Monday, May 15, 2006

Gone West

All good things must come to an end and last night, one of the great dramas to emerge from American TV left the screens. The West Wing finally reached the end of the line for President Bartlett as his term of office came to an end. We'll see the finale later this year on More 4, so no spoilers on this posting - just trust me that a whole number of loose ends get tied up properly by the end of the series.

Consistently one of the best-written dramas on TV (even during the poor fifth series, it was still better than most) and blessed with a fine ensemble cast - including the President that we all wish America had rather than the current incumbent - it has been proof that intelligent political programming can be interesting and entertaining. For all those who believe that politicians are all venal and self-serving, this was a part of the universe that cast a positive light. It may have been a fiction, but we are all allowed an escape from reality. People actually trying to make their country and the world a better place? Actually not THAT uncommon - most people I've met are trying to do the right thing by people. It doesn't always work and there are any number of rogues out there, but this series was a clarion call for principles and virtue in political life.

The show could make you laugh and make you cry in the same episode. Even the most boring days in the White House dealing with the minutiae of political process could be enlivened by the pace and zing of the dialogue and the strength of the individual performances. It was a lesson in political history and civics that didn't talk down to the audience and even challenged the knowledge of specialists in American politics. It hasn't changed the world, but it has had a positive influence.

Thank you, Mr President.

What's next?

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