|The West Wing - The Complete First Season
|List Price: $59.98
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Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 11/18/2003
Conventional wisdom prior to season one of The West Wing was that the only successful television shows were half hour sitcoms and hour long police, legal, or medical dramas. Building on surplus ideas from his film The American President and the walk-and-talk style of comedy and drama from his critically acclaimed television show Sports Night, Aaron Sorkin bucked the trend and created his masterpiece, one of the most memorable American political depictions to reach the big or small screen. Season one introduces viewers to a Nobel Prize-winning economist and unabashed intellectual president Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and his key staff members, a newly elected Democratic administration trying to find its footing amidst the corridors of the White House's west wing. To the credit of its cast and their brilliant ensemble acting, The West Wing manages to immediately conjure nearly a dozen distinct and memorable characters. Perhaps the greatest star of all is Sorkin's rapid-fire dialogue, especially as delivered by Press Secretary C.J. Craig (Alison Janney), Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford), Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe), and Chief of Staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer). They carry on conversations while stalking purposefully and unhaltingly down corridors, around corners, and through doorways, and all of it unfurls with the choreographic precision of a classical ballet and the pace of an Olympic ping-pong rally.
What emerges is more than a collective liberal dream of an impassioned administration battling back ultra-conservative bogeymen ranging from the religious right to bigots to gun-toting militants. Wonderful episodes like "The Pilot" and "In Excelsis Deo" portray a government led by heroic, intelligent, and decent men and women. Whether or not one regards that as a political fantasy, it's a remarkably refreshing and appealing vision of politics and its practitioners, one that the public embraced with consistently strong television ratings. In a country whose citizens are used to viewing their elected leaders with mistrust and cynicism, that might be The West Wing's greatest accomplishment. --Eugene Wei
- Great writing
This is amazing stuff, amazing writing. I haven't heard dialog like this since "His Girl Friday". I'm a republican and I like this show!...more info
- Kind of romanticizes our corporate figurehead.
I was torn between giving this 2 or 3 stars. I decided to give it three because it is better than so much of what has been on the main corporate media. I also am an opponent of the militarist and exclusionary "Christianity" of the right-wing and share other political sentiments of the show. Having said that, this characterization of the West Wing glorifies an executive branch (liberal and conservative administrations) that is thoroughly corrupted by big money. This series gets liberal points for arguing for gun control and that sort of issue, but when it comes to the issues the Clinton administration was quite reactionary on - "free" trade deals like NAFTA, the war on non-corporate drugs, the demonization of Arabs who our empire has been targeting for generations, welfare "reform," boosts in corporate welfare and privatization schemes - the show is really quiet on those issues. Very quiet on important issues, and very heavy on the sappy patriotic music and constantly putting a portrait of Teddy Roosevelt or a bust of some other founder on the screen.
I don't like that term "founding fathers," on top of diminishing the role of women and the general public, it's a slap in the face to the indigenous people, and the slaves and the migrant & native workers who truly built the country. See, People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present (P.S.)
Some of the characters in this show just kind of annoy me, the manner of the dialogue, lots of posing and trying to be cute. Although, I think the writing gets better in later seasons.
Some reviewers have called this the "best show on tv." That's not my feeling. For that title, I'd nominate Six Feet Under - The Complete Series Gift Set...more info
- Gets you hooked
The first season of The West Wing definately gets you hooked. The great thing about this show is the characters. The show picks up about a year into the Bartlett Presidency, and this season ender is the kind of shocker that leads nicely into season 2. I liked the West Wing on NBC, and I bought season one because of the episode In Excelis Deo. This episode is, in my opinion, the best one ever made. I got sucked into the lives of Josh and Donna, Leo, and Sam Seaborn. The end of every West Wing season is a cliffhanger leading into the next. Before I knew what was happening, I owned all 7 seasons.
