I'm hiding out in the big city blinking.
"He had a theory that musicians are incredibly complex, and know far less than other artists what they want and what they are; that they puzzle themselves as well as their friends; that their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been understood." – E. M. Forster

Wednesday, 12 May 2004

West Wing tonight

Spoilers for tonight’s episode, and major speculation on my part. Don’t read the rest of this post if you don’t want to be spoiled at all!

I was reading the TV listings on Yahoo this a.m.: "The president considers military options when a congressional fact-finding team’s vehicle is bombed during their investigation of the Palestinian and Israeli conflict." Based on this, the preview from last last week, and a previous episode, my knee-jerk reaction was: "Nooo! Don’t kill off Andie!" Because, Congressman Andie Wyatt is supposed to be on the fact-finding trip (there was a big deal about it with Toby), and if she’s in the car when it blows up, then there’s probably no chance of her surviving. I know of no other spoilers (nor do I want to seek them out to see if my guess is true), but if this is indeed true, I don’t know what to think. I’ll have to e-mail Bird York and tell her how much I’m going to miss her on the show — she’s perhaps my favorite recurring character on the show. <Sniff> First Mrs Landingham, now maybe Andie Wyatt? Why target the strong women characters? (Have you also noticed how the senior White House assistants save Donna, e.g. Ginger and Bonnie, have pretty much disappeared in the past year?) Besides the fact that it causes serious upset within the White House and particularly for Toby, I would imagine…why???

(Okay. Not just Andie, but Donna and Fitz too?? Geez.)

Of course, the car bomb could be a red herring, but it being the second-to-last episode of the season, I’m not holding my breath.

Update, 13 May ’04: Oh no, they killed off Fitzwallace! Remember when the show received so much press before it even premiered, about having no minorities in the Bartlet administration? And how the character of Charlie was added as a result of protests over its all-white cast? What a way to go, killing off one of the very few minority characters on the show.

So, my fear about Andie Wyatt was false. Heck, she hardly had any screen time. We got to see her from afar on a TV monitor in the communications bullpen, and later saying one (or two) lines to Donna.

Since I hadn’t seen the previous new episode in its entirety, I hadn’t realized that Josh had sent Donna on the trip. She certainly got a lot of screen time (this seemed to be "her" episode), and although I dread saying this, I still wouldn’t be surprised if this is all a setup for Moloney leaving.

That aside, however, I still didn’t enjoy the writing of the episode. I’ve grown to dislike the repetitive use of the "tease with a dramatic moment, then rewind 24 hours (or whatever) and show what led up to it" device. I don’t hate the device itself, I just think it’s been overused on The West Wing now. I think ultimately, it was a way to get the viewer to watch a very political episode about the Middle East crisis (as this episode was airing, I flipped the channel to news, and saw the latest on bombs and people killed — a chillingly true juxtaposition of reality and fiction), which many people may not want to watch in a fictional show and idealized White House administration. So, showing Donna as a victim of a car bomb, and getting the viewer invested in her story (and the Irish journalist’s place in it: I’m still at a loss as to why there weren’t more journalists there, e.g. American journalists who are seemingly everywhere else on the show), was a way to hold interest through an underlying story about a very charged issue.

Whatever happens to Donna after this, I’m pretty certain that we’re witnessing the show changing drastically. For the better? Well, let’s put it this way: I still think that the golden years of the show were 1999-2001, and with a few exceptions, its later episodes have never been able to live up to their predecessors. Madbard is right: the love just isn’t there anymore.

Posted at 5:08 am | Filed under Television

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3 replies

  1. [sigh] i hoped for the worst (donna dies) and instead i get donna lives but is messed up. but the preview for next week looks promising: maybe donna will die after all. which is not to be mean to janel moloney but did you see how fired up josh was when he thought donna was hurt? and it would be a perfect metaphor for how little use they’ve made of janel on the west wing this season (among other actors).

    or maybe donna will live–but the last thing she tells josh she’s had it and won’t be returning to the white house.

    i think the stuff leading up to zoe’s rescue (first 2 episodes) were as strong as anything in season 1–but sorkin had written sacret into a desperate corner and it was fun to see them work their way out. the episode where the presidents go to the funeral was pretty good, on par with the single theme episodes from S1. the budget stalemate was interesting but took too damn long. but on the whole, the _love_ just hasn’t been there. or maybe too much love (ben and cj? get over it already!)

    if andie died, then toby would have to go. maybe this would make room to bring will in full time….

    and so many loose threads: what about liz’s husband running for congress? israel testing a nuke? vice president snake?

  2. I think the various dismantled stories is a fallout of Sorkin leaving. Not to say that he didn’t write any “Huh?” episodes on his own, but at least he was pretty much the guy who knew his characters and what they could do, and how to use them in the Big Picture of the TV series as a whole. Now that so many different writers and producers have taken over, it’s become so much less cohesive and more about getting the episodes done one-at-a-time, almost.

    About C.J. and Ben: I hear ya. The writing for C.J. and her love life just hasn’t been very good lately, because we don’t know who it is she’s dating. Ben was a mysterious guy, only “heard” from through a zillion messages relayed by Carol, and we’ve seen him once, right? There’s no reason for us to be interested in him or them. Danny was fun, because we knew who he was, and his character had a clear purpose that provided a clear complication to their relationship. And don’t even get me started on that C.J. episode with Matthew Modine.

  3. well, re-live the glory days of the 2000-2001: Season 2 will be out this Tuesday….