The West Wing - The Complete Fifth Season
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Product Description

Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 12/06/2005 Run time: 946 minutes Rating: Nr

Two administrative changes rocked The West Wing's fifth season. Offscreen, the ship of state steered a tad off-course with the departure of series creator Aaron Sorkin and director Thomas Schalmme. Onscreen, President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) relinquished the power of his office to Speaker of the House Glenallen Walken (John Goodman) in the wake of his daughter's kidnapping. In the season opener, "7a WF 83429," Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) wonders if this wasn't a mistake. What if the citizenry prefer Walken to Bartlet, he ponders. What if Walken comes off more presidential? Is he kidding? Sheen's Bartlet is the president of Hollywood's dreams, and the stuff of Rush Limbaugh's nightmares. (In a character profile included as one of the bonus features on this six-disc set, Bartlet is described as an amalgam of John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton!). Not to worry, though, Bartlet is back in the Oval Office by the end of the season's second episode, "The Dogs of War." The next order of business: choosing a vice president to replace the disgraced John Hoynes. Enter Gary Cole as "Bongo Bob" Russell, who, as the season unfolds, will confound misperceptions of him. Hoynes himself (Tim Matheson) returns in "Full Disclosure," in which the former vice president dishes dirt on Bartlet and chief of staff Leo McGrarry (the late John Spencer) in advance of a tell-all book. Formidable and usually unflappable press secretary C. J. has an intensely personal reason to spearhead damage control and thwart Hoynes' publishing plans.

Allison Janney, as C. J. earned The West Wing's sole Emmy this season. One of her showcase hours is "Access," a format-breaking episode presented as a Frontline-type "day-in-the-life" documentary. Other memorable episodes that helped to right The West Wing's course include "The Supremes," featuring Glenn Close as a Supreme Court nominee; the battle-of-wills episode, "Shutdown"; "Gaza," in which Donna (Janel Moloney) is severely wounded during a fact-finding mission to the Middle East; and "Memorial Day," a flashback episode that echoes "Bartlet for America" from season 3, and which ends the season on a strong note, and almost make viewers forget the Sesame Street Muppet cameos in the episode, "Eppu Si Muove." Almost. --Donald Liebenson

Customer Reviews:

  • Just Great!!
    One of the best series ever made for t.v. I could not wait
    for the fifth season to come out. Finally. All the actors
    are so geat especially Mary- Louise Parker who is (like
    Marisa Tomei or Elizabeth Perkins) one of the better actresses
    of her generation....more info
  • Still the Best Thing on Television
    There is definitely a change in the West Wing for Season 5, while Aaron Sorkin and Rob Lowe are very sorely missed, it is still the same incredible cast of characters, for the most part, that continue to make this the best show on television.

    Season is 5 is far from the best and nowhere near as good as seaons 2 and 3, but there are still some very worthwhile episodes and even those episodes that fall short of the quality of this show, it is still a pleasure to watch Leo, Josh, CJ, Toby and Jed in the West Wing.

    I admit, I briefly debated purchasing season 5, but in the end I
    found myself at Target today, it's first day of release, buying the second to last set they had on the shelf. My love of these wonderful characters and the show itself, beat out the disappointment I felt in some of the casting, writing and storyline decisions.

    I don't watch much TV, there are very, very few shows that I HAVE to see and none that I enjoy as much as The West Wing. I'm glad I got Season 5 to add to my collection, so when the sad day comes when it is only shown in re-runs, I'll know I can just pop in a DVD to get my fix of the best shown on TV....more info
  • Flush with success
    Two stars because even in its worst year West Wing is not Seinfeld or any of the other insipid formulaic glucose that clutters up the airwaves. But seasons four and five make it clear that West Wing did have a formula, albeit a winning one, and that formula was thrown out. The charm is gone.

    Many of the episodes in this season are simply not worth watching. The characters are out of character and every episode attempts to up the ante with BIGGER DRAMA. It's as though the producers were taking their audience base for granted and were now trying to justify their existence by boosting numbers. The stories seem as though they were written with the weekly promo spots in mind. Gotta have that explosion. This season is a drudgery to watch, an appeal to the action movie crowd.

