Thursday, April 7th, 2005
Last night was the season finale of The West Wing, bringing to a close a surprisingly satisfying sixth season. I say surprising because season five, the first of the post-Sorkin era, was so disappointing, I had very low expectations for this one.
Last year, producer John Wells managed to strip all the life and energy out of the cast and characters and threatened to drown them in the sort of melodrama that might have worked on ER, but was horribly suited to The West Wing. Announcements in the off-season about the addition of Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits to the cast stank of desperate stunt casting and didn’t excite either. Even the start of this season was awkward, with their “season of change” necessitating head-scratching moves such as making CJ Chief Of Staff for no good reason (at least not over Toby or Josh).
However, once the business of shuffling the deck was over, things really picked up. The addition of Smits and Alda as presidential hopefuls really did liven things up as the show went on two parallel paths, one following the campaigners and one following the White House. The ennui and malaise and other French words that so afflicted season five were gone and replaced with vim and vigor – the cast actually got their sense of humour back and seemed interested again (except Toby, who was horribly under-used all year). I was actually eager to tune in every week again and frustrated that there were only 22 episodes in which to cram everything – they surely had enough material to fill another half-dozen, easy. Last night’s finale certainly managed to make the Democratic National Convention seem pretty damn exciting. I didn’t expect the selection of Leo as VP nominee, either. A nice touch, but did they forget he suffered a major heart attack earlier this year? Surely no one would really be so irresponsible as to nominate someone for the important office of vice-president with someone so at risk for cardiac arrest? Oh wait – never mind.
I’m quite happy the show’s been renewed for a seventh season, allowing them to follow through the conclusion of the Bartlet administration. Certainly not a sure thing in the past couple years, I consider that a triumph of good television over dreck. I don’t know if I’d necessarily want them to continue on with the new administration, it really wouldn’t be the same, but I do know that if they decide to go GOP and have Alda win the election, he’d better bring Gary Burghoff in as his Chief-Of-Staff.
Kathleen Edwards, playing a most-likely sold-out show at the Mod Club tonight, is this week’s NOW cover girl. JAM! also has an interview. I’ve had the new record for a little while now, it’s alright – not a big shift from Failer, maybe a little more with the rock. I will have to get around to seeing her live someday. Just not tonight.
Torr reports that the Stars’ Set Yourself On Fire has debuted at no. 34 on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers chart and no. 40 on the Top Independent Albums list. Is this high? I have no frame of reference for these positions. It sounds good, though.
Another sure sign of Spring – I broke my sunglasses. It seems every year, I either lose or break my sunglasses, necessitating the purchase of a new pair. A cheap pair, mind you, since I will invariably lose or break them. Now on one hand, this is good – it allows me to remain just out of fashion. On the other hand, it’s bad – as it keeps costing me money every year and sometimes I actually get attached to a pair. So the question is, do I buy a good, pricier (more durable) pair and take extra-special care of them or do I keep buying cheap ones like ZZ Top recommends? Do I listen to pop music because I’m miserable or am I miserable because I listen to pop music?
Of course, it’s overcast today, so it doesn’t really matter.
np – Ted Leo & The Pharmacists / Shake The Sheets