The West Wing
NBC, John Wells Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television
In its second season The West Wing continues to be a tour de force as it achieves what reality often fails to accomplish—making the political process both captivating and exceptionally interesting. In putting high-octane politics into the prime time mix, producer Aaron Sorkin, director Thomas Schlamme, and co-producer John Wells have adapted a repartee and a visual complexity that distinguishes this series from other dramatic productions. Quick-witted, intelligent banter and discussions focused on substantive public issues are hallmarks of this remarkable series. The brilliant ensemble of actors is exceptionally well cast. Martin Sheen is definitive as President Josiah Barlet. Just as impressive are those who play his dedicated, loyal staff: Richard Schiff as communications director Toby Ziegler, Bradley Whitford as deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman, Janel Moloney as staff assistant Donna Moss, Allison Janney as press secretary C.J. Gregg, rob Lowe as deputy communications director Sam Seaborn, Dule Hill as the president’s personal assistant Charlie Young, and John Spencer as chief of staff Leo McGarry. The inevitable tensions of politics and administrative infighting among these committed public servants ring true. Especially powerful episodes from last year’s series were the first-season finale in May and its second-season opener in September. Focused on an assassination attempt and the riveting, nail-biting chaos that followed, these ingenious episodes continued fleshing out the show’s characters into full-bodied individuals as the scripts interwove scenes of the shooting and its aftermath with flashbacks to the lives of the now president and his staff before they came to the White House. As exceptional television, The West Wing continues to be an intricate and noble series that merits specific recognition with its second consecutive Peabody Award.