    The dialogue fares no better. In the early years West Wing made an attempt, however weak at times, to show both sides of the coin so the viewer could reasonably understand how each of the opposing sides could hold those views. By this point in the show's devolution that effort has been discarded and content is generally replaced with one-sided advocacy; some of the scenes should bear subtitles stating, "this is a paid political advertisement". You can visualize the character stepping forward to the edge of the stage to bellow another hamfisted soliloquoy. Once again the "big explosions" mentality gains ascendancy and West Wing loses the balance that once made it interesting.

    There were errant moments during this season when in spite of themselves the writers and producers let a worthy episode slip through onto the airwaves. But this is why we have home taping....more info
  • Mirabile dictu
    The West Wing is one of the smartest shows ever to appear on television. Like the Sopranos, each episode is a jewel and can be watched repeatedly. One episode in particular in the fifth year, documentary-style, features a day in the life of the press secretary and reviews historic footage from previous administrations. Exquisite....more info
  • The West Wing 5th Season
    In these days of political nightmares, Bush's pardon of people who obstruct justice, the escape into the world with a West Wing driven by motives other than coperate profit is very refreshing.
    The political statements in the show are very well done and I find the story line to be entertaining. Most of the acting is good and the guest stars are usually fun....more info
  • Still excellent entertainment...
    I tend to agree that the quality of writing in the West Wing slightly deteriorated somewhere between the fourth and fifth season...though, lets all remember that "The Long Goodbye" was a sorkin era episode....ugh.

    However, I think those who hate this show post-sorkin are the ones who took it far too seriously in the first place. This show was just fine after Sorkin, the fifth season had some great arches and some great episodes ("The Supremes").

    Just bear in mind that this is entertainment, not real life and you'll have a grand time watching this show (and maybe learn some trivia along the way) all the way through season 7....more info
  • Great show!
    This was not The West Wing's best season, but has some really great episodes. As bad as it got, it beats 95% of what is available to watch now on television. ...more info
  • Started out slow - ended great!
    While I agree that this season lacked something with Sorkin missing, I do think people were very nervous and expected too much from John Wells. It took a few episodes, but the show got back it's rhythm that Wells wanted. It wasn't supposed to mimic Sorkin or anyone else. John Wells needed to find his own strength and he did.

    For an example of his kind of quality, you have to look no further than Days of Our Lives!
    ...more info
    Having just perused the site, I find that Season 6 is in release, while us poor cousins across the pond are just getting stuck with Season 5 (not yet quite available as of this writing), which, the consensus among my TV-viewing friends is that the dropping of Aaron Sorkin (it was not his choice to leave) was a wild mistake. I prefer to wait for DVDs myself and have never watched the show in broadcast, simply to avoid the commercials and endless waiting from week to week, so my 1 star rating is based purely on what I have heard, not seen for myself. But I trust my friends completely and the report is that without Aaron on board, the actors are wireframe cartoons walking aimlessly about. So sad.

    Reviews in Britain indicate that Season 6 is showing some improvement over the sharp downturn in screenwriting that has left most Wingnuts feeling hollow and betrayed. Whatever they were thinking when they dropped Mr. Sorkin (gosh, did W somehow realize how godawful his own administration is in contrast to that of Mr. Bartlet and convince the network to dumb down the show or lose preferential treatment??), the thinking was pathetically wrong, by all reports.

