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The 7 - Movies & TV - West Wing's live debate
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Big Bad
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#1 Posted on 6.11.05 2321.49
Reposted on: 6.11.12 2322.16
A few things we learned from tonight's show....

* Presidential debates should not turn into Jerry Springer. The 'roaming around' idea was a bad one.

* Alan Alda is a much better actor than Jimmy Smits, or at least just much more used to performing live. Vinick was easygoing and largely came off as if he was actually in a debate, as opposed to Santos, who kept going back to his pre-written lines and looked stiff. It was like Foley doing a promo against Randy Orton.

* This would've been a lot funnier with Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles as the candidates.

* Apparently presidential debates in WW-world don't include major newsworthy events like the recent foreign assassinations, Toby being the leak and the abortion debate that took up last week's show.
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The Goon
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#2 Posted on 6.11.05 2330.00
Reposted on: 6.11.12 2330.10
I was wondering the whole time when they would get to talking about abortion. How odd that they didn't.

That one part where Vinick came right into Santos' personal space creeped me out. I thought Santos might shove him off.

The Ellen DeGeneres interludes were more annoying than just regular commercials.

As big a fan of the show as I am, I can't believe I spent an hour watching a fake live debate and then talking about the points they brought up with my Dad.

Deputy Marshall
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#3 Posted on 7.11.05 0114.28
Reposted on: 7.11.12 0114.33
    Originally posted by The Goon
    As big a fan of the show as I am, I can't believe I spent an hour watching a fake live debate and then talking about the points they brought up with my Dad.

Then, in a sense, it achieved its goal. Personally, I thought it was interesting, and totally agree that Ellen's presence was completely unnecessary.

Ellen: "Hey, folks! Boy, do I love making comments that should be praising the program but end up just disjointing the viewing experience and breaking the fourth wall. Oh, and go to the American Express website!"

The wandering around, and the fact that they tossed out the rules for the formal debate, were more than a little ridiculous. However, that's done intentionally because just watching a dramatized version of a normal Presidential debate would be quite cumbersome. You could do it to an extent, but can't expect them to go for an hour (forty-four minutes plus commercials) without doing some basic blocking.

I couldn't agree more about Alda, but in all fairness to Smits I'm pretty sure that Alda has much more extensive experience in live theater than Jimmy Smits. I always viewed him (Smits) as a good (but not great) actor, so it didn't really surprise me at all that Alda blew him out of the water at times. It'll be interesting to see the results of the online poll at as to who won the debate, since I think a lot of that will come down to who gave the better performance (definitely Alda).

And, while giving credit to him, I want to also give credit to the writers of this series as well. They've really made Vinick a likable character and legitimate threat, instead of demonizing him immediately (because he's the opposition party's candidate) like a lot of other writers probably would have done.

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#4 Posted on 7.11.05 0750.39
Reposted on: 7.11.12 0750.44
This was the first episode of West Wing that I've ever seen (since I figured it'd be the most accessible that I'd ever see as well), and I enjoyed it. There were a couple moments that seemed a bit forced (like Alda's dramatic pause in his opening statements before suggesting having a normal debate), but for the most part it went off shockingly well.

What happened with Ellen? I don't think we saw anything with her in Canada.
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#5 Posted on 7.11.05 0805.44
Reposted on: 7.11.12 0805.44
Alan Alda is a freakin' god.

He made Smits look like an amature. Alda's stage presence was amazing....
Boudin blanc
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#6 Posted on 7.11.05 0856.24
Reposted on: 7.11.12 0856.33
Amusing to get to see Forrest Sawyer play Forrest Sawyer.

Alda's pause at the beginning was cheap, but effective. I couldn't tell if this was because Alda had blanked on his lines (doubtful) or if perhaps Vinick was supposed to be blanking on his lines. The whole "the-rules-suck-lets-have-a-real-debate" was rather heavy-handed, as was alot of the 'propaganda'. I think the fact that I was starting to get peeved with Vinick constantly pimping his 'sensible solutions' catchphrase is a sign that they made this feel like a real debate.

