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The West Wing - The Complete Season 1 (DVD)
Member Name: Painter-Geek
The West Wing - The Complete Season 1 (DVD)
Advantages: Cast, dialogue, plot
Disadvantages: Mandy Hampton
The West Wing Season 1 introduces the cast and characters of Aaron Sorkin's dramatisation of a White House under a Democratic President.
Sorkin manages to put together an ensemble cast that fleshes out the Senior Staff, various deputies and the First Family. The remarkable thing about the regular cast is that there are no weak links both in the performances and in the characters themselves. A look at the regular cast displays a wealth of talent.
Martin Sheen as President Jed Bartlett and his First Lady Stockard Channing, giving her best performance since Greece. John Spencer as Recovering Alcoholic and drug addict Chief of staff Leo MaGarry. Richard Schiff as the irrascable communication's director Toby Ziegler; Alison Janney as press secretary CJ Cregg who seems, in the first season, to be outside the inner circle and not fully trusted by the President or Chief of Staff. Rob Lowe as the idealsitic and rather naive Sam Seaborn. Bradley Whitford as Deputy Chief of Staff, the politically savy but hot headed Josh Lyman. Janel Moloney as Josh Lyman's Senior Assistant Donna Moss whose unrequited feelings for her boss provide a story arc through out the whole serries, also the only Senior Assistant who really makes in to the regular cast list with a major part instead of just a bit part in the back ground. The reglar cast of major players is rounded of by Dule Hill as the President's personal aide Charlie Young, bagman, boyfriend to the President's youngest daughter and Son the President never had.
There are others, but it is this ensemble that form the core of characters that the stories of intrigue, political machinations, personal lives and professional triumphs and disasters revolve around.
The cast can only be as good as the dialogue they are asked to deliver, and in the West Wing, the dialogue, by Aaron Sorkin, is some of the cleverest, most inteligent and thought provoking to ever grace the screen. The dialoge and the plot lines raise the standard to new heights, there is certainly no dumbing down for mass TV consumption.
The majority of the action takes place in the West Wing of the White House filmed on a huge set that allows for single take tracking shots shots, impressive back drops and a much used ploy, the long explanatory walk, where two characters will walk in and out of various rooms, through twisting corridors, carrying out an in depth conversation that explains the complex plots and story lines in single takes. These became a trade mark device of the show and they ably demonstrate the talent of the cast and crew in every respect.
Season 1 consists of 22 episodes and starts a year into the 4 year presidential term. The President and his staffers are beset with problems, unable to get polices through the Senate or Congress. Plagued by circumstance, they appear to be at a loss as to how to move forward and they slowly begin to accept that it isn't going to get any better until the turning point episode Let Bartlett be Bartlett. The first season then takes an about turn with a reenergised staff ready for the fight and a President no longer trying to take the safe middle ground.
The first Season ends with a story arc that plays in the background of the final quarter of the first season and may have gone unnoticed until it is brough scraming to the forefront. The only thing I will say about is is if you are going to buy Season 1 buy Season 2 at the same time as you will not want to wait a moment before starting the second season such is the heart stopping shock of the cliff hanging final episode.
This is televison at its very best. It deserves the lavish praise heaped upon it, I watch the West Wing from Season 1 to Season 8 each year and even after watching the first season at least 5 times it still hasn't lost its sheer watchability. If it were a book you would call it a page turner you couldn't put down.
Summary: An American President that you would want to vote for
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