I don't really have much of a life, so once I had all 7 seasons, I took a vacation from work, and marathoned all 7 seasons. I don't recommend doing that, but it was cheaper than driving somewhere, and more entertaining than my relatives. Check out season one. Put it in your Netflix cue, or whatever. Once you watch it, you'll want more. It's intellectual candy for the dummy box....more info
- head and shoulders above most television programming
I hate politics and avoid the news... but I LOVE this show. These characters portray the noble people we wish our elected officals were. The show brings up complicated and sometimes emotional issues, often voicing both sides of it, and reveals the real life challenge of actually passing lesislation or providing political asylum or taking military action. It shows the 24 hour nature of the Presidency, the personal challenges of a person and his family in that role, how he depends upon good advisors, and the myriad of ways that a good intention from someone in power can be thwarted by another or exchanged for a greater good.
Another appealing aspect is the way that the characters are developed... they are likeable, have flaws, have histories and their relationships with each other interesting. It's tv for the head and heart. The education is presented in a very palatable manner and the emotional content is almost never sappy. ...more info
- An inside look at the US Presidency.
I was never really interested in watching this show. I often saw it playing on TV while I was living in Toronto, Canada, but was never captivated to sit indoors and watch it (I spend most of my spare time in outdoor activities).
Then one day Bush junior took office. Then came September 11, then the US invasion of Afghanistan, followed by the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Then Moore's Fahrenheit 911 hit the screens to become a box office hit. Then came Bush's second term, which I did not expect he'd win, followed by the lowest approval ratings in US history. Iraq was a disaster; Afghanistan was becoming another problem as the Taliban regrouped and regained strength; and Bin Laden was still evading capture.
Suddenly I found myself interested in American politics. I wanted to know more about what goes on behind the scenes. What makes a US President popular? How are decisions taken? Does the President act on his own or as a team? Can the President sleep at night when US troops and innocent civilians are dying? How does the secret Service protect the President? My questions could fill several pages. I could easily have gone on the internet and typed each question on Google. Better still, I could have gone to the Library, a trip few of us take today with the advent of the internet. But I decided to watch Season 1 of the West Wing, and am I glad I did.
The West Wing will give you an inside look at the American Presidency. You will really learn a lot about American politics. Did you know, for example, that the American Eagle holds thirteen arrows in the left talon and an olive branch in the right talon? When at peace, the Eagle faces the olive branch. When at war, the Eagle faces the arrows. In the halls of Congress the carpets are actually changed to reflect this.
Did you know that the Secret Service is aware at all times of the location of the President, even while he is in the White House? A Secret Service agent radios the Central Command when the President enters the Oval Office and when he leaves it. A Secret Service agent is practically positioned at every door in the White House, radioing where the President is at all times. There is little privacy for the President in the White House. Maybe being the President of the US is not as glamorous as we all think if one has to forego his privacy and freedom.
Every word the President utters must be well thought off, and the consequences of the words calculated ahead of time by his team. A US President goes through rehearsals before giving speeches and before standing in front of journalists. He is always surrounded by a team of experts advising him of how he should answer questions, and which questions should not be answered. One wrong word could mean a slide in approval ratings.
The Secret Service also protects the President's family. Could you imagine an unfriendly country kidnapping the President's daughter? What would the President do in such a case? Would he make the wrong decisions in order to save his daughter? Would his daughter come first, or the country? Would the President be relieved of his duties in such a situation as not to compromise US security? This series will answer a lot of these questions.
This series will also show you the relationship between the President and his staff. The Vice-President is not necessarily always on the President's side, and he often has his own agenda. Sometimes he would act to his own benefit in order to gain popularity for a possible run at the Presidency. Politics can be a dirty business, and a very selfish one.
I enjoyed learning about the press core in the White House, and how they retrieve news. I now watch CNN in a new light.
The characters in this series are well thought off, very believable, and likable. There is one character I did not particularly like, and I think he was later replaced in other Seasons. Martin Sheen plays the President, and I don't think anyone could have played the part better.
This series is exciting, with many twists. The series ends with an attempted murder at the US President and his daughter, and someone is shot, but we don't know who. You'd have to watch Series 2 to find out.
If you've always wanted to learn more about the US Presidency and US politics in general, this series will be a great start. Get your notebook out and join US Presidency 101! You are going to enjoy this course.
- Enoyable television oxymoron no more!
