The Emmy Awards are coming up tonight. Even though it was greater during the Sorkin years, I’m rooting for The West Wing to go out with some major awards. Its a shame that the Lauren Graham Rule didn’t do enough. Some deserving shows and individuals are not going to be recognized tonight.
I’ve already reposted some of my old blog posts on Gilmore Girls and several science fiction shows. To get in the mood for the Emmys I’ll add some other old television posts, including The West Wing, 24, and Alias, below the fold.
UPDATE: Alan Alda wins as Arnold Vinick
Posted by Ron Chusid
November 18th, 2005 @ 10:45 am
The Council for Excellence in Government has identified the top federal officials, at least fictional ones, in an on line poll. America’s favorite TV Fed is Agent Sidney Bristow, played by Jennifer Garner on Alias, receiving 29.6 percent. White House Chief-0f-Staff C.J. Cregg (Allsion Janey) of The West Wing was second at 28.7 percent. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Suterland) who has headed the LA Counter Terrorism Unit, been Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, and is now on the run on 24 came in third with 16.2 percent.
In the choice for President, Jeb Bartlet (Martin Sheen) of The West Wing won with 38%. Mackenzie Allen (Geena Davis) of Commander in Chief was second with 25%, followed by David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) of 24 with 20%. Those only playing people running for President rather than playing the President didn’t do as well with Matt Santos (Jimmy Smit) receiving 10% and Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) receiving 7%. Both are candidates for President on The West Wing.
Cliff Claven (John Ratzenberger) of Cheers was the overhwelming pick as mailman with 66% choosing him over Newman (Wayne Knight) from Seinfeld. CBS’s CSI shows beat out the detectives from NBC’s Law & Order by only 2% as being better at solving crimes.
Posted by Ron Chusid
April 10th, 2006 @ 9:28 pm
On 24, President Logan has been implicated in the assasination of former President Palmer, the terrorist attacks in Los Angles, and a scheme to get the nation involved in an unnecessary war. Television might be reflecting reality here as two different investigations point to real crimes from the Bush White House. The New York Times summarizes recent news on the Plame case:
But now White House officials, and specifically President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, have been pitched back into the center of the nearly three-year controversy, this time because of a prosecutor’s court filing in the case that asserts there was “a strong desire by many, including multiple people in the White House,” to undermine Mr. Wilson.
The new assertions by the special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, have put administration officials on the spot in a way they have not been for months, as attention in the leak case seems to be shifting away from the White House to the pretrial procedural skirmishing in the perjury and obstruction charges against Mr. Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr.
Mr. Fitzgerald’s filing talks not of an effort to level with Americans but of “a plan to discredit, punish or seek revenge against Mr. Wilson.” It concludes, “It is hard to conceive of what evidence there could be that would disprove the existence of White House efforts to ‘punish Wilson.’ ”
With more filings expected from Mr. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor’s work has the potential to keep the focus on Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney at a time when the president is struggling with his lowest approval ratings since he took office.
AP reports on evidence linking the White House to the New Hampshire phone jamming scheme:
Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show.
The records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 — as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.
Posted by Ron Chusid
April 24th, 2006 @ 10:52 am
This has sent the left-wing blogosphere into joyous fits. Conservative network Fox is running a series that portrays the president as the bad guy! One blogger tried to equate Logan’s complicity in the assassination of former president David Palmer (who had discovered Logan’s plot) with the alleged outing of CIA employee Valerie Plame (whose husband, Joe Wilson, “discovered” a Bush plot) by members of President George W. Bush’s administration. And since Logan’s scheme also involved gaining control of Central Asian oil, this led Chusid to link him and Bush as perpetrators of “unnecessary wars.”
Actually they overstate my comparison of Logan and Bush as I did not compare the Plame outing to the events on 24 other than to note that both Presidents Logan and Bush are implicated in crimes, and linked to a New York Times article showing a possible link between Bush and the Plame investigation. The circumstances are different, but the analogy between Logan and Bush trying to unnecessarily involve the country in a war over oil is far closer. Still, despite the similarities, I would not claim that Bush is worse than the fictional President Logan who is implicated in terrorist plots and the assassination of a former President who discovered his guilt.
