Monday, October 17, 2005

Some 'West Wing' inspired ramblings

The West Wing is one of those shows that while I'll watch every week but I have to admit, it is really starting to annoy me.

First there is the scenes from next weeks episode which 3 weeks ago showed President Bartlett telling someone he would have to be let go. Of course, that still hasn't happened yet but at least after last nights episode we know who that someone is, unless they put a real twist in the works.

Second, we have what could have been a great premise for this season, Republicans vs. Democrats for the next White House. Being that the closest most of the writers on the show have ever been to a Republican was watching the last Presidential Address on TV, I had my doubts as to how well these episodes would be written. So far they have lived up to my expectations.

At first there was a small glimmer of hope as they got Alan Alda to play the part of the Republican candidate while going with Jimmy Smits to run as the Democratic candidate. With two great actors being added to the cast as regulars you'd figure nothing could go wrong, right? Well, that may have been true if they actually hired some pro-Republican writers to help with the storylines, but no, after just the first few episodes of this season you could begin to see the split that they were going to go with. Alda, the business-like Republican calculating all of his moves in advance, constantly trying to find ways to turn the tables on Smits, and while not necessarily following fully in the Hollywood mold of the power hungry evil Republican, he at least shows signs that he is willing to lie to help improve his chances of winning. Smits on the other hand, is almost universally portrayed as a very intelligent, kind, savvy, honest politician and while at times his staff may want to play a little lowball politics, he is always there to guide them to the highroad.

It's to the point I have to bush my teeth after every episode to prevent cavities. Not that I blame Smits. As I've already said, he is a great actor and is doing a terrific job, but when you have such a diverse group of writers covering the political gambit from extreme left to just left of center, it's hard for anyone with an opposing viewpoint to get a fair shake. I believe it's just harder for someone on the more liberal side of the fence to understand the workings of a right siders mind. If you're used to making many of your decisions based on a more emotional response, then it's often hard to figure out the reasoning of someone who may not agree with you. It's the reason that you often see sinister motives being attributed to Republicans, when in fact they are just being, what they see as practical (however, that's not to say that other decisions are not made with sinister motives, just not near as many as many liberals think).

I'm still holding out hope that as the season matures, so will the writers ability to balance out the two candidates, otherwise this promising storyline will turn into another stereotypical Hollywood swing at the right.


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