Best television drama ever produced in my opinion. Extremely engaging dialog, wonderful plot development/execution, believable characters. After watching the full first season in it's entirety, it's difficult to watch the "real" political world. This show is a testament that quality writing still exists. (Thanks Sorkin!)...more info
- West Wing Season 1
This is a fantastic series with great writers and actors. I loved it while it was on TV and am happy with the purchase so I can watch these shows over again....more info
- West Wing Season One
If only we had television of this caliber today. This series is smart, fast, funny and educational. The entire collection is well worth adding to any collection.
- Thinking persons TV
I had only seen perhaps one show, about a year ago (to catch Danica McKellar's character), before I bought the first season.
I must say this was a pleasant surprise. Well-written by Aaron Sorkin, who also wrote two Rob Reiner films "A Few Good Men" and "The American President", the depth of the political and social subject matter is very good.
As most people know, the series has garnered many Emmy awards. I believe one was for episode #10 "In Excelsis Deo", in which a homeless vet dies overnight on a park bench wearing the coat Toby (Richard Schiff) donated to the Goodwill. This deeply unnerves Toby, who is determined that "no one in the US should be left behind". In a later scene, Toby is trying to arrange to have the man buried at Arlington national cemetery with an honor guard. President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) at first is against it and asks..."Toby, if we start pulling strings like this for everybody, you don't think every homeless veteran will come out of the woodwork?" Toby replies "I can only hope, sir."
There is humor in the series as well. In one funny scene, the president had taken some medication for his bad back, and was higher than a kite. "You mean you're not supposed to take them both?"
I've just finished season two...waiting for season three....more info
- Best Show Ever
West Wing is my all-time favorite TV show, so I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed this collection. I was pleasantly surprised by just how good it was. After Aaron Sorkin left the show it seldom came close to the quality of the first few seasons. The writing, acting, lighting and attention to detail made this show great. Watching the first season after the first post-Sorkin season was quite a shock. The difference in quality made it seem like a completely different show.
This collection also has some great extras. There are interviews with cast and crew and some outtakes, but the best are the episodes with commentary from Sorkin, Tommy Schlamme and some of the other directors. Any fan of the show will enjoy this stuff. They talk about a lot of the little things, like the goldfish bowl on C.J.'s desk, which always has something in the bottom that is related to that particular show. The viewer normally can't even see it, but they did this to ammuse themselves.
This is what TV should be....more info
- Bad product
I ordered the West Wing season 1 and when I opened it the DVD set came with two Disc 2s and no disc 1. Now I have to go through the pain of sending it back and getting a new one that contains all the correct discs....more info
- Best Network TV Series in Ten Years
This is the big one: certainly the best writing, acting, character development, execution, continuity, directing - just the best in ten years.
If you're bored by politics, you'll like this series anyway. Operating in a cynical system, the people of the senior White House staff are portrayed as fundamentally decent and idealistic people, above all incredibly intelligent. At times they're shown as falling victim to their own vanity, arrogance or insecurity. My favorite moments:
When press secretary learns her Secret Service code name.
When the president greets children for Christmas.
When a senior staffer arranges a veteran's burial in Arlington (you'll cry just like we did).
When we meet The First Lady for the first time (I've always been a sucker for Stockard Channing).
When the team pulls together and maximizes their incredible talent and wit.
The show refuses to apologize for being unsentimental and intelligent. That alone makes you so proud to have people like this leading our country.
I don't like politics, really. But I loved this show.
- Look Behind the Writing and See Weak Stories
Season one of The West Wing opens part way through the first year of the Bartlet Administration. President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) is a first term Democrat from New England, and he has a strong staff helping him. That is, when they aren't caught up in personal issues. For instance, Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn's (Rob Lowe) new friend happens to be a prostitute. Chief of Staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer) is having problems in his marriage. And Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) is upset that they have hired former girlfriend Mandy Hampton (Moira Kelly) as a political consultant. Never mind the fact that she is the best in the business.
But along with the personal drama, there are also plenty of politics as The White House seeks to get various bills through Congress, or even a Supreme Court Nominee. Fortunately, CJ Cregg (Allison Janney) is on hand to properly deal with the press during all the ups and downs of the first year.
I know this show was popular when it aired, but I never even tried to get into it. In fact, I only watched this season because my best friend passed it on to me. The pilot confirmed my worst fears as conservative Christians come out of that looking like complete hypocrites. But I pressed on. Even from there, the show was a mixed bag.
