A Favourite Bit From ‘The West Wing’

I grabbed a couple of West Wing DVDs to watch on my way to and from Toronto. On my way back, I watched the excellent episode from season two, “Somebody’s Going to Emergency, Somebody’s Going to Jail”. It’s the second time the show’s creators deploy the Big Block of Cheese Day dramatic device, in which White House senior staff meet with fringe groups that otherwise wouldn’t get their attention. In this scene, C.J. and Josh learn about alternative map projections:

Both the comedic writing and acting are so tight and underplayed–it’s terrific work all around.


  1. I know that they had to cancel that show, otherwise it would have become a joke, but I was still sorry to see it go.

    Darren, not sure if you have given Battlestar Galactica a chance yet (I ignored it for years just because of the name) but it’s honestly as good, if not better than, The West Wing. It is definitely the best show ever filmed in Vancouver. Hope you check it out.

  2. The alternative map sequence is one of my all-time favorite West Wing scenes. I will never look at a map the same way again.

    Another nice Josh-CJ moment involves a “woot” canal.

  3. Except the season when the daughter was kidnapped and the season following, it was an excellent show — and at least one episode from every year was brilliant.

    Sorkin also wrote the (cancelled!?!?) “Sports Night” and the (cancelled!!??) “Studio 60”. How can one man have so much writing talent and how can the networks be so dumb as to cancel two of his shows (that were, in some respects, even better than WW).

    I just hope he’s got a project or two or three in the works. I can just imagine what he’d do with a cop show (it’d be as good as or better than Police Story) or med show (as good as or better than St. Elsewhere).

  4. Jeff: I have watched BG, and think it’s a very good show. I don’t think it’s on par with “The West Wing”, though, as the latter has extraordinarily good acting and more nuanced plotting.

    Of course, I think “The West Wing” is the best dramatic series I’ve ever seen, so that’s a pretty high bar of comparison.

    John: I haven’t seen “Sports Night”, though I know it was a critical darling. I had mixed feelings about “Studio 60”. It was very well cast, but I thought it was pretty derivative of Sorkin’s previous work, and applied The West Wing’s gravitas where it didn’t belong.

  5. Thanks for the flashback, Darren … i don’t think i missed an episode of TWW. When it was good it was brilliant; when it wasn’t, it seemed to be on par with most of what was on television at the time. I’m with Tym: after I first saw that episode, I knew I wouldn’t look at a map in the same way (although from our own blog’s header image, you wouldn’t know it..I wonder if i should consider revising that…

  6. Darren: you’re absolutely right about “Studio 60” but … to the people who are actually doing the jobs in the real industry, “Studio 60” captured, I believe, their own sense of self-importance — the countdown clock, for example. I thought it had some outstanding potential and so many shows fully realize that only in their second seasons when the characters and relationships are fully established and the storylines can be about, well, stories. Perhaps my feelings about “Studio 60” come from my adoration of “Network”, especially Faye Dunway’s and William Holden’s characters.

  7. Fun scene! I never watched the WW whilst it was on, but Darren’s ongoing championing of it may force me to obtain the DVD’s…
    The funny thing with the Peters Projection (or more correctly Gall-Peters) is that it is not actually correcting Mercator errors with “truth”, but in fact simply replacing the Mercator errors with ANOTHER set of errors that proponents find more acceptable. Round world, flat paper, there’s your problem. In truth, I dislike Gall-Peters for the rather shallow reason that it’s butt-ugly. Check out Winkel-Tripel for a relatively size-accurate and pleasingly globey projection.

  8. Oh how weird. I have been trying to figure out how to get a look at that map. My husband is a total map nerd. I just did a search for geographically correct ,maps 2 days ago when it crossed my mind again. I had never remembered the map name form the episode THANKS!

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