Tuesday, November 08, 2005

West Wing debate

I enjoyed The West Wing debate that happened on Sunday night. Live TV is always such a joy to watch. Not so much because you're waiting for them to screw up, but because there does seem to be more energy happening. Nothing like the fear of screwing up in front of millions of people to give you that extra edge.

If you go the West Wing site you can vote on who won the debate. By the last numbers I saw, Santos (Jimmy Smits) was winning over Vinnick (Alan Alda) 70-30. However, I think that's more respresentative of the demographics watching the show. Republicans don't watch because it's a "Democratic fantasy piece". So naturally if Democrats are going to watch, then they are going to vote for Santos.

But whether the show was designed that way or not, I thought Vinnick did the better job of getting his points across, of being more honest, talking more and looking less nervous than Santos. Again, hard to say how much of it was the actors (Santos looked nervous, but was he that way because of the change in debate format or because Smits was terrified of going on live TV?), but I thought Vinnick/Alda did a better job.

I'm not saying I agree with Vinnick's politics more. He's a little too much "free market can fix everything" for my liking. Although one of the interesting things was when they brought up current politics like Enron and not going to war for oil. Those are both shots at the current Bush presidency, however they would presumably have not happened during the Bartlett presidency of the past 8 years. So it's interesting, but why mention no war for oil when it probably hadn't happened for at least eight years or more? Ah well, let television have its drama.

But there were interesting arguments made. About foreign debt relieft. About ANWR. About Head Start. And even Cathy marvelled. "My God, how much dialogue did they have to memorize?" She's been annoyed with the show this season, complaining that they've been focussing too much on the election and political policy and not enough on the characters. If Donna hadn't shown up the week before last, I feared what she might have done to the TV set. Still, she liked this episode.

It's just a pity the show is getting murdered in its current timeslot. Moving it to Sundays was not good for the show. It's taken a 30% hit in ratings. It's routinely finishing in fourth place, behind The Simpsons (OK), Cold Case (does nothing for me, but it's not bad) and Extreme Home Makeover (Kill me now. This is crap).

Further proof the show is apparently on the outs...after a big publicity stunt like a live broadcast, they're pre-empting it for the rest of November sweeps. They're going to wait a month to follow up on the show. Exceptionally stupid. And pretty much a sure sign that NBC is giving up on the show.

A pity. While Commander-in-Chief is getting better ratings, West Wing is still by far the better show. I hope it continues. I fear it's dead at the end of the season.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Lost together - Blue Rodeo (Greatest Hits)
2. A good year for the roses - Elvis Costello (Very Best of...)
3. A villa in Portugal - The Pursuit of Happiness (The Downward Road)
4. No sissies - Hawksley Workman (For Him and the Girls)
5. Cigarette - Ben Folds Five (Whatever and Ever Amen)


His Nibs said...

Did you notice if they were using teleprompters? It's a common live-TV crutch.

towniebastard said...

Not so far as I could tell. And they were showing a lot of the stage...plus there were a couple of scenes where they grabbed a mike and were wandering (the old Clinton trick). I read an interview where they said they were allowed to improvise a bit if they wanted, so I'm inclined to think that a lot of the dialogue was memorized.

The actually did the show twice - once for the east coast, the other for the west. I'm curious as to how different the second show was.

His Nibs said...

So there was an East West Wing and a West West Wing? Priceless.