Monday, March 13, 2006

Aloha, West Wing

After a few weeks off, The West Wing returned last night with new episodes as it enters the home stretch toward the conclusion of its acclaimed and award winning seven year run. Many critics lamented the announcement a couple of months ago that NBC was cancelling the show, but I was relieved. I'd actually been afraid that they might attempt to continue The West Wing beyond this season. The reason I felt the show should not continue wasn't that it hasn't been the same since creator Aaron Sorkin left at the end of season 4, though that is certainly true. (However, this season, with it's focus outside of the White House on the campaign to replace President Bartlett, has seen something of a creative resurgence, with an episode written by Bradley Whitford, aka Josh Lyman, being a particular highlight) No, the reason that West Wing had to end is because the Constitution of the United States says so. Yes, West Wing may be the only show in the history of TV to have a legally mandated lifespan.
You see, just as presidents are limited to two terms in office, so is a TV series about a presidential administration limited to a maximum of eight years on the air, and Wing picked up the story of Jed Bartlett's presidency approximately eighteen months into his first term, thus further limiting itself to seven seasons.
To have tried to continue the show would have meant rplacing the entire cast. Now, other shows, such as ER and Law and Order, have replaced the entire original cast and survived, but they did it gradually, over the course of many seasons, not all at once. To make such a radical move in the eighth season of a series would have been disastrous for ratings and Wing would have been gone by January anyway.
So, while I will miss The West Wing, especially the sheer brilliance of the first four seasons under Aaron Sorkin's stewardship, I am glad that it is going out with some semblance of its former glory still intact, rather than going down in flames in a futile attempt to stay on the air.

1 comment:

Archana said...

Ultimately I agree, but I do feel like this season really means they're going out on a high. I loved the last episode.