November 7, 2008

tgif top 10 (warning: super long)

In the history of television shows, there is good and there is great. And then there is The West Wing. This week calls for a special top 10 list. Here's my very best attempt at naming my favorite West Wing episodes. PLEASE add your favorite episodes, scenes and/or quotes to the comments.

Top 10 West Wing Episodes

1. "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen" (Season 2) This is obviously a memorable one because it follows the shooting at the end of season one, but the best part are the flashbacks to Bartlet's campaign. You see how all of the staff came on board. Leo asking Josh to leave Senator Hoyne's campaign to take a chance on a long shot, Josh visiting old friend Sam telling him it's "the real thing," Toby lives in fear of being fired from the campaign because he's never won, and brings in CJ who was just fired from her fancy LA PR job, Donna lying about her degrees to become Josh's assistant...And the best scene is Bartlet talking to Josh in the airport after Josh has just learned that his father died.

Woman in Bar: You've been a... what do you call it?
Toby: Professional political operative.
Woman in Bar: You've been one your whole life?
Toby: There was a while there I was in Elementary School.

2. "Two Cathedrals" (Season 2) I almost cry even thinking about this one. Dear Mrs. Landingham's funeral, just after President Bartlet's MS has gone public, and he is deciding whether to run for re-election. The final scene where Bartlet, alone in the cathedral, curses in Latin and stomps a cigarette is perfection.

Mrs. Landingham: You know, if you don't want to run again, I respect that. But if you don't run because you think it's going to be too hard or you think you're going to lose well, God, Jed, I don't even wanna know you.

3. "He Shall From Time to Time" (Season 1) Another drama-filled episode when Bartlet delivers his first State of the Union, collapses because of his MS, and Leo publicly admits to having an alcohol problem. Toby shines in this episode when he convinces the President to scratch the line that says "The era of big government is over" even though it tested well.

Toby: I want to change the sentiment. We're running away from ourselves...We have to say what we feel, that government no matter what it's failures in the past and in times to come for that matter, government can be a place where people come together and where no one gets left behind. No one gets left behind. An instrument of good. I have no trouble understanding why the line tested well, Josh, but I don't think that means we should say it. I think that means we should change it."

4. "Election Day" (Season 7) This episode broke everyone's heart when Leo, played by the great John Mahoney, dies on the campaign trail.

(Josh gazes at a picture of Leo after learning of the Santos victory.)
Josh: Thanks, boss.

5. "In Excelsis Deo" (Season 1) I consider this Toby's best episode (just learned that he won the Emmy for it). Near Christmas, a homeless Vietnam vet is found dead near the memorial wearing a coat that Toby gave to Good Will. Toby tries to arrange a proper funeral for him, and we learn that Mrs. Landingham lost two sons in Vietnam, after they were drafted out of medical school. She joins Toby at the funeral.

Bartlet: Toby, If we start pulling strings like this don't you think every homeless vet is going to start crawling out of the woodwork?
Toby: I can only hope so, sir.

6. "Impact Winter" (Season 6) We were all worrying at this point without Aaron Sorkin, but this episode was one of the great ones leading up to the election story in the final season. An asteroid may be headed for Earth, Bartlet has become temporarily paralyzed by MS, Josh is acting as Chief of Staff, and Donna is forced to quit without telling him because he's so busy.

Bartlet (about to be carried down the stairs): I'm just saying, you drop me, that's a moment that follows you the rest of your life.

7. "Celestial Navigation" (Season 1) Josh is a guest lecturer at a university where he tells a story of the previous day when he failed miserably filling in as press secretary for CJ. Also, Sam and Toby drive to Connecticut to bail out the presumed Supreme Court nominee, who has been wrongly detained for drunk driving. Some of the best scenes are Charlie trying to wake the President up - he is not a morning person.

Bartlet: You told the press I have a secret plan to fight inflation?
Josh: No, I did not. Let me be absolutely clear I DID NOT do that. Except yes, I did that.

8. "Holy Night" (Season 4) Will officially moves into the West Wing and suffers some hazing. This is a Christmas episode, where Toby's estranged father shows up for forgiveness. And it's one of my favorite CJ/Danny episodes - Danny, dressed as Santa, smooches her.

