Wednesday, January 11, 2006

West Wing Digression

I watched the West Wing Sunday night. Martin Sheen came on at the start of it and explained that the best tribute they could give to the late John Spencer (AKA Leo McGarry), who died of a heart attack in December, was to show the latest episodes of the West Wing in which Spencer plays a huge role. I don’t like watching the recently dead on TV. It always seems so poignant. The long dead, I can handle--Cary Grant or even a young Katherine Hepburn who I saw grow old and accepted her passing--but someone who died so suddenly and so recently, well, that is hard. I still can’t watch Law and Order episodes with Jerry Orbach in them. As if The West Wing was not sad enough, horrible irony ran throughout the episode such as when the character of Leo explained he was very lucky to have survived a heart attack and that for most people who have a heart attack, “the first symptom is death”. Now that, Ms. Morissette, not a black fly in your chardonnay, is ironic.

The show continued to slump in the ratings, coming out 63rd for the week. I know the show lost its brilliance when Aaron Sorkin left them but it is still far ahead of lots of other shows doing better in the ratings. Commander In Chief is doing very well but the episodes I have watched show it to be patriotic pap dumbed down for the public. And they eat it up. Why watch something that challenges your brain like West Wing when you can get the Dummies version in Commander in Chief? Why watch something completely brilliant like the hilarious (I never watch an episode without laughing roaring out loud at least once) Scrubs (who managed to move up to 60th place in the ratings) when you can watch Dancing with the Stars (13th place—yes, I am serious)? These ratings are all American numbers, by the way but they decide on the vast majority of TV shows we watch, like it or not. Anyway, I angrily digress. RIP Mr. Spencer.

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