In the world of Clinton bashing, the only human on earth, real or fictitious, worse than Bill Clinton is Hillary Clinton. National Review goes beyond my comparison of Bush and Logan to claim Clinton was worse than Logan. Their evidence is a failed CIA plan approved by Clinton, with Clinton’s actual involvement unclear, which helped Iran develop nuclear technology. While the results may be tragic, the existence of a failed, and likely misguided, plan under Clinton’s watch is hardly the equal of the crimes committed with the cooperation of President Logan on 24. I guess this shouldn’t be surprising considering they also consider Clinton’s affair with an intern to be a greater crime than those committed by George Bush.
Posted by Ron Chusid
December 16th, 2005 @ 4:28 pm
John Spencer, who played Leo McGarry (former White House Chief of Staff, and in the current season Vice Presidential running mate to Matt Santos) on The West Wing, died of a heart attack today at age 58.
Spencer won an Emmy Award for supporting actor in a drama series in 2002 for his work on The West Wing, and has also had a Golden Globe nomination.
Posted by Ron Chusid
December 19th, 2005 @ 8:49 am
With the unexpected news on the death of John Spencer, questions remain as to how The West Wing will deal with the loss of a Vice Presidential candiate during an election. Decisions have not yet been made as to how to handle this, as reported by the New York Times:
This season, the show’s seventh, Mr. Spencer’s Leo McGarry has been a critical character. McGarry, former chief of staff to the incumbent president, Josiah Bartlet, is the running mate of the Democratic candidate for president, Matt Santos, played by Jimmy Smits.
So far this season, NBC has broadcast nine new episodes of the show. Mr. O’Donnell said five more episodes had been completed, including the next one – to be shown on Jan. 8 – titled “Running Mates,” which centers on Mr. Spencer’s character. The episode or episodes in which the election takes place have not yet been filmed, Mr. O’Donnell said, nor have producers said when the fictional election would be broadcast.
Mr. O’Donnell said the show’s staff had been on hiatus since last Monday and that questions about whether the next episode would need to be edited – to say nothing of the larger question of how to deal with the loss of a vice-presidential candidate in the midst of a campaign – would not be broached until the next scheduled production meeting, in the first week of January.
While this reports gives the impression that the next show featuring McGarry won’t appear until January, program listings at present do include an episode on the campaign as scheduled for December 25.
Posted by Ron Chusid
January 7th, 2006 @ 2:47 pm
The resumption of the 2005-6 television season in January is off to a stronger start than the initial premier of the season in September. Last night saw the return, after too long a hiatus, of what Time recognizes as the best show on television, Battlestar Galactica. The midseason cliff hanger was followed by a yet better cliff hanger leading up to next week’s conclusion. (My bet is that the show ends with Odama and Cain, each having a gun pointed at them, decide to fly off in separate directions, with Admiral Cain being too fascinating a character to kill off rather than leave around for a return episode).
Regardless of whether one agrees with Time’s ranking of BSG as the best show on television, I don’t think anyone who has watched would argue with my assessment that Ron Moore’s remake of Battlestar Galactica is the most extreme case of a remake far exceeding the quality of the original. I suspect things would have turned out much better for Star Trek if Ron Moore was given control of the franchise after The Next Generation. I also wonder if the shot of Victoria’s Secret model Tricia Helfer as Number Six lying in Baltar’s bed would have made it past the censors of the original show. (She shouldn’t be hard to pick out of the cast photo above).
Battlestar Galactica is but one example of how cable is beating network television in terms of quality if not ratings. The writing on shows such as BSG, and even more so on Six Feet Under, possibly the best written show to ever appear on television, far surpasses network television writing. It would be like comparing a Tolstoy novel to an Archie comic, or comparing the political analysis of a Theodore White to Daily Kos.
