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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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the west wing, seasons one through six with a bit of seventh
children of dune - leto 1
Burning through The West Wing reminds me why I once had a major in political science and when I graduate it will be a minor. Being a first love does not make it a healthy love, and that could only end in a breakdown where indeed, I will send out macros of fail to anyone I worked with when they screwed up. Bet me on this.

Now, going back to The West Wing....

Sorkin and the Art of Interruptus

Did Sorkin have some kind of moral objection to not filming some of the coolest scenes? So far, I'm irritated by the following missing scenes:

1.) When the president asked CJ to be Chief of Staff.

I freaking deserved to see that. I wanted to see CJ's reaction. I wanted that. Following CJ for five long seasons and her moving from Press Secretary to Chief of Staff is gorgeous. It was career development, it was character development, it was noticeable progress and I wanted to see her asked.

(I would also love to know why Leo chose her. I am never not happy to hear praise of the awesome of CJ.)

2.) Season three starter--while I liked the pick-up, somehow the dramatic tension of the end of season two was totally destroyed by how they framed it. And the end of season two was awesome and yes, I do love musical numbers thrown in, so that was part of it, but also part of it was the momentum they carried those last ten minutes that the beginning of season three, with the immensely important announcement, was just not there. And I know it's not just watching like this that's doing it; I watched it at first airing too and was irritated that it didn't have the same pacing or cadence or focus.

3.) Season six, last ep, Democratic convention. The rush and focus and drama was fantastic. And then just flattened out after Santos' speech. What really irritates me is up to that, all the action was actiony and exciting and breathless and the win by Santos should have damn well been a dramatic climax to everything that went before, but it was pretty much told second hand and my God, Santos was told to leave the race. I wanted to see that moment of realization that they won.

There are others, but those are the ones I watched in the last four days, so those are the ones on my mind.

Don't get me wrong, I applaud the idea of lowering melodrama. But there's lowering melodrama and then there's freaking coitus interruptus to get up for a snack.

About the Women

I love Donna and CJ to the point of crazy. I mean, from the first season to last, tehy are never not awesome. CJ especially, being brilliant and competent and together and so amazingly good at their jobs. Competence is such a turn on.

Donna as much as CJ, because it's neat to see her evolution from assistant to press sec for the VP's campaign to deputy press for Santos to Chief of Staff for the new First Lady. It's neat to see her learn and grow, what she learned from Josh, from CJ, from the entire senior staff, how she became this incredibly well-rounded, complex individual with ambitions and goals and a practical understanding of politics, but remained an idealist all along.

I did like Abby Bartlet a lot, but she wasn't a character that had that kind of journey, so leave my love here as she was fantastic, just not in following along with developmental thingie.

Which is more than I can say for Toby (who I love, but has a strong tendency to irritate me when he stops being a brilliant political adviser and starts being annoying as hell; what is up with that?), Josh (my adoration is pure, but he needed more naps like whoa; I mean, I totes recognize the symptoms from Child and really wanted to drag him into an emtpy room, give him some juice and require thirty minutes of a power nap sometimes), Leo (this is complex, because he was complex in his roles and his functions), Charlie (okay, I lied. Charlie is my future husband. He transcended awesome; new words are needed).

Wanted to beat the president a lot (out of love!) and send him to nap at the same time Josh did, because seriously, people. Naps are love. And Christ did they need them.

Other Characters

I missed Sam, but I also like the fact that he and Leo both left and came back and allowed for a natural expansion to the character list without losing the spirit or energy of the show. Leaving of the real world reasons why the characters left or moved to recurring, to me in watching, it kept the show fresh with new personalities and new problems and new solutions. And a part of me does wish they'd moved CJ to Chief at fifth season instead of sixth to take advantage of the natural evolution of a White House staff.

I did not fall in love with Will. I don't know why. I didn't hate him, but he got on my nerves without having the buffer of my adoration. Not sure what was up with that.

I never ever thought Margaret was anything but an awesome higher alien life came to earth to make sure we didn't blow up.

Annabeth Schott, the one that coached Toby to be a workable press secretary, started to grow on me a lot. More screentime, she'd be up there with CJ. Though I wonder if her quirkiness, which was very very quirky might or might not have gotten on my nerves if exposed too much.

And--some other people who were there. I really didn't hate any characters, though anyone who was Speaker of the House (with the exception of John Goodman, who rocked his Republicanness when he was Acting President) I watched warily.


I seriously had a thing for Josh and Donna. Despite teh fact it was dragged out seven years, and possibly because I watched this show in like, two weeks, their development in a relationship totally worked for me. I like that it came after she wasn't his assistant or his employee, and I love that it happened long after she'd found herself and what she wanted to do with her life.

(I seriously get a kick out of the potential future of the president's chief of staff and the first lady's chief of staff being married. That kills me.)

Points of Irritation

The biggest problem I had, which is common to media so it's not just Sorkin, is the reluctant/unhappy/not wanting this political wife. Okay, call me crazy here, but I don't buy dozens of women marry men who plan to run for office with the idea they will, you know, not run for office. While I understand it can be disenchanting, one deeply and positively supportive, committed wife would not be the end of the world. When one hears that one's husband might be president, one does not look grim and depressed and make him sleep on the couch. One says "WHEE!" Unlike "Wiii!" As you can see by the different spelling.

