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The West Wing is ramping up toward the season finale, and is doing so very effectively. Last season’s end-of-year build-up was dominated by a single storyline, President Bartlett’s disclosure of the multiple sclerosis which he had carefully concealed during his first campaign. This year, though, Aaron Sorkin is weaving together a number of plots. The President’s reelection campaign is heating up, there is increasing tension regarding a possible terrorist threat, and someone is stalking CJ Cregg. Sorkin is an amazing writer, and I’m sure he’ll have this pot boiling quite nicely by the time the season finale airs.

My other favorite NBC show is on Wednesday nights. It’s not Law and Order. It’s Ed, a consistently smart and literate show about a former big-city lawyer who has returned to the small Ohio town where he grew up. With its quirky cast, Ed is reminiscent of Northern Exposure, without that show’s flights of fantasy. The season finale of Ed is next week, and I’m a bit apprehensive. The show has been developing a love triangle of sorts between Ed, his dream-woman Carol Vescey, and high school principal Dennis Martino. The problem with this triangle is that Dennis, who should be the odd man out, is actually a very likable character, and his romance with Carol has been handled with aplomb by the show’s writers. This should lead to a bittersweet ending, which is precisely the type of ending that can be really screwed up. Stay tuned.

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