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needs moar Lord John Marbury

As part of a fallback on escapist brain candy in the last few ... however long, I've been working through ye olde The West Wing dvds in fits and starts. And ... I'd forgotten how adorable and charming it could be. And nostalgia (and brain-fuzz, and maybe possibly maturity-induced-mellowness) are definitely helping to screen out the things I otherwise find irritating about it.

Currently somewhere in the middle of S4, and a few observations:




1) Wow, I am finding Will a whole lot more attractive this time around. (Sam too, but that's less surprising, unless you are aware of my resistance to idealistic, pretty square-jawed American types.) I do not know why, but all of a sudden his attitude and gumption and status as youngest son of former NATO Supreme Allied Commander has got me going all ... hmm, rather than eh, okay. Plus? He can wear the hell out of a suit. I did not notice this before. I do not know why I'm noticing this now. Other than maybe Neal Caffery has made me more sensitive to suit-porn and Josh's jackets always did feel a little uncomfortably broad in the shoulders. Like, not eighties-shoulder-pads broad, but ... off, somehow.

2) While I knew Bartlet was supposed to be almost entirely off-camera, I had no idea until recently that Sam was supposed to be the focus character. It doesn't surprise me in the slightest, though, given Sorkin's ... Sorkinness. The shift massively served the balance/appeal of the show, in my opinion. Nothing against Sam, but that story? Not Sorkin's most interesting one (and I say that like he has more than one, and ... he does and he doesn't). Also makes more sense of Sam leaving the show when Sorkin did, but anyway. Props for recognising the richest narrative seam and following it, however that came about.

3) I adore Charlie and couldn't care less about Zoey. There, I said it. I just ... don't care. Bartlet as a father is always fun to watch, but his daughters themselves barely register. Abbey is always a knockout, though.

4) I never, not once, not even the first time around when I didn't give it much thought at all, bought Christian Slater as a naval officer. This time watching it with a more critical eye makes me wonder what they were thinking. Don't get me wrong, I'll take my Christian Slater however I can get him provided it doesn't require me slogging through a bunch of schlocky, terrible movies, and no, I refuse to recognise any common denominator there at all because Christian Slater, but a naval officer he is not. Nor any kind of military type whatsoever, unless it's some kind of subversive/rebellious grunt story like Joaquin Phoenix in that one. What was it called? Something to do with bulls. Yes?

*googles* Buffalo Soldiers. Ah. Well, anyway.

Christian Slater is Christian Slater and he gets a pass straight from my sixteen-year-old's establishment-hating ovaries, is what I'm saying, only I don't know why the casting peoples felt the same way. Especially not an ambitious naval officer, which seemed to be what they were implying. And the way he went out was ... well, only reinforces the idea that he was there solely to unambiguously and once-for-all hit Josh in the face with his feelings for Donna. Which. I mean, considering Josh's obliviousness, requires a Christian-Slater-calibre shot across the bow, so fair enough I guess? Is that what their ovaries were thinking? But when the first interaction was explicitly all about honour (the Bartlet-Richie vote-swap incident), it all just strikes a kind of weird note.

5) Throwing snowballs at Donna's window, though. Possibly rated most adorable scene of the series. OMG Toby ILU. AND DANNY. AND CHARLIE (even non-sequitor-hung-up on his love for Zoey). AND WILL, YOU CUTE LIL NEWBIE, YOU'RE CUTE.

6) Danny is back! I personally will ship CJ with absolutely anyone she wants to bang, because honestly, CJ. But of all the bangees I love equally, Danny may be the most equal. Thanks for end-gaming that one for us, WW.

Comments

( 6 speakses — have a speak )
im_ridiculous
Jan. 24th, 2013 07:45 am (UTC)
Oh hells yes, I will take this bait ;)

1) I always seemed to like Will more than most people, and like Sam less than most people. Which actually doesn't make sense, inasmuch as I am typically a sucker for an idealistic type... But Will? I always liked him. The his attitude and gumption and status as youngest son of former NATO Supreme Allied Commander of him, I have always found.... appealing. Just enough idealism combined with just enough pragmatism...

Admittedly when the pragmatism won out and he went to work for Russell, Will and I parted company somewhat. But I could never really understand the 'OMGWHEREISSAMBRINGHIMBACKNAAAAOOOOOOOWHOTHEHELLISTHEWILLDUDETHISWHOLETHINGWENTTOSHITWHENSORKINLEFT' thing, that so many people seemed to succumb to.

