William Fichtner

8 Episodes of The West Wing…

Just in time for the 4th of July, here are my favorite episodes of The West Wing. I have recently started re-watching the series from the beginning, while listening to Joshua Malina and Hrishi Hirway’s new podcast, The West Wing Weekly. Also, this year’s ATX Television Festival reunion was everything I hoped it would be, so if you have not seen the panel, you should watch it here: http://www.atelevisionexperience.com/

1. The Crackpots and These Women: The first Big Block of Cheese Day! There are only two of these episodes in the whole series, but they are both fantastic. In this one, C.J. meets with a group that wants to construct a wolves-only highway for a mere $900 million, Sam talks to a guy who thinks the government is hiding information on UFOs, and the President decides to make chili for everyone. We also meet Zoey Bartlet, the President’s youngest daughter, for the first time. Here is Leo explaining the meaning of Big Block of Cheese Day:



2. Noël: After having been shot at the end of the first season, Josh is forced to see a therapist for PTSD. He talks about what has happened over the last three weeks to trigger his episode. The combination of musicians in the foyer, an Air Force pilot disobeying orders, a performance by Yo-Yo Ma, and ambulance sirens cause Josh to cut his hand badly. It is a powerful episode that ends with one of my favorite scenes from the show:



3. The Leadership Breakfast: This episode begins with Josh and Sam attempting to build a fire in the mural room, while CJ is figuring out the seating arrangements for the bi-partisan leadership breakfast. The reason this episode is on my list is because of Karen Cahill. Leo had gone to an event and accidentally made a joke about Karen’s shoes. So, he asks Josh to go to a dinner where Karen will be in order to apologize, and Josh sends Sam. Sam then inadvertently mixes up Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan when talking to her about nuclear weapons. Sam asks Donna to talk to Karen while at an art exhibit that they’re both attending, and explain his mistake. The next day, Donna think their interaction had gone very well, until she gets a package containing her underwear. Apparently, Donna had worn the same pair of pants two days in a row, and her previous day’s underwear was in the leg and fell out at the art exhibit. Donna then asks Charlie to ask the President if he will call Karen and apologize. In this episode, there’s also a fight between the Majority Leader’s office and the White House, which causes Toby and Leo to form the Committee to Re-elect the President.



4. Dead Irish Writers: Lord John Marbury! This is not his first appearance, but it is my favorite appearance. It is Abbey’s birthday, and there is a party going on at the White House to celebrate. Donna cannot get into the party because of an INS error determining that the town where she was born is actually in Canada. She ends up joining Abbey, C.J. and Amy in the residence, where they are getting drunk. It is also the night before the medical board decides whether or not to suspend Abbey’s license after she lied about the President’s multiple sclerosis.

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