TV Review-The West Wing After John Spencer
Actually The West Wing is not yet without John Spencer. Spencer portrayed President Bartlet’s Chief of Staff then later became Vice-Presidential candidate for the Santos campaign.
I wrote my first review of The West Wing this past October 2005. This was before John Spencer’s untimely death and before Presidential contenders Vinnick and Santos had been fleshed out. Now seems a prudent time to re-visit the series and see where it’s been and where it might be going.
John Spencer died on December 16, at age 58, of a sudden and severe heart attack.
On January 8, Martin Sheen appeared before the show started.
"Good evening. On December 16, we lost our good friend and colleague John Spencer. Through our shock and grief, we can think of no more fitting memorial to this wonderful man, this extraordinary actor, than to share with you, beginning tonight, the last few months of his work here on The West Wing. Johnny, it seems we hardly knew you; we love you and we miss you."
Indeed the show that followed Sheen’s speech was a tribute to Spencer. A bit eerie in that the sudden heart attack that claimed Spencer wasn’t on the radar.
That episode had Vice-Presidential contender Leo, Spencer’s character, preparing for a debate. It was a pleasant show, interesting in how Leo managed to fool all of his debate “coaches” into believing he wasn’t up to the job. Then he went on to knock them dead at the actual debate.
In fact, one of the outstanding points of his speech was on health care. Leo pontificated how he survived a recent heart attack because of this country’s wonderful health care.
The interesting thing is how The West Wing is going to handle the death of Spencer as concerns the series’ plot. Spencer is a VP candidate for the Hispanic Presidential candidate, Matt Santos. It could be that Santos will not win the election so Leo McGarry can just fade from the scene.
I don’t think Santos will win the election but that’s based on naught but a hunch. First, The West Wing needs a Republican President. The show has been dominated by Democrats in the White House since its inception. For reality’s sake, it’s time to put a Republican at the helm. If I’m right, then Senator Arnold Vinick, played by Alan Alda, will ascend to the throne.
Arnold Vinick, by the way, is based not so roughly on Senator John McCain of Arizona. McCain is a RINO (Republican in Name Only) who the media adores. As would be expected, Vinick takes both sides of every issue that he not offend anyone and comes off as thoughtful and, gasp, “moderate”.
If the writers do the surprising and have a Santos’ victory then the show will have to write off John Spencer’s character. The most mundane would be to have the character suffer a heart attack and die in the midst of the campaign. But that bit with Leo McGarry waxing on about this country’s wonderful health care as mentioned above could put a damper on this scenario.
In fact, if the writers do write in another Democrat President, then I’ve come up with a good plot. Have McGarry’s character assassinated. The publicity alone will help put the dark horse Santos in the lead. Better, have some right-wing kook do the assassinating. That will for sure open the White House for a President Santos.
I doubt this will happen as I must suggest again, I believe the series is ready for a Republican President. With John McCain as the model, even the very liberal Hollywood crowd could handle it.
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