I must admit, I have grown to love these characters, especially President Bartlet. The one exception is Mandy, who is just too sanctimonious for her own good. On the other hand, the conversations that Josh has with his assistant, Donna Moss (Janel Moloney), are often the highlights of the episodes for me. While the show does present a liberal agenda very favorably, it does begin to have a more balanced portrayal of conservatives as it goes along.
However, the storytelling is very weak. This is most noticeable in the first few episodes. We are just dumped into a story and not really told who any of the players are. I had to look them all up myself. Multiple episodes are completely predictable, and not just because of a formula but because of cliches used too many times before elsewhere. Several of the episodes are more a chance to preach to us then entertain us. And some of the best potential storylines of the season are abbreviated for no reason I could find.
And, of course, the show is always praised for its writing. Yes, it is fast paced, but I also found it too smug. And the walk and talks? Seriously, I was about ready to tell the characters to stand still several times.
Despite the weaknesses, I must admit, I need to know what happened next. I am looking for ways to continue the series cheaply.
I didn't find this season to be as wonderful as everyone else, but there is still some entertainment value here. I'm probably alone in this assessment, but you might want to catch some reruns before you buy this set....more info
- I'd rate it 10 stars but 5 is the most Amazon offers
Watching series 1 of The West Wing will get you addicted. And why not? It's a lot better for you than crack. Once you watch this you'll want - no, you'll NEED - to buy the rest of them (seven in all). Simply awesome viewing with flawless writing and a superb cast. If you buy nothing else on Amazon buy The West Wing....more info
- A good begining
A strong start to a seven-year series runs with excellent characterization; intelligent, often witty dialog; intricate but well-executed plots and convincing performances throughout. The key characters - President Bartlet, The First Lady, C.J., Leo, Josh, Toby, Donna and Charlie are all introduced and go through significant development. The season finale, with the assassination attempt, is a gripping episode with a classic cliff-hanger ending.
The technical quality is also top-notch. First rate photography, sound, editing and set decoration.Check out the four minute Steady Cam shot at the beginning of episode three which tracks all the way through a hotel basement out to the Presidential limo after a speech. Right up there with A Touch of Evil, The Player and The Shining for great tracking shots of all time.
- What's good with T.V.
In an era where every show either has dead person in a hospital or a crime lab table, this was the best show on T.V. It transcended politics and made the people and the ideals of our system of government real. Not to mention it had some of the best acting, directing and writing to come along in ages. ...more info
- Aaron Sorkin Turns American Blunders Into A Smash Hit Drama
This is a very smart written show. It is funny and has a lot of character. You easily fall in love with Martin Sheen as President Jed Barlet. The rest of the cast are also uniquely talented and fit well with each other.
C.J, Sam, Josh, Leo, and Toby are just some of the familiar faces. You will get to know and love.
You also learn quiet a bit. About what happens in the White House. The stress that comes with being the President. Really interesting family problems. That concerns for the President, his wife, and his daughter.
The other characters also have equally good story lines....more info
- West Wing is amazing
There never has, and never will be, another show quite like West Wing. I will dearly miss this show....more info
- Excellent Executive Drama
It's hard to find something satisfying on television nowadays. Given the girth of tiresome reality shows and the straining, over-the-top ploys of hospital and other "dramas," its a good thing that the first season of "The West Wing" is preserved on DVD for those times when whatever is on the tube disappoints.
The season begins with an introduction of the various senior members of the White House staff, who help President Bartlett (Martin Sheen) with his job of leading the country. It continues with a focus on the staff and all the work that they put into running the country before things even get to the President, while offering plenty of glimpses into the charismatic and good-hearted President as he tackles the unique joys and responsibilities that come with the most important job in the world. We get a glimpse of Washington Politics and the extraordinary-yet-everyday people fighting the good fight to help make the country better.
