The West Wing ended on Sunday. I was able to catch most of the episode, and I'd been watching the show a bit recently after years away from it. The characters were all given dignified exits, and, to be honest, I'd totally make an appointment to watch episodes of a Jimmy Smits White House if they decided to ever turn that into a series. The show is ending on an upswing, and that's great for the show after some tough times in midlife. I think that, in its prime, The West Wing was one of the greatest TV shos in television history. It built on Aaron Sorkin's unique way of dialogue that he started with on the equally impressive (but criminally ignored) Sports Night, and added some much needed idealism and common sense to the national political arena. Often, Martin Sheen was the American President that I wish we could have - someone strong yet caring, smart yet folksy, liberal and unashamed. In a country so in need of heroism, this fictional character provided it more than most real people in or near his position. Some episodes were so well-acted and well-written that they felt like the work of a great political novel, like All the President's Men. Someday, I'll watch all the old episodes again, like ones I remember years later, like when Edward James Olmos' character was up for the Supreme Court, or the episode in which Mrs. Van Landingham died.
Another longtime show I watched a lot, Will and Grace, ended last night. It's a bit of an end of an era for me. In college, the guys' floor would get together with our sister floor and watch the entire NBC Thursday night lineup - watching Friends, Will and Grace, ER< and usually just talking or drinking during whatever crap they were showing in between these shows. ER is still on now, I guess, but the cast is almost completely different, so I think that Will and Grace is pretty much the end of that. I honestly haven't watched the show in quite some time, at least not in prime time, and I sort of lost some interest when it became guest star central, but it rarely failed to make me laugh. I think we're in a pretty terrible age for sitcoms right now - I admit I laughed at the one episode of The Office I've watched, and the cartoons on Sunday night still provide some good satire - but otherwise sitcoms are pretty bad right now. However, the characters and writing on Will and Grace were well-drawn and hilarious. I couldn't believe what that show got away with half of the time. The cast had some of the best actors on TV, and I'm glad they were able to be on the air this long.
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