The Regularly Scheduled TV Show Blog

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The West Wing 7.01, Desperate Housewives 2.01: The beginning of the end for one, and the continued success for another.

Sunday's premieres played perfectly as normal everyday episodes, although expectations for their season premieres were far above normal. The West Wing's season premiere was much more deficient compared to the hype behind the episode, while Desperate Housewives played much closer to what was expected.

The West Wing did something for the first time in its show that it has never done before. They started at a future end point and didn't reach it by the conclusion of the episode. This may seem a bit trivial to most, but this is a first for The West Wing and could be contribute to future style changes in writing. Seriously, this is a show where its Pilot episode followed the exact same formula as its 50th episode and its 100th episode. The West Wing has lived off its very simple formula for 6 years, any changes, however tiny, are massive. The show started off in a "Three years later" state, which is the show starts off three years after the conclusion of the season finale. The season finale of Season 6 for The West Wing ended on such a strong and powerful high-note with the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention and the Democratic ticket for President announced after a massive power struggle for delegate’s votes by potential Presidential candidates. This ending of Season 6 was met with a startling drop-off in the start of Season 7; although this was to be expected, I didn't expect the drop-off to be so great, but rather try to ride the high point from last season for all it was worth.

"Three years later", President Bartlet is at his Presidential library for his dedication ceremony, the library also happens to be the UCLA library, when he runs into his old staff and they reminisce about where they are now. C.J. Cregg, former press secretary and chief of staff, is now married to the once forbidden love reporter Danny Concannon. Former chief of staff for the Vice-President, Will Bailey, is now a representative in congress, and they continue around the former staff, and President Bartlet tells Tobey Ziegler "Thank you for coming." and he replies "Thanks for the invitation." this exchange seems rather simple and playful, but later events may shed more light on this conversation. Finally, Josh Lyman walks in and says that the President, the current one, would like to meet with President Bartlet. The camera cuts to the Presidential motorcade and as the President gets out of the car the camera pans from the feet up and when it reaches the neck area, "BAM!" The West Wing intro starts. Bastards.

The show continues, with a time relapse into the current, with the Presidential election in full swing, and the Democratic ticket of Matt Santos(Jimmy Smits) and Leo McGarry(John Spencer), working hard to get their message out. Leo is spammed with questions from reporters about his previous drug and alcohol addiction and despite his best efforts; it's the only thing reporters care to talk about. The show plays relatively steady, true to previous West Wing episodes and doesn't stray much to their formula save for the opening first. The first Gallop poll is shown in the aftermath of the Democrats finally picking their guy and all signs are pointing to Happyville with the Santos ticket only 9 points down. Yea, I know 9 points sounds pretty big, but the Republican ticket is a powerhouse ticket of VERY moderate-republican California Senator Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) and the West Virginia Governor, who doesn't get much air-time. But being only 9 points down is a workable margin for the Democrats that expected much more dire numbers. On the other side of the show, the internal investigation of the leak of information about the military space shuttle is underway. The glaring suspect of the investigation is the Chief of Staff C.J. Cregg, with mounding evidence against her. The investigation concludes with the White House counsel's office recommending that the internal investigation end to allow the FBI and congressional investigation to make the final conclusions. Later in the show, Santos and Leo get into a disagreement on how to end the issue of reporters' relentless attacks on Leo over his past. All ends well and there are a Pow-wow between the Presidential candidate and his VP, as they are now closer than before and yadda, yadda, yadda, the show ends.

Desperate Housewives starts at the end of its very suspenseful end of Season 1. With the teenager Zach Young (Cody Kasch) holding Susan Mayer hostage in Mike Delfino's house. His plan is simple, to wait for Mike to come home and kill him because Zach believes Mike has killed his father. Mike returns home, after NOT killing Paul Young, Zach's father, because he learned that Zach is actually his son, and a struggle for the gun pursues with no one dying and Zach fleeing the house. At the hospital, Susan is getting her cut lips, from the struggle, checked out as the police arrive to get her statement. Obvious that her cut lips prevent her from talking much, Mike says he'll fill the cop in on what happened as she rests. Mike talks to the cop outside and says that Susan who just blowing an argument out of proportion and she was just a bit hysterical and that no charges were needed to be made. Susan's daughter, Julie, overhears this and reports it to her mother the next day. The show started with a solid beginning and it felt like just another episode and could have easily been tacked on the end of Season 1 and be part of that season. The writers feel like not making any episode overly important than any other and the show will just flow from one season to the next. If you bunched all the episodes together after a few more seasons, I'm sure that you won't know where one season starts and another ends.

On ward to the Van De Kamp camp, get it? well whatever, Bree sits in her house, phone in hand, and stars at the clock. She sits and waits to call her friends to tell them of the news of her husband's death. She sits not because she doesn't know how to tell them, but rather until the time reaches 8:55 on the dot before she dials a call because she doesn't want to be impolite and call to early, and I guess 8:55 is the beginning of the "not too early" stage. Her friends get the call and they come together to console Bree, when Bree's mother-in-law (Phyllis) arrives, a complete psycho mom who hated Bree from day one. During the show, they will get into a fight about how the reverend should eulogize Rex, our deceased, and at the tipping point, Bree declares that Phyllis is uninvited to the funeral and that she will have security there to beat her if she tries to enter the church, harsh but oh so funny.

At the Scavo camp, Lynette prepares for her first interview in her return to the world of advertising after her seven year motherhood vacation. At her interview, she is met with a truly corporate woman, who pretty much says she hates any person who puts their children first over their work. Lynette, wanting to get the job, reassures her that she will be keeping the motherhood at home when she comes into work. This, of course, will come to conflict with actual events. Lynette is told that her boss will be making the final decision and that she will have to come in tomorrow to talk to him. The next day, Lynette's husband, Tom throws out his back and obviously Lynette has to bring in the baby to the interview. She impresses her new boss by changing a diaper and telling him what their agency needs to do in order to get more business, and of course she gets the job.

On the childless side of things, Gabrielle, pregnant, feeling guilty about her affair tries to reconcile with her imprisoned hubby, Carlos, when he asks for a paternity test to prove he is the father. Gabrielle unknowing whether Carlos or her young gardener lover, John, is actually the father cons another women's paternity test and Photoshop it for herself. Might I add how absolutely lovely it is to hear her say she can "Photoshop it". Later on, Mike is told by the police that they need him to identify the body of Zach, as Susan comes as well. The body turns out not to be Zach's and the obvious expression of Mike's face reveals to Susan that Zach was actually Mike's son and she learns about the secret of Mary Alice from Mike. She leaves him at the coroners, overwhelmed by the new knowledge. They later talk back at home, as Susan tells Mike that she can no longer move in with him as planned, because she can't allow herself or her daughter, Julie, to be around Zach because, well, he's a bit on the crazy side of things. The show ends with the new neighbors that recently moved in. The Applewhites, mother (Alfre Woodard) and son, preparing a lovely meal for someone else. One carries the gun, the other the silver meal tray as they head to the basement. They open a metal door and leave the tray there, and soon after a white hand (the Applewhites are black) in chains comes out to grab the food as the show ends. So they are definitely holding someone in their basement, the question is why and who the hell is it?


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