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The West Wing


The entire White House staff bristles with activity when it's learned that the President injured himself during a bicycle accident, and his absence becomes a factor as chief of staff Leo McGarry must juggle a host of impending crises, including a mass boatlift of Cuban refugees approaching the Florida coast and the reaction of conservative Christians to a controversial televised comment by deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman.

Status: Ended
TV Channel: NBC
  • Barry Garron

    A compelling, intelligent and wonderfully engaging drama. [22 Sept 1999]

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • David Zurawik

    Dazzling...The West Wing is the one new series you do not want to miss. In fact, you don't even want to show up late for its start at 9 tonight. Walk the dog early, shut off the telephone at 8: 55, bribe the kids if necessary to get them in bed, just be there for the one new series that will remind you how exciting the fall network TV season used to be before the networks lost their way in bottom-line thinking and mega-corp greed. [22 Sept 1999, p.1E]

    Baltimore Sun Full Review
  • Terry Kelleher

    The West Wing sure looks like a winner.

    People Weekly Full Review
  • Charlie McCollum

    [Sorkin's] premier episode for West Wing is a fine piece of work, relying heavily on a presumption that viewers have brains and can absorb a lot in a short period...Rarely has a writer fleshed out so many characters with so few words in such a short period of time. [22 Sept 1999, p.14E]

    San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times Full Review
  • Ed Bark

    All the president's men and women are deftly drawn and seamlessly woven through a crackerjack opening hour. Whether they'll be able to hold our interest remains to be seen. [22 Sept 1999, p.1C]

    Dallas Morning News Full Review
  • Ray Richmond

    An original from the outset, blending artful dialogue and sharp performances with Schlamme's sure directorial hand to construct an hour of sublime soapiness. [21 Sept 1999, p.10]

    Variety Full Review
  • Tom Feran

    Meticulously detailed and seamlessly crafted, it has the look of a feature film and a sense of behind-the-scenes authenticity, and it could be the season's best new drama. [22 Sept 1999, p.6E]

    Cleveland Plain Dealer Full Review
  • Terry Jackson

    A drama so well written and artfully executed that if tonight's debut were expanded just a bit, it could stand as a feature film. [22 Sept 1999, p.1E]

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Ann Hodges

    This ensemble cast is top-drawer, the pace is lightning-fast, the dialogue crackles, and the halls of the West Wing hustle and bustle. With all that energy, this is not a show to watch with one eye on something else. Attention must be paid. [22 Sept 1999, p.H1]

    Houston Chronicle Full Review
  • Matthew Gilbert

    A smart, exhilarating, well-written hour that, if anything, is a little naive about the folks who run our nation's most important office. [22 Sept 1999, p.E1]

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Robert P. Laurence

    Sharply written by Aaron Sorkin, the new drama from NBC adroitly mixes political machinations with personal peccadilloes and keeps the action in both areas moving smartly. Easily the best of a mediocre fall harvest of new network series, The West Wing offers moments of serious debate on a few issues in American public life, as well as bits of petty political bitchery to spice up the proceedings. Much of the dialogue not only sounds clever, but rings true. [22 Sept 1999, p.E-8]

    San Diego Union-Tribune Full Review
  • Phil Rosenthal

    One serious failing of the pilot is that, well, the group is nearly all white. There's barely a healthy tan in the bunch. Sorkin and Wells claim this is true only of the first episode and that more people of color will be added in subsequent hours....They better be. Not only is their absence an affront to minorities everywhere, it's an insult to our intelligence in what otherwise is a very smart show. [22 Sept 1999, p.47]

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Diane Werts

    There's real thought behind The West Wing, a blessed exhilaration in this increasingly apolitical medium. For those who remember when '70s TV comedy took on the world, this is a welcome arrival. True, the pilot takes some fish-in-a-barrel potshots at sanctimonious evangelists, in Sorkin's speechifying manner from "Sports Night." But it also delivers that series' satisfying depth of reflection and rich characterization. Eventually. Once we know who these people are. [21 Sept 1999, p.B27]

    Newsday Full Review
  • Staff [Not Credited]

    Tonight's premiere tries to be too cute, but Sorkin is good at creating likable characters. Blessed with a great cast, he may have given NBC a two-term lock. [22 Sept 1999, p.C10]

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer Full Review
  • Rob Owen

    An intriguing behind-the-scenes drama with moments of dewy-eyed idealism. [22 Sept 1999, p.E-3]

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Full Review
  • Ken Tucker

    One of The West Wing's executive producers is ER's John Wells, and the new series replicates that show's swooping cameras and frenetic pace. Combine this visual style with a slightly toned-down version of the overlapping dialogue Sorkin uses in his other series, ABC's Sports Night, and you've got one zippy little hour. That's good, because when you stop and examine each plot strand, the show starts to unravel.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Aaron Barnhart

    This behind-the-scenes look at the American presidency from the creator of "Sports Night" (Aaron Sorkin) gets off to a bumpy start tonight when viewers realize that the supposedly liberal chief executive played by Martin Sheen - who in real life is an actual fire-eating Hollywood liberal - has no minorities in his inner circle. (The first black face seen in the premiere episode is a traffic cop who pulls over one of the show's regulars.) [22 Sept 1999, p.F10]

    Kansas City Star Full Review
  • Howard Rosenberg

    At least initially, don't expect balance in other areas, either, for one of the religious right characters showing up tonight is a ruthless fanatic, the other a toady. That's politics, in Hollywood as well as Washington, D.C. [22 Sept 1999, p.F1]

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Tom Shales

    West Wing is not a dramatic powerhouse as it gets off the ground tonight but, indeed, it does get off the ground. There are good performances, crispy-crunchy lines of dialogue and a few sizzly sparks. Subsequent episodes will have to improve on the premiere, however, if there's really going to be anything must-see-ish about the show. [22 Sept 1999, p.C01]

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Jonathan Storm

    It's a show-off show, the most impressive new series of the season, of many seasons, but it has one big deficit. Like the Tin Man, it has no heart. Maybe it will grow one, and it will certainly bear watching for a few weeks to see if it does. [22 Sept 1999, p.C01]

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Hal Boedeker

    The drama series is well-acted, smoothly produced but surprisingly resistible. Sorkin writes bright dialogue and juggles fast-moving plots, but his White House intrigue and staffers aren't that compelling. [22 Sept 1999, p.E1]

    Orlando Sentinel Full Review
  • Dorothy Rabinowitz

    It is, in short, a busy, fearlessly idealistic president (Martin Sheen) who struts through the neatly packaged, frequently deft and invariably predictable first episode of NBC's The West Wing, If the series continues at this level -- continues, that is, being handsomely produced, polished and thoroughly unexceptional in its content and aspirations, it should stand a very good chance of winning a bunch of Emmys. [22 Sept 1999, p.A32]

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • Caryn James

    That still makes the series more daring than most of what's on television; the problem is, its creators know that and the show's self-satisfaction becomes annoying. The floundering first episode (the only one available for preview) is sometimes smart, sometimes stupid, eventually gooey and, despite its sharp cast, not often entertaining. One of the season's most hyped and anticipated series, The West Wing is by far its biggest disappointment.

    The New York Times Full Review
Episode Guide For Show: The West Wing