The West Wing: Here Today
Can someone please explain to me how so much can happen in an hour and yet the episode still comes off as incredibly booooooooorrrrrrring? Toby admits to C.J. he's the leak, he's grilled by Babish, Stockard Channing comes back, they're investigating a political assassination, and Josh might fire 45 campaign workers. That's a lot for one episode, yet it came across as riveting as the typing I'm doing right now.
It's always good to see Oliver Platt appear as Babish, and Oliver Platt is the lone bright spot in the show tonight. He's grilling Toby until Toby's lawyer comes by and tells him not to answer anymore questions. Meanwhile, there's more disruption in the Santos campaign, but it's really rather uninteresting. Maybe it's not the plots that are boring themselves, but the way this show was put together. There's no rhythm, no pace, nothing particularly memorable happens until the very end. And even then the writers kick longtime West Wing fans straight in the stomach. He doesn't let Toby resign, he has to fire him. He doesn't even ask why he Toby did it, he instead chastizes him for always (always?) having a smug superiorty ever since he hired him. He doesn't let Toby leave the Oval Office with dignity, instead he gets in one last shot, saying that if anyone out there thinks he's a hero, Bartlet won't be one of them. Security shows Toby out the door.
This is what Toby's loyalty gets him, and what our fan loyalty gets us? (Yeah, he was at the library opening in the fast-forward future scene in the first ep of the season, and that's heartening, but right now, it's not enough).
If you want an example of how so-so the writing is now, just take a look at the scene between the President and Mrs. Bartlett in the first 15 minutes of the show. It struggles to find that old Aaron Sorkin magic, having the two people walk through the White House and then outside, talking about important political matters and something as quirky as fruit flies, and it comes across as forced and rather silly.
I was actually kinda liking the season so far. Maybe because when they focused on the Santos vs. Vinick battle, it was getting interesting. This is an uncomfortable detour from that plot. And to think earlier this year I was hoping they'd get back to the White House so we could see what Bartlet and C.J. and Toby and Margaret were up to. But if this is how they handle the White House part of The West Wing now, I'd rather see Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits the rest of the year.