Sunday, May 14, 2006

Hail to the Chief ... One Last Time

[[T U B E]] * Don’t forget. Tonight is the series finale of The West Wing, one of the finest shows ever to grace America’s TV schedule. For seven seasons, I’ve enjoyed watching U.S. President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet (Martin Sheen), communications director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff), deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford), press secretary turned chief of staff C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney), and the remainder of the show’s exceptional cast work out problems of both global and personal scale. Like so many others, I was originally skeptical that the sausage-making of U.S. politics could provide credible and engaging TV drama. But I was wrong, and freely admit it. I was won over by The West Wing in its first season, and have never missed an episode since.

I’ll certainly be watching tonight to see how West Wing writers tie up some of the show’s loose ends, at the same time as they wistfully celebrate the end of the Bartlet administration and the swearing-in of another Democratic president, Matthew Santos (Jimmy Smits). Still to be learned: Will Santos really pick Pennsylvania Governor Eric Baker (Ed O’Neill), to replace the late Leo McGarry (John Spencer) as his vice president? What will become of the finally consummated relationship between Josh and his former adoring assistant, Donna Moss (Janel Moloney)? Will Bartlet ultimately grant clemency to Toby, who leaked top-secret information about a military space shuttle to The Washington Post? And, to tie up one of this Emmy Award-winning show’s most unexpected developments, what will the future hold for nerdy White House communications director Will Bailey (Joshua Malina) and deputy national security adviser Kate Harper (Mary McCormack), who’ve executed a hesitant ballet of courtship during this last season?

The events begin at 7 p.m. (EST, PST) with a rerun of The West Wing’s 1999 pilot episode, to be followed by the final series installment at 8 p.m.

READ MORE:Turning Out the Lights in ‘The West Wing,’” by Florangela Davila (The Seattle Times); “Bradley Whitford: The TV Squad Interview,” by Bob Sassone (TV Squad); “We’re Smarter, Thanks to ‘West Wing,’” by Mark McGuire (Albany Times-Union); “A Fitting Finale for ‘West Wing,’” by Charlie McCollum (San Jose Mercury News); “‘West Wing’ Finale Will Leave a Void,” by David Zurawik (The Baltimore Sun); “‘West Wing’s’ Term Ending Too Soon,” by Dana Gee (The Province); “Dear ‘West Wing’: Thanks for the Remarkable Term,” by Frazier Moore (Contra Costa Times); “Series Wrap-up: ‘The West Wing,’” by Farhad Manjoo (Salon); More West Wing News.

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