Monday, January 23, 2006

Lost Wing

--I will be sad to see West Wing go. The news of it's cancellation by NBC yesterday hit me about as hard as when I found out Northern Exposure was getting the heave by CBS several years ago.

While many of West Wing's obvious political leanings didn't necessarily coincide with mine, I was able to look beyond that and enjoy the show for the high-quality, and cerebral, production that it was. I say that like it's already off-the-air. Of course, it will finish out this season and procede to elect a new fictional President. Either Republican Senator Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) or Democrat Congressman Matthew Santos (Jimmie Smits) will be taking the oath before the series says goodbye. Martin Sheen, who plays the current President Jed Bartlett, will be finishing out his term and marching off into the sunset.

What bothers me about the end of this show is that as we lose intelligent, well-written, and thought-provoking programs like this from network TV, it seems their places are being taken more and more by low-brow, appeal-to-the-lowest-common-denominator, cheaper-t0-produce, offerings. See Fear Factor, Biggest Loser, Deal or No Deal et al. It looks like there will come a day in the not too distant future when scripted, professionally-acted, and highly-produced dramas will be a thing of the past, or only available at the movie theater.

They say NBC's decision to take West Wing off the air after this season was made before John Spencer's death in December. But, I'll bet if there was any doubt, that sealed it. He wasn't one of the lead actors on the show, but I'm sure the brass knew his important role, and appeal to the masses. He was certainly one of the key strong points, if not the backbone, of the show.

There are a few scripted dramas that will have to step in to take West Wing's place in the network constellation... (24 and Prison Break on Fox) (Boston Legal on ABC) (I guess the CSI group qualifies on CBS) (Law and Order etc. on NBC) But it seems the numbers continue to dwindle. Let's hope that someone at the networks still has a soft spot in their programming sensibilities for a classy show like West Wing. And we can get another one of it's ilk on network television soon.

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