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October 24, 2014

the west wing

Big Bang Theory meets the Wonder Years

by Allison Waldman, posted Dec 2nd 2009 4:30PM
danica_mcKellar_big_bang_theoryDoes it take a brainiac to play a brainiac? No, of course not. But when Danica McKellar guests on The Big Bang Theory on January 11, that's what they'll get. Not only is Danica well-remembered as the nearly-perfect Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years, Kevin's neighbor and the girl he always adored, she's also smart as a whip. She has the degrees to prove it.

A couple of years ago, TV Squad put Danica In the Limelight. Ryan learned that Danica had graduated Summa cum Laude from UCLA with a degree in Mathematics. She is the McKellar in the Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem.

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President Bartlet pardons a turkey (and teaches us a little about stuffing)

by Bob Sassone, posted Nov 24th 2009 5:02PM
One of favorite aspects of Thanksgiving, besides the turkey and the stuffing and the pie, is that I get to watch the Thanksgiving episodes of The West Wing. Yeah, I guess I could watch the episodes any time of year since I own them on DVD, but that's not how I roll.

Here are two classic scenes from the show. The first is from the episode "Shibboleth" where President Bartlet pardons a turkey, and the second, after the jump, is from "The Indians in the Lobby," the scene where he calls the Butterball hotline.

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Aaron Sorkin returning to television

by Bob Sassone, posted Nov 18th 2009 4:29PM
Aaron SorkinIn last week's TV Squad Podcast, I mentioned how I liked Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It was a show with a ton of flaws, but it was also well-written and had a ton of potential. After it ended, Sorkin fans (even the ones who didn't like the show) were wondering "what will he do on TV next?" Well, we might have our answer.

Over at TV Guide magazine, Sorkin says that his next show will once again (like Studio 60 and Sports Night) be set in the world of television, a behind-the-scenes look at...something. He doesn't say what the show will be, but when Studio 60 ended there was talk that he would do a show set at a fictional cable news channel. Considering that all of Sorkin's shows have had some sort of news and/or political side, this seems like a natural. He'll be able to talk about all of the things he wants to talk about in a setting like that.

Sorkin says that he will start working on the show when filming of The Social Network, the big screen movie about the start of Facebook, is over. I can't wait.

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Matthew Perry to produce and star in new sitcom

by Bob Sassone, posted Oct 13th 2009 12:33PM
Matthew PerryI was looking forward to Matthew Perry's new Showtime show The End of Steve, a drama about a radio talk show host. Unfortunately, Showtime wasn't looking forward to it as much as I was and didn't pick up the show.

Instead, Perry is going to produce, co-write, and star in a new comedy about a sports arena manager who finds himself thinking about where his life is at after he turns 40. Fans of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and The West Wing (two other shows that Perry was in) will be interested to know that Thomas Schlamme will be involved in the show too as director and co-producer.

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Kristin Chenoweth on board as American Idol guest judge

by Allison Waldman, posted Aug 27th 2009 10:04PM
pushing_daisies_kristin_chenoweth
Could the departure of Paula Abdul from American Idol actually result in a revitalization and renewal of the Fox monster hit? I ask that question because in the past couple of days, guest judges have been announced to sit in Paula's place and I'm absolutely psyched by the choices. The other day it was How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris. Today, Pushing Daisies' Kristin Chenoweth has been snagged as an American Idol guest judge. She's currently filming auditions in Orlando, Florida.

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TV Squad Ten: Events from The West Wing that wouldn't really happen

by Brad Trechak, posted Jul 16th 2009 2:04PM
The West Wing on DVDAs I mentioned before, I recently completed my summer project of watching the entire series of The West Wing from start to finish. After using a month or so to cogitate, I decided that while the show feign realism, it didn't quite achieve the mark.

Many of the events I refer to occurred after creator Aaron Sorkin was ousted from the series. I take that as more than coincidence.

Major spoilers for the show follow after the jump, so if you haven't seen it yet, turn back now.

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Karl Malden dead at 97

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 1st 2009 4:21PM
Karl MaldenThe celebrity death march continues.

Karl Malden has died at the age of 97. He was probably best known for his role as Lt. Mike Stone on the ABC series The Streets of San Francisco. Actually, he was probably equally well-known for his American Express "Don't Leave Home Without It" commercials that ran in the 70s and 80s.

He played the lead role in the short-lived NBC series Skag in 1980, but most of his roles were in movies, including Patton, On The Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, Kiss of Death, How The West Was Won, Birdman of Alcatraz, Murderer's Row, and Meteor. One of my favorite Malden roles was in the 50s movie Fear Strikes Out, where he played the pushy father of Red Sox outfielder Jimmy Piersall. His last role was a first season episode of The West Wing.

