The West Wing - Complete Series
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The West Wing - Complete Series

Once again we find ourselves in leap year with every four years February gets the 29th day. Coincidentally leap years also bring several special events; the Summer Olympics in United States presidential elections. If you are getting tired of the nearly constant coverage of the primaries, caucuses and debates involving the leading contenders about the Democrats and Republicans this might be a perfect opportunity to revisit the best political drama ever shown on television, ‘The West Wing’. The series was created by an Academy award-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. The show ran for seven seasons between 1999 and 2006 following the fictional presidency of Democrat Josiah ‘Jed" Bartlet masterfully played by Martin Sheen. Complete series sets are available on DVD in distributed in one of the most imaginative ways that have ever seen. Each season is placed within a file folder which is held in sturdy blue dossier file box. As impressive as the packaging may be what truly counts incredible craftsmanship that went into each and every episode contained in that box. The hundred and 54 episodes are distributed among 45 discs. It is only fitting that this series should receive such a deluxe treatment as it remains of the most respected dramas on television earning a 26 Primetime Emmy Awards. Many commentators have stated that this current presidential election cycle is one of the most puerile ever mudslinging almost entirely supplanting a meaningful discussion of policy and issues. By watching the West Wing you are transported to an alternate United States politicians tended to stay on topic.

Originally this series was going to focus primarily on the senior staff serving at the pleasure of the President with the actual president only making an occasional appearance. Martin Sheen displayed such a presence on screen that Mr. Sorkin decided that such talent cannot be wasted and he greatly expanded the role of President Bartlett. As an example of intellectual level of the series a couple of episodes, including the series premier, but titled in Latin. While this may sound pretentious it was completely the back story they provided to the president. Josiah Bartlett was raised Roman Catholic and obtained a doctorate in economics which led him to running a Nobel Prize in that field. He is inevitably the smartest man in the room and playfully likes to lord over his senior staff. The running example is during off hour’s friendly poker game routinely demand those sitting at the table answer various routers or questions such as name every put punctuation mark every word that begins with the letters ‘DW’. While all present have unwavering loyalty to the man much of the respect he has earned is that he can deal with those who trust in an honest and open manner accepting criticism and advice.

The most trusted member of the staff is his longtime friend Leo McGarry (John Spencer), his Chief of Staff. His function is the main administrator the executive offices located in the West Wing of the White House. When he gives in order on assignment everyone knows it is binding as if it came from the president himself. There is one person who acts as the gatekeeper to the Oval Office was able to speak to him in a respectful motherly fashion, Mrs. Dolores Landingham (Kathryn Joosten), his personal secretary. He has known since he was a teenager when his father was the headmaster of a private school and she was his secretary. One of the most powerful scenes in the entire serious is the Mrs. Landingham purchases a very first car and is killed by a drunk driver. Unprecedented decision for a monologue the President enters the national Cathedral, disrespectfully lights a cigarette and proceeds to curse out God in Latin crushing the cigarette out on the floor before leaving. The dramatic moments like this in virtually every episode of the show’s entire run. One of its greatest strengths is how it provided a glimpse behind the scenes of the political process and exactly how carefully orchestrated the management of the executive offices are. One of Mr. Sorkin’s trademarks is the exceptionally rapid conversations usually why the staff members are rushing through the hallways. This box it does include a number of reels we can watch how such fast-paced dialogue can affect even the most talented and professional actors. One of the most significant contributions to the realism and popularity of the series is how it was able to blend political drama, character development and personal issues such a synergistic fashion can almost forget that you’re watching a fictitious White House.

This is a truly fantastic ensemble cast in order to the best ever assembled for television. Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg (Allison Janney) is the White House press secretary responsible for dissemination of information and announcements to the White House press corps. Her immediate boss is the White House communications director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff). Prior to holding this post it was a much sought after political consultant is able to read the political situation better than almost anyone in Washington. He often coordinates will be released to the public with the White House Deputy Chief of Staff, Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) lances directly to Leo. One of the most outspoken women in the West Wing is Josh’s senior assistant Donna Moss (Janel Moloney). President Bartlett has a keen eye for people with potential. The first and most striking example of this is when he hired the young man had been looking for a low-level courier job, Charlie Young (Dulé Hill). His bright, respectful and efficient was hired as the personal aide to the President typically found not far away from ready to run any errands that might be necessary.

Stories often bring in people and events outside of the executive offices most notably the families senior staff in the President. Abby Bartlett is the forceful and outspoken First Lady who balances the PhD after her husband’s name with a M. D. after her own. One major story threads develops when the public finds out that the President has multiple sclerosis. Her expertise as a physician is efficiently used for some medical exposition concerning the disease. Together they have three daughters; Elizabeth (Annabeth Gish) was married with two children, Eleanor (Nina Siemaszko), followed her mother’s footsteps by becoming a physician, and the youngest daughter Zoey (Elizabeth Moss). Zoey he is the one most frequently seen and has the greatest involvement in storylines. A romantic feeling towards Charlie becomes a point of contention among some radicals opposing interracial relationships. At one point she is kidnapped giving her father so distraught he cannot execute his executive duties properly. The stories involving the First Family and the loved ones of the senior staff humanize the people that hold these very real and very stressful positions in our government. Series does give you a little idea balancing act anyone who sits in the Oval Office has to perform as they tried to execute policy with global ramifications and still be a husband and father to their families. This is a series that will always hold up to never become outdated. It is a character driven show that the text people under unimaginable stress both the professional and personal lives. It is also a summary of some of the finest actors ever to lend their talents to a project such as this.

Posted 04/16/2016

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