Coming Out of Left Field

Monday, November 07, 2005

The West Wing: "The Debate"

The wife and I enjoyed watching this episode, probably because we're Democrats, and the Democratic candidate came off much better in the debate. Santos appeared smart and confident and willing to try new ideas, while Vinick -- who earlier in his campaign had seemed intelligent and independent -- reverted to Republican type with all his talk of tax cuts and shrinking government. I wondered momentarily how Vinick managed to get elected in California. Then the wife reminded me, considering who's governor there now, Vinick wouldn't have been that much of a stretch.

It was also fun seeing cameramen moving around and knowing that the show was going on live. After a while, though, I realized something was missing. It wasn't debate about the issues (there was plenty of that). It wasn't the challenges and thinly veiled jabs (there were plenty of those too). I couldn't put my finger on it until someone on the West Wing Tribe mentioned it would've been nice to see Josh's reaction when Santos agreed to drop the debate rules. Then I remembered that I love seeing the behind-the-scenes stuff -- negotiations, confrontations between Josh and Santos/Louise/Donna, crises of conscience, etc. -- that go along with the public events. Not that I expected any of it, given that it's hard to film anything live, but I did miss it.

Other notes:

-- Belated "Yay!" for Donna's return. Now if Josh would only get over himself long enough to listen to her.
-- Ellen DeGeneres gets another "Yay!" The commercials were a bit lame, but she's cute in that appealingly dorky way.
-- Interesting that the credits showed a lot of people who weren't actually in the episode. Is this how Richard Schiff is going to get his 11 appearances?
-- The next new episode isn't until Dec. 4. It's going to be a looooonnnng month.

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I don't think Santos necessarily came off looking better -- I'm not a Democrat, but an independent, and I suppose my views are conservative on some issues and liberal on others. I think Vinick scored better on the value of letting the market set prices for drugs, and on the true source of poor Africa's misery. But Santos is definitely right about immigration and on a need for more tax burden on accumulated wealth. (The tax thing should actually be a Religious Right stance, if you've ever read the Prophets.) All in all, I appreciate the education that West Wing does, not just in this episode but in others, too.

I appreciate it too. If only shows like these had been around when I was in high school -- I think I would've paid much more attention to current events.

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