In anticipation of our Real-Time Election Re-Watch of The West Wing, we’ll be re-watching seasons one through five of The West Wing over the next few months. Having never seen the show before, Emily offers a unique perspective on a show that began airing 15 years ago but still remains relevant today. Check out thoughts below on episodes from The West Wing Season 1.
Season 1 Episode 1 “Pilot”
Oh, Allison Janney, have you ever had a bad performance? Your first on-screen appearance is a typical cute-klutz moment we have seen many times from Aaron Sorkin’s writing, but by the end of the episode it is utterly forgotten as you own the press room. Also, with this lighting and fast paced dialogue, I almost wish Lauren Graham were here.
Season 1 Episode 2 “Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc”
Something was bugging me the entire episode, I knew I had seen Moira Kelley’s character “Mandy” before. A ten-second google search later and we have our answer: NALA from THE LION KING. Now I just want to see her put all these boys in their places as easily as she did Simba. Mrs. Landingham should steal the president’s steaks every time… as well as other things, because their back and forth is just adorable.
Season 1 Episode 3 “A Proportional Response”
Josh and Sam can never just answer a simple question. Thank goodness CJ is as efficient with answers as she is at her job.
Season 1 Episode 4 “Five Votes Down”
This episode bummed me out a bit. We are on episode four and CJ, Donna, and Mandy have all been present but since they are not Josh, Sam, or Toby they do not get the same screen time. They are amazing at what they do, but I am ready to see them each have a role other than a nag or Greek chorus.
Season 1 Episode 5 “The Crackpots and These Women”
PEGGY’S HERE! Every show on television could use a little more Elisabeth Moss, even if it is primarily to make her dad happy and cook chili.
Season 1 Episode 6 “Mr. Willis of Ohio”
Pres. Bartlett and Zoe are adorable. This show could very easily be twisted into a half-hour office comedy they way it constantly focuses away on the relationships between the characters. I am not sure why CJ would not understand how the census works. I realize that this is exposition that many Americans do not understand and clearly the writers want to present the audience with information on important issues… but Allison Janney would know why the census exists and how it works.
Season 1 Episode 7 “The State Dinner”
CJ memorized every detail of what each member of the first family would be wearing. That was insane. She needs a promotion.
Season 1 Episode 8 “Enemies”
It is hard to watch this vice president and not think of him as the smarmy frat boy in ANIMAL HOUSE (pretty sure the end credits predicted he’d be a gynecologist and John Belushi was on the politics track). Regardless, he is such a jerk to CJ, and Danny needs to learn what the word “no” means. I vaguely remember people loving their pairing, but it is kind of tough to watch it as romantic for me. Finally, CJ and Mandy got more done in a ten-second conversation than the rest usually do in an entire scene. They should spin off into their own series.
Season 1 Episode 9 “The Short List”
This episode starts with Josh and CJ high-fiving over their victory. She congratulates him, he gives her credit in return… then Josh, Sam, and Toby meet with the president who refers to Josh as “the man.” I don’t know where CJ went in the equation, but she spends the rest of the episode continuing to tell Danny “no” and having it ignored.
Season 1 Episode 10 “In Excelsis Deo”
On episode 10 I have realized that CJ is the voice of the president and Mandy dictates his image, but neither is one of three guys that Bartlet turns to regularly for help even though these two ladies are often right. Kind of a bummer. CJ also finally caves to Danny. It was inevitable, but I wish she had not wavered.
Season 1 Episode 11 “Lord John Marbury”
People view CJ as “too friendly” with the press when she was essentially being harassed by Danny. I know “harassment” was not the writers’ intention, but that was how it came across to me. Either way, people are eluding that her job is in jeopardy, meanwhile Sam is still hanging out with a call girl.
Season 1 Episode 12 “He Shall, from Time to Time…”
After last week’s episode reminded CJ that dating someone who works in the press could be bad, this episode opens with a series of beats where people tease her about how she “can’t hold a man…” Makeup your minds, staffers! I love seeing Stockard Channing as the first lady, and Elisabeth Moss as Zoe (I would love for them to be in the same room).
Season 1 Episode 13 “Take Out the Trash Day”
How come when Sam and Toby and Josh dawdle when they chat it’s okay, but when a group of secretaries do it (TO TALK ABOUT WORK) everyone assumes they’re gossiping and wasting tax payer dollars? I really enjoy when Toby and CJ are together. If the show is going to create a rom-com storyline, I would like for it to be these two. They have such passionate personalities and respect for one another. It is really sweet.
Season 1 Episode 14 “Take This Sabbath Day”
Love me some Marlee Matlin. This staff is seriously over sensitive. Any little thing and someone has a breakdown. I get the point is to humanize how tough these real life jobs are, but how do they get anything done? Why is CJ sitting in a room rereading this death penalty information? She is speaking as if her feeling conflicted is something different than anyone else, and it is probably the most common thought process for undecided Americans.
Season 1 Episode 15 “Celestial Navigation”
CJ has literally been basically been made mute this episode. It is entertaining, but she is not contributing to the plot and Mandy is completely nonexistent in this episode.
Season 1 Episode 16 “20 Hours in L.A.”
Still no Mandy. Matlin is back and phenomenal. So smart and strong. It is a little annoying that Josh likes her, I would rather she drive a storyline. By the end he learns she has slept with someone else, so I guess that means she is gone. I would love for them to bring her back, but she would likely get as much screen time as Nala.
Season 1 Episode 17 “The White House Pro-Am”
Can Stockard Channing just be president? She seems way more involved in various amendments than real first ladies. Also, it’s Stockard Channing. She can be president in real life too if she wants.
Season 1 Episode 18 “Six Meetings Before Lunch”
Nala is back! First thing brought up is if her relationship with Josh will be an issue at all. Awesome. Gina has one scene and I am already in love with her. She is only 27 and a total badass.
Season 1 Episode 19 “Let Bartlet Be Bartlet”
Nothing to say about this one.
Season 1 Episode 20 “Mandatory Minimums”
Joey’s coming back! … but once again it’s through the eyes of Josh’s crush. Why isn’t CJ at the lunch where Leo sets the tone for the week. Is it because she didn’t know about the memo? Why is it that CJ is getting the heat for the memo when Josh is the one that hired her? We have another new female role which is great, it is also a romantic connection for one of the boys but at least it is Toby and not Josh this time. I am not sure how Toby ever won the awesome Andrea, but if I asked I would love to chill out in a park eating pastries with her. Who can say no to pie?
Season 1 Episode 21 “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics”
Is CJ the only positive thinker in this team? Good for her! She defends her role in the staff and the value of her opinion. CJ was totally right to stand up for herself to Leo, and a part of me wishes she hadn’t backed down when Leo told her not to read into it. Then Josh comes in and tries to be consoling, but honestly it’s a little condescending. In the end, CJ was the only one who was right! That is what you all get for not listening to her.
Season 1 Episode 22 “What Kind of Day Has It Been”
I love Gina. I love Gina. I love Gina. There’s a huge staff of secret service and she is the only one who anticipated the shot.