Toby: Why do you sit in the lobby instead of my office?
Will: The Holy Line of Demarcation. (indicates the floor) Right there. It's where the West Wing starts and I won't go past it.
Toby: I wasn't listening to anything you just said.
Will: I said the Holy Line Of Demarcation...
Toby: It's because I didn't care

9. "Arctic Radar" (Season 4) This is just a silly episode with some of my favorite Josh/Donna moments. Donna asks Josh to find out of Jack Reese likes her and is horrified by the anecdotes he shares with Jack. Sam heads to California to begin his campaign (cue failed spin-off plans).

Donna: You have to talk to him again.
: Why?
: Cuz now he's gonna think I'm flaky.
: Maybe but he's not gonna care.
: Why not?
Josh: Guys'll go out with anyone.

10. "Twenty-Five" (Season 4) One of the more suspenseful episodes, this marked the end of the Aaron Sorkin years. Zoey has just been abducted and we see some of the best Jed/Abby scenes. Bartlet decides to step down from the Presidency temporarily leaving a scary Republican Speaker of the House in charge. Toby's twins are born, and he wonders if he's capable of being a loving dad.

Will (on Bartlet): I think it’s a fairly stunning act of patriotism and a fairly ordinary act of fatherhood.

Toby (to his newborn son): 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.


Ori said...

"the crackpots and these women" (season 1)
the first big block of cheese day!

Leo: Andrew Jackson had a big block of cheese...
Josh: And a wheat thin the size of Lake Tahoe.

"the stackhouse filibuster" (season 2)
senator stackhouse filibusters for autism

Leo: What are you doing?
Donna: I didn't know if I'm supposed to--
Leo: We usually don't raise our hands.
Bartlet: Though it isn't the worst idea in the world.

"posse comitatus" (season 3 finale)
the night at "war of the roses" when cj's secret service agent is killed, and the first bartlet / ritchie debate.

Bartlet: In case you ever wonder, 'Crime, boy, I don't know' is when I decided to kick your ass.

"debate camp" (season 4)
everyone goes to north carolina for debate prep...lots of flashes to their first days in the white house.

Bartlet: You were doing me there, weren't you?
Sam: I don't know, sir. I might have slipped into it a little bit.
Bartlet: Yeah. Anyone else do a good Bartlet? It's talent night here at debate camp!

"7A WF 83429" (season 5 premiere)
walken takes office while bartlet deals with the missing zoey tragedy.

Bartlet: You work for the President. He's going to need you down there.
Charlie: I work for you, sir. Someone else can show him where the Xerox paper is.

"third day story" (season 6)
leo recovers from his heart attack and bartlet asks cj to be chief of staff

Leo: Mr. President.
Bartlet: A morphine drip, and we can skip the formalities. I might get on myself... wheel it into meetings with joint chiefs. You're not fired, Leo. You can delegate, work part-time. Bring the morphine with you for all I care.
Leo: You... You remember... what you told me... when you offered me the job?
Bartlet: "I need you to jump off a cliff."
Leo: And I did. And I'd do it again. But you need a new... chief of staff.
Bartlet: We came here to put the job first. Spend our lives for something that would outlast us. I just thought we'd have a longer line of credit is all. I'm gonna need that list of names.
Leo: Only one name.
* * *
Bartlet: CJ, I need you to do me a favor.
CJ: Yes Mr. President?
Bartlet: I need you to jump off a cliff.

"here today" (season 7)
bartlet fires toby and addresses the nation about the leak.

Bartlet: But the one thought that hits the hardest is that this was somehow inevitable; that you've always been heading for this sort of crash-and-burn. That self-righteous superiority; not that you were smarter than everyone; that you were purer, morally superior.
Toby: Due respect, sir, I don't think I'm morally superior to everyone.
Bartlet: No, just to me.
* * *
Bartlet: Toby, when you walk out of here, there will be people out there, perhaps a great many, who will think of you as a hero. I just don't for a moment want you thinking I'll be one of them.

the series finale is also full of some good ones...when cj gives josh the "WWLD" note, when santos says, "what's next?" etc.

now i'm crying.

