Originally Posted by Arethusa
The propaganda was very clear: Sorkin wants you to believe the system works. And it doesn't.
You sound an awful lot like someone who came into age politically during these nightmare years. Rest assured that government wasn't always this bad. It's only after hacks dedicated to convincing you that government doesn't work finagled their way into power that our system started failing every citizen of this country and too many others as well on such a massive scale. True, there are still lots of loopy and unbalanced positions that government of either party will take (in foreign policy, see Mearsheimer and Walt for a brilliant dissection of one of them) but overall the system can work so long as the people running it are dedicated to making it work rather than driven to watch it fail. I'd quote the Bartlet-Bailey dialogue when Bailey was nominated to serve as deputy communications director in the inauguration issue, but then I'd have to cue up my season 4 DVD set and find it.
Two Cathedrals is an amazing piece of work, and only one other time have I seen music used so skillfully in television drama. (The other time was also the West Wing* the last episode of the 3rd season, with Jeff Buckley and the play scene/Sharif assassination scene) but to me it's almost too cinematic for the show, which I think excelled most when it raised the level of everyday life in the White House to poetry. Sorkin is the master of that, IMO; SportsNight did it consistently, too. That is to say, the vast majority of the show from seasons 1 through 4, and beyond that maybe "The Supremes" in season 5. (The one with Glenn Close. I think I have the name right.)
My favorite TWW episodes are the first two Christmas episodes (where Toby finds a dead homeless veteran, and Josh discovers that music reminds him of gunshots) and the one in the third season (?) that goes from a discussion of why James Bond is an effete wimp (to paraphrase, "he's ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it") to a call to Donna's retiring AP English teacher made from the Oval Office. To this day if someone tells me they're reading a modernized translation of Beowulf, I call it the James Bond edition. I think that episode also starts with my all time favorite TWW scene, with Jed and Abby walking and discussing the church sermon and Sorkin channelling Bartlet to tell us his philosophy of writing. (The "words are like music" monologue.)
*When did it go from The
West Wing to just West Wing? I still prefer, and use, the former name.