Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"West Wing" Year in Review

From the Futoncritic's 50 Best Episodes of 2005:
"41. "the west wing: 2,162 votes" (nbc)

(originally aired: april 6, 2005)

A stellar reminder of how dramatic and surprising party conventions used to be, last season's finale made endless sequences of behind-the-scenes dealmaking absolutely riveting. And the closing moments - featuring Santos (Jimmy Smits) walking out with Leo (the late John Spencer) - were just too cool for words."

General 5 Comfort Shows from TV Squad:
"2. The West Wing: this is one of the very, very, very few shows that I can watch over and over again. I'm talking about the same episodes over and over again. I have the DVDs and I often find myself watching the same exact episodes from the first three seasons. Aaron Sorkin's words are like music, the acting is flawless, and there's something so unbelievably comforting about that workplace and those people."

From Zap2It - TV Gal's Best of the Best:
"Best Proof that all TV Shows Can Make a Comeback: This season of "The West Wing""

And from her Highlights of the Week ahead:
"I was so shocked and sad to learn of John Spencer's death. It's hard to really believe that he's no longer with us. I've followed his career since his days on "LA Law." He was an incomparable and irreplaceable actor who will be greatly missed. Before his death, Spencer completed several episodes of "The West Wing" (Sunday, NBC, 8 p.m.) that are still slated to air. This Sunday's episode features the Vice President's debate. Viewers have lost a cherished actor. Relish one of the last chances to see Spencer's stellar work."

From Entertainment Weekly's Ten Best TV Show's of 2005:
"1. Place The West Wing (NBC)
Unwatchable two years ago, unmissable now as it details a presidential race with electrifying drama, topicality, and precision. This show — in its seventh season — proves that it's never too late to reinvent a good idea, and that network TV can still offer long-form storytelling as riveting as anything on cable."

Boston Globe's Top 10 of 2005:
7. A Great Debate
It wasn't entirely successful, but it was memorable. The live debate on NBC's ''The West Wing" (Nov. 6) had a rough, realistic tone, as Forrest Sawyer moderated while Vinick (Alan Alda) and Santos (Jimmy Smits) held forth on political issues. It wasn't more of the show's tightly scripted, artfully edited storytelling, with witty repartee from CJ. The rivals talked over one another on stage as the loose script cleverly defined what it means to be a Democrat and a Republican. But then the debate episode also played like an exercise in fantasy, as the rivals decided to suspend the rules, take their gloves off, and let their passions flow. It showed us why real-life presidential debates are so stilted and fraudulent."

From the New York Daily News:
"But, as with last year, my list of shows just below the top 10 is almost as impressive, and every one of them qualified as must-see TV every week. There was no "Sopranos" in all of 2005, but HBO's "Six Feet Under" finished spectacularly, "Rome" got stronger as it went along, "Warm Springs" was a fabulous old-fashioned telemovie, and "Entourage" was a wild romp each week.

Other shows that would have made my top 10 in leaner years included Showtime's series "Weeds" and miniseries "Sleeper Cell"; UPN's "Veronica Mars" and the aforementioned "Chris," which I didn't hate at all; the Fox mainstays "24" and "The Simpsons"; FX's "Nip/ Tuck," "Rescue Me" and "The Shield"; ABC's new "Invasion," and NBC's resurgent "The West Wing.""

Philadelphia Daily News Top 10 Shows of 2005:
"10. NBC's "The West Wing." Yes, "The West Wing," not "Commander In Chief." Because while the Geena Davis drama is more like the wish-fulfillment fantasy of "Wing's" first season, its appeal so far is strictly emotional, not intellectual. And in setting the end of one difficult presidency against the backdrop of the election that will establish the next, "The West Wing" cast and writers have been doing their best, wonkiest - and least-watched - work in years, though it's hard to imagine how they'll continue for even a half-season more without John Spencer."

Palm Beach Post's Best of 2005:
"Best old show that feels new again: The West Wing. Thanks to a captivating presidential race between idealistic Democrat Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) and savvy Republican Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda), NBC's long-running White House drama is Must-See TV once again."

Chicago Tribune's Memoral Moments of 2005:
12. The comebacks that worked and the ones that fizzled: Martha Stewart's "Apprentice" was nothing on the Donald's (which was itself pretty blah -- again) and her chat show has all the warmth of a Sub-Zero freezer. Lisa Kudrow was great as the selfish yet vulnerable Valerie Cherish on "The Comeback," but the HBO show never found an audience. "Lost," on the other hand, came back with a terrifically wild and woolly Season 2 opener, and the occasionally blah "West Wing" is on a roll with its live debate and exciting election story line."

Orlando Sentinel Columnist:

Best TV: 1) The West Wing, 2) Gilmore Girls (Lauren Graham and Kelly Bishop are so overdue for Emmys), 3) Everybody Hates Chris, 4) David Letterman, 5) Jeopardy!, 6) Lost, 7) The Amazing Race, 8) Everwood, 9) My Name Is Earl (in which Jason Lee channels Nicolas Cage in his Raising Arizona role), 10) Veronica Mars."

From the Kennebec Journal:
" It's over. Yes, Santa DID make a list and he DID check it twice. It just so happens that I was able to Google a copy of that list and this morning, I offer it to my readers.

WEST WING'S' "TOBY": For leaking confidential info and getting C.J. into trouble"

Ask Ausiello's Worst of 2005:
1. 2005 MTV Video Music Awards: A three-hour pile of overproduced horse poop. Note to viewers: Next time the VMA host feels the need to repeatedly tell you that "anything can happen," trust me: Nothing will.
2. The War at Home: Turns out War is hell and horribly written.
3. The West Wing (debate episode): Just like a real presidential debate, only duller."

From the Detroit Free Press 2005 TV Notables:
"Best creative comeback: "The West Wing," soaring on the campaign trail with Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits as compelling White House hopefuls.

Saddest twist: The shocking recent heart attack death of John Spencer, who played vice- presidential candidate and longtime presidential adviser Leo McGarry."

From the Baseball Toaster "Top 20 TV Shows of 2005" - "Tivo-wothy Dramas"
"West Wing- After slipping in quality caused by the departure of creator Aaron Sorkin, a new storyline focused on the campaigns of new faces Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits has revitalized the show. Alda's character, Senator Arnie Vinick is a Republican nominee for President who only a bunch of liberal television writers could create. The character's politics and honest approach is what I wish John McCain was really like. My favorite element to Sen.Vinick is his refusal to discuss his religious views. How refreshing it would be for a candidate to not pander to the masses by not using religion as a voting tool?

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