Coming Out of Left Field

Monday, December 05, 2005

The West Wing: "Undecideds"

I'm very happy that, after nearly a month off, WW is back with new episodes.

That being said, this was probably one of the least satisfying episodes of the season.

It wasn't for lack of trying. Last night's show was chock-full with conflicts, from the global (China and Kazakhstan having a showdown over oil) to the racial (black kid shot by Hispanic cop) to the personal (Ellie's wedding planning). And the shooting/editing was fairly solid and didn't call attention to itself.

But for some reason much of the drama seemed a bit predictable. Santos going to the family's house ... check. Santos getting yelled at by angry parent ... check. Santos coming up with another speech to save the day and his presidential chances ... check, cue slow-motion shot of Santos taking his wife's hand as they stride out of the church. (OK, so that one did call attention to itself.)

I also felt that the episode title was the only thing holding these separate plotlines together. It's almost as if the writers, knowing that they would have a month between episodes, decided, "OK, here are the plots we've got for the rest of the year. We can't have anything big happen just yet, so we'll just get the ball rolling again on this, this and this." Which is fine, as long as that leads to something better.

Other comments:
-- The shooting happened in California, Vinick's home state. Where the hell was he?
-- The wedding planning bits were welcome comic relief. If I were the fruit-fly guy, I'd be thinking about eloping.
-- It's going to be weird if something does happen between Will and Harper (aka Secret CIA Lady). Speaking of Harper, why do we see so much of her, and hardly anything of her boss? Apart from the fact that Harper's only the deputy National Security Advisor, it'd be cool to see more of Anna Deavere Smith.
-- Toby is a bitter, bitter man. Maybe he's right about Santos not having the fire in his belly, but that still doesn't excuse him being such a jerk to Josh.
-- For all my nitpicking, I still love this show. Bartlett's back next week -- should be fun.

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I'm with you on this one. When the walking into the light shot came, it was obvious that the credits were en route, but it didn't seem possible. There just hadn't been any substance to the episode.

Anna Deveare Smith is in the new film release of Rent, playing Joanne's mother (Joanne is played by Tracie Thoms, late of Wonderfalls, so it's a great two for one package!

And Kate was so totally checking out Will's ass on his way out of the office. And on the way completely out of her character.

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