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October 4, 2015

One summer project ends, another begins

by Brad Trechak, posted Jun 29th 2009 4:29PM
The West WingAbout a month ago, I mentioned my television summer project. The West Wing was such an excellent series that I stampeded by way through the episodes and am done already. In fact, if you summed up the quality of every reality show on television, it wouldn't come close to the quality of The West Wing (thus furthering the argument that writers are mandatory for good television).

I agree with most of the critics that the series took a drop in quality in Season 5. With the departure of Sorkin, the characters began to make decisions that seemed inconsistent with the first four seasons (I'll write more about that in a separate article). Seasons 6 and 7 saw an upswing in quality, mostly due to the change in the whole premise of the show (making it about the Presidential Election rather than the Presidency).

The West Wing was a very deep and intelligent program and probably better than we deserve. Next up: Aaron Sorkin's other television contributions, Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

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Every year or so, I also love to "stampede" my way through all seven seasons of TWW. I originally discovered the show from a pure impulse purchase of S1 and was immediately hooked.

There are a lot of comments about the evident drop in quality of the show after Sorkin left the series - yes, I agree. But I have to say, even the weaker episodes are better than most other dramatic tv series.

Comparing TWW to itself at its best is valid but the overall quality of the series remains nearly without equal.

June 30 2009 at 6:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sports Night was the best. It got better and better.

West Wings seasons 1&2 were gret then quality dropped a bit, but it still greateness to balance the preachiness. What bothered me on WW was given all all the hype of its accuracy and special advisers, it got factually things annoyingly wrong (e.g. Major General who are Army CoS; having Governors appoint people to fill vacancies in the House of Reps) - and then would have key points of the episode based on the wrongness.

Studio 60 was mediocre. I kept watching it though hoping for Sport Night v2.

June 30 2009 at 9:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

I think that "Studio 60" got a bad rap from a lot of people including the professional critics, many of whom wanted them to "bring the funny" when this was a drama about making TV. It's not the best Sorkin series or even the second best Sorkin series, but although we judge it to be a failure, the simple fact is that nothing on the NBC line-up (with the exception of "Friday Night Lights" which is a special case, and "Life" which has been cancelled) and little on broadcast TV, either in this past season or in the coming season measures up to this show.

June 30 2009 at 3:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I too, took your summer project, and began watching The West Wing, I'm beginning Season 3 now, it seems once I start watching, I keep playing the next episode and before you know it, half the day is gone. (smiling). People seem to be directing to "Sports Night" as the next project, I may take that on too, just to see if its really good as they say.

June 30 2009 at 12:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hello good writer,

I wanted to let you know after reading this article a few months ago, I deceided to follow your lead. And my wife and I started to watch The West Wing. We are only just finished Season 2. It is an incredible show. We found ourselves near tears at the end of each episode in Season 1 and we watch these episodes in a hurry!
Thanks for the idea!

June 29 2009 at 11:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You will see a lot of familiar faces on Sports Night. Be sure to catch who is the wardrobe person on "THE VIEW" episode. Enjoy!!

Studio 60-Not the same watch-ablity as the other two. But as the above poster said the "Nevada Day" episodes were very good.

You will get through both pretty fast.

June 29 2009 at 11:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

*laugh* There's no better way to mobilize the commenters than to put up an Aaron Sorkin-related post :)

Glad you enjoyed your viewing of The West Wing. I agree with everything you wrote about seasons 5/6/7.

Sports Night, while dated, was quite excellent. Studio 60 was a little too derivative for my taste, but I still watched faithfully. The "Nevada Day" episodes were hilarious, I thought. Oh, and was there ever a hotter looking Amanda Peet than Studio 60? Yummy!

June 29 2009 at 6:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really liked the West Wing, I think it worked because the characters, the issues and the politics worked in a show about politics. But I had a very hard time caring about similar politics in Studio 60. Also I think Aaron lost tough with the way regular people talk. That wasn't much of a problem in when he was writing for the President and Speech-writers but when he wrote the smae kind of lines for Late night TV writers and actors and studio execs, it just wasn't the same.
Also 30 Rock was just too good, and I still see that as a competition between the two shows.
For your next summer show, why not watch Battlestar Galatica, it's still very relevent.

June 29 2009 at 6:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Studio 60 was good and like Andrew said had its moments. The best episode was probably "K&R Part 1"

June 29 2009 at 6:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sports Night was awesome, and Studio 60 had its moments.

June 29 2009 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Andrew's comment
John Heltsley

Agreed. Sports Night has to be one of the most underrated shows ever. If you liked the humor that was so perfect and honed on West Wing, Sports Night is where he crafted it to a tee.

June 29 2009 at 5:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Took the words right out of my mouth.

Sorkin! Get back to TV writing. It needs you.

June 29 2009 at 5:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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