By Hypable Staff Writer: Kristen Kranz
President of the United States: When a character is made, not just written, there’s a certain kind of magic in it, and that is illustrated no more adeptly than in Martin Sheen’s President Josiah Bartlet. Initially, the President was only going to appear in every 10 episodes or so on The West Wing, but after Sheen stomped into the pilot declaring, “I am the Lord your God thou shalt have no other gods before me” and established himself as the heart of the show, it was easy to see that his presence would raise the stakes every single episode. In order to tell the story of the West Wing staffers, they needed a force for good toward which to steer them all. President Bartlet was that force for them to rally around. He could play the benevolent leader, the staunch professor, the out-of-touch old man, or the dad with the awkward sense of humor in equal measure, and it gave The West Wing the backbone it needed to last seven beautiful seasons.
Favorite Quote:“More than any time in recent history, America’s destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not seek nor did we provoke an assault on our freedom and our way of life. We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with evil. Yet the true measure of a people’s strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive. 44 people were killed a couple of hours ago at Kennison State University. Three swimmers from the men’s team were killed and two others are in critical condition. When, after having heard the explosion from their practice facility, they ran into the fire to help get people out. Ran *in* to the fire. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They’re our students and our teachers and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we’re reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars. God bless their memory, God bless you and God bless the United States of America. Thank you.” — After campaigning on the road in less than ideal circumstances in an area more Republican than Democratic in support, President Bartlet focuses his attention to a national crisis whose victims were not asked, “What party do you support?” before being slaughtered.
Favorite Scene/Episode: The scene from the pilot that leads into the introduction of President Bartlet is a classic. The scene is The West Wing in a nutshell. Toby is righteously indignant and deliciously grumpy. Josh is haughty and arrogant until the situation warrants his serious face. C.J. tries her best to keep this boys club in order and stop problems from escalating. The President comes in, commands the room, tells awkward jokes, and closes with a metaphorical slap in the face. If you want one scene to illustrate everything that makes this show great, this would be it.
Favorite Guest Star: Glenn Close as Evelyn Baker Lang and William Fichtner as Christopher Mulready make notable appearances in season 5. Whether you love or hate (or love to hate) the latter 3 seasons or not, there was occasional greatness, and these two guest stars are just one example of that greatness. Thank you Lang and Mulready for being incredible one-off characters that you just can’t seem to forget. There is a lot of talk about judges throughout the seven seasons of The West Wing, but none of the rest stand out like these two.