Ah, The West Wing… How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
1) This is a show about a US presidential administration. Lesser shows would have opened with Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) winning the election. Creator and writer Aaron Sorkin drops us in on average day in the West Wing. Not just mid-term, but mid-today’s-issue (the president has ridden his bike into a tree and his deputy chief of staff (Josh Lyman, played by Bradley Whitford) has been provoked into an ill-advised quip about God on TV). In just the first few minutes the distinctive tone is set – the mix of manoeuvering, intelligence, gravitas, humour, dedication to duty, smart-assery and snark that West Wing aficionados love with a passion.
2) The dialogue. Really this should be at number one, but common sense dictates that I explain what the hell the show is about first. Sorkin’s dialogue is perfection. I could fill page upon page with writing so good I want to frame it and hang it on my walls (I won’t, but pop over to the West Wing page of Wikiquotes when you’re finished here to get the general idea). The West Wing is a wordy show, but each and every word has earned its place, and in just three short lines in that first episode you can get the entire atmosphere of the show. (Chief of staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer) walks into the West Wing and is greeted by a member of security: “Nice morning Mr McGarry.” Leo: “We’ll take care of that in a hurry, won’t we Mike?” Mike: “Yes sir.”)
No, Nick Hornby, it’s not just boys that can do nerdy list making. An idle and extremely pleasant pastime for a soggy summer day is to take a favourite box set series and list the objects of lust. Then, put them in order of whom you’d like to shag first. West Wing is my favourite box set of lust. Ah, Aaron Sorkin, you spoil us with your marvellous world of sexy, smart White House staff.
The most fanciable varies depending on what series I’m re-watching, but diminutive as he may be, Martin Sheen/Jed Bartlet is always near the top. I just wish he was the real leader of the Free World. And my world come to that. Then there’s his fictional wife, the slinky Abigail Bartlet played by Stockard Channing, forever the fabulous vamp from Grease.
Allison Janney is glorious as the lean, witty and magnificent C.J. Cregg. Having more than one character at once, or indeed in any combination, is allowed of course.
I’ve had some delicious and utterly filthy discussions about the slightly translucent quality of naked flesh of redhead, Josh Lyman/Bradley Whitford. Then there’s Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn, although I’m not such a fan of the white t shirt under the shirt look he favours. Toby Ziegler is a melancholic, laconic man of unexpected flashes of dark wry intelligence and humour. And in later series, of course, we have the tall Latino joy that is Jimmy Smits.
Never mind the stylish fastpaced ‘walk and talks’ for which the series is so well known. Stuff Bill Clinton. What we’d like is an orgy on the immaculate carpet of the Oval office.
posted by Inkface