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August 28, 2015

The West Wing: Internal Displacement

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 15th 2006 9:19PM
The West WingWhile it's always great to see characters and references to the old, great West Wing (tonight's opening had scenes from past episodes and the return of Danny Concannon), it clashes with the new West Wing, which is all cynicism and bitchiness and tension between C.J. and Josh and the boring character of Kate. But at least there's a glimmer of that old West Wing, if simply because the White House was prominently featured. When there's more scenes in the White House than on the Santos campaign trail, that's a good thing (even if it means Donna isn't around.)

While Danny tries to have a dinner with C.J. (and tell her about Doug Westin banging his nanny), there is trouble in the Sudan, and C.J. is frantically trying to broker a deal to stop all the death. Danny says that it seems like the Bartlet administration is simply running out the clock, not doing much before a Santos or Vinick administration takes over. C.J. knows he's kinda right, and at one point President Bartlet even asks her about the deals she is trying to make, "is this about the Sudan or about being kicked out of this office?"

Toby is mentioned once by Will ("Toby did it!"), Santos is only seen on a TV screen, Josh pisses off C.J. by making something public that wasn't supposed to be public so soon, and Leo and Vinick aren't on at all. Really cool to see Margaret have a few lines - "The President's waiting for you in the Oval Office - and I have a yogurt." By the way, when C.J. got the promotion, what happened to Carol?

C.J. gets Doug to announce to the press that the President won't be joining him on a campaign stop, but Liz asks her to reconsider - she knows that he was having an affair. But C.J. says that cancelling the appearance is for the best, and Doug will have to win/lose the election on his own.

At a second dinner, Danny announces that he's going to quit journalism. And he knows that C.J. will soon be out of a job, so...he asks her to marry him. But before she can even respond, her beeper goes off. She has to leave and Danny understands. She reaches the White House, where Kate tells her that there has been a nuclear accident in California.

But beyond all the political intrigue and international catastrophes and emotional drama, the really big question is: how the hell can the goldfish Danny gave C.J. several years ago still be alive?! 

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What happened to Carol (Melissa Fitzgerald)? Didn't you see right after CJ got the promotion, CJ was in the hallway and Carol asked her what she (CJ) wanted her (Carol) to do? CJ told Carol that Toby was going to need her. Sometime after the Sr. staff staged a mock mass quitting (capped off by Bartlett saying he couldn't work so closely with a woman...after having appointed her, and CJ called them "bad, bad men," Margaret said she actually was going to leave because, "It's a long time I've worked for Leo and he's going to be doing something..." An episode or so after that, CJ said to Margaret that she was an odd woman who ran the office like a clock and asked her to stay, citing her tallness. I don't think that before the end of season 7, do we see Carol again. But that is kind of the TWW MO regarding many characters who just disappear. What happened to Matthew Perry's character (Joe Quincy)? or Mark Feuerstein 's character (Cliff Calley)--both times? and Ainsley Hayes (Emily Proctor) was mentioned once after she was unceremoniously disappeared. Not to mention Moira Kelly (Mandy Hampton)--I mean good riddance, but still, what happened to her?

January 26 2009 at 12:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think this episode lays the groundwork for how and why Danny will end up becoming President Bartlett's official biographer

January 18 2006 at 10:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sheriff Bob

This is advice for the producer/directors of West Wing, anguished at the drop in viewers...and last night's show was a good example of a viewer turnoff they could avoid.

The characters almost always talk too fast for some of us viewers to keep up with the content, even when we use Closed Captions. They talk too fast in two ways. First, the actual number of words per nanosecond they attempt to deliver (sometimes to the degree they seem to be competing, as actors, with one another to see who can speak fastest), and second the short time separating the lines of two or more characters. Both these delivery styles (directing? acting?) can be used to create the effect that good, snappy dialogue can have--injecting confidence into a scene using pace, for example. But increasingly, at least for me and my wife, it is the downside effect of celerity that dominates, which is the confusion I experience when I dont have time to process even known quantities of information, not to mention material my brain is unfamiliar with.

Last night's best examples of this both involved fast-talking and fast-dialoguing CJ, when fencing verbally in the West Wing with Josh, and when making the case for Security Council action with foreign Ambassadors. All these scenes were delivering complex data of the type that require more than average time to comprehend and, just as importantly, to store away in memory so they have their full poignancy and import as a drama unfolds.

