Take 10: Our Favorite Moments from THE WEST WING

As I’m wont to do, this TV Addict spent yesterday afternoon working far too hard well, not working. Was I breaking my cardinal rule by watching television during the day? Absolutely not! I was surfing the net. And for that my fellow TV Addicts, I blame GiveMeMyRemote and new contributor Kari, who decided to drive me bonkers by posting their Top 5 Favorite Episodes of THE WEST WING.

You see, as is often the case with these “Top 5 Lists,” I couldn’t disagree more with Kari’s choices [seriously, brilliant idea GMMR!]. I mean hello?! How did “Let Bartlett Be Bartlett” not make the Top 5? It’s maddening!!! [Hence the completely gratuitous overuse of exclamation points]. Which is why I immediately set about replaying all 156 episodes of THE WEST WING in my head to figure out theTVaddict.com’s definitive Top 5 favorites.

Cut to three hours later, DVD sets strewn everywhere and one very tired TV Addict. Turns out that widdling down Aaron Sorkin’s opus to a mere five favorites is virtually impossible. Thus, I’ve taken the far easier route and simply pointed out ten scenes [complete with YouTube links] that perfectly illustrate the magic that was, and still is, the Bartlett administration. So watch, enjoy and my apologies in advance if your HR department comes down to your desk/cubicle/office only to ask why you’ve just wasted [or as I like to call it "quality spent"] about an hour or so of company time on YouTube.

1. Let Bartlett Be Bartlett
Almost ten years later, Leo Thomas McGarry’s plan to get the Bartlett administration back on track remains this TV Addict’s all-time favorite WEST WING moment.

2. Josh and the President Head up the Hill
Quintessential Josh Lyman.

3. Bartlett for America
To this day, it still makes me sad that John Spencer is no longer with us.

4. Charlie and the Thanksgiving Carving knife
You know that imaginary place where TV shows continue to live on even after they’re cancelled. Well, in that world, Charlie is so married to Zoey Bartlett.

5. President Bartlett Delivers a Verbal Smack-down
Suck it Dr. Laura, umm… I mean Dr. Jacobs.

6. The Kiss Heard ‘Round the World!
Forget your Pam & Jims and Ross & Rachels, this TV Addict will take Josh & Donna any day.

7. The Stackhouse Filibuster
Another small victory that this TV Addict never tires of watching.

8. Leo and Josh share a Moment
Did I mention how much I miss John Spencer?

9. Toby and the Vietnam Vet
And Miss Landingham.

10. Ainsley Hayes
Or how we wish our government officials really acted.

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  • Heather

    I really miss this show. Really, really miss it. I have all the episodes on DVD and I periodically watch it again from beginning to end. They could announce that they were restarting it this fall in the middle of the Santos administration and it would be a season pass on my TiVO in nothing flat.

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  • TVFan

    I can’t believe you didn’t mention CJ and The Jackal!

  • Krystal

    Great list, TVAddict! This list just reminds me how much I miss this show, and the absolutely amazing John Spencer.

  • kdd

    My all time FAVOURITE moment is when the white house was shot at and they put the president in lock down in the oval office. He wanted to know where Charlie was and that somebody better find him, and then Charlie bursts into the room. Best moment ever. The relationship between Bartlett and Charlie is still my favourite on tv.

  • Dana

    I miss the West Wing so much. I just actually wrote a paper on Mandatory Minimums this week. The whole show has so much depth and character. There are not enough good shows like this still on. Happy you included the scene from Noel, that story is one of my favorite quotable moments!

  • http://umberhaven.blogspot.com Todd W in NC

    I only vaguely remember the shots that KDD is talking about, but I do remember Bartlett being concerned about Charlie in that scene and Charlie running into the room. I agree that’s a great moment and a great relationship.

    I also really like the passing on of the Thanksgiving knife to Charlie I also like when Charlie gets into a confrontation with his girlfriend over her not revealing to him her new job in the press corps, and Charlie exclaims his loyalty to Bartlett, “He’s not just the President,” basically implying that Bartlett is like a surrogate father (or potential future father-in-law if he and Zoey ever got back together).

    I also like the episode in which Bartlett’s Multiple Sclerosis (sp?) is first revealed, particularly the confrontation between Toby & Bartlett, some of which I almost have memorized.