    So go buy a multi-region DVD player and order the 5th (just for the story line continuity) and 6th seasons together from the Brits, who manage to do TV so much better at all times (compare MI-5 and its earlier siblings "Cracker" and "Prime Suspect" to "24" and the CSI junk sometime; they apparently make DVDs a whole lot faster, too. Probably something to do with milking the licensing on reruns here, I'd guess. Sigh. Maybe we never should have dumped that tea in the harbor after all....more info
  • a must have for any West Wing fan
    It's too bad the West Wing was canceled but al least we can buy the season series. A good way to spend time....more info
  • Rich Ford
    This was one the best seasons of the West Wing I have all seven seasons. I believe this was the drama series ever on tv. I recomend this seaseon and all seasons of the West Wind. This was the greatest cast ever assembled....more info
  • West wing
    Great season in a great series! And offers a hint of what really happens in Washington....more info
  • Still great!
    Season 5 was uneven, and no one can replace Aaron Sorkin as a writer. Still, The West Wing is 20 times better than the reality schlock that passes for TV these days. I'll be getting this. ...more info
  • Season has some of the show's best moments!
    Season 5 of `The West Wing' may be the most gut-wrenching series of shows from all the shows before or since. It begins with the four episode story of the president's daughter, Zoe Bartlett's abduction and ends with the death by terrorist bomb of former Chief of the Joint Staffs, Admiral FitzWallis with critical injuries to the very popular character, Donna Moss, assistant to the Assistant White House Chief of Staff, Josh Lyman.

    The apotheosis of this season comes early, when President Bartlett invokes the 25th amendment, temporarily removing himself from office, to be replaced by the Speaker of the House, played to a finely honed Tee by John Goodman. I have yet to know why Goodman played this part on three episodes without any cast credit, but it simply heightened the impact of seeing intellectual Bartlett's (Martin Sheen) position taken over by plainspeaking everyman Goodman.

    The strength of the story line in this season is surprising with the fact that two founding fathers, Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme are not among the creative contributors. The main difference seems to be the shift from politics to more dramatic topics of crime and terrorism, except that we have, in the middle of the season, the brilliant, chesslike game played out between the Republican congressional leadership on the one hand and Bartlett and prime political advisor Lyman on the other over the approval of the budget.

    Like so many episodes, this was based on an actual event when President Clinton outmanuvered the Republican congress on some legislative issue, a bit less important than the budget.

    I can clearly sense a certain overreaching, as the award winning show starts to loose its novelty after five seasons, against the CSI / Law and Order crowd. It also seems to lack some of the light touch brought to the show in the fourth season by the Ainsley Hayes character (assistant White House counsel) or in the sixth season by the White House communications assistant played by Kristen Chenoworth. I also miss the Sam Seaborn character, so ably played by Rob Lowe.

    This season may also contain the only flaw in characterization which spans more than one episode. I cannot for the life of me appreciate how the first lady would have expected to be told about a seriously clandestine operation, and then be overwhelmingly put out when this event by some great misfortune, comes back to bite the first family. This misreading of human reactions is offset when, in midseason, first lady Bartlett comes back from the New Hampshire farm to get Josh Lyman out of the dog house and set in motion the resolution of the budget crisis in fine political form.

    For those of you who may have missed this season when it originally aired or in its frequent reincarnations on Bravo, I highly recommend this set as a worthy addition to this epic on American politics. If nothing else, 'The West Wing' does much to clear up the true nature of politics and how it is an enterprise which can be and is often conducted by honorable men.
    ...more info
  • Thank God - no commercials
    I totally enjoyed this program when it was on broadcast TV but it is SOOOO much better when you can watch it without commercials and you don't have to wait a week if you really want to see what happens next. I may never watch broadcast TV again! ...more info
  • Perhaps the worst Season - Still rates 4 stars
    The Sorkin-Schlamme years of the West Wing were scintillating, glittering, gripping television. Season five came after the departure of writer, creator Aaron Sorkin. Thomas Schlamme remained only as a consultant.

    The series suffers also from the departure of Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborne.

    But the West Wing on a bad year is still good tv, and if you got sucked in by the first four years or reruns of the show, season five is still worth it to get to the last two seasons.

    Sam is gone and Will Bailey (played by Josh Malina) has taken over as Deputy Communications Director. Richard Schiff's Toby Ziegler, never Mr. Glad-n-Happy, at least entertained us with sarcastic wit as long as the words were supplied by Aaron Sorkin DeBergerac. In this season Toby just seems a dark and gloomy grump, although Toby achieves perhaps his greatest political accomplishment working behind the scenes to join both Republicans and Democrats in a measure to "save" social security (since it seems inevitably headed toward financial ruin.)

