Tag Archive | The West Wing

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The West Wing's latest effect on politics: the Big Block of Cheese Day

Posted on January 19, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The West Wing was a show about politics that also had an effect on politics – many of Tony Blair’s advisors were avid West Wing fans, for example, and the show’s heady brand of liberal optimism about politics affected them, too.

However, perhaps one of the strangest effects of the show, nearly a decade after it finally left our screens, was ‘the Big Block of Cheese Day’.

Last year, the White House launched a virtual Big Block of Cheese Day. You knew about that, right? Perhaps not.

Recognising it might have been a little too low profile last year, this year, it's got a whole bunch of The West Wing's cast together to promote the second Big Block of Cheese Day. What would you like to talk about?

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Ron Swanson's wolf highway

Posted on September 29, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

The wisdom of Ron Swanson is legendary, of course, as are his politics. A confirmed small government Republican/Libertarian, he believes that government should have as little to do as possible.

So imagine my surprise when re-watching an early West Wing episode to see a young Ron Swanson petitioning the White House for a billion dollar wolf highway. I imagine his bitter disappointment when his scheme was rejected was one of the reasons why he began to believe the government was ultimately impotent.

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Review: Murder In The First 1x1 (TNT)

Posted on June 13, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Murder In The First

In the US: Mondays, 10pm (ET/PT), TNT

TNT’s an odd network, a sort of in-between house on basic cable between regular old vanilla, commercial, network TV and the no-holds-barred, challenging world of premium cable. With no real identity of its own, it churns out shows that would largely sit very happily on any broadcast network were it not for the occasional swear word: Falling Skies, King & Maxwell, Perception, Memphis Beat, Dark Blue, Leverage, Saving Grace, Trust Me, Rizzoli & Isles, Franklin and Bash, The Closer, Major Crimes - the list goes on and assuming you hadn’t forgotten that pretty much all of those shows ever existed, you’d have been hard-pushed to remember they were on TNT and perhaps even cable. The network’s one truly good show was Southland… which it picked up from NBC then slashed its budget.

At most, you might think of TNT as 'The Crime Channel', because of the 13 shows listed above, 11 involve cops, lawyers and/or robbers, and the rest of the time, it’s broadcasting reruns of Law & Order. But you don’t. It’s just TNT. It’s just… there.

I don’t think it’s escaped TNT’s notice that it’s not very noticeable, either. It’s got an ambitious summer schedule of dramas lined up that includes spy thriller Legends, for example. But it’s starting us off gently with another crime drama, except to make it a bit more memorable, it’s gone once again to Steve Bochco, who previously gave the network Raising the Bar (make that 12 out of 14 shows).

Young people might not have heard of Steve Bochco (and let’s face it, they're probably not going to be watching TNT, since it leans towards a much older demographic, anyway), but together with Mary Tyler Moore’s MTM Enterprises, he was pretty much responsible for launching the second wave of great American television that began in the 80s. He started it off with the innovative Hill Street Blues before giving us LA Law, Doogie Howser MD, Hooperman, NYPD Blue and (oh horror) Cop Rock, which I guess was innovative, too, given it was as the name suggests, a musical drama about cops:

Possibly Bochco's greatest creative achievement, even if it wasn’t a ratings success, was the almost-theatrical Murder One. As with Hill Street Blues, Murder One was unusual for its time in having story arcs - a season-long high-profile criminal case in Murder One’s case. It was filled with a fantastic cast that included Patricia Clarkson, Mary McCormack and the magnificent Stanley Tucci and Daniel Benzali, who presided like a Renaissance Pope over his cadre of lawyers:

So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that for his latest show, Murder In The First, Bochco has pitched at that older demographic who liked his previous shows. Giving Murder One a slight Law & Order twist, Murder In The First follows a criminal investigation by San Francisco police into two murders linked to a celebrity all the way through to the trial and (presumably) conviction of the killer. It also adds in a dash of Hill Street Blues, with its focus on the domestic lives and working relationships of the cops.

Starring Taye Diggs (Day Break), Kathleen Robertson (Boss), Richard Schiff (The West Wing), Steven Weber (Studio 60), Nicole Ari Parker (The Deep End) and Draco Malfoy himself - Tom Felton from the Harry Potter movies - it’s not exactly what you’d call ground-breaking, but is probably going to be a passable piece of summer viewing. Well, better than everything else on TNT, anyway.

Here’s a trailer:

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