2) I always got the impression Rob Lowe kinda spat the dummy when he ended up not being the centre of the show's universe, which eventually lead to him quitting. Or something. Who knows, but I wouldn't be surprised.

3) I know what you mean about Charlie/Zoey. But even so, her Season 4 cliffhanger remains for me probably the most tense cliffhanger of all time.

4) I second everything about Christian Slater. Although I think I may be slightly more immune to his charms, generally speaking ;)

5) BEST SCENE EVER OH MY SHIPPER HEART!!! MY SHIPPER HEART!!!!!!!! That is all.

6) Danny was always my favourite. Always, always and always. And I will love TWW forever - FOREVER - for giving me Josh&Donna AND giving me the ending that I really hoped CJ would get. Because I love Danny. Because he is my favourite.

Aaaaanyway. I have a confession to make, and I owe you an email. Because I have also had a need to partake of escapist brain candy recently....


...and I may have just mainlined all of Leverage Season 1 and half of Season 2. :s
themonkeytwin
Jan. 25th, 2013 04:44 am (UTC)
Hee, I hoped you might :)

1) Clearly, you and I need to talk about Will. *hunkers down* Just enough idealism combined with just enough pragmatism... YES. And I don't know quite how it came about, whether it was his late entry into the tightknit group, or the fact that he grew up in upper echelons Europe (and just doesn't seem intimidated by anything ... I don't know if I'm having a Lord John moment with that or not), or what, but I kind of like the fact that he never quite sheds his outsider status. Which makes the Russell thing less ... odd?

I'm trying to think of another character that's comparable, but it struck me that Will (possibly alone of anyone on the show) never evinces personal loyalty. Everyone else is framed in terms of who they're loyal to (usually Bartlet and/or Leo). You can be a blonde Republican sex kitten, unapologetically strident in your right wing views, and yet because of your loyalty to the people of the WW, you're on the team, you're one of theirs. I mean, they were recreating that Camelot Golden Age vibe – and by all accounts, the Kennedy administration was very much structured around those personal loyalties. It's all quite feudal, which makes sense, since Americans seem to have quite the yen for the romanticism of royalty, and that's definitely woven into the fabric of Sorkin's WW (and, I get the sense, into the way he just views the world – the same structure of the personal loyalty of principled disciples to a Great Man (or Great Man In the Making) seems to undergird his shows). It's been years since the last time I watched it, but I seem to recall some of that specific sparkle fades from the later seasons.

And Will never, ever made that personal connection of loyalty to ANYONE. Not his dead candidate, not Sam, not Toby, not Bartlet, not even when Sam's note declares him "one of us" to Toby (which ISN'T the means of his entry into the inner circle – he gets there on his own merits). His loyalty isn't even party loyalty, really – he seems devoted to the ideas of the Democratic party, but brings his own principles and autonomy to pursuing them. Which is actually an insanely valuable asset to have for such an ingrown group, because he can, and does, constantly call them on crap that they all have in their blindspots.

So when he goes to work for Russell, it's not to do with personal loyalty, it's the best available platform for pursuing those ideals. In the context of the show, we're made to feel like a kind of betrayal – or that lack of such allegiance is somehow suspect – since that personal loyalty was established as the template for judging the "correctness" of characters for the entire show, and we were conditioned to expect that anyone working in the WW for any length of time, especially in the inner circle, acquires it – but objectively speaking, he didn't, and it wasn't.

... *cough* Errr.... I may have been giving this some thought in the past week or so. We'll see how well these thoughts hold up when I get around to watching the rest of the seasons, since I haven't seen them in years and my recollection for a character I didn't care much about the first time though is a bit hazy.

2) The thing I heard is that his salary was higher than everyone else's, so who knows what personal drama went on, but I immediately assumed that the studio would get rid of him as soon as they could (and replace him with a similar character, since otherwise the team balance was pretty off). So ... eh? I really couldn't care less about Sam the first time around, so this second time, there was kind of an "aww" affection for him, which was notable only in comparison with my total lack of interest the first time around. (Unlike the 180 that happened with Will.) That said, I would be fine picturing a future WH with Sam as president, Josh his chief of staff, and Will his director of communications. *cute*

4) Christian Slater is unique in my utter lack of immunity to said charms. Remember our "tv watching habits" convo? Yeah. He's my catnip.

6) Aww, I'm glad Danny's your favourite. Any time I consider picking a favourite, like Danny say, something in me goes but SIMON and I'm lost. Can't pick. Won't. Can't do it.


