Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc

Season 1, Episode 2
Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc
Air Date - Wednesday September 29, 1999

Back for episode 2. This took a little longer then I thought it would. Will do my best to do a minimum of two episodes per week once I'm back from vacation late next week.

A quick recap of the first episode can be found here.

Every time I watch this opening scene I try to figure out why Sorkin was never able to do more with the Mandy character. Love the little bit with the good Samaritan coming to see if she was alright given that there was a car up on the sidewalk and this lady yelling at 3 men only to walk away thinking that this one strange woman. After Josh being portrayed as a character we want to feel sorry for in the pilot with his job being on the line Sorkin comes right back and shows how Josh really is.

They turned down an invitation? Who turns down an invitation to have a photo op with the President? A Regis and Kathy Lee reference? It is amazing how things like this date the show because it doesn't feel like it has been that long. I love how the Mrs. Landingham character is written by Sorkin. It is a show about the West Wing of the White House. The pilot involved a lot of serious topics and at this point you really don't know what kind of show this will be. You go into this office with an older woman sitting there. A secretary to the President of the United States. You have to to expect this to be a serious and uptight old lady. Turns out she is far from that. Poor Toby doesn't get his chocolate chip cookie because of an age joke. Learns the hard way that you never attempt to make that kind of a joke to an older person. We've all been CJ's shoes here. It's happened to all of us. Explaining the same thing to 3 different people within a short time span. By the way, just who is turning down an invitation to the White House? Ah, and our first sports reference. I guess even this POTUS loves sports? Going into the series you had no idea how this President was going to be portrayed. The idea was for the President not to be that involved with the series and only appearing every 4 or 5 episodes. The performance he had in the Pilot ended up changing that. We saw a President who came to aid of his staff. I guess the whole biking into the tree bit helped too. But now we find out he likes to crack jokes? To be fair it is pretty easy for most to make some jokes about a bunch of golfers. But we find out it wasn't the first time he's made a joke that has gotten him into some trouble. Turns out "Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc" means "After, therefore, because of it. (7:17) They probably should have saved that for a bit later into the episode.

And our first Nancy (Renee Estevez) sighting. For those who are not aware Renee Estevez is actually Martin Sheen's daughter. Quick trivia for everyone. Can you name the other Martin Sheen child to make an appearance in the series?

Why is Mandy's car being towed? A Chris Matthews reference? They probably should have utilized the MSNBC and NBC News crew more in the background news shots over the course of this series. So Mandy doesn't have a client anymore? I love her already. Quitting a job on principle. Not many people would do that. (10:08)

Oh man. A $100 straight up wage on a fictional Central Indiana State against Notre Dame(well given the current state of Irish football maybe it wasn't that bad a bet after all!)? Wait a minute, this President made a joke about my home state of New Jersey? How dare...wait never mind. There are plenty of jokes to be made of New Jersey. I might join right in too. Need a new media director? "It's not going to be Mandy right?"....right then you pretty much have to know that it will be Mandy. "This is the time when the President needs our support?" Oh man. gotta love a Vice President who just can't help himself in front of a microphone. This is the life of a press secretary. She's going into the press briefing expecting questions on the Ryder Cup team but instead has to divert attention to that in order to play defense. Brilliantly written. (12:33)

More jokes about golfers? Does Sorkin not like golf? The Chief of Staff and the Vice President don't like each other? Love the onscreen chemistry between Sam and Josh. We all remember the "same suit" line from the first episode and now this scene. So Josh because the first person to find out about Laurie. This is an issue I've blogged about in the past. Political figures get taken down being involved in sex scandal. They can suck at their jobs and no one cares. Gotta love this crazy world.

This Vice President speaks french? Don't let the wingnuts find out. This man is just blowing off the White House press secretary? Why is there this awkwardness in the scene? (16:22)

Love this sequence:

President Bartlett: What's in Jordan?Dr. Tolliver: AmmanPresident Bartlett: You should stay here we got a man, a woman, little kids.....

Love the President opening up to his Doctor. There aren't many people a President can turn to during the middle of an uproar. Always the chance of something getting to the media. Great way for Sorkin to show that Bartlett likes Dr. Tolliver. Gotta love that this Doctor feels comfortable enough making wise cracks with the President. That is one hell of a position to be in. This President doesn't have a good relationship with this military advisers? First the Vice President and now this? What is going on?(18:24) Love the back and forth between the two about each others military experience and this lovely dialogue:

President Bartlett: What is that?
Dr. Tolliver: A flu shot.
President Bartlett: I don't need a flu shot.
Dr. Tolliver: You do need a flu shot.
President Bartlett: How do I know that this isn't the start of a military coup?
Dr. Tolliver: Sir...
President Bartlett: I want the secret service in here right away
Dr. Tolliver: In the event of a military coup what makes you think the secret service will be on your side?

What a great point. (19:09)

The President is not comfortable with violence. Great way to humanize him. It is easy for politicians to talk and act tough when all they're doing is sitting thousands of miles away just giving an order. When you think of the repercussions...it really is a great thought. At 20:40 you see Bartlett putting on his jacket in an awkward manner. For those not aware Martin Sheen has defect from birth I believe with his shoulders. Hence why he has to put his jacket on like that. One thing I love is the use of extras. The scene could have easily ended with the Doctor walking out of the Oval Office but instead we see 2 people we've never seen and won't ever see again walking in for a meeting with the President. (21:01)

How can you not love Donna? Rocky Mountain College or Perdue? Why did C.J just cover for the Vice President? "Anyone but Mandy"...there it is again.

This is why I love watching this series again. You learn something new....catch something you missed before. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've watched this episode and only now did I catch that Danny calls Sam's office at 22:57. Awesome. Also at 23:32 is that one of "Ed and Larry" coming out of Toby's office and not the other? Am I right? If so how many times did that happen over the course of the series?

Oh it's that time. Time for Toby to find out about Laurie. Sorkin's writing is just brilliant here. Captures the awkwardness of this conversation perfectly. (25:30)"This administration doesn't even need an opposition party...we do fine by ourselves." (25:55) Man this is how I feel about the Democrats quite often.

There is "the toaster" again at 26:08. Also love the little touch with the flag on the shelf in the background.

Hahaha...there it is. Mandy! Gotta love the ambush of Josh. We've all been in that situation before with someone at work. Why did C.J just lie again?(27:40)

Love the dialogue between Bartlett and Mrs. Landingham here. Like I mentioned before her motherly role is perfectly written.

Enter Mr. Vice President. Time for the big boys to handle this. Love the tension in this scene. What is the Vice President's problem with the President? Why does this administration not get along with this Vice President? (32:03)

I get the feeling that Sorkin enjoyed this whole Sam/Laurie thing. Perfectly scripted awkwardness. Makes you care about the character. Too bad the character was such that it couldn't be around for longer. Sorkin gives her well deserved compliments in one of the commentaries. Lisa Edelstein does a phenomenal job in this role. She's a very good actress in this yet I don't think I have ever seen her in anything else?

Just when you think the episode is over we see the President coming into the Oval Office at at 3:35 AM. This can't be good. I have to say it that the first time I watched this episode it completely slipped my mind that something could have happened to Dr. Tolliver. The episode ends with some tought words from the President. Time to find out if he's just trying to show he is a tough man or is it the emotions of the moment that are catching up with him?

Good episode. Built very well off the pilot. Develops the characters some more. Makes you care about the main characters more. Story arc is built well. What was an overall funny episode ends up about as dramatic as it can.

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