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February 29, 2004

West Wing Season 5

And so the West Wing has decided to go Bigger. It's now Topical and it deals with Issues. I feel a bit guilty saying that with Sorkin and Schlamme gone it's now gotten more middlebrow, but that's at least partly the truth. There is a sharpness, a snappiness, a deftness and a more subtle understanding of subtext, that has been changed into something else.

To be sure the new episodes are stunning, whether it's just the HDTV rips or not I can't be sure. Mary Louise Parker has never looked more luscious - and perhaps the largest iconographic change has been the entry of the window and entrance into the Residence. It's a more personal, more "character driven", and they've made it very clear that this is not last season's West Wing.

The aesthetic shift is a purposeful one, and they're trying to be bold and being unapologetic as they would have to be. And as much as I enjoyed a number of the episodes, I can't help but feel that they're making better TV at the expense of artistic deft and lyrical subtlety. But that doesn't quite exactly characterise it so accurately as I would like - it's okay, it's different, and there are episodes that really benefit from being taken away from the flow of a greater arc, existing as if in suspension; for all the insistence in that episode on the real world, the very circumvention.

Season 4 was a good season, and I'm starting to get a new appreciation for Sorkin doing a Season Premiere.

Posted by subtitles at February 29, 2004 12:08 PM | Personal