The West Wing and #TWWW Podcast

I had been utterly unengaged with with TV about the time that I met this particular cute girl, and she told me that she love the West Wing and watched it every week. There was, if I recall correctly, one more episode showing in the penultimate season, and we watched it together. I liked it.

We then watched, mainly via Netflix DVD rental, but also, borrowing her parent's Season Five DVD's, the entire rest of the show prior to the beginning of the final season, Season 7. Then we watched Season 7 together. It was great.

Eventually, two things were to happen. One is that I re-watched the entire series from beginning to the end. The other is that I married that girl. Not necessarily in that order.

I know that if you are reading this, and you are not a Turkish hacker, or a science denier come to harass me, you also love the West Wing.

My daughter Julia and I typically quasi-binge-watch (it takes us months) a particular TV show. We had finished off The Walking Dead, and Bones, and old favorite, had gone stale on us. (No deeply disturbing psychotic killers on the horizon, as far as we could tell.) So I tried out the West Wing on her, and she liked it. We plowed pretty quickly through the first couple of seasons, but there has been very little TV watching lately.

Then, I heard about The Wet Wing Weekly. This is a podcast by Joshua Malina and Hrishikesh Hirway. Josh Malina played Will Bailey on the West Wing, and has done a number of other famous roles in productions such as Sports Night and Scandal. Jrishikesh Hirway is a super fan of The West Wing, who is a musical artist and expert podcaster.

So, here's what you do. You watch one episode of the West Wing. Start with the Pilot. Then you listen to the Podcast.

Warning: So far, at least two of the Podcasts have not been about a specific episode. These were great podcasts, but if this is your first time watching the West Wing, avoid them for now because they are full of spoilers. The main episodes of #TWWW do not include spoilers. They are very careful about that.

Malina and Hirway analyze and discuss the episode you just watched. Malina has worked extensively and intensively with West Wing creator Alan Sorkin, and Hirway carefully researches each podcast, so their commentary is penetrating, interesting, and apt. Also, the podcast is expertly edited so it is very smooth.

The West Wing Weekly Podcast often, nearly weekly, has a guest, often a star of the show, or someone else involved. Sorkin may someday be a guest on the podcast.

The conversation on #TWWW is cumulative. Ideas and concepts are developed over time, and terminology evolves. You could jump in any time, but to get the full effect, start at the beginning. And always watch the episode, then the podcast.

There is a web site, here, and comments are allowed on each podcast. Interesting information (AND SPOILERS SO BE ALERT) pops up in the discussion section, including corrections or expansions on what was discussed. You'll see some of these comments coming. For example, in one episode of The West Wing, The President notes that "The era of big government is over." The moment I heard that on the show, I was reminded of President Clinton saying the same thing, and also, that this was a reference to President Reagan, almost a bit of pandering to his supporters in Congress, and yet another demonstration of Democrat's fruitless efforts to pretend like the two parties can talk to each other. Malina and Hirway noted the phrase, seemed perplexed by it, and clearly did not remember Clinton's words. But the commenters fixed that!

One of the things Malina notes that I should pass on now, is that he watches the West Wing episodes with closed captions turned on. He does this for various reasons, but the result is that sometimes you pick up on dialog that one might otherwise miss, like in the case shown in the image above. If you are listening only, the words shown here in the CC are overtalked by another actor, and easy to miss. In other cases, the words that come out of the actor's mouth and the words on the screen are simply different, in a way that really does look like a change in the dialog has happened, some last minute editing of the script.

Hey, if you are going to rewatch, or re-rewatch, or even re-re-rewatch, a TV show then listen to a podcast about each episode, then you are operating at a level where these details matter.

I watch the West Wing on Netflix, but you can also get the entire show on DVD.

And, if you are interested in what your grandmother was up to when she was little, pick up a copy of When My Grandmother Was a Child: 9. If you can find it.

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