On Sunday we have the first episode of West Wing since the death of John Spencer, with Leo being prominent in the episode. And, of course, next week, Jack is Back with four hours to start this year’s run of 24.
There are also attempts to revive the sitcom on network television. Scrubs returned from hiatus with a pair of excellent episodes. Several new sitcoms are also scheduled. The initial episode of Four Kings on NBC was disappointing, but I’ll give it another chance as weekly stories might be more entertaining now that the premise has been established in the pilot. Emily’s Reasons Why Not, staring Heather Graham who previously appeared on Scrubs, has been receiving the most hype, and some initial favorable reviews.
Posted by Ron Chusid
January 22nd, 2006 @ 8:48 pm
While this was expected for a while, the official announcement came today that The West Wing is being canceled after this season. This season will included the results of the Santos vs. Vinick election campaign it is still unknown how they will deal with the death of John Spencer. With the show ending, it is feasible that the show could end with Leo being elected Vice President but remaining off screen at the end. There are also negotiations underway for Rob Lowe to appear in the finale.
The finale will air May 14 and will be preceded by a one hour retrospective. The West Wing won four Emmy Awards for best television drama in a row.
Update: The Los Angles Times has information on how they will deal with the death of John Spencer. There will be a two part episode starting April 2 in which Leo dies of a heart attack five days before the election. After consulting with election attorneys, Leo’s name will remain on the ballot and, if Santos wins, he will pick a new Vice President after his inauguration. No word as to whether the will identify his choice.
Posted by Ron Chusid
April 10th, 2006 @ 9:52 pm
Ever since November 2000 many of us have thought something was wrong–sort of like a being on an alternative time line on Star Trek–in which the wrong man was made President leading to disasterous results until Kirk or Picard corrected the time line restoring the rightful President. Despite winning the popular vote, and the electoral college if there had been a complete recount in Florida, Al Gore was denied the Presidency and it was given to an incompetent and morally bankrupt man who will likely always be known as the worst President in history.
While in real life the Presidency can quickly go to the wrong person, in fiction writers can even more easily change the outcome of elections. Now that Matt Santos has been elected President on The West Wing, it has been revealed that earlier in the season the writers had planned on having socially liberal Republican Arnold Vinick win. Accroding to Media Life, “Writers said over the weekend that they’d originally intended to make Vinick the winner. But after Spencer’s unexpected passing, they felt it would be too sad to make Santos lose both the election and his running mate.” (Related article at The New York Times).
I wonder if this decision was really made before or after it was known that this would be the final season. Once the writers realized this would be the final season, having a Republican replace Bartlett as President would be a fitting final ending point as the entire cast leaves the White House. Being a liberal fantasy, the incoming Republican would be someone who could not exist in the real world Republican Party. However, if the show was to continue, I would expect they would prefer a Santos victory which would allow many of the old cast to remain.
The West Wing had another message I suspect was addressed to some partisans. Despite the election being close, both Vinick and Santos planned to concede if they lost and spare the country a court fight for the Presidency encouraged by their supporters. Both fictional candidates showed a sense of honor also shared by John Kerry in his loss in 2004. As much as we hated to lose, a protracted court fight would not have changed the results, and would have been bad for the party and the country.
Posted by Ron Chusid
May 22nd, 2006 @ 11:13 pm
Monday was an incredible night for television. Several cities including San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and London were all saved from nuclear attacks between the finales of 24 and Alias. 24 had an excellent ending to the season, including the arrest of a crooked President. If only real life can imitate television here. I had wondered if they would address Jack’s problems with the Chinese from last season. It turns out they did–and we have to wait until January to see how Jack escapes. Reportedly we’re even going to get a 24 movie.