    When Donna is in the explosion in Gaza and then transfered to Germany for surgery, Josh goes out of his mind. Leo tells Josh, “If there’s some place else you’d rather be, everyone would understand.” He says he’s okay, changes his mind 2 seconds later, grabs his backpack & laptop, and he’s — gone. For the rest of the episode, no one even asks where Josh is. They just all know. Josh & Donna, another great relationship.

    They just showed these repeats recently on Bravo, but I like all the episodes regarding Bartlett’s Israel-Palestine peace talks, Leo’s heart attack, and C.J. becoming Chief of Staff.

    Zoey’s kidnapping was a little hokey, but I like how it gave Bartlett the excuse to use the 25th Amendment and temporarily turn the Presidency over to House Speaker Glenallen Walken (John Goodman), since he hadn’t found a V.P. replacement for Hoynes yet.

    I also like the flashback to Bartlett’s campaign in which he openly & honestly admits to a dairy farmer that a policy of his hurt his farm. “Yeah, I screwed ya. You got rogered but good.” He then followed up saying he took the action he did so that the price of milk wouldn’t be too high for parents to buy for their kids.

    One of the best stand-alone episodes was the one in which Toby figures out how to fix Social Security.

    I wish I remembered more details about it, but I remember Two Cathedrals, the season two finale, being a major episode.

  • http://umberhaven.blogspot.com Todd W in NC

    Right now, I’m watching the episode in which Bartlett is partially paralyzed from an MS episode on Air Force One en route to China. I love how, while everyone else is fussing over the hydraulic elevator, the President enlists Charlie’s replacement Curtis to “stage a prison break.”

  • http://umberhaven.blogspot.com Todd W in NC

    Same China episode… I love the symmetry between Josh & Donna. As soon as she quits, he stops hesitating, goes to Texas, and enlists Santos as a presidential candidate. He wasn’t just holding her back; they were keeping each other in place. As soon as one broke free, they both did. Nice!

  • nctodc

    The fact that the two greatest episodes of the show–18th & Potomac and Two Cathedrals–were unmentioned is criminal.

    Best. Show. Ever.

  • Kate

    The Bartlett for America napkin scene gets me every time. So touching. We need more TV shows like the West Wing.

  • Kelly

    I don’t know how you could do it…so many great moments.

    CJ to Nancy McNally: “they kill their women, Nancy!” so touching, and then she has to go out to the press conference…

    CJ realizing Sam has her necklace, therefore had pushed her down to protect her during the shooting.

    Donna reading the card Josh wrote her for Christmas and her smile.

    So many, many, many more!!

  • John K.

    As the foremost WW expert on the whole Internet, allow me to present the real 10 best moments of the show (in no particular order):
    -Mrs. Landingham’s speech about her dead sons, In Excelsis Deo

    -CJ meets Marion Cotesworth-Hay, Privateers

    -Ainsley and Leo first meet and play verbal Cat and Mouse, In This White House

    -Josh has an attack while Yo-Yo Ma plays, Noel

    -Leo talks about not understanding people who can only have one drink, Bartlet for America

    -The President calls the Butterball hotline, The Indians in the Lobby

    -Abby has the band play O Canada for Donna, Dead Irish Writers

    -CJ meets with the Cartographers for Social Equality, Somebody’s Going to Emergency, Somebody’s Going to Jail

    -Sam says it right, Galileo

    -Bartlet kicks ass in the debate, Game On

  • Scott

    of course one of the main reasons that The West Wing was so popular, was the horrible White House in real life that in was contrasted against! For my vote Two Cathederals in right up their at the top! Josh waking up at the start of season Two with “what’s next?” has to count a bit high as well…..I am with the person who wished they would restart the show in the Santos administration…..how many fear factors….crap reality shows do we need…when we can have shows that talk and address real wold isuues!!!

  • Atty4kids

    AHH! You are all killing me. You can't be a West Wing fan & not know that it's “Bartlet” & not “Bartlett”!

  • James

    I agree with Scott to the fact that if Two Cathedrals is not your favourite then something is wrong with you. The speech in Latin and the final scene combined with Brothers In Arms – Dire Straits, makes for the the best single episode television has ever seen.