Thursday 26 April 2007

Is there life after 'The West Wing'?

What do you do, now that there's no more West Wing? Until last year, our regular Friday night visits to Josiah Bartlett's White House were what kept us (and many other left-leaning, political-junkie households) going through the week - but no more.

Thank goodness for the DVD boxed sets, which made it possible for us to watch the whole thing again from the beginning of Season 1. But even that came to an end eventually, and we had to admit to ourselves that we'd never find out what kind of president Matt Santos would make, or whether Josh Lyman would cut it as his chief of staff.

Looking for a substitute for our Friday-night fix, we began rummaging through the back-catalogues of the main WW actors, starting with the obviously political stuff. If you want to see a trial run for The WW, then take a look at The American President, scripted by WW writer Aaron Sorkin and starring Michael Douglas as a widowed Commander-in-chief, but also featuring future WW president Martin Sheen as his chief of staff, as well as Michael J Fox in the Stephanopolous-like role that he would reprise as the deputy mayor of NYC in Spin City. Then you could do worse than dig out the 80s mini series Kennedy with Martin Sheen as JFK: very watchable, if you can put up with Sheen's mimicry of Kennedy's idiosyncratic accent.

Following up on Jimmy Smits (Matt Santos), we stumbled across NYPD Blue, which we somehow managed to miss first time round, and which is also now out on DVD (well, Seasons 1-4 anyway). We started with Season 2, which is when Smits' character joins the series, and which also features appearances by other WW regulars such as Bradley Whitford (Josh) and Richard Shiff - who we also saw 'live' recently when he was in London with his one-man show Underneath the Lintel - the audience actually applauded when he came on stage, as if, like us, they couldn't quite believe they were in the same room as Toby Ziegler.

Of course, what British WW fans are really waiting for is Aaron Sorkin's new series, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, starring Bradley Whitford, and Matthew Perry (Chandler from Friends, but also briefly a WW character), as well as Timothy Busfield (Danny from The WW and also a key player in Sorkin's 80s series thirtysomething). OK, it's about the world of TV rather than politics, but we hear good things. Does anyone know if Channel 4 have definitely bought the series and when we might expect to see it over here?

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