The West Wing directors know as well as any in the business how to linger with the camera when the characters are quiet; I think it would make for more satisfying viewing if they would slow the pace of the spoken word as well.

January 17 2006 at 5:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As a character sketch of CJ, the episode was passable. Bradley Whitford obviously likes the character since the two episodes he's written have revolved to varying degrees around CJ's personal life. But as much as I love the character and the actress, I didn't need yet another CJ-centric episode.

The highlight was a wonderful performance by Timothy Busfield (Danny Concannon). But even though we know the outcome of CJ's and Danny's relationship thanks to the season opener teaser, I was once again irritated by yet another interruption that prevented a personal scene from being played out to its natural conclusion. The 'interruption' has become a very tired, very contrived plot device on TWW. It's been overused to kill any significant advancement in the Josh/Donna relationship as well.

January 16 2006 at 6:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

As for Charlie, as I undestand it his contract was such that he has only a limited number of episodes left before he leaves the series, so their using him very carefully. Actually I have a susicion that the wedding series of episodes might have been meant to be Charlie and Zoe but actor availability made it Ellie and some guy who we've never heard of before.

January 16 2006 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved this episode. Hats off to Bradley Whitford for writing an excellent episode; one that could be compared to the heyday of Aaron Sorkin. What no one mentions is the underlying message of the show: the horrendous genocide in The Sudan. Whitford, through his church, has been very outspoken in his disgust at the lack of leadership from out elected officials on The Sudan. This is the most press the issue has received -- EVER! I especially loved the human rights guy who had absolutely no problem telling CJ what a lousy job she and president were doing as concerns The Sudan (and the fact that CJ secretly agreed with him). Doubtful that would ever happen in real life, but it's great to see and I'm sure he was speaking with Whitford's voice. More people need to have the balls to hold our elected leaders to the fire like that.
I also thought the little storyline with Danny was interesting in that he was growing tired of the gotcha journalism that runs so rampant through the mainstream media these days. Too bad we don't see real journalists making that decision. Of course, any journalist who made that decision would mostly likely lose their job because they wouldn't be drawing readers to their respective news organizations.

January 16 2006 at 1:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

An episode like this one reminds me of why I still tune in. Unlike all the praise it's been receiving in the press, I have not been a fan of WW this season. I hate all the Santos/Vinnick campaign stuff. The reason I watch the show is all there in the title: I want to see the behind the scenes workings of the West Wing.

Sigh, I miss the days of the original season with the original cast, and I think Bradley Whitford does as well. This episode had the intelligence, pace and wit of an early show. Will is no Sam. Why did they choose to keep Kate over Charlie? And to get rid of the doom that is Toby?? Insane! What happened to the fantastic ensemble cast that used to be the envy of all other dramatic ensembles? And answer me this? Is there now only 2 heads of departments running the west wing??

January 16 2006 at 10:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
le Sheppard

Bradley Whitford (Josh) wrote this great show ("the writers" - what writers are you referring to ??).
The show I watched worked.
The banter between all the characters was great. Bradley must love the Will character with some great scenes between Will and CJ. The love/hate/respect relationships worked (they are older, changing, and growing apart). The - things falling apart at the end of the term - and all other sub stories all worked like west Wing should. Hats off to the writing and the episode.
Stop trying to watch the DVD's on Sunday nights. Do yourself a favor... Watch the DVD's during the week to get your yesterday/how it was/Sorkin fix. Then watch "West Wing" on NBC Sunday nights for the present day story lines... Let things change and let the past go.
I still love the show this year and look forward to it every week.
Nice work WW....

January 16 2006 at 9:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

CJ and Danny's child wasn't in the flash-forward scene but was mentioned (something about sending the Bartlets a picture). There were no details about the kid, age, gender, etc, as I recall.

So right, djr, good things can't last forever. Still, not a bad episode. Nice to see so much Danny, and Allison Janney is always great. But as mentioned above, it's always been about the team. It's a little sad that Kate seems CJ's only confidant in the WH.

January 16 2006 at 8:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Meesh: in the flashforward, CJ and Danny have a child (I can't remember now if the child is in the scene, or just mentioned) so it's pretty safe to say things work out for the best.

Matthew: exactly what you said. The thing that really drew me into the show was the comradery. The pilot had some hints at internal conflict (particularly between Josh and Toby) but that seemed to fall to the side as the characters demonstrated that even when they were at odds, they still had the utmost respect for each other.

But eh. Good things can't last forever.

January 16 2006 at 6:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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