Ori said...

Amazing quotes from Season 1 alone:

Post Hoc, Ergo Procter Hoc

Laurie: You are aware that I make more money than you?
Sam: You and any kid with a decent paper route.

A Proportional Response

Josh: A couple of things for you to bear in mind. First of all, he didn't know she was a call girl when he slept with her. He didn't pay her. He didn't participate in, have knowledge of, or witness anything illegal. Or for that matter, unethical, amoral, or suspect.
C.J.: Okay. A couple things for you to bear in mind. None of that matters on Hard Copy!
Josh: You're overreacting.
C.J.: Am I?
Josh: Yes.
C.J.: As women are prone to do.
Josh: That's not what I meant.
C.J.: That's always what you mean.
Josh: You know what, C.J., I really think I'm the best judge of what I mean, you paranoid Berkeley shiksa feminista! ...whoa, that was way too far.
C.J.: No, no. Well, I've got a staff meeting to go to and so do you, you elitist Harvard fascist missed-the-deans-list-two-semesters-in-a-row Yankee jackass!
Josh: Feel better getting that off your chest there, C.J.?
C.J.: I'm a whole new woman.
Josh: You look like a million bucks, by the way.
C.J.: Don't try to make up with me.

Mr. Willis of Ohio

Sam: CJ, we've been working on this commerce bill for three weeks, I hear you talk about the census all the time.
C.J.: Yeah. Yeah.
Sam: Well... I don't understand. How could you-
C.J.: I've been faking it.
Sam: You've been faking it?
C.J.: I've been playing it fast and loose there's no doubt about it, but sitting in on some of the meetings we've been having, and reading the briefing book last night, I have to say that the census is starting to sound to me like it's, well, important.
Sam: Ah-hah.
C.J.: And, I've come to the realization that if I'm gonna be talking about it all week, it's probably best that I understand what I'm saying.
Sam: When?
C.J.: When what?
Sam: When did you come to this realization?
C.J.: About an hour ago.
Sam: Okay. Let's... I tell you what, let's forget the fact that you're coming a little late to the party and embrace the fact that you showed up at all.
C.J.: That's what I say.


Bartlet: We should organize a staff field-trip to Shenandoah. I could even act as the guide. What do you think?
Josh: [Under his breath] Good a place as any to dump your body.
Bartlet: What was that?
Josh: ... Did I say that out loud?
Bartlet: See, and I was gonna let you go home.
Josh: [Sinking feeling] ... But instead?
Bartlet: We're gonna talk about Yosemite.

Lord John Marbury

Charlie: Mr. President?
Bartlet: I'll take the Indian ambassador in the Oval Office.
Charlie: Yes, sir.
Bartlet: And then if you could just ask the Secret Service to step in and kill me, please.
Charlie: Yes, sir.

He Shall From Time To Time

Donna: So if the Capitol building blows up, the man my country will be looking to is the Secretary of Agriculture?
Josh: It's my country too.
Donna: Yeah, but you'll be dead.
Josh: Which is why I really don't care that much.
Donna: Josh--
Josh::[Cutting Donna off] Donna, I really don't anticipate the Capitol building exploding.
Donna: What percentage of things exploding have been anticipated?
Josh: Now you're bringing me down.
Donna: I would think so.

