Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Last Days Of C.J.

Next Sunday brings the final episode of The West Wing. None too soon for some people, way too late for others. I would have been one of those before this season, when the show has come back to be more than just a pale shadow of its former self. Still not up to the standard of those first few seasons, but a strong comeback nonetheless, and light years better than the seasons between the ridiculous Zoe-kidnapping-story and the ridiculous Donna-blowing-up-in-Gaza-story.

I guess that was really only one truly awful, horrible season, but it was enough to put me off the show for another year after that.

Anyway, the stories this year have been much better, and the writing, while still not Sorkin-esque, has been better as well.

And there is no doubt that a good chunk of the allure of the show for me continues to be the great Allison Janney. If the series' penultimate episode this past Sunday was her final at-bat as C.J. Cregg, she definitely did a Ted Williams on it.

The show centered around C.J.'s last days as Chief of Staff, and her future as ... well, something else. Torn between desire and duty, until the final scene of the episode and a conversation with Danny Concannon finally allows her to realize that she can lay aside duty after eight years and pursue a life of her own.

Strong stuff, and while it was of a completely different tenor than the best writing of the Sorkin years, it was pretty damn close to being at that level.

In other words, the first time a few years that the writing has really been worthy of Allison Janney's talents.


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