This first season of "The West Wing" has it all - witty dialogue, moving and suspenseful story lines, and superlative acting and direction. From the introduction of the President in the first episode to the cliff-hanging ending, you won't be disappointed with a single of the twenty-one episodes in the first season. In addition to its pure entertainment value, its hard to watch "The West Wing" without becoming excited about American politics and our potential for great leaders, if only for an hour at a time. Easily 4.5 stars out of 5, with certain episodes worthy of the highest rating ("Mr. Willis of Ohio" and "In Excelsis Deo" in particular)....more info
- The West Wing - Intelligent Television
Intelligent television. It seems like an oxymoron. But, as with his earlier series Sports Night, Aaron Sorkin again shows that he can write dialogue as good or better than anyone in television today. The first season of The West Wing is cleverly crafted, fast moving, and politically idealistic. One thing many people not familiar with this drama may not realize, the earlier episodes of The West Wing were funny.
The ensemble cast works great together from day 1 as if they'd been doing it for years. Throughout season 1, you can see Rob Lowe in action at the time when he was considered a central character. Of course in susequent years, Martin Sheen and others gradually took the spotlight which ultimately led to Lowe's departure.
Good acting. Great writing. Some of the best television in the past 10 years....more info
- An excellent series
OK, let me start this out with some personal information. I'm a generally conservative Republican. The conservatism is more economic and financial than it is moral (I tend to be more libertarian on social issues). So, when it comes to the political aspect of things, I like the West Wing (which I at times sarcastically referred to as the Left Wing) more in spite of the politics than because of them.
Having said that, the series is wonderfully written. The dialog is sparkling, the plot twists are at times wonderful, amusing, and fun. The characters are well-drawn, intelligent, and the whole thing is as good as television's ever gotten. The series deals with various issues that the creative minds are interested in, and they make those issues interesting and present both sides of things more than you would expect. Though the writers usually take the liberal position, they're actually honest enough to present the opposite side of each of the arguments, and let the issues be argued back and forth. The episodes often don't resolve things, completely or at all. After the middle of the season the president gets more successful, though the assassination attempt at the end of the first season sidetracks the characters somewhat.
I enjoyed this series a great deal, and this first season has some of its best moments. I would recommend the whole thing to anyone interested in politics, or well-written television....more info
- A great series
The West Wing is one of the best series ever shown on TV. The characters are well drawn, the writing is superb, there are few mistakes. And to keep that high quality for 7 years uninterruptedly is phenomenal. The first season is lots of fun, as wll as giving each character room to grow. 'The Short List', 'In Excelsis Deo', 'Celestial Navigation' and 'Six Meetings Before Lunch' are my favorite episodes of this season. I can't say enough for this series....more info
- One Of The Best Dramas Ever To Grace TV Screens!
I, like many other people, am very glad Aaron Sorkin created "The West Wing". Seasons 1 through 4 of the series (written by Mr. Sorkin) represent, in my view, the best drama program on commercial television since ...... umm ...... give me a few months and I might be able to come up with something (but it won't be an easy assignment).
It would be extremely difficult indeed to come up with a TV series that had a rookie season as spectacular as "The West Wing". Each and every one of the 22 first-season episodes located on this 4-Disc DVD collection is truly memorable. Not a bad apple in the bunch, in my opinion -- which is remarkable for any series that was just getting its feet wet.
This tremendous batch of programs includes "Five Votes Down", "Enemies", "In Excelsis Deo", "A Proportional Response", and "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet". These episodes, and all the others in this 1999-2000 campaign, are so darn good, I felt like re-watching each one of them two minutes after viewing them via these DVDs.
The crafting of each episode is absolutely remarkable and worthy of high praise. The effort (and obvious care and precision) that goes into shooting just one scene is amazing. Take for instance one of the very first scenes ever filmed (for the Pilot; which is discussed by actor John Spencer in one of the very informative Making-Of documentary pieces contained on Disc 4 of this set) -- As Mr. Spencer explains in the featurette, the scene in question (one of those long, walking-the-White-House-corridors-while-talking-a-mile-a-minute type of scenes, a "West Wing" speciality) was originally written by Aaron Sorkin to be EIGHT different shots! But, instead, they filmed it as just ONE continuous "hallway walking" scene....and it's simply amazing.
The acting on "The West Wing" is equal to the excellent writing of Mr. Sorkin. Every character is drawn well and realized to their full potential by the great collection of actors and actresses that were assembled for this TV series. It's very difficult (I would imagine) for ANY "West Wing" fan to choose his or her "favorite" character on this show. They're ALL favorites. They're ALL that good.