Take Out The Trash Day

Josh: We've got a bit of a sticky wicket.
C.J.: Please don't tell me I'm staying here and working late tonight.
Josh: I need you to read a report.
C.J.: I'm a woman in her prime, Josh, I'm a prime woman.
Josh: There's no doubt about it, but I need you to read this anyway.
C.J.: What is it?
Josh: We want Congress to sign off on funds for a hundred thousand new teachers. They say, fine, but you gotta stipulate that in Sex Ed classes....
C.J.: Abstinence only?
Josh: Yes.
C.J.: I would no have trouble passing such a class.
Josh: We commissioned a report about a year ago on Sex Education in public schools, and, well, this is it.
C.J.: What's it say?
Josh: It's not good.
C.J.: How's it not good?
Josh: It says basically that teaching abstinence only doesn't work—that people are going to be prone to have sex whether they're cautioned against it or not.
C.J.: Well, what are they recommending?
Josh: Something called "abstinence plus".
C.J.: Abstinence plus?
Josh: Yes.
C.J.: What's that mean?
Josh: Well, Sam's renamed it 'everything but'.
C.J.: Everything but?
Josh: Yes.
C.J.: Ah.
Josh: Yes.
C.J.: They want teachers to teach...
Josh: Yes.
C.J.: And so the sticky wicket joke was..?
Josh: A regrettable pun. Should I order you some food?
C.J.: Y'know, I can't remember the last time I got home before midnight.
Josh: By the way, pages 27 to 33? A couple of things every girl should know.
C.J.: Get me a salad.

Let Bartlet Be Bartlet

Mrs. Landingham: You're not getting enough roughage in your diet, you know I'm right about that.
Bartlet: I know I'd like to beat you senseless with a head of cabbage, I know that for damn sure.
Mrs. Landingham: Once again you display an immaturity about vegetables that I think is not at all Presidential.

Mandatory Minimums

Toby: [to Andy] I have to get back to work. And you, being a Congresswoman... I'm sure you need to be back out there... you know, screwing the people.

Ori said...

Season 2, more amazings:

In The Shadow of Two Gunmen, Part I

Man: Governor Bartlet, when you were a member of Congress, you voted against the New England Dairy Farming Compact. That vote hurt me sir. I'm a businessman. That vote hurt me to the tune of maybe, 10 cents a gallon. I voted for you three times for Congress. I voted for you twice for Governor. And I'm here sir, and I'd like to ask you for an explanation.
Bartlet: [pause] Yeah, I screwed you on that one.
Man: I'm sorry?
Bartlet: I screwed you. You got hosed.
Man: Sir, I...
Bartlet: And not just you. A lot of my constituents. I put the hammer to farms in Concord, Salem, Laconia, and Elem. You guys got rogered but good. Today, for the first time in history, one in five Americans living in poverty are children. One in five children live in the most abject, dangerous, hopeless, backbreaking, gut wrenching, poverty, one in five, and they're children. If fidelity to freedom and democracy is the code of our civic religion then surely, the code of our humanity is faithful service to that unwritten commandment that says 'We shall give our children better than we ourselves had.' I voted against the bill 'cause I didn't want it to be hard for people to buy milk. I stopped some money from flowing into your pocket. If that angers you, if you resent me, I completely respect that. But if you expect anything different from the President of the United States, I suggest you vote for somebody else. Thanks very much. Hope you enjoyed the chicken.

In The Shadow of Two Gunmen, Part II

C.J.: We're confirming now that a suspect is in custody, and is being questioned by federal law enforcement . At this time, we cannot, we are not releasing any information whatsoever about the suspect.
Steve: Can you tell us anything, his name, where he's from, his ethnicity, if you guys suspect a motive?
C.J.: Yes, Steve, I can tell you those things, because when I said that we weren't releasing any information whatsoever, I meant except than his name, his address, his ethnicity, and what we think his motives are.

The Midterms

Charlie Okay. Zoey and I are going out. I'll be on my pager.
Leo: You're going out?
Charlie: Yeah.
Leo: Charlie, you're taking extra protection, right?
Charlie: Hey, Leo...
Leo: Secret Service protection, Charlie. But thanks for loading me up with that image.

In This White House

Bartlet: Charlie, I wanna hire a woman whose voice I think would fit in nicely around here, She's a conservative Republican, you think I should do it?
Charlie: Absolutely Mr. President, cause I'm told that theirs is the party of inclusion.
Bartlet: Charlie, when they close the book on me and you, it will say that at this moment you were not there for me. And for that, obviously, there will be some kind of punishment.
Charlie: Well, you could sing Puccini for me again, Mr. President, and we'll call it even.

And It's Surely To Their Credit

Ainsley: Mr. Tribbey? I'd like to do well on this, my first assignment. Any advice you could give me that might point me the way of success would be, by me, appreciated.
Tribbey: Well, not speaking in iambic pentameter might be a step in the right direction.


