Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Blogging the West Wing (East Coast version)

'Hawkeye' Pierce vs. Det. Bobby Simone
I'll probably have to go back and watch this again on my wonderful TiVo but here are my thoughts so far.

  • Fascinating way to break into sweeps. Give NBC points for creativity.
  • Live theater. This is what TV must've been like when my mom and dad were kids. Live TV is pretty rare now, especially for an hourlong drama. It does seem a bit staged.
  • Forrest Sawyer looks annoyed. Not sure if he is acting (can he act?) or if he's really annoyed. How'd he end up with this gig anyway?
  • Props for taking on unpopular topic of what's really wrong in Africa (corrupt governments, debts, taxes, etc...). Not sure how Bono would feel.
  • Are any of the audience reactions prompted or are they spontaneous? How did those people get a chance to be in the audience anyway?
  • In some ways this is almost as boring as a regular political debate.
  • Seem to be using a very realistic NBC News bug**
  • How will this fair against the season premiere of The Simpsons over on FOX?
  • I am laughing inside because Alan Alda is such a well known liberal. Actually, seeing Alda as a Republican senator has amused me for the past little while on the West Wing.
  • Some things seem stilted, sadly, not unlike a real debate. These guys probably rehearsed less than George W. Bush and John Kerry did for theirs last year.

Aftermath: My thoughts a few days later

  • Jimmy Smits seemed to be dwarfed by the small screen presence of Alan Alda. If you watch any scenes they have together on the (non-live) West Wing episodes they seem to have decent chemistry and Santos/Smits does not seem easily out shined (out acted?) by Vinick/Alda. Steve told me that he thinks that Alda really shines on TV vs. the movies. I have to pretty much agree (minus his great role in Flirting With Disaster).
  • Yes, they were able to say things in more plainspoken ways that lacked mucho market research and polling than might be said in a 'real' presidential debate. But in many ways the two talking heads made it just about as boring as watching a real one. One reason that I like the WW is that it presents topics learned about in Civics or American History in a way that makes them easier to swallow. (To quote a former retail co-worker of mine "It's like learning without knowing you're learning").

I rewatched the show later on with my roommate. He's not really a huge West Wing fan, more like he watches it when I have it on. He had a few interesting points to make-

  • That the news bug** that they used was missing the 'ELECTION 2005' graphic
  • The presidential seal and/or corresponding graphic was nowhere to be found on the set or in the 'coverage'
  • Africa- this topic and the things that were said about it are not '"real political issues" but are the "pet projects" of the producer, John Wells*. But that everything else debate was "real". (I think Africa is an issue issues, but the opinions voiced in the debate are not the kinds of things said in the popular media, mainly because there is not good way to put them. Also, Africa has been in the news lately, thanks to Bono).

* John Wells has definite opinions about what's going on in Africa, just check out reruns from seasons nine and ten of ER.


Brian W said...

It was a great piece of TV theatre all-around. I'm with you on Alda; but he played a darn good Republican--better than anyone I've seen in a debate in the last few decades. Who do you think won?

Brian W said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Esther Kustanowitz said...

That episode was so surreal. I get so confused by the West Wing, because I sometimes think it's realer than what's real. Does that make sense?

Randy said...

I dbout that the West Wing will survive beyond this season, but I would love to see it continue with Alan Alda as a Republican president. His character is far better drawn than the one played by Jimmie Smits, and I am enjoying watching Patricia Richardson, William Russ and Ron Silver as his aides. If they could keep a few of the Democratic herd as the loyal opposition, it would still be appointment television for me.

vijay said...

dreamlike episode for me that was.Thats why i like west wing episodes.your blog is awesome.Thanks.