We're not likely to see a TV program this well done for a long, long time. And it's a privilege now to be able to own these hall-of-fame-caliber shows on the DVD format.
These episodes look and sound just fine on DVD. Video is in the originally-aired television ratio of 1.33:1. (NOTE: Season Two's DVD set goes to Widescreen, even though that season, like this first season, was also originally shown in the Full-Frame (1.33:1) ratio. Season #2, however, WAS "composed" through the camera lens for EITHER a Full-Frame OR a Widescreen ratio presentation. And Season 2, just like #1, looks great on DVD.)
Sound comes from Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround tracks. Even though the shows are Full-Frame here, the Menus are anamorphic in nature.
A very nice bundle of Special Features is served up here, including Audio Commentaries for five episodes (in which Aaron Sorkin participates). Many other bonuses are located on Disc 4. Here's a look ...........
>> Two terrific behind-the-scenes Making-Of documentaries, entitled "The Primaries" (17 minutes long) and "The Inauguration" (29 minutes), which both give us interviews with many members of the cast and crew, including Mr. Sorkin and "President Bartlet" himself (Martin Sheen). Fabulous stuff here.
>> Two other shorter featurettes are "Capital Beat" (8 minutes), which includes interviews with real-life political "consultants", who helped put a true-to-life political face on the series. And "Sheet Music" (6 minutes), which talks about the show's music.
>> 4 Deleted Scenes (total run time of just over 5 minutes). These scenes can be accessed individually, or played back-to-back via a "Play All" selection.
>> "Gag Order" -- A three-minute gag reel of bloopers and assorted oddball on-set happenings. There are a couple really funny screw-ups presented here. But this is way too short. It leaves you yearning for more. But -- it's fun while it lasts.
>> "The West Wing Suite" -- This is a montage of some scenes from Season 1 of "The West Wing", with appropriate musical accompaniment. But I'm not entirely sure what purpose this bonus is supposed to serve here. It's nice, I guess, as a kind of "trailer" for Season One. It has a running time of just under 2 minutes.
>> "Off The Record" -- This bonus segment (of 3.5 minutes duration) is a collection of outtakes from the four featurettes/documentaries on the DVD.
>> Easter Egg -- There's a nifty little 2.5-minute "Egg" hidden on Disc 4 (the "Special Features" only disc). It highlights "Manny: Head Of Security", who is in charge of keeping people off the West Wing set when scenes are being filmed. This is a really fun Easter Egg, which also shows West Wing actor Richard Schiff having fun with "Manny" while riding around aimlessly on the studio lot in a golf cart-like vehicle. Kind of neat.
You access the "Egg" by hitting your remote's Left Arrow key followed immediately by the Right Arrow key from any of the eight Special Features Menu choices on Disc #4. After performing this "Left then Right Arrow" combination you'll see a "Star" come on the screen. Pressing "Enter" or "Play" with the star on the Menu screen will access the "Manny" Easter Egg.
Overall, it's a pretty satisfying batch of supplements offered up for this boxed set. But, in the end, this DVD collection would have been worth the price even if the 4th disc of bonus materials was excluded altogether. For it's the twenty-two magnificent episodes themselves that are truly the stars here....more info
- West Wing-Season 1
Gave this to my mother-in-law as a Christmas Gift...she's enjoying it tremendously....more info
- West Winger
From the pilot episoed, I was hooked on this show. Having the entire season in one package is a dream come true for someone like me....more info
- item in perfect condition!
I am a WW devotee, and to have my Season 1 with scratches was making me nuts. This arrived in a timely fashion, as promised, and perfectly packaged, as promised, without a hint of damage to the discs. ...more info
- Impossible to Compare
If you don't own it yet, I highly suggest buying it. I got into West Wing around the start of season three and have been watching it with dedication since then. But through it all, my favorite episode is from Season One, "In Excelsis Deo" in which the episode mostly focuses on Toby, the humble giant, who deals with some issues. The finishing scene, with the music playing perfectly along with the gun salute at the funeral.
Buy it, you will not regret it.