Monday, 17 May 2010

The West Wing: Season Three

Season three is almost the forgotten Sorkin season. It's still great television but doesn't feel as monumental as the others. It doesn't feel like an event. There are standalone episodes that hardly have any impact. They just keep things going. 'Gone Quiet', 'The Indians in the Lobby', 'War Crimes' - they don't stand out. In some ways this is a season made up of all the good bits that you remember, but can't quite place. Like the map from the flea-market that doesn't recognise Israel, or the prank war between Charlie and CJ, or Donna's discovery of Lemon It's a season of 'oh, it's this one'. It runs on a series of little arcs that don't carry the weight of other seasons. It's only after you finish watching it, and enjoying every episode, that you realise that Sam didn't have any significant storylines. Or that you can't remember how the MS business ended.

That's all the negatives out of the way though, because this is engrossing, brilliant television. If these characters are just having a normal day at the office, it's still written with amazing energy and wit. It takes a more serious tone towards the middle, with Toby trying to get into the President's mind. He crosses the line in 'The Two Bartlets' and it all gets a bit tense. This psychological analysis continues as Bartlet starts talking to Stanley Keyworth about his sleeping problems. He's a bit troubled and there isn't much room for comedy. And if the MS did have a conclusion, it was during 'Bartlet for America', where Leo sits before a House committee. It's a good excuse for some flash-backs. We see the moment where Leo asks Bartlet to run for office and sticks the napkin to the board. Their relationship is tested and strengthened in this episode.

Josh meets Amy Gardner, and this could be the source of some annoyance. She could be Mandy reincarnate. But I refuse to believe this. She may be an irritating love interest, but this irritation is mild. It does not compare. Nevertheless, she's part of some nice scenes. Particularly one where Josh admits that he 'missed the part where he's supposed to know what to do'. She comes and goes but Josh stays the same - obsessive, talented, and little bit scared. Leo meets Jordan but she vanishes. At one point the First Lady asks Bartlet 'what ever happened with Leo and Jordan?' and he replies 'I don't know but we'll be concentrating on other things right now'. That must have come straight from Sorkin. One character that definitely has an end is poor Simon Donavan. Despite only being in the show for three or four episodes, his death is still hard to take. He was only asking for a Milkybar.

1 comment:

  1. Heartbreaking but beautiful clip. I just adore that song. This is so much more than a tv show . . . I don't even know how to categorize it.