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I did not watch too many movies over the last couple months, and the reason for that is also the reason for this blog post. Seven seasons of “The West Wing”.. long anticipated, often postponed, frequently reminded by those who watched and loved the show… now finally it is accomplished, and it was a very joyful ride!

The professionals populating the show are almost a caricature of high-powered politics brokers, movers and shakers: those who run the White House, those who want to run it, those who will run it. With a core staff over the first couple of seasons that is consistently brilliant: the chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, head of communication and spokesperson, there is a team assembled around the President (very well represented by Martin Sheen, who would have thought…) that makes credible the nation of workplace as family substitute.  The job is a 24/7 commitment, private lives fall apart, but these people are very good at what they are doing, and the dialogues they shoot across the West Wing halls are razor-sharp, witty, often wise, always elaborately carved and molded, mostly by master smart dialogue  artist Aaron Sorkin. These guys are too bright and good to be credible, but they do not need to be, because they are all allowed to be human at the same time. Maybe that is the actual strength of Sorkin? Not supercharging a script with his battery of dialogue firepower, but creating human beings you care about – and once he has achieved that, he can put them into any situation, because the audience will care and forgive.

It may well be that the show went on for too long, and took some turns it needn’t have… but I felt that the dilution of the staff integrity by replacing actors / characters, the loss of identification was something I could, well, identify with. No situation, no setup or team is so perfect that it would be stable over time, and if it remains stable, then the internal dynamics change, and suddenly you grieve the loss of all the fun you had back in the days, and all the spirit that got lost somehow along the common way.

In the end, when all turns around the run for Jed Bartlett’s successor in the White House, a fascinating new character and actor is introduced for the role of congressman Matt Santos – and for that last run, the show picks up speed again, you start caring again and maybe you can believe that would the show start all over again, you would be hooked again… with a different white house carpet, a different commander-in-chief, but hopefully always with the spirit of change for the better that seems to carry these people through their blackberry-poisoned days.

P.S.: makes an eerie double feature with the current HBO show “Veep”… the strange lack of swearing even in crisis times that demand it is offset generously by this “The Thick of It” US remake.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_West_Wing

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