West Wing
Pilot

Episode Report Card
Doppelganger: A | 7 USERS: A+
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Welcome to the West Wing

So I'm setting my VCR to tape the season premiere of The West Wing, and it occurs to me for the first time that I'm so not qualified to talk about American politics. I mean, could Vancouver be any further away from DC? I soothe myself with the rationalization that almost thirty years of watching American TV and movies can't have all been for nothing, and based on this, I dub myself an honorary American citizen.

Anyway. The episode opens with what turns out to be one of those deals where all the characters are introduced in a series of video snapshots that are meant to essentialize their characters in about fifteen seconds. Each character is contacted by phone, beeper, message from the captain, or whatever, and is clearly being given the same message, which we hear fragments of.

Leo is first, so we're to deduce that he's the top banana. He's played by the guy who played Tommy on L.A. Law ["Hey! It's That Guy! John Spencer" -- Wing Chun]. Incidentally, Tommy was one of my favourite (note the Canadian spelling...I'm being all subversive-like here) characters, so the show's already got one mark in its favour. Leo's at home grousing to his wife about the fact that The New York Times crossword has spelled Khaddafi's name wrong. Crap, I've probably just spelled Khaddafi's name wrong, but I don't work for the New York Times, so I'm not beating myself up about it. Leo snaps to it when he gets his phone call.

Message: Leo is a smart, but lovably irreverent guy, who has a wry sense of humour but puts his work first.

Cut to the gym, where C.J., played by Wing's girlfriend Allison Janney, is running on a treadmill whilst chatting up this good-looking-in-a-boring-way guy at the treadmill next to her, who doesn't seem to be paying attention. She's prattling on -- in an endearingly awkward fashion -- about budgeting her time, how every day from 5 to 6 AM is "my time," where she can run at the gym or "meet an interesting man." Then she gives him this cute, hopeful look, which is totally lost on him as he points out that her beeper's going off. As she goes to check it, she gets whipped off the treadmill.

Message: C.J. is driven and hardworking to the exclusion of other areas of her life, making her a consummate professional at work and something of a bumbler in personal matters. I'm betting she gets involved in a disastrous relationship sometime in the first season.

Cut to an office, where a sleeping Josh -- played by either the guy who played the evil guy in Billy Madison or a guy who looks a hell of a lot like him ["it is, indeed, Billy Madison's nemesis, the actor Bradley Whitford" -- Wing Chun] -- is sitting slouched over his desk while the night cleaning staff vacuum around him. His beeper goes off, waking him.

Message: Josh wins the prize for hardest-working employee.

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West Wing

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