Confession: I do not watch The West Wing. I have hardly ever watched The West Wing. To me, Wednesday night on my TV is home to Bernie Mac, South Park, and occasionally Birds of Prey when I'm feeling lonely and need a little jiggle in my life. So what qualifies me to recap this episode, which I'm told is part of an annual tradition of mushy, emotional, yet heroically stoic Christmas episodes? Nothing. Not a damn thing. No, wait: I have voted in two presidential elections (and voted in an informed way, I might add), and I once met Robert Bork. Say what you will about Bork, but that is a man who knows how to grow some serious facial hair. "How do you do that?" I asked him admiringly, in my own pre-goatee days. "Frequent watering," he told me, and winked.
So here we go. Feel free to think of me as your Christmas lump of coal for not appreciating Deborah enough. If I get any details or character names wrong, feel free to harp on it in a very strongly worded email sent to your own address.
The episode begins with drums and an American flag set against the White House. Whoa. This is very patriotic already. I think I should be standing or something. "Previously"s reveal that Donna wanted Josh to introduce her to some guy she probably likes (I will forever contend that Donna looks like she should be in a Wallace & Gromit cartoon); Christian Slater somehow stole Rob Lowe's soul and ended up on this show as the guy Donna likes; and Toby gave a lady I'm assuming is his ex-wife some serious under-eyes and they probably slept together given everything I know about the rest of this episode and how babies are conceived.
Wow. That's it? I figured this show would have some backstory or something. "Silver Bells" plays as the camera swoops down from the rooftops onto the nighttime street set of Road to Perdition. We pan past an apartment window where some folks are watching some black and white television. "Brooklyn Heights Christmas Eve," reads a title card. Bulbous cars roam around. "1954," reads another title card. You really could have put that with the previous title card and saved a little title-card money. Come on, Sorkin! Stop bleeding NBC for every penny they've got! They need that money to keep ER limping along like a cancerous greyhound for another three seasons!
A guy gets out of a cab and walks into a bar. He's being watched by someone across the street -- three guys, actually, all in a car together speaking a language.