The stuff with Smits needing a second microphone to wander around was hokey, though. As were the plants in the audience.

The Ellen monologue bordered on painful. Her presence there was effectively an AmEx commercial, right? Ugh.
J. Kyle
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#7 Posted on 7.11.05 0906.56
Reposted on: 7.11.12 0908.02
I watch too much TV already so I never cared about this show. However I was interested after hearing that MASH vs. Star Wars was the race. The live gimmick looked interesting so I took the bait and watched my first episode.

Without taking away from Alda's performance (Which was awesome) I will say in Smits' defense that I believe his character was supposed to be nervous about the juggernaut that is Vinnick.

I also feel like some moments felt contrived just to swing us to the Democrat side in spite of what was an even showing from each guy.

Santos did some misinterpreting or extreming Vinnick's views and Vinnick just smiled without correcting him.

I'm guessing both candidates dodged the abortion issue on purpose. Sadly it's still one of those things that still dissolves into us versus them regardless of the time, place, us, or them.

Good show though. May watch again next week.
Matt Tracker
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#8 Posted on 7.11.05 0915.33
Reposted on: 7.11.12 0915.35
I wasn't happy with blurring the lines of real news and fiction news by using Sawyer and the constant LIVE NBC NEWS logo, but I certianly understand that it lends credibility. I was much more bothered, to be honest, by the obvious fake audience, applauding and silencing in freakish unison. And my last complaint, I'd rather they had used the town hall format of debate so Smits and Alda could play off other people as well as each other and Sawyer.

Having said all that, it was a good show and a lively debate that seemed to tackle isues with candor while still portraying a degree of restraint from the candidates. My wife asked me who won the debate, and I said Alan Alda, the actor. If the show gives us him as the next president, I would have no trouble watching him run the country.

I liked Smits's effort, but I think the writer skunked the character by using so much of the Latino factor in his closing remarks, something only briefly touched on specifically during the debate. It felt like Santos unnecessarily added that as the final word on whatever prinicples he espoused, and that made me like Santos less. As much as this was obviously an actors' showcase, the writing shined through. Vinnick's monologue about Africa and his closing remarks were brilliant, and it shows that Vinnick as a greater global presentation than Santos.

The series has made an effort to at times demonize the right even as they show that some of the administration's opponents are decent folk who really want to better the country. Vinnick came across as a sincere, thoughtful earnest man, as much as Santos, a man who doesn't trust the current politics to solve problems. I think tonight's debate is a set-up, showing us that Vinnick is ready to lead but for some reason won't. I hope we don't get a last-minute scandal that scuttles his campaing. I also hope the series doesn't try to give us a Florida 2000 scandal as a season cliffhanger.
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#9 Posted on 7.11.05 1903.40
Reposted on: 7.11.12 1903.44
I would rather have had a real newsman like Jim Dial over Sawyer.
Weird that none of the "traditional" cast members appeared on the show. You'd think they would at least use Josh as a last second briefer to Santos.
Ellen was worthless.
It would have been hilarious if Santos had used a story about some woman from Crabapple Cove, Maine who was struggling due to something. Also, Wayne Rogers or David Ogden Steers should have been Vinnick's vice-presidential nominee, thus making it complete L.A. Law vs. MASH.
I'll give Alda credit, he's such a good actor he was almost convincing as a Republican, even though he's probably the most liberal person associated with the show. I did think some of those smiles by Alda fell into the realm of "I can't believe these words are coming out of MY mouth."
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#10 Posted on 7.11.05 2324.23
Reposted on: 7.11.12 2325.52
Not a single word, not one word on national defense? And this is their only debate, right? Talk about things that wouldn't happen in real life.

I loved the debate, though, and I think Smits did better than some are giving him credit for. Besides, the "I'll wear the word 'liberal' like a badge of honor!" speech had me up off my chair cheering. I hate how conservatives have tried to turn the word "liberal" into a curse word, and I wish a real-life liberal would say something like that.
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