Tuesday, November 25, 2008

West Wing: Electoral Intent

Bravo's been re-airing random episodes of The West Wing since we won, as if to say, remember when this seemed like fantasy? Believing in government? Can you feel that?

Believing in the process even a little wasn't always confined to Sorkin High-Style Wit-Whack-A-Mole.

So they showed an episode from the last season, written by Deborah Cahn, and I was set to just fall asleep to it, when, as I'd been assured would happen early on by those who'd followed it, I was kept awake by the momentum of the plot and the quality of the writing. Was it even close to Sorkin? Well, no, we might as well call Paul Haggis a 'writer', so as not to be that unfair in making comparisons.

Points of awkwardness revealed themselves in the obvious attempts by Cahn to ramp up the velocity of the dialogue in pursuit of a Sorkiny tête-à-tête. These points could've been avoided if she'd (or probably the whole writing team) accepted that Sorkin's velocity was a characteristic of Sorkin's writing, but not, at his best, the end-all be-all goal. The volume of his ideas inherently resulted in fast-paced delivery, which has played no small part in giving him a screwball comedy edge.

Still, that awkwardness isn't the fault of the post-Sorkin seasons. They had a trademark to uphold that was probably beyond anybody's reach (even post WW Sorkin's, it seems).

Season seven appears to be a stand-alone show, good enough for the devoted, especially in light of recent political events. Or maybe I just saw an uncommonly strong episode.

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