Alias fans, along with fans of shows including The West Wing and Will and Grace, should be grateful that the networks gave advance word that the shows would be ending, allowing for a real conclusion. These were all far more satisfying than Invasion, which ended last week with a cliff hanger which most likely will never be resolved. (While very unlikely I wish The West Wing could duplicate the achievement of Seventh Heaven, which was granted another year after its planned series finale was aired). While Syndey lost both of her parents, at least we saw a conclusion to the Rambaldi story line and it appears that Syndey and Vaughn will live happily ever after with at least two children somewhere on a beach. Just like President Logan on 24, we also get to see Sloan receive the punishment he deserved.
For an added bonus, The Apprentice showed Trump firing both of those obnoxious girls in the same episode, setting up a finale between Sean and Lee without having to waste another week narrowing it down. There were even two episodes of The New Adventures of Old Christine, the show which broke the Seinfeld curse, but those remain recorded to watch later this week. It’s rare night when I have four shows all recording at once.
Another season finale worth noting occured last week on How I Met Your Mother, as Ted successfully took on the universe to make it rain in order to get together with Robin, even if this is fated to be only temporary. We still don’t know who his children’s mother will ultimately be, but unfortunately it won’t be “Aunt Robin.” I suspect Marshall and Lily will eventually get back together, but it looks like a long summer for them.
In real life, we got nauseated watching Democrat Ron Silver cross over to support George Bush in the last election. On West Wing, Ron Silver’s charcter, Democratic political consultant Bruno Gianelli, is working as an advisor to the Republican candidate for President.
The similarities between Silver/Bruno supporting the Republican end there. The Republican who Bruno supports is Arnold Vinick, played by Alan Alda, and is closer to Hawkeye Pierce (who Alda played on M*A*S*H) than a modern Republican. Vinick, who could never win the Republican nomination in real life, is a Republican Senator who I could support for President. He has been shown to be a man of integrity, and who is socially liberal. including support for abortion rights.
Bruno supports Vinick on West Wing because he is a man who can unite the country, supporting principles which are supported by the majority of people and are good for the nation. He advises Vinick that he could help him to a fifty state victory rather than carving out an electoral college victory by pandering to the right wing.
In real life Silver abandoned principle to support a Republican nominee who has placed politics above country, and has been one of the most divisive Presidents in history. Rather than supporting a man who has policies which are good for the country, Silver has supported George Bush, who has undermined the nation’s security and has abandoned the principles this country was founded upon.
For those who are upset about the prospect of supporting a Republican for President even on a TV show, there remains hope. While Vinick leads on television, a real life Zogby poll shows a majority of viewers supporting the probable Democratic nominee Matt Santos, played by Jimmy Smits. If only real life Presidential elections were a choice between two good men as they are on the fantasy world of West Wing.
Posted by Ron Chusid
April 18th, 2006 @ 11:31 am
Mr. Sulu beamed down to lend support to student gay activists who tried to visit a private Christian university.
George Takei, who played the helmsman in three “Star Trek” TV seasons and six movies, made a surprise appearance Monday after a busload of Soulforce Equality Riders tried to talk about faith and gay rights with students at North Central University in downtown Minneapolis.
Last week Takei faced Britney Spears as a guest on Jack Talk. This occured on Will and Grace after Out TV was bought by a Christian Television Network and Britney Spears was made Jack’s co-host. Spears outwardly appeard to be herself, such as when she said, “we should just trust our president in every decision he makes.” Initially we were foooled into thinking Spears was playing herself, but that’s not how it turned out. If you missed the show, just imagine Britney Spears saying: “I’m not who you think I am. My real name is Peg. And I’m a hardcore lesbian. I’m into leather play, butch white girls, skunkin’, pullin’ the blinds, and poodle balling. Whatever you got, I’ll eat it, snort it, or ride it, baby.”
This post should really increase our search engine hits from gay Star Trek fans who are pretending to be straight by searching for pictures of Britney Spears, or people into really kinky stuff. Anyone have any idea what Britney is talking about? Poodle balling?
[For a few months after posting this, poodle balling was one of the top search phrases used to reach The Democratic Daily. As popular as poodle balling was as a search term, it did remain below the top search for nude Ann Coulter pictures].