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July 31, 2014

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The West Wing: Shibboleth

by Bob Sassone, posted Nov 26th 2008 1:01PM
(Originally aired November 22, 2000)

Last year I picked The West Wing's "The Indians in the Lobby" episode as a standout episode of the series. It just so happens that we're blessed with two Thanksgiving episodes of the show that are standouts. This one is called "Shibboleth."

The plots: While President Bartlet has to figure out what to do with dozens of Chinese immigrants who have stowed away on a freighter, Toby tries to get Leo's controversial sister nominated for an education post, C.J. has to pick one of two turkeys who will get to be pardoned by the President, and Charlie goes shopping for the perfect carving knife for the President.

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The West Wing: Institutional Memory

by Bob Sassone, posted May 7th 2006 9:22PM
Janney - The West Wing(S07E21) This was an odd episode. I mean, it's the next to last show, and we're supposed to believe that everyone is getting ready to leave the White House and they're packing up and they're thinking about new job offers. But at the beginning, even though C.J.'s office is filled with boxes and Will goes to see someone about a possible political job, it didn't "feel" right. Focusing on C.J. is fine, but focusing on Will and Kate? I just don't see it.

Then Andy walked into C.J.'s office and asked her to ask the President about pardoning Toby, and that's when the episode kicked into gear for me.

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The West Wing: The Last Hurrah

by Bob Sassone, posted Apr 30th 2006 9:18PM
Alan Alda(S07E20) Hmmm...you would think they would leave a title like "The Last Hurrah" for the last episode of the series (it's not, the title of that episode is "Tomorrow"), but it fit this one. This was a very solid episode. I usually don't like the episodes that are almost all Vinick and new administration-oriented, but this one was great. Alan Alda is a flawless actor, and it's terrific to see what Vinick is going through now that he's lost. And another nice touch? Using the older characters of Amy and Ron to sort of bridge the old cast and the new cast.

While Santos is busy as hell (he and the new First Lady have to decide what school their kids should go to, Houston or D.C.), Vinick finds himself with nothing to do.

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The West Wing: Requiem

by Bob Sassone, posted Apr 16th 2006 9:59PM
West Wing(S07E18) Now this was the type of episode longtime West Wing viewers were hoping for. If you had asked me what should happen in the Leo's funeral episode and who should be in the episode, this is what I would have done. The montage at the beginning of the episode showed everyone getting ready for the funeral - President Barlet, Josh, Toby, C.J., Donna, etc - and then showed all of the people at the church. Sure, it was jarring not to have Sam there (Rob Lowe isn't back yet), but you really can't complain when you have Mallory, Nancy McNally, Carol, Margaret, Hoynes, Russell, Joey Lucas, Danny and everyone else. Nice touch having Toby stay in the church til everyone leaves and Charlie offering to walk out with him.

I was a little afraid they'd rush though the Leo memories and shove in the whole Santos plot, but that didn't happen. You had to show what was going on with the Santos plot (life does go on after all), and it was a nice balance of the old and the new.

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The West Wing: Election Day, Part II

by Bob Sassone, posted Apr 9th 2006 9:22PM
John Spencer(S07E17) This must have been the hardest episode for the cast to film. How do you even go about filming the onscreen death of a beloved character when the equally beloved castmate also died in real life?

NBC is fond of calling their comedies "Must See TV." But this was truly the one must see episode of any NBC show in quite a while. Leo dies, and the election goes down to the wire, all in one episode. Must see, but not handled as well as it could have been. Some good scenes with Josh, and some nice moments in the White House between Bartlett and C.J., but they really should have given Margaret more to do, get more of a reaction from her besides one shot of stoic tears.

And...no Toby?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

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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.)

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Spencer wasn't in West Wing opening scene

by Bob Sassone, posted Dec 25th 2005 8:18PM

There was a lot of confusion last week when The West Wing's John Spencer passed away. Every single newspaper, magazine, and web site (including this one, but in our defense we missed the opening scene and were just repeating the news sites) reported that the character of Leo had appeared in a three years later flash forward in the first scene of the season opener. And that would pose a problem, since Spencer passed away and couldn't have been in a scene three years in the future.

But NBC is repeating the episode right now and it's official: Leo was not in the scene. So some of the speculation we talked about last week is still valid.

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West Wing actor John Spencer dead at 58 - BREAKING NEWS

by Kim Voynar, posted Dec 16th 2005 6:26PM

John SpencerThe West Wing star John Spencer, who played Leo McGarry, died today in a Los Angeles hospital of a heart attack, according to his publicist. Spencer played Chief of Staff to Martin Sheen's President Jeb Bartlet. On the show, ironically, Spencer's character suffered a heart attack that forced him to give up his White House gig. In a main storyline this season, though, his character had been tapped as a vice-presidential running mate for Democratic hopeful Matt Santos, played by Jimmy Smits.

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