Charlie: Okay, Mr. President, I say this with all possible respect, but each of these knives cut, you know, meat. Why is it important?
Bartlet: Because it's something we pass on. Something with a history so we can say, 'My father gave this to me. His father gave it to him.'
Charlie: Well, okay, sir, but if that's true, then why don't you already have one?
Bartlet: I do have one.
Charlie: Why do you need a new one?
Bartlet: I'm giving mine away.
Charlie: To who?
Bartlet: Whom.
Charlie: To whom?
Bartlet: Funny you should ask. [takes out knife case from his drawer] Charlie, my father gave this to me, and his father gave it to him, and now I'm giving it to you. Take a look. The fully tapered bolster allows for sharpening the entire edge of the blade.
Charlie: It says 'P.R.' I thought I knew them all, but I don't recognize the manufacturer.
Bartlet: Yeah. This was made for my family by a Boston silversmith named Paul Revere.


Leo: [to Josh] This guy's walking down a street, when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep, he can't get out. A doctor passes by, and the guy shouts up "Hey you! Can you help me out?" The doctor writes him a prescription, throws it down the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up "Father, I'm down in this hole, can you help me out?" The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. "Hey Joe, it's me, can you help me out?" And the friend jumps in the hole! Our guy says "Are you stupid? Now we're both down here!" and the friend says, "Yeah, but I've been down here before, and I know the way out." As long as I got a job, you got a job, you understand me?

The Leadership Breakfast

Bartlet: Donna wants me to call Karen Cahill and make it clear she wasn't hitting on her when she gave her her underwear.
Leo: Yeah, that's because I made fun of her shoes and Sam said there were nuclear weapons in Kyrgyzstan and Donna went to clear up the mix up and accidentally left her underwear.
Bartlet: There can't possibly be nuclear weapons in Kyrgyzstan.
Leo: Mr. President, please don't wade hip deep into this story.

The Drop In

Josh: Why don't we just give the sixty-billion to North Korea in exchange for not bombing us?
Bartlet: It's almost hard to believe that you're not on the National Security Council.
Josh: I know, I feel like they're missing an important voice.

Somebody's Going to Emergency

C.J.: No cameras.
Toby: You negotiated that?
C.J.: Yes.
Toby: They agreed to it?
C.J.: Yes. You want to make out with me now, don't you?
Toby: Well, when don't I?

Two Cathedrals
Bartlet: [standing in the National Cathedral smoking a cigarette, and talking to God about Mrs. Landingham] You're a son-of-a-bitch, you know that? She bought her first new car and you hit her with a drunk driver. What, was that supposed to be funny? "You can't conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God," says Graham Greene. I don't know whose ass he was kissing there 'cause I think you're just vindictive. What was Josh Lyman? A warning shot? That was my son. What did I ever do to yours except praise his glory and praise his name? There's a tropical storm that gaining speed and power. They say we haven't had a storm this bad since you took out that tender ship of mine in the north Atlantic last year, 68 crew. Do you know what a tender ship does? Fixes the other ships. Doesn't even carry guns, just goes around, fixes the other ships and delivers the mail, that's all it can do. Gratias tibi ago, domine (I give thanks to you, O Lord). Yes, I lied. It was a sin. I've committed many sins. Have I displeased you, you feckless thug? 3.8 million new jobs, that wasn't good? Bailed out Mexico, increased foreign trade, 30 million new acres of land for conservation, put Mendoza on the bench, we're not fighting a war, I've raised three children... that's not enough to buy me out of the doghouse? Haec credam a deo pio? A deo iusto? A deo scito? Cruciatus in crucem! Tuus in terra servus nuntius fui officium perfeci. Cruciatus in crucem. Eas in crucem! (Am I to believe those were the acts of a loving God? A just God? A wise God? To hell with your punishments! I was your servant on Earth - I spread Your word and did Your work. To hell with your punishments. To hell with you) You get Hoynes!

merideth said...

i love this post and these comments with my entire soul.

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