Haha! There is a reply with your name on it :D
im_ridiculous
Jan. 29th, 2013 10:02 pm (UTC)
Clearly, you and I need to talk about Will.
Hee. Yes. Apparently, yes. Yes we do. Imagine that! :D

I kind of like the fact that he never quite sheds his outsider status.
Which is actually an insanely valuable asset to have for such an ingrown group, because he can, and does, constantly call them on crap that they all have in their blindspots.
YES TO ALL THIS. I think you're right too, that it's actually really important for them at that point to have an outsider, someone who's not drinking the koolaid, or at least not as much. Wow, it's a while since I watched it now... but did he also fail some kind of 'telling truth to power' test too? Which they didn't seem to actually worry too much about? I guess I like that too though, because I like that he is sometimes so comfortable in himself in a Honey-Badger-Don't-Care kinda way, while also being fallible and unsure in other ways. I'm letting this discussion down because it's so long since I watched it... but I can come bakc with more fully researched thoughts on that if it's useful ;)

Which makes the Russell thing less ... odd?
he seems devoted to the ideas of the Democratic party, but brings his own principles and autonomy to pursuing them.
Yes less odd in as much as he doesn't go in for personal loyalty - because you're absolutely right.
But that 'his own principles' thing is why I found the Russell thing so disappointing, because Russell is just such an empty shirt. And Will knows that Russell is an empty shirt, but he thinks he's the most purely electable choice, and he'll be around to be a bit of a puppet master, so who cares.

And for a man who's idealistic enough that he changes the President's mind about... um, that thing? not long after he gets the job? Which I can't remember? But then afterwards at the end of the episode he's standing in the corridor outside the Oval Office and has one of those 'It doesn't go away' moments..? Wow, it really is a long time since I watched this. It's like I've lost my WW fangirl language from lack of use. Kinda like my French!

Anyway, I guess Will's decision to go the hyper-pragmatic, purely political option in Russell felt, for me, beneath him. I'm not angry, just disappointed ;)

It's all quite feudal, which makes sense, since Americans seem to have quite the yen for the romanticism of royalty, and that's definitely woven into the fabric of Sorkin's WW (and, I get the sense, into the way he just views the world – the same structure of the personal loyalty of principled disciples to a Great Man (or Great Man In the Making) seems to undergird his shows). It's been years since the last time I watched it, but I seem to recall some of that specific sparkle fades from the later seasons.
Sorry to quote a big slab of you right back at you, but this is all exactly on the mark. Also lol and the Americans and the feudalism thing. To an outsider like me, the presidency really is almost a de facto monarchy, if one that reinvents itself with elections. It's fascinating to someone used to a Westminster system... although obviously our own system is stumbling blindly (and horrifyingly, imo) down that path of personality and poll-driven politics too. Sigh. This is going to be an ugly election year methinks. But anyway...

You're right about the sparkle factor too. I still loved the later seasons, but the tone was certainly different after Sorkin and his Big Ideals departed the scene - less idealism, more brutal political pragmatism. Less romantic, more realistic. Or at least that's how it seemed to me.

As for zero immunity to Christian Slater... Heee! :D My best mate is similarly lacking, so I've seen that condition up close. It's adorable :)

And oh I know. Simon. Let me rephrase. I adore Danny. BUT. In terms of whether Simon or Danny was the better fit for CJ (because they were both GREAT), I feel like I was absolved from having to choose in the end because Simon was *SOB* unavailable. :( Because yes, if I had to straight out pick..... too hard.

(Finally, Leverage update: have converted two more friends. "How did you find out about this awesome show?!" they ask. "Err... I stumbled onto it on the internet?" I said. Not entirely untrue? heee :D)
themonkeytwin
Jan. 30th, 2013 02:02 am (UTC)
did he also fail some kind of 'telling truth to power' test too? Which they didn't seem to actually worry too much about? I guess I like that too though, because I like that he is sometimes so comfortable in himself in a Honey-Badger-Don't-Care kinda way, while also being fallible and unsure in other ways. I'm letting this discussion down because it's so long since I watched it...

You seem to be doing fine to me, because I'd forgotten that bit too, and I just watched it! (And lol@Honey Badger. That's totally him. That's gonna stick :D) I ... not to be all fanwanky with this (and not to deny that he is sometimes fallible, because yes, he totally is), but thinking about it, that just reinforces his outsider status at that point – it was a "bad note" or something for the inauguration address, and he failed to bring it up at the meeting with the president (that he'd previously ducked out of because Toby wasn't with him, HIGHLY nervous – so yeah, when I say he's "not intimidated", I guess I mean if he has a goal, nothing deters him). He did, however, make his point strenuously to Toby about it.

