Sunday, January 22, 2006

New "West Wing" Episode Tonight

The episode summarized and commented on below, episode 12 "Duck and Cover", is broadcasting on NBC tonight at 8PM ET.

From the ABC News's "The Note":
"You won't want to miss this Sunday's episode of The West Wing (8 pm ET on NBC), penned by Al Gore's former chief scribe Eli Attie. In the episode, entitled "Duck and Cover" and dealing with the familiar primetime TV topic of nuclear energy policy, Ron Silver's Bruno Gianelli character (who is oddly Dick Morrisian) name-checks The Note, and then proclaims himself to be a liberal Democrat in real life! (Okay, maybe not. But he does name-check the Note, per our sources.)"

From the Boston Herald:
"MASSPIRG’s no-nukes advocates say if they can’t convince you that the aging Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant shouldn’t have its license renewed for another 20 years, perhaps “West Wing” President Jeb (sic) Bartlet can have a go at it.
Apparently, the TV prez has to make some tough decisions when a nuclear reactor in California (not Plymouth) is thisclose to exploding in tonight’s episode called “Duck and Cover.”
“The issues and the storyline are all pretty accurate in showing what would happen down the road,” said MASSPIRG’s Energy Associate Evan Feinman, who spent the week firing off Letters to the Editor about tonight’s show.
Feinman, who admits he saw a few pages of the script, but can’t divulge where he scored them, said that the episode boosts many of MASSPIRG’s arguments against Pilgrim including “that evacuation plans are a joke.”
“It’s rare that a network show goes out of its way to make this issue more public,” he said, adding that the “West Wing” writers did not contact him. Perhaps next time.
File Under: Reactor Reaction. "

Commentary from the Mobile Register:
""We're running out of time."

That was fictional White House Chief of Staff C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney) speaking rather pointedly to her president -- the fictional Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) -- in last week's "The West Wing."

She was referring to getting things accomplished in the waning months of the Bartlet administration, as Bartlet's second term as a prime-time president is due to expire with the show's current season.

t could be the show's last, too, with ratings having dropped with its move from Wednesdays to Sundays and with the creative ebb that goes with a show having been on the air for so long since its heyday.

So, with the clock ticking on a fictional presidency and possibly on the show itself (though candidates Matt Santos, played by Jimmy Smits, and Arnold Vinick, played by Alan Alda, seem either one capable of moving the series forward), the program's writing team ratchets up the drama with a dire crisis tonight. In the episode airing at 7 p.m. on WPMI-TV15, the Bartlett administration faces a nuclear emergency on the West Coast.

With frightful shades of "The China Syndrome" coloring this story, the president must face the possibility of an exploding nuclear reactor in California. In the midst of this emergency, of course, exists the presidential campaign, and the candidates find themselves struggling to find a good strategy to deal with the situation.

The series this season has kept a lot of plots in play, and so in the mix as well are Kate's (Mary McCormack) efforts to monitor the impending battle between Russia and China over Kazakhstan."

Press Release from New Jersey Public Interest Group:
"As energy companies file for twenty-year license extensions for the country’s oldest nuclear power plants, this Sunday’s episode of the popular drama “West Wing” highlights the growing threat of a nuclear disaster in communities across the nation. The show depicts a major accident at a nuclear facility in Southern California.

Over the course of the episode, it is made clear that faulty components, poor emergency planning and evacuation routes, unclear warning mechanisms and inadequate, industry supplied radiation limits pose extreme dangers to millions of people.

“The oldest operating nuclear power plant in the country--Oyster Creek--is right on the Jersey Shore,” said Suzanne Leta, Advocate for New Jersey’s Public Interest Research Group. “Similar to the plant in the West Wing episode, Oyster Creek has a major design flaw. In a case of an accident, the plant can’t withstand pressure build-up and there is a 90 percent chance that radioactive steam will be released directly into the environment. Nonetheless, Exelon Corp. decided to put profits ahead of public safety and applied to extend the plant’s license for another two decades. We’re working to make sure that the plant closes on schedule.”
“The upsetting thing about this show is that it’s not just a piece of fiction,” said Evan Feinman, Energy Associate for Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group. “Every single danger and complication mentioned in this episode is a real threat to communities all over the country. We’ve got the antique Pilgrim Nuclear Plant here in Plymouth, Massachusetts and if something goes seriously wrong there won’t be any way out for the citizens of every community near the plant. We’re calling on all of our representatives to oppose Pilgrim’s re-licensing.”

From NBC:
"THE WEST WING --(8:00PM-9:00PM) --(TV-PG)
"Duck And Cover"
BARTLET FACES HIS GREATEST CHALLENGE IN OFFICE - A NUCLEAR EMERGENCY IN CALIFORNIA - Bartlet (Martin Sheen) must face the possibility of an exploding nuclear reactor in California. In the midst of this emergency exists the presidential campaign and the candidates find themselves struggling to find a good strategy to deal with the situation. Meanwhile, Kate (Mary McCormack) keeps an eye on the impending battle between Russia and China over Kazakhstan. Also starring Alan Alda, Jimmy Smits, Teri Polo, Ron Silver, Brad Whitford, Janel Moloney, Allison Janney and Josh Malina."

This episode will air January 22.

Spoilers for episode here.


Lisa Stiles-Shell said...

I'm so disappointed that a show I generally like is using nuclear un-reality to drive up ratings. As a nuclear engineer, I'm appalled that the writers would do so little actual research into how a power plant works. I posted a few of my thoughts at When I have a chance to go through the script in detail, I'll post more.

James Aach said...

I have read a synopsis of next week's show and the nuclear accident portrayed is rather silly. If you find yourself wondering what a real nuclear power accident would be like, see for a thriller novel by a longtime nuclear engineer (me) that is available at no cost to readers.

As long as you remember its just a TV show done for your enjoyment, and not an accurate portrayal, then enjoy the drama!