Monday, April 03, 2006

How the 'West' Was Won

Can I just tell you, now that Galactica is off the air, my can't-miss-it TV show is The West Wing. It, and The Sopranos, are the two shows that I must, MUST watch the night they're on. Now, I've been a faithful Winger since the pilot, through the years when Aaron Sorkin was crafting heady, drug-fueled talkathons, through the whole Qumar nonsense, through John Wells' insistence that no one talk that fast or funny anymore and, finally, through the reinvigoration that's been the Campaign.

What excites me most is the inevitability of it—the fact that, when The West Wing started, with President Bartlett in his second year in office, you had to know that, in one fashion or another, his term would eventually end. He couldn't last forever. As nut-quaking as the Galactica season finale was, it came as an out-of-left-field surprise. But The West Wing had a similar sort of series slate-clearing built into its DNA. At some point, we had to get a new president and, with him, a decent number of new faces, new dynamics, new wrinkles.

The fact that this is the final Wing season actually means that they can do whatever they want to with the election, without having to live with the ramifications. If they were gonna get another year, you had to know that Jimmy Smits' Matt Santos was going to win if for no other reason so that we didn't have to endure the craggy Alan Alda (plus, a Santos win would've kept Bradley Whitford's Josh Lyman and Janel Maloney's Donna Moss in the fold). But now, all bets are off. And that's kind of exhilirating.

Network TV is all to predictable too much of the time. I like that, apparently, a death sentence has breathed new life into a show could've just limped to a close.

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