The West Wing: Season 4

What is there that can possibly be said that I haven’t said about the last 3 seasons? I was worried during the first (two part) episodes as I really didn’t think they were particularly strong, but from then on I don’t think there was a moment I wasn’t engrossed in. The regular cast shuffles a bit with the addition of Stockard Channing to the main cast (although she really doesn’t appear any more often sadly) and Rob Lowe’s departure (or rather gradually disappearance). Joshua Malina joins the cast as Sam’s replacement Will Bailey and brings some much needed fresh air to the Wing. Past guest appearances contiinue with Amy, Admiral Fitz, Nancy, Andy Wyatt, Ed, Larry, Mike Casper and even Danny popping up bringin confusion, hilarity, chaos and strength, often at the same time.

I think one of the most outstanding things about this season is that nothing lingers too long, whereas I found myself getting a little tired by the MS scandal and various other storylines I thought season 4 kept moving really well even through the re-election, never getting bogged down in something that the audience already knows the answer too (wow, i wonder if they’ll win the election?)

Now I have to wait forever for season 5, it’s a good job I read spoilers and am not waiting for the cliffhanger to resolve!

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The West Wing: Season 2

Season 2 opens just seconds after the cliffhanger, the resolution to this only really lasts one episodes but by merging it with flashbacks to the original campaign and how the familiar faces came to the team it’s extended to 2 episodes. It’s a great start to the season, showing us where the characters and administration are and where they’ve come from. The season continues along much the same lines as the first, but there seem to be more defeats than victories with various things coming to light and the President having to decide on whether to stand for re-election. No cliffhanger this time, but still the overwhelming desire to see more. I watched seasons 1 and 2 in 8 days. It is simply superb.

DVD Special Features
Absolutely no special features. (I don’t care what they say “interactive menus and scene selection” are not special features!)

The West Wing: Season 1

Starting in the 2nd year of Bartlet’s presidency the series starts with the President falling off his bike (particularly hilarious following Bush’s tumble recently) and most of the rest of the staff suffering various personal and political mishaps. The season continues through various political events, but focusses on the west wing, the president and the staff and their lives, not the life of the government. It’s about how they get things done, not so much what the things actually are. This is what really makes the show addictive – you care about these people, even when they’re being idiots and they bring life to politics. An average episode will probably have me laughing out loud a dozen times, close to tears a couple, inspired and distressed in equal measure, but most importantly unable to stop watching until there’s no more episodes to watch. The end of season cliffhanger drove me to distraction and I only had to wait about 18 hours to see the conclusion!

DVD Special Features
Pretty scant. There’s about 8 interviews with the principle cast Aaron Sorkin (creator, writer, producer) and a director. But they’re pretty bland, taped just a few episodes into the 1st season. Nothing very exciting. There’s a making of documentary which is interesting but brief, and a few tv spot things that aren’t anything more than padding. A real shame they didn’t make more effort, some commentaries would be great.

The West Wing: Season 3

The superlatives just keep going. The campaign for re-election kicks off, the staff are investigated over the President’s condition and whether he deceived the voters and foreign tensions continue to develop. Previous seasons deal heavily with the balance between what the staff want to do, and what they can get through congress and senate, this season adds on the price of re-election making everything even more delicate. The guest cast is superb as ever with some familiar faces returning and new one’s being added in to form new and interesting relationships. Everything that was great about the first two seasons is still there and still great. Many people online seem to indicate this is where the series started going downhill, but personally I don’t see it… I even kinda like Amy!

DVD Special Features
Absolutely no special features at all, made even more offensive by the fact that the booklet is for the Region 1 release so you get told all about the commentaries, making ofs and gag reel. Grr. The 6 dvds come in an epic fold out thingy, which is fine until you’re trying to open it up while balancing a laptop. The change in style means that the box set looks more grown-up (no more red white and blue) but doesn’t match on the shelf. Petty, but irritating.