Revising my Remarks

A couple of commenters point out a couple of deficiencies in my Answers post from yesterday, dealing with The West Wing.

Firstly, most seriously, Roger points out that I forgot CJ Cregg. Ugh. I can’t believe I didn’t include her. She was in most of the clips I pointed out, but somehow, it just slipped my mind to actually include her.

And that, in a way, is pretty illustrative of CJ’s character arc through the entire series. In the first season, it quickly becomes clear that while she is seen as an able press secretary, she is not really seen as an effective voice for policy, and the ‘inner circle’ of the White House senior staff seems to view her as a potential danger, given her close friendships in the press corps. This leads to an incident where CJ is told that nothing more is going on and that she can release the reporters for the night, only to have to call them back an hour later when Leo tells her that a pretty big military operation is underway. But she gradually learns to take charge, learning more and more about her job, until finally, five years in, President Bartlet makes her his new Chief of Staff, a position she holds until the series ends with the inauguration of President Santos.

Here’s a nice moment where CJ stands her ground before a couple of high-ranking military men:

And here’s another where CJ decides to smack down a snotty reporter who had earlier taken her to task on her own news program for taking time to change clothes before briefing the press on a suicide bombing in Israel in which two American teenagers were killed:

One of my favorite storylines in the series’s final episodes was CJ’s wondering about her own future. She had an opportunity to oversee a massive philanthropic fund, a welcome change from the White House; but she also had a vague job offer from incoming President Santos. At the same time she had a growing relationship with reporter Danny Concannon, and she had to figure out just what it was that she wanted to do once her time with President Bartlet was over. Seasons Six and Seven were really quite good.

Ben asks, what about Toby and Will? Well, in Charlie’s original question, he mentioned that I’d already addressed Toby, and I did in this old post of my favorite episodes, in which I make clear that Toby is my favorite character, as my list is pretty Toby-centric. Ben also asks, what about Will Bailey. And, well…I just never warmed up much to Will. He really wasn’t the most interesting character to me. Will came in as basically a replacement for Sam Seaborn, and after Sorkin left just half a season later, Will ended up being the Chief of Staff for the new Vice President. This kind of hobbled the character, because the writers made it clear that Vice President Russell was a lightweight who had no business being Vice President at all. Seeing Will in the employ of a lightweight made Will look pretty lightweight, so Will Bailey just never really rose to anything in my mind.

Still, his first meeting with Toby is a nice scene:

OK, there we go!

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2 Responses to Revising my Remarks

  1. csmith2884 says:

    My personal favorite CJ part is the press comments that start the story arc of her in danger and needing a security detail. So sad and powerful, a great role for Mark Harmon.

  2. Charlie says:

    The title of this post is a really nice WW pull. That's one of my favorite Bartlet moments, as he takes off the President hat and remembers to just be Jed.

    This one is one of my top CJ moments (I'd forgotten about it until I saw it as one of the related videos in the first one you posted here). Especially the middle bit when she's confronting Hoynes. The Big Revelation at the end is a little soap opera-y for my taste, but even that is a nice moment between CJ and Toby, who played the contentious-but-indispensable-to-each-other relationship Toby had with basically everyone extremely well.

    Thanks for these posts; Ask Me Anything is fun!

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