Favourite West Wing episodes

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  • Favourite West Wing episodes

    Have an extra 45 minutes for a screenwriting intro class final wrap up. Alcohol and chocolate will be involved naturally, but my students have asked if - perhaps to shut me up about it - they could see a West Wing episode in class.

    Was thinking of just showing them the pilot ep, but it's a little heavy handed compared to later episodes. Any favourites that will blow a budding screenwriter's mind? (They've seen heaps of short films, read feature film scripts and seen standard/brilliant feature films. This is an added extra, to show them some quality TV.)

    Ta.

    Nic
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  • #2
    Re: Favourite West Wing episodes

    Wow...that's tough. It's like asking what my favorite pancakes are. They're nearly all good.

    But, chocolate chip are the best. However, I digress...

    Seasons 1 and 2 are very strong (season 2, especially). From season 1, I'd suggest episode 10, "In Excelsis Deo" (the Christmas Eve one where Toby's coat is found on a dead homeless vet) or episode 14, "Take This Sabbath Day" (where Bartlett struggles with whether or not to pardon a death row inmate).

    From season 2, "From the Shadow of Two Gunmen" parts I and II are great but I find "Noel" (where Josh deals with PTSD from the shooting) to be especially moving. Not sure how well it'd be received by an audience who doesn't have the context of the "Gunmen" episodes, though.
    "Tact's just 'not saying true stuff.' " - Cordelia Chase

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    • #3
      Re: Favourite West Wing episodes

      The Red Mass episode - not sure if that's the official title (with Josh Brolin as the George Bush-esque opponent to Bartlett also when Mark Harmon's secret service agent gets killed.)

      The 2 Matthew Perry episodes when it is revealed that the VP (Tim Matheson) is about to be exposed in a tell-all book by his mistress. Probably my favorite episode.

      The Camp David episode when Leo has a heart-attack.

      Nothing with Jimmy Smits.
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      • #4
        Re: Favourite West Wing episodes

        17 People. It's a bottle episode, but I swear I didn't realize that the first time I watched. It's tense, funny, and is the first step toward the season finale, which is also high on my list.
        what the head makes cloudy the heart makes very clear

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        • #5
          Re: Favourite West Wing episodes

          I just watched the entire series for the third time in August/September.

          I'd say the best episode from a screenwriter's perspective is SLOW NEWS DAY from Season 5. It's a Toby-centric episode in which he gets the crazy idea that he can solve the Social Security issue ("the third rail of politics") once and for all.

          You don't need to know a lot (if anything) about the series to get the impact of the episode. Immense goal, huge stakes, ticking clock, high on conflict. Great performances, solid script, moody direction.

          I can't recommend it highly enough.

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          • #6
            Re: Favourite West Wing episodes

            the ep where Barlet decides to run for the second term/they bury Mrs Landingham. Brothers in arms as the wrap up track doesn't hurt either

            Worst ep IMOn is the one where CJ travels home to visit her father. It just seems to out of synch with the rest of the series
            I heard the starting gun


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            • #7
              Re: Favourite West Wing episodes

              Whatever you do, pick one from before Sorkin got canned It just wouldn't be right otherwise...

              And maybe pick one less focused on Hill-specific issues but more on international issues, such as foreign affairs, human rights, etc.

              In terms of personal stories, I always liked following Josh, CJ and the Bartletts the most.

              And I love the one or two episodes in the second season that flashback to how everybody got involved. That rocked. Especially the first time Josh hears Bartlett speak. He was bored and ready to leave the room and then all of a sudden this guy suggests to a bunch of farmers that the price of milk is not as important as... education or something. I thought that was a brilliant WW moment. Shortly after, Josh comes bursting into Sam's high powered corporate office to recruit him. Yeah baby!

              Lord, now I feel like renting the whole damn thing.

              There's also the one where they replace Sam with whatshisname. Good stuff.

              The one where they hire the Republican hottie is pretty good too!

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              • #8
                Re: Favourite West Wing episodes

                Opti - I am struggling with this, but interestingly, was thinking the Vet coat one even before I posted here. The Sabbath I just watched (again) last night... Yeah. Could go either way. The shooting episode is a favourite - the flashback and forth is so sharp, funny and poignant.

                Scriptgal... No love for Matt Santos? I loved him! Though, of course, he can't hold a candle to Jed Bartlett. Will re-watch the Red Mass one. (Leo's heart attack is a killer but might not mean so much without the history with the characters - that moment when Leo offers his resignation and Jed accepts it? Heart. Breaking. Leo's face. My face. I shudder just thinking about it.)

                Kwinnky - I can't remember 17 people. Will check it out.

                Keen - Yes! I was trying to remember that one. Also, which ep is the one when Toby talks to the protesters and gives the cop a speech on how to write a speech? Love that one. (See how I used repetition there?)

                Southern - Agree on both counts. The CJ one is the only one I skip when I re-watch (except the excremental post 9/11 Isaac and Ishamel - so heavy handed and so un-Sorkin like.) Mrs Landingham dying is a killer. No pun intended.

                Rant - will swear to showcase a Sorkin script. It's the least I can do considering all that he's given me...

                Thanks again. Will re-watch the suggested eps tonight and tomorrow. Any other suggestions for favourites are welcome. I teach on Thursday. (Your Wednesday night.)

                Sigh. I have to watch WW eps and GET PAID FOR IT. Finally, I know true bliss.
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                • #9
                  Re: Favourite West Wing episodes

                  Five Votes Down - great teaser, the initial walk and talk is over continuous 4 minutes

                  The Crackpots and These Women

                  Let Bartlet Be Bartlet
                  "Write every day. Don't quit. The rest is all bullshit." - Brian Koppelman

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                  • #10
                    Re: Favourite West Wing episodes

                    Death Penalty.

                    Taiwan Straights.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Favourite West Wing episodes

                      Originally posted by ScriptGal View Post
                      The Red Mass episode - not sure if that's the official title (with Josh Brolin as the George Bush-esque opponent to Bartlett also when Mark Harmon's secret service agent gets killed.)

                      The 2 Matthew Perry episodes when it is revealed that the VP (Tim Matheson) is about to be exposed in a tell-all book by his mistress. Probably my favorite episode.

                      The Camp David episode when Leo has a heart-attack.

                      Nothing with Jimmy Smits.
                      I kind of agree with nothing with Jimmy Smits. I have the first four seasons on DVD. The seasons after Sorkin left lost a lot of steam.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Favourite West Wing episodes

                        Season 1
                        Five Votes Down
                        Celestial Navigation
                        Take This Sabbath
                        Let Bartlet Be Bartlet
                        20 Hours In LA

                        Season 2
                        In This White House
                        Shibboleth
                        Noel
                        Galileo
                        Stackhouse Filibuster

                        Season 3
                        Women Of Qumar
                        War Crimes
                        The Black Vera Wang Dress
                        Posse Comitatus

                        Season 4
                        Game On
                        Election Night
                        Holy Night
                        Commencement
                        Twenty Five

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