So that reads to me much more like he is VERY sensitive to his "place" on the team (and being brought up in the diplomatic circles of Europe, that makes sense that he would be much more conscious of hierarchy/protocol etc than others). He'd been there a WEEK, he hadn't sought it, he was pinch-hitting and while he has STRONG opinions, he doesn't have any feel yet for what's appropriate to speak when, and so he's cautious. He makes his case to Toby and leaves it to Toby to make the call, because from his perspective, that's his job. And it's reinforced later – with the he changes the President's mind about... um, that thing? When Bartlet is wandering around the bullpen and informally chats with Will about the Kundu genocide situation, Will just up and speaks, because this is a setting he recognises as appropriate. So, yeah – their test was designed for someone like them, with their culture of what's appropriate or not, not someone like Will – who then goes on to pass the completely unintentional test of the same thing.

(Bartlet questioning why, as evidenced by his decision making so far, it seems like Kundunese lives are less valuable to him than American, and Will is just simply: "I don't know, sir, but they are." And BOOM, everything changes, which freaks Will out a little about how fast things move around there, and because it really was because of something he said. And THAT reads, to me anyhow, not so much as OMG I changed the president's mind as HOLY CRAP I didn't realise this system worked like that. He's much more systems-oriented than person-oriented, which again makes more sense of Russell, especially if it's assumed that Bartlet and Santos are unique in this political universe, and it's assumed that your politician is going to be a stuffed shirt otherwise – like Josh starting off with Hoines, and that being completely reasonable because he doesn't believe there is any alternative.)

So ... yeah, that was my sense of it. And Russell, well ... I'll pay more attention this time around, I guess. I don't off the top of my head recall how objectionable he was; "stuffed shirt" seems pretty accurate. I mean, right now I can easily fit that into what I perceive Will's personality and MO to be, but it could be that I'm just remembering it wrong. But it probably also helps that I lean MUCH more to the pragmatic than the idealistic, so. :)

And don't worry, I think your WestWingese is holding up okay. ;p As for the "it never goes away" feeling, I feel like they tried to recreate that moment when the gang is standing around after the speech and Bartlet asks Will to work for them, and they have Josh and the others joking about Will's stunned mullet reaction and how they had a buzzing in their ears etc when they got asked, too. But in Will, it read more as being in shock than in awe. Because seriously. A month ago he'd just got a dead Democrat elected in Orange County, and he was about to on vacation, FFS.

(Rest of reply continued below. Because character limits, grrrr!!!)

Edited at 2013-01-30 02:11 am (UTC)
im_ridiculous
Jan. 29th, 2013 10:04 pm (UTC)
Oh! Except I also should have said this right at the beginning.
YES. WE DEFINITELY NEEDED MORE LORD JOHN MARBURY. WHY DID WE NEVER GET MORE LORD JOHN MARBURY?

I concur.
themonkeytwin
Jan. 30th, 2013 02:09 am (UTC)
Re: And I couldn't fit this in up there, so.
MOAR LORD JOHN MARBURY. ALWAYS. WHY SO LITTLE, WEST WING? SAD. FACE.

*uses Bond icon in honour* *decides Lord John is a retired 00 for no good reason whatsoever*



the presidency really is almost a de facto monarchy, if one that reinvents itself with elections.

Right? And ... just, ugh, don't get me started on politics, ours or otherwise, unless you want the blackest, most cynical part of me on display. It's really not pretty at all. Which may make it seem odd that I enjoy watching this show, but it's pure fantasy, and I can imbibe it as that, even if there's a smirking bitch sitting at the back of my head going oh, really? Please, do tell me how your small group of committed people are going to ~change the world~. Because you know whose names come up when I think in terms of small groups of committed people?

... Anyway.


because Simon was *SOB* unavailable.

Well, as we've established, my shipping brain does not let the consideration of mere "possibility" get in its way. So ... yeah, I don't get a lot of choice in the matter. :)

Wheee, Leverage! :D (I will get you an email soon. There are Thoughts, and also some Insanity. Yay?)


[Edited for homophone glitch. Sometimes I hate my brain.]

Edited at 2013-01-30 02:10 am (UTC)
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