Tag Archives: The West Wing

Decisions, decisions

Earlier this evening a friend on Facebook posted the challenge:  “Favorite three TV shows of all time”  —

Go.

At first glance, I thought it an easy question.  Then I noticed the comments were few in number; many people had only listed one or two shows instead of the requested three.

After spending some time on the topic, now I understand why.

west wingMy first favorite was immediate and top of mind: The West Wing.  From episode one until the the drama drew its last breath, I was one of its biggest fans and most vocal supporters.  It’s what television — and government, for that matter — should be.

Jed Bartlet is still my president.

cheersMy second choice is more of a sentimental favorite.  I wrote my television programming  paper on Cheers as a freshman in college and rightly predicted that it was a comedy that had long legs.

I also watched Cheers — perhaps not with the same religious fervor as West Wing — but until its end.  And it was way cool to eventually live just a few blocks from the Boston bar that served as its inspiration.

My third choice was the hardest one. I watch a lot of television, a lot of great television — House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad —
but I decided, if I was honest, I should choose the show that turned me into a schoolgirl fanatic:

downton_abbey_season2_Downton Abbey

I have the DVDs. And the hardback companion. And the bound scripts. And a couple of pictures on my office bulletin board.

Yeah, that probably qualifies as a favorite.

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Movies matter

Do movies change lives?

Mark Cousins of The Telegraph spent six years traveling the world compiling a history of film.  That process convinced him that movies do indeed make a difference.  (They did in his life.  Six years — geez.)

Here’s his list of the Top 10 movies that changed the world.

Me?  I don’t need to travel the globe to know movies make an impact.  I can’t imagine life without them, so my list is a bit more personal.  (Okay, it’s completely personal.)

Top 10 Movies that Changed My World

The Godfather (1972): Due to my youth, I didn’t see the movie when it was released.  But thanks to an overly enthusiastic film professor in college, I spent six weeks of my life watching it. And analyzing it.  As a result, I hate it and all things mafia.

The Way We Were (1973): This was my introduction to Robert Redford and movie romance.  I have been faithful to both ever since.  I’ve watched that film literally hundreds of times.  The opening strains of its Oscar-winning song start the waterworks every time.

Foul Play (1978): This Chevy Chase-Goldie Hawn comedy was Chevy’s first movie post-SNL and introduced Dudley Moore to American audiences.  It was also the first time I remember laughing with my mother in a movie theatre.  Cherished memory.

Airplane! (1980): I was sick when I left the theatre — facial muscles and ribs sore from laughing so incredibly hard.  I think I knew even then that I was witnessing the birth of a whole new genre of comedy.  “Ain’t that a pisser.”

Ordinary People (1980): I went to see this film because Robert Redford directed it — I told you I was faithful — and was stunned by the subject matter, the performances, the mood, the music.  Who knew Mary Tyler Moore could be so cold?  I have watched it again and again.

Amadeus (1984): My love affair with costume drama began with this amazing film.  I knew very little about Mozart before I saw it; it inspired me to learn more.  If it’s on television, my day is decided (and it takes about a day to watch — it’s that long).  Mesmerizing.

Broadcast News (1987): I was working at a television station and dating a news reporter when this movie was released, so it hit very close to home. Loved hearing a Southern accent on a leading lady, too. (Holly Hunter should have won the Oscar, btw.)

When Harry Met Sally (1989): I think this movie appears on most women’s Top 10 lists.  We all have those friendships with men that either have or could or should spark something ‘more.’  This was the fantasy with the perfect actors cast to make it come true.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994): A movie ‘bromance’ with Morgan Freeman in the mix to make it heartfelt and meaningful.  Everything about this movie is perfect — the setting, the script, the casting.  Another marathon, it takes up a whole day when it comes on TV, but it’s worth it.

The American President (1995): It was Aaron Sorkin’s warmup to The West Wing, and what a wonderful one it was.  Michael Douglas and Annette Bening make every word ring true, and Martin Sheen learned a few tricks — as Chief of Staff — that came in handy for his future role as President Jed Bartlet (also a Sorkin production).

In the more than 15 years since, lots of other great movies have had an impact on my life.  But these 10 laid the foundation for the films, filmmakers and stars to come.

I’ll be thinking of them today as I head to — where else? — the theatre.

Staying power

I have decided the lack of sunshine in California has confused the entertainment community.

Jay Leno won’t go home…and Rob Lowe won’t stay.

Just when he was riding high again in the popular TV drama “Brothers & Sisters,” Lowe has decided to leave the show because he feels he is being ‘underused.’  Parent network ABC let him go, but is keeping him around to possibly anchor his own show in the future.

Where have I heard that before….?

Yes, it has shades of Leno in it.  But it also has shades of Lowe.

Remember Rob Lowe as earnest White House speech writer Sam Seaborn on “The West Wing?”  Even though it was structured as an ensemble drama, Lowe’s character was initially intended to be the show’s center, and President Jed Bartlet, portrayed by Martin Sheen, very much in the background.  In fact, Sheen’s initial contract was only written for four episodes.

But I think we all know what happened there.

A show about the West Wing of the White House — with Martin Sheen as POTUS — rotates around that central figure…and not the assistant communications director.  So after four seasons, Lowe left the show to anchor his own series.

It was called “Dr. Vegas.”  It lasted 10 episodes.  Oh — and Lowe was offered the part of McDreamy on “Grey’s Anatomy,” but he turned it down because he didn’t want to do another ensemble drama. Hmmm.

So, Rob — I know it’s raining.  I know the light has dimmed.  But try to see the pattern that you’ve fallen into…

Yet again.