    Bradley Whitford is still a legislative bulldog as Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman. The late John Spencer is still the White House rock as Chief of Staff Leo McGarry. Allison Janney's Claudia Jean Cregg remains a strong and compassionate character, and Janney won the last of her four West Wing Emmies this season. Dule Hill makes Charlie Young even wiser and more mature as the President's body man and Martin Sheen keeps the show above water as President Josiah Bartlett.

    The loss of Sorkin hurts the series both from a loss of snappy dialogue and a lack of narrative arc as many episodes have superficial connection to anything else in the West Wing Universe.

    It looks like the West Wing and it's still good, but the flat writing make the shows look as if the performers are sleep-walking....more info
  • Enough is enough
    West Wing has always been a dimly lit set. Where has everyone been. My spouse and I found the writing change refreshing, yes, it was a choppy transition, however...It still had many noteworthy moments. Any series given the same length of on air time as West Wing begins to lose something.'s not all the writers faults. In fact with the same cast this was a self limited series. This is and will continue to be one of the more intellectually stimulating dramas on air. Those unable to adapt to the post Sorkin era...well they would do better to go watch a cookie cutter comedy or reality show. Season 6 was better and the choppiness smoothed out. This is in our opinion some of the best television drama to hit the air in many many years...yes even post Sorkin. So people adapt, television changes as does life....more info
    There's no doubt the quality of the show has dropped since Sorkin and Schlamme have left. Certain dialogue parts are uneven and in one episode the degree of tension and anger between everyone was very different from the four previous seasons.

    Season 4, by the way, for those complaining about the kidnapping, was done that way to give the new writers something to work with since the heavy hitters were leaving.

    Overall, I'd say this doesn't measure up to the first four seasons, especially the first three, so, it's a few notches down.

    However, as the quality was so high, even though it's dropped a few notches, it's better than almost all of the current TV programs....more info
  • West Wing has always been one of the best series on TV
    For those of us who are tired of stupid, formula sitcoms, we have "The West Wing" which offers intelligent dialogue and realistic scenarios. Sometimes it is almost scary how closely the episodes relate to real events we face. The West Wing brings us all back to a time when Presidents were honorable men and we believed they strove the do the right thing. It is the government and the people I wish we had. If only still a TV series, it makes me feel better to see an intelligent President who can speak in full sentences and can make decisions that are honorable and show character (unlike the President and Vice President we are now burdened with)....more info
  • Service sucks
    I ordered west wing and have not received it, I want my money back or a brand new shipment. This is ridiculous and I will never again order from amazon. I have purchased many items from here and will never again!...more info
  • Definitely Sorkin's departure is evident...
    I am a fan of West Wing, good, bad or ugly. I know this season was not up to par with the previous four, but so be it, it is what it is. I still enjoy watching the show, regardless. One off comment I have is regarding the packaging. Would these marketers please get off the cheap-run? The package holding these DVDs in the case fell apart within two days of purchase, its held together by a strip of tape! Give me a break Warner Brothers! You can do better than that!...more info
  • Great series
    I have also purchased the remaining series. It is truly great tv. I enjoyed all the characters. I am sorry there is no more!...more info
  • Strictly a quality in manufacturing issue.
    There are enough reviews involving the quality of content for this excellent show, you don't need mine. My gripe is with the packaging. I prefer the fold-out style of the first three seasons. The fourth and fifth season cases are less appealing. The fifth actually fell apart in my hands upon opening. Binding plastic sleaves with tape; "hey thats quality!". Enough said, I yield the floor....more info
  • East Wing?
    The quality of this season was really low compared to the rest. The writing isn't as sharp, there's a lack of humour that's usually present and the actors seem like they're bored. Especially Martin Sheen, by the look on his face you would think a heart attack was imminent. Also, moreclaw never shuts up about it. So I'm afriad 1 star it will have to be....more info
  • Not Really Worthy of Five Stars, But Just Trying to Counter the Absurd One Star Reviews
    Yeah, season six isn't up to the standards of the first four seasons, but then what shows are. The first four seasons simply represent some of the best programing commercial TV has ever had to offer.