WHEE. PRESIDENT. I will chart out my reaction if I ever got married to a man who wanted to run for president.

"WHEEEEEE!" But probably in more presidental-like inarticulate sounds.

This is the presidency. Yes, it will suck in some ways, but not-suck in many, many others, not least of which is it is the Presidency of the United States and it's not like that kind of job comes around all that often.

Then again, this isn't restricted to the presidency. There's a strong, strong, strong edge of martyred or reluctant wives for astronauts, presidents, CEOs, or any high-profile or powerful job. I can't tell where this is coming from except the idea a wife shouldn't want their husband to lead a space mission, country, or world, but instead should stay home and work on the gutters (see my irritation wtih Apollo 13 like whoa, where all the wives, who married astronauts--my God, what did you think he was going to do, take up crochet?--were utterly miserable and hoping they'd leave that line of work already.

I do not get this at all. Then again, I don't get that the candidates, to be good candidates that we sympathize with, also never want the job or drag their feet on it and look depressed at the idea of running for office. It is the presidency of the United Freaking States and I hate to say it, but while it's modest and maybe it is supposed to show how you are a reluctant leader and not interested in power, mostly it actually shows you are an idiot and should be beaten with a copy of the Constitution because you cannot sit there and complain about the leadership and then completely horrified by the idea of being in the leadership.

(I'll be honest; if I had a husband and he tried to stay around fixing the gutters all day, I would kill him and hide the body. That is too much together and also, the gutters do not need that kind of work and nothing throws off writing long, loving, kinky porn quite like a hovering person that isn't fannish wondering what you are doing. Really. Ideally, my marriage would have a lot of AIM convos and sharing sci-fi collections. You see why I have no intention of getting married unless they can verify a massive love of a major online role playing game or an obsession with some sort of out of the house sport; I need space.)

And...going back to watch more season seven. I am dreading the Toby thing. I really am.

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Did Sorkin have some kind of moral objection to not filming some of the coolest scenes?

To be fair to Sorkin, two of the three things you mention happened after he had left the show.

Not that there aren't many, many other things to be annoyed at him for, but I just wanted to point that out.

I am dreading the Toby thing. I really am.

Just so's ya know, Richard Schiff hated it so much, and found it so out of character, that he came up with his own, not-in-the-show reasons for what happened to justify it to himself.

Ooh, are those reasons online? Because I'd love to see/read them. :D

Well, have you already seen it - you know what "it" is? Because he did reveal part of what he'd made up for himself, but another part he's kept hos own secret.

Where is it? *hopeful*

I don't know if it's online. I know I read a magazine article. I don't want to spoil you about the actual plot, if you don't know it yet, but if you do, I can tell you what he said (and obviously what he didn't say).

""I was sad for the show," he says. "I hated my storyline. Toby would never in 10 million years have betrayed the president in that fashion [in the seventh series, Toby is indicted for leaking classified information]. Even if he had, there would have been seven episodes' worth of fights before he did it... In the end, the only way I could make sense of my story was to come up with my own story - that Toby was covering for someone else. That, at least, made sense to me."

So, who was Toby covering for? "I don't think I should ever reveal that."" -- http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/richard-schiff-life-after-the-west-wing-435536.html

Have I seen WW? Oh yes, multiple times. And so I think I know what "it" is that you're referring to - basically what he undergoes at the end of the series, right?

See my comment above for Schiff's response.

I adored Annabeth. Because she was Kristin Chenoweth and there is nothing that girl does that isn't fantastic.

West Wing is, IMO, seriously one of the best shows television in this country has ever had on offer. Ever.

*shares TWW fangirl love*

Just...love, from night one...and conveniently forgetting certain bits from S7. ;^)

Kristin Chenoweth. Yes, quite quirky, and yet... *much love*

CJ was freaking unbelievable. And because of her, for a few years there, we could finally say that we had a strong female character on network TV. On a show that people actually WATCHED.

Oh, for the good ol' days.

I am seriously considering watching the first three or so seasons during my winter break instead of studying for my exams. TWW = ♥

a massive love of a major online role playing game

I gotta say, it helps. I need my alone time, and with a kid, the only alone time I *ever* get is when she's asleep and hubby is raiding.

"I did not fall in love with Will. I don't know why. I didn't hate him, but he got on my nerves without having the buffer of my adoration. Not sure what was up with that."

I know! I felt the same way. And I totally adored Joshua Malina as Jeremy in Sports Night, so it was really baffling to me - he had some great moments, but no (for me) overall umbrella of awesomeness. *dismisses strange visual*

"The biggest problem I had, which is common to media so it's not just Sorkin, is the reluctant/unhappy/not wanting this political wife."

Also yes. With Abbey I loved the whole, 'It's Doctor Bartlet. When in the campaign did I decide that women were gonna like me more if I called myself "Mrs."? When did I decide women were that stupid?' bit, but the way they dragged on her disappointment in Bartlet for running again, etc. etc. wore on my nerves.

