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.
Welcome to TV Squad Lists (formerly 'The Five'), a feature where each blogger has a chance to list his or her own rundown of things in television that stand out from the rest, both good and bad.
TV usually gets the writing profession wrong. I've never understood why, since shows and characters are written by writers themselves. Maybe they think they have to dumb it down for the general audience. That's why you have writers like Jessica Fletcher, who just sits down at the typewriter and the words come out fine and she mails it off to her publisher. This happens all the time on television. And have you ever noticed that when you hear the writing that a writer character has done on a show it's almost always terrible? Why is that?
After the jump are six writer characters on TV that were done correctly.
We've said it here a million times (and by "we" I'm including TV Squad readers): Toby would never have leaked classified information the way he did in the last season of The West Wing. And in the off chance that he did, it would only be because he was covering for someone else. Now, Richard Schiff (in the pic on the right with his wife, actress Sheila Kelley) says he agrees (this is an addendum to an article from last year).
In an interesting interview in The Independent, Schiff says that he felt let down by the writers in the last season, and in fact to get through it he actually made a fictional plot in his head as to why Toby was acting the way that he was.
Ah, someone from the cast who feels the same as longtime West Wing fans.
Richard Schiff, who plays Toby Ziegler on the show (yes, I say "plays" even though he's been fired - he'll be in upcoming episodes) wanted to leave the show. In this article about a play he is in, Schiff talks about the show:
"It’s been time for me to move on for quite a while actually. You know, the money was very good and that’s what kind of drew me back because I felt like after five years of 70-hour weeks that I kind of deserved to get a little bit of a payoff. And the money got very good in the last two years. I wanted to leave and then we kind of made a compromise that I would come back and give them a story that they could use to lead me going out. They came up with firing him... That wasn’t my idea!
Between you and me - and you can print this - Toby wouldn’t have done that in ten million years! But, you
know, it’s not my show...And now it’s even greatly sad because of John Spencer’s passing. I certainly,
honestly, don’t want to go back for another season without Johnny there. I couldn’t imagine The West Wing
without Toby Ziegler and I couldn’t imagine it without Leo McGarrey as well. It’s just not possible. So, it
might move on and become another show and that’s fine.
It’s important for people to know that I really, really loved this Toby character. And I really loved the people on The West Wing. Allison Janney is my soulmate on the set and John Spencer was just one of the most fascinating, wonderful human beings I’ve ever met. And Martin Sheen is singularly the best human being I’ve ever met. Tommy Schlamme who used to run the show and Aaron Sorkin and his writing and some of the writers who tried to fill his footsteps are truly wonderfully gifted and they’re family and I love them to death. I just feel like it’s time to get out of the kitchen once in a while. It’s time to move on."
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