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Monday, February 20, 2006

West Wing woes, plus Jimmy Smits and Terry O'Quinn

November 3, 2004

Leo McGarry isn’t the only one with a pain in his chest. The current state of The West Wing has broken my big, sappy TV heart.

Watching my once-favorite show transition from absolute perfection to simple mediocrity is painful. The decline of The West Wing has been gradual. But the show hit an all-time low last week, as Leo and Jed’s political differences resulted in Leo’s resignation. And if that wasn’t enough to upset loyal viewers, Leo then collapsed from an apparent heart attack.

I want to believe they won’t really kill Leo. But, lets look at history. First, my beloved Mrs. Landingham died in a car crash. Then, there was C.J.’s bodyguard boyfriend, who went into a convenience store for a candy bar and came out in a body bag. And who can forget Fitzwallace, who met his fate last season in a terrorist car bombing?

But this is Leo, the glue that holds the Bartlet administration together. To kill him is to kill what’s left of this show.

I admit I’ve watched sporadically for the last year, hoping The West Wing would rebound to its former glory. But, sadly, I think President Bartlet has about as much chance of brokering peace in the Middle East as the show has at returning to its original greatness.

Things started to go bad when Ainsley Hayes was relegated to the basement never to be seen again. Then, Sam left the White House to run for office in California. Things haven’t been right since. Sure, the rapid-fire dialogue and the complicated foreign politics are still there, but the plots and characters seem to have lost their sparkle. The West Wing was once the benchmark by which all TV should aspire. But no more. It’s time for change. Bartlet and the gang should be given a decent exit and take their place in TV history.

The O.C. - Will Captain Oats be reunited with Seth? Did Sandy wax that outrageous unibrow? Will Ryan make it an entire episode without throwing a punch? The O.C. finally returns Thursday at 8 p.m. on FOX to answer these burning questions. And don’t be surprised if you hear your friends and co-workers singing that addictive theme song Friday morning. It really has a life of its own. Everybody now, “Cal-i-for-nuh,” “Cal-i-for-nuh.”

NYPD Blue - Apparently, I’m seeing dead people. Well, a dead character that is. At the end of last week’s NYPD Blue, dearly departed Bobby Simone was shown in the previews for the Nov. 9 episode. After I rubbed my eyes, closed my dropped jaw and did a happy dance, I realized it makes perfect sense to have Simone return. Andy Sipowicz has had a rough year. A stalker has harassed him, his son was kidnapped, his wife Connie is never seen, and his partner had a meltdown. It’s no wonder Andy’s former partner is rising from the ashes to pay him a visit. If you’re a Blue fan, don’t miss this episode.

Weirdest TV Moment of the Week - Actor Terry O’Quinn pulling double duty on The West Wing and Lost is just strange. His Lost character, civilian Locke, is fascinated with the military and is nicknamed Colonel. But on The West Wing he plays General Alexander, an actual military general with a chest full of medals to prove it. Wouldn’t it be a funny nod to O’Quinn’s gig on The West Wing if it turns out Locke really did have a career in the military?

Originally published 11/3/04 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.


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