    But to say that there is nothing here worth watching is just hyperbole of the worst sort. This season offers the episode "The Supremes" in which Glenn Close guest stars as a potential Supreme Court nominee. The way this episode gets resolved is every bit as worthy of the Aaron Sorkin years (which, it might be reminded did have their down moments such as the "Ishmael and Issac" episode) as well as story lines that just weren't very good (Sam and the call girl).

    As for the gripes about the lighting I am amazed that it is season five that gets all the complaints. The lighting on this show has always been frustratingly dark even during the St. Aaron years -- Leo working at his desk late at night with only one light on in his office? What was up with that and why are people just now complaining about it?

    Season five lacks much of what made the first four season so remarkable -- no doubt about it, but the lack or explanation on some plot points is really no different that the characters that simply vanished with no explanation in the St. Aaron years.

    Virtually any show that has been on the air as long as "West Wing" has been starts to shows signs of age even without personnel changes, and if you think that season five is so utterly unwatchable, well then, I guess "American Idol" will be right up your alley.
    ...more info
  • Still good, but they forgot the funny....
    We're super "West Wing" fans, but have to admit that Season 5 was missing a lot of the humor of the first 4 seasons. Still, it had some great moments, such as the selection of two judges for the Supreme Court. Aaron Sorkin's brilliant writing was sorely missed during this particular season, but keep watching. During seasons 6 & 7, someone found humor once again. Not as great as the Sorkin years, but still definitely worth watching....more info
  • Excellant - Thank you
    Everything came as promised and promptly. I would have no hesitation using this vendor again.

    ...more info
  • WW5
    The show is wonderful as always. However, starting with the fifth season, the closed captioning was only in foreign language. Can you only be hard of hearing in spanish or french? Gimme a break! They could have done better. I'm very disappointed....more info
  • tv series
    My granddaughter was very busy with school when the West Wing series was on tv. She enjoys watching them in the summer months. It's always a nice gift for her....more info
  • Disappointing...Get it to fill your collection.
    After the great first four seasons, season five of the West Wing is, quite frankly, terrible. Aaron Sorkin, the architect of the four first seasons and creator of the show, was fired mid-story arc by NBC and probably had a hard time watching this season, as many familiar characteristics were stripped away. Donna has suddenly gone from being a bright-eyed optimist to a jaded Washington insider, constantly speaking in a bizarre low voice. Toby is no longer quirky, but simply mean and uninteresting. The assasination of Abdul Sharif, a story arc that had existed for over a season, is ended unceremoniously in a matter of a few minutes, shoved into the end of an episode and never spoken of again. Josh's character, once funny and energetic, is reduced to screaming at the capital building, a scene, intending to be a dramatic, more likely to produce laughter than further unerstanding of his character. Will Bailey, a great replacement for Sam in season four, takes a job with the new vice president, and loses his sharp wit along the way. Despite no longer working for the president, Will is still often at meetings determining presidential policy(?).

    And all of a sudden, everyone's having sex. It turns out C.J. and the Vice President were once together, an absolutely absurd story line that is difficult to believe to say the least.Then, C.J. encourages Donna to "broaden her horizons" beyond Josh, and as a result, she sleeps with a guy before getting blown up while on a fact-finding mission to the Gaza strip.(Don't ask... just don't ask.)

    The fast-paced dialogue that was a trademark of the show through its first four seasons disappears. Meetings in Leo's office or the Roosevelt Room that were once fast-paced now consist of short, bland dialogue, lacking real meaning. There were a couple of episodes that I simply couldn't get through.

    And then there's the president. A man who was once, as he described himself, "full of mirth", has changed. His character is as dull as a pencil after the SATs. His part becomes bland and predictable, except for the truly bizarre storyline in which he shuts down the federal governement for five days, a decision that left even hardcore fans scratching their heads.

    To sum this seaons up, I would say that this is definitely not a season where every episode deserves watching. Of the seven seasons, season 5 is by far the worst- I would reccomend it to those who are looking to have a compelte collection of West Wing episodes, not someone looking to be entertained. ...more info