That being said, I loved the West Wing, I am still in awe of CJ Cregg, I managed to simultaneously love Josh/Donna and Josh/Sam, AND I still stay up all night to watch American Election coverage, so - that was some smart, witty programming there.

TWW is a show I adore adore adore, not least because it gives us so many examples of strong women: CJ, Abby Bartlett, and Nancy McNally just off the top of my head.

Also, Josh. I adore Josh so much! Consistently my favourite character throughout the five seasons I have seen!

I can understand somebody not wanting to be first lady. And signing up to be the wife of a Senator isn't quite same commitment. There's danger, there's lack of privacy, there's living in a house for four years that isn't YOURS - though, of course, that house is awesome, but I suspect it might be kind of weird, and intimidating, in an OH JESUS I JUST SPILLED RED WINE sort of way.

And there's the question of whether you can continue your job - possibly, possibly not - and suddenly you have all this influence, and frankly, that is influence I personally would not want because I don't like to be responsible for anybody but me, and also because I am rarely informed enough.

And maybe you're sort of shy or awkward with strangers, not that Abby was, or maybe you're not the poster child for feminism and you get intimidated by important people - other Senators were one thing, but now you're meeting Generals and Foreign Heads of State, and and and...

Which is to say - it would be great to see a media portrayal of a First Lady who was like FUCK YEAH. BRING THAT ON - but I can still see why somebody wouldn't.

...I totally agree with you on the CEO/astronaut's wife thing though.

(Deleted comment)
That whole Abbey thing? I'm on her side for this.

He promised her he'd only serve one term. She didn't have him make that promise because she wasn't ambitious for him (although his being in the White House put her own career on hold). She did it because he had MS, and POTUS is the most stressful job on the planet. She didn't know if his health would stand ONE term, much less two.

And it cost *her* dearly. Since he was hiding his illness, she was faced with an unreasonably difficult choice - 1. Treat him herself (which is unethical to begin with) while making fraudulent prescriptins (which is illegal). 2. Allow him to go untreated. 3. Risk the great secret by getting him to allow others to treat him.

He wasn't willing to do 3, nor was she willing to betray him; 2 was simply impossible. Because of his choice, she HAD to do 1, which cost her her license and her reputation. Her license she would get back in a year (actually, longer by her own choice). Her reputation? Well, prior to becoming First Lady, she held a professorship at Harvard Medical School and staff positions at two major hospitals. Clearly, she had to either resign or take a leave from those jobs when Jed was elected, with expectation of getting them back when he left the White House.

Once her reputation was shot, it reduced her chances of getting them back - unethical behavior and censure by the Medical Board kinda trumps being First Lady.

Jed's illness came out his first term. He broke his promise and won re-election anyway, so his political career came to a satisfactory end. He did pay a price for ignoring his wife's advice, as his health did deteriorate, but that could have happened anyway - just more privately.

She paid very heavily for his choices.

Oh, I don't argue her specifically, she had good reason. It's just the trend of never seeing a pleased politician's wife. I am willing to buy some or even many hate it, along with the trend in media of wives almost always not liking their husband's job. I don't get how it's almost invariably set up for the spouse to be the wet blanket. IT's irritating.

Abbey I tend to agree with. I just wish there'd been at least a few other wives we were supposed to empathize with that weren't so reluctant.

Sorkin started out doing okay with women - the women on Sports Night are awesome (not perfect, but still awesome) and CJ is magnificent, as was Abbey in the beginning, but as WW continued, women began to feel more and more cardboard. And in Studio 60 - my goodness. They were just shadows - Harriet was a way of getting back at his ex, Kristin Chenowitz, and Jordan was a complete mess - incompetent at the beginning and a pregnancy joke at the end. Yes, the actor was pregnant, but that's no reason to make it a JOKE.

And, well. Even on the most local level, being a politician's spouse is a thankless job. He/she gets to work AS hard and AS long, and sacrifice family time and money for the privilege of not seeing that spouse and having every action watched for as long as the term lasts.

I don't even want *my* husband to be our synagogue president. He could probably get the job if he wanted once the current one steps down, but he's temperamentally unsuited for it - it would be bad for him, for the shul and for our marriage, with all the demands that would be placed upon him. Fortunately, he agrees. (And, um. I'm currently on the board, so he can't be anyway.)

Edited at 2008-11-30 08:50 pm (UTC)

I agree. But again, the proportion of women shown hating their husband's jobs is the problem. I just don't entirely buy almost every (good) woman on earth is always miserable due to what her husband does. It's not limited to politics; heartwarming Christmas stories about mean absent lawyer dads, or busy surgeons--the list goes on. I get it can suck, but the way a lot of the wives are portrayed as they married without any clear idea who they were marrying.

When I dated regularly, that was something I looked for to decide if I could deal with it. I can't work out what media's message is; men work too hard or women are never satisfied or a commentary on if a wife is pleased at her husband's position, it's because she power-hungry.

Granted also, this shows up in husbands of powerful wives too, but it would be nice to see a power couple who actually seemed happy and ambitious about their lives once in a while and not carrying reservations or bitterly unhappy about the job requirements.

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