on small sets and quick responsive dialogue between the characters and also manages the key ingredient when creating a long term prospect for a TV series...it manages to make you care about each character, and also just when things get a little slow paced it throws something tense and exciting in there ( A pilot down in unfriendly territory, or an assassination attempt by White Supremecists )
This show will go down in history as one of the greats, just based on my impression of the first season, now I can't wait to go and purchase season 2
The West Wing is a show set inside the white house, with Martin Sheen as the president of the United States of America.
The dialogue is fast and pacey, and whilst not naturalistic in the slightest, is one of the great joys of the show. It reminds you of thirties and forties Hollywood cinema, where screenplays relied more on the dialogue and acting than a lot of mainstream films do nowadays.
It is this dialogue that is used to bounce through a lot of the contemporary issues in America and the World at the moment. Characters have political debates between them, although as a whole the show tends to lean to the left quite a bit. The script is written by Aaron Sorkin, who also wrote A Few Good Men
All the cast put in top notch performances, especially John Spencer as Leo McGarry and Bradley Whitford as Joshua Lynham.
All in all it's a very entertaining show. Even if you're not interested in politics the individual characters and the scrapes they get involved in will keep you amused
This program crept up on me on the TV. To such an extent that I bought the DVD when it appeared. To those not familiar with the program it centres around everything happening behind the scenes in the West Wing of the White House. It looks at the Chiefs of Protocol, the Press Secretary, the President and his aides and the speech writers for a Democratic President who was not one of the normal politicos. The scripting is very tight , the action busy, and all the characters well formed once you get past the first episode. The cast is good including Martin Sheen as President, Allison Janney as Pres secretary CJ, John Spencer as Leo and Rob Lowe as Sam. The programs all blend drama and humour well and put across the tensions brilliantly. I thought that the episode where the President, a Liberal, swings to over-reation in reprisal for a plane being shot down because there was someone he knew on the plane. The Military laying out that a proportional response was needed was a neat twist. Now about the DVD itself. The product is on 3 DVDs with four episodes on the first two and three on the third. You can set it to just play the episodes one after another or use the menu to choose which episode. There is very little chaptering of the episodes Also on the third are the specials which comprise interviews with the cast, asking questions on the other cast members, on how they see their characters and whether there is any feedback from genuine White House staffers. Although this is fairly interesting the way that it is edited is annoying as it is very choppy in style. This bit really detracts from the overall feel of the programmes. I have yet to try the internet link from a computer DVD player. Overall reaction is that it is a very good DVD
Aaron Sorkin's American political drama The West Wing, set in the White House, has won innumerable awards--and rightly so. Its depiction of a well-meaning Democrat administration has warmed the hearts of countless Americans. However, The West Wing is more than mere feel-good viewing for sentimental patriots. It is among the best-written, sharpest, funny and moving American TV series of all time. In its first series, The West Wing established the cast of characters who comprise the White House staff. There's Chief of Staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer), a recovering alcoholic whose efforts to be the cornerstone of the administration contribute to the break-up of his marriage. CJ (Alison Janney) is the formidable Press Spokeswoman embroiled in a tentative on-off relationship with Timothy (Thirtysomething) Busfield's reporter. Brilliant but grumpy communications deputy Toby Ziegler, Rob Lowe's brilliant but faintly nerdy Sam Seaborn and brilliant but smart-alecky Josh Lyman make up the rest of the inner circle. Initially, the series' creators had intended to keep the President off-screen. Wisely, however, they went with Martin Sheen's Jed Bartlet, whose eccentric volatility, caution, humour and strength in a crisis make for such an impressively plausible fictional President that polls once expressed a preference for Bartlet over the genuine incumbent. The issues broached in the first series have striking, often prescient contemporary relevance. We see the President having to be talked down from a "disproportionate response" when terrorists shoot down a plane carrying his personal doctor, or acting as broker in a dangerous stand-off between India and Pakistan. Gun control laws, gays in the military, Fundamentalist pressure groups are all addressed--the latter in a most satisfying manner ("Get your fat asses out of the White House!")--while the episode "Take This Sabbath Day" is a superb dramatic meditation on Capital punishment. Handled incorrectly, The West Wing could have been turgid, didactic propaganda for The American Way. However, the writers are careful to show that, decent as this administration is, its achievements, though hard-won, are minimal. Moreover, the brisk, staccato-like, almost musical exchanges of dialogue, between Josh and his PA Donna, for instance, as they pace purposefully up and down the corridors are the show's abiding joy. This is wonderful and addictive viewing.--David Stubbs