TV - The West Wing Top 10: Part 1

The West Wing

Steve Taylor-Bryant is spending today looking back at his favourite shows. Here is his choice of the best episodes of The West Wing 6 - 10...

When I first floated the idea of writing about The West Wing some on the team were excited. We discussed at length our love of the show, the changes when Aaron Sorkin moved on to something new and of course our favourite episodes. It was suggested that I do a Top 10 of mine, a task that is not as easy as you would think. I have not included Isaac and Ishmael as it was a one off special, which left me 154 episodes to choose from. 4 hours later I had a Top 79, 6 hours later I was down to 36. I finalised a Top 17, allowing two-part stories to be classed as one episode and set about the 10. After much anguish I finished my choices.

10 - The Pilot: Season 1, episode 1.

The West Wing

The West Wing staffers are introduced as each learns via phone or pager that the President was in a cycling accident. Josh faces the possible loss of his job after an on-air insult of a political opponent, which Toby tries to prevent by having Josh make a personal apology. Sam's fling the previous night with Laurie who, unbeknownst to Sam, is a call girl, puts him in hot water, which he compounds when ineptly lecturing a class of 4th-graders about the White House and then asking their teacher which child is Leo's daughter. Leo must deal with the fallout from Josh's blunder, as well as 137 Cuban refugees who escaped on rafts and are seeking asylum. The president walks in during during Josh's apology, recites the First Commandment, and lambastes three Christian polls for not denouncing a fringe group.

Top quote -

Sam Seaborn: Ms. O'Brian, I understand your feelings, but please believe me when I tell you that I am a nice guy having a bad day. I just found out the Times is publishing a poll that says that a considerable portion of Americans feel that the White House has lost energy and focus. A perception that is not likely to be altered by the video footage of the President riding his bicycle into a tree. As we speak, the Coast Guard are fishing Cubans out of the Atlantic Ocean, while the governor of Florida wants to blockade the port of Miami. A good friend of mine is about to get fired for going on television and making sense. And it turns out that I accidentally slept with a prostitute last night. Now, would you please in the name of compassion tell me which one of those kids is my boss's daughter?

Mallory O'Brian: That would be me.

9 - Let Bartlet be Bartlet: Season 1, episode 19.

The West Wing

The West Wing staff are feeling malaise as it seems they never get anything accomplished. Meanwhile, a leaked memo is a land mine that could embarrass the administration.

Top quote -

President Josiah Bartlet: Can we get this god-forsaken event over with so I can get back to presiding over a civilization gone to hell in a hand cart?

Mrs. Landingham: Nice talk for a president.

President Josiah Bartlet: Leave me alone.

Mrs. Landingham: You know what this is, don't you, sir?

President Josiah Bartlet: What what is?

Mrs. Landingham: Your mood, sir.

President Josiah Bartlet: Nothing wrong with my mood.

Mrs. Landingham: It's your diet.

President Josiah Bartlet: Will you get off me with that?

Mrs. Landingham: You don't get enough roughage in your diet. You know I'm right about that.

President Josiah Bartlet: I know I'd like to beat you senseless with a head of cabbage. I know that for damn sure.

8 - Posse Comitatus: Season 3, episode 22.

The West Wing

Bartlet, Leo, Sam, Toby, and C.J. travel to New York City for a Catholic fund raiser at a long Broadway play called "The War of the Roses". Josh steps up his efforts to beat his girlfriend, Amy, in their struggle over welfare reform, which leads to her forced resignation. C.J. and Secret Service agent Simon Donavon grow closer, but a tragic event cuts short their relationship. At the play, Bartlet comes face to face with Republican Presidential candidate Rob Ritchie and faces the decision of whether or not to assassinate the Qumari Defense Minister.

Top quote -

President Josiah Bartlet: [to Governor Richie] In the future, if you're wondering: "Crime. Boy, I don't know," is when I decided to kick your ass.

7 - Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail: Season 2, episode 16.

The West Wing

On this year's "Big Block of Cheese Day", a college friend of Donna's asks Sam to help her get her late grandfather, accused of bring a Communist spy inside the U.S. government, a presidential pardon; dealing with the recent revelation that his father had been having an affair for the past 27 years, Sam faces off with an F.B.I. agent, and later with Nancy McNally, over the pardon. Elsewhere, a group of cartographers completely re-educates C.J. on her perception of the globe, and one-time protester Toby, with the help of a straight-talking female security guard, speaks for the White House at a rally to protest against U.S. participation in the WTO and various free trade agreements.

Top quote -

President Josiah Bartlet: What plaid, flannel-wearing cheese-eating yahoo of a milkman governor signed that idiot bill into state law?

Charlie Young: [looks uncomfortable and doesn't answer]

President Josiah Bartlet: It was me, wasn't it?

Charlie Young: Yes, sir.

6 - Twenty Five: Season 4, episode 23.

The West Wing

In the wake of his daughter's kidnapping, Bartlet must make a decision between being a father and being President.

Top quote -

Toby Ziegler: [holding his twin babies] I didn't realize babies come with hats. You guys crack me up. You don't have jobs. You can't walk or speak the language. You don't have a dollar in your pockets but you got yourselves a hat so everything's fine. I don't want to alarm you or anything, but I'm Dad. And for you, son - for you - this will be the last time I pass the buck, but I think it should be clear from the get-go that it was Mom who named you Huckleberry. I guess she was feeling like life doesn't present enough challenges to overcome on its own. And, honey, you've got a name now, too.

[turns to his daughter]

Toby Ziegler: Your mom and I named you after an incredibly brave woman, really not all that much older than you. Your name is Molly. Huck and Molly. So, what do I do? Well, you're going to need food and clothes and doctors and dentists and there's that. And should you have any questions along the way.

So there we have the first part of my countdown. I really could have picked a different 30 episodes for this project, but these are what I have plumped for. Stackhouse has started his filibuster so I shall be back tomorrow with my State of the Union address incorporating the Top 5.

Quotes and synopsis - IMDB.

Images - West Wing Wiki.