Wednesday, November 02, 2005

We’re Live In…Three, Two, One—

Sick of politics and wishing you could just get away from it all? Why not tune in to NBC this Sunday night, as The West Wing goes live in what promises to be a spectacular hour of television.

Are you one of the ones who stopped watching after the show’s creator and writer, Aaron Sorkin left and the show’s dramatic integrity was shot to hell? Now’s the time to come back. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—it’s as if Sorkin never left. Sometime about mid-last season, The West Wing found its soul and is once again drawing lavish critical praise.

Using the reality of a lame duck president and an impending election, the producers of The West Wing decided to created a deliciously schizophrenic show, one that hops between the current Bartlett White House and the grit and grime of a lively presidential campaign to decided the outcome of the next four years (it is my hope that the series voluntarily removes itself from the air next year when the new President is inaugurated).

The challengers in that campaign, conservative Democrat Mathew Santos (Jimmy Smits) and moderate Republican Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) meet in Sunday night’s episode, not in a pre-recorded debate, but in a live, no-holds-barred, anything-could-happen-and-probably-will broadcast. It will look like a real debate. It will sound like a real debate. It’s even moderated by actual NBC anchor, Forrest Sawyer. Although they have a script, Alda and Smits also received a crash course in debate strategy and issues that will allow them to veer off the page should they decide to improv. Missteps—malfunctioning cameras and microphones, flubbed lines, etc—could prove just as rewarding (and realistic) as a flawless hour.

Don’t miss this show or this season.


Anonymous Nate said...

Very interesting!

I admit, when I first heard about it, I thought it would be gimmicky. But now I am intrigued by the “wish fulfillment” idea, which is what West Wing has always done best in the arena of politics, calling bullshit wherever it saw it. Modern debates are the biggest turkeys of them all, so I am interested to see how far they take it.

Still, the “live” aspect feels gimmicky. Why does it have to be? As soon as you take these characters out from behind the well-lit, single camera lens through which we’ve seen them, it will feel like a gimmick. The debate could be done just as well as a scripted, single camera episode. Maybe one for the ages. Now, I fear it could be a novelty item. I think I will watch anyway, though.

7:09 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

I should say that, in relation to Sorkin's departure, the show does not have nearly the same amount of levity or banter that it used to have, but what it does have is all of the depth and breadth of spirit he infused in it since the beginning.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

What did I think?

Well, it some ways it was wonderful--no rules, just an honest, idealized debate; yet in other ways, it was boring--but then, so are the real things!

That is not to say that last night (as well as the real thing) didn't have moments of brilliance and West Wing had several, most notably Santos' definition and pride behind the word, "liberal."

It's pretty impressive when the writers can make an interesting and factually accurate show that steers clear of the big, hot button issues.

I enjoyed the rough camerawork and stumbled lines--added to the authenticity. It didn't all quite work, but it was daring and fun.

8:08 PM  

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