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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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NBC scores with Inside the Obama White House

by Allison Waldman, posted Jun 4th 2009 10:10AM
Obama burgers
If Jay Leno isn't the answer for NBC prime time, perhaps the network should think about booking President Obama. NBC News devoted two hours, on Tuesday and Wednesday night, for Inside the Obama White House and the ratings were strong. Better than the insipid I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here, which acted as a lead-in. Of course the season finale of Law & Order: SVU on Tuesday didn't hurt the news production.

Having watched the two hours, NBC should sign the president ASAP. There's always the curiosity factor when a viewer is being given access behind the scenes, and that's what Inside the Obama White House did. It was a look at the real West Wing, which reminded me a lot of the fictional, Aaron Sorkin West Wing creation, and that was quite cool. President Obama still fascinates me, and it's well past 100 days.

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My summer television project

by Brad Trechak, posted May 25th 2009 2:19PM

The West Wing, the Complete SeriesWhen the summer rolls around, there is obviously less new programming to watch on television. Oh sure, certain networks run original alternative programming over the summer to garner better ratings, but most people don't really get excited about summer programming. The good stuff returns in the fall. The summer is "time off" from television.

This summer, I have given myself a personal project that relates to television. I wanted to watch a complete series, end to end, that time had never allowed me to watch and was generally considered to be excellent by viewers and critics. In this case, I have chosen Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing. I started last week and I am captivated, having already gotten to Season 2, Episode 5.

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In praise of In Plain Sight

by Allison Waldman, posted May 24th 2009 1:31PM
Richard Schiff In Plain sight
In Plain Sight has become one of my favorite TV shows. I didn't think that way last year, its rookie season, when the show lurched a bit to try and find balance between Mary's professional life as a U.S. Marshal in the Witness Protection Program and her dysfunctional personal life with an alcoholic mother, a troubled younger sister with a drug-dealing boyfriend, and an on-again/off-again relationship with a hot Latin minor league baseball player.

When it went well, it was very satisfying, but the show seemed to be struggling to find its tone. Well, this season is a whole new thing. Perhaps there were changes behind the scenes, perhaps the first year was about shaking out all those story strands and building a stronger foundation, perhaps it was simply the actors getting more comfortable in their roles. Whatever the case, In Plain Sight is now hitting on all cylinders.

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The Ultimate Series Finale Quiz

by AOL TV Staff, posted Apr 28th 2009 6:00PM
Series Finale Quiz Mary Tyler Moore ShowCan you remember how it all ended? ...

With finale season underway, we're taking a look back at some of television's best show-stopping moments.

Can you remember Hunnicut's final message to Hawkeye on 'M*A*S*H'? Or what happened to the 'Seinfeld' gang?

Test your knowledge with our end-all series finale quiz.


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Aaron Sorkin returning to TV?

by Brad Trechak, posted Apr 10th 2009 11:07AM
Studio 60 on the Sunset StripAccording to PopWatch, Aaron Sorkin might be returning to television. And for the third time, it might be a television-show-within-a-television-show (his first two in this vein were Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip). This time, the fictional world would be a cable news program such as the one hosted by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC.

His last show utilizing this concept, Studio 60, didn't fare so well and was cancelled after a single season. However, this program concept would also incorporate the discussion of politics, which Sorkin excels at, as proven in The West Wing. We may have a winner here.

Sorkin is certainly a multi-talented writer. He's written movies and plays as well as television. I believe he can make this sort of program work. I even confess to liking an earlier incarnation of this concept, Al Franken's Lateline.

So what do you think? Do you welcome a return by Sorkin to television or is his reputation overblown?

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Here's a list of the top 50 dramas of all-time (OK, maybe 45) - VIDEO

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 25th 2009 2:10PM
The X-FilesQuestion: Is The Sopranos the best drama in the history of television, or is it one of the best dramas in the history of television that often gets the top spot because it's fairly recent?

That's one of the questions to ponder as you read AOL's Top 50 Dramas Of All-Time list. The Sopranos comes in at number one.

It's not a bad list, actually. When you narrow down a TV show to a specific genre and go all the way up to 50, most of the shows we would all pick will show up on the list: The X-Files, Deadwood, The Rockford Files, Mad Men, St. Elsewhere, Columbo, The Wire. Those are all classic dramas (and good ones) that you would expect to see.

One thing I didn't expect to see? Friday Night Lights in the number 10 spot, ahead of all the shows I just mentioned above.

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Aaron Sorkin pays tribute to Ron Silver

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 20th 2009 5:03PM
Ron SilverIt's still odd to think about Ron Silver, who died of cancer earlier this week, being gone. I mean, sure, cancer can hit anyone at any age, but it's odd to see it happen to someone in a fairly recent show, and one that I watch a lot of (thank you, DVD sets). I felt the same thing when another West Wing cast member, John Spencer, died a few years back. That was even more shocking because he was still on the show at the time.

West Wing creator/writer Aaron Sorkin pays tribute to Silver in Time. He says that Silver was not only the type of actor who was very generous ("someone who's there for the piece and not for himself"), but one that would make the other actors laugh and get into a good mood between takes.

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