The Regularly Scheduled TV Show Blog

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The West Wing 7.04, Desperate Housewives 2.04: Mr. Frost Predicts The Future and a True Villain is Revealed

The West Wing is marred by an assassination, or two, and the new villain in Desperate Housewives makes her appearance.

This week's The West Wing episode provides political intrigue with the Santos (D) campaign's response to the Vinick(R) attacks on the border issues, international intrigue involving multiple assassinations, and the Congressional hearings into the leak of the military space shuttle. The beginning of the episode shows Margaret spending the day testifying at the Congressional hearings, where we learn that she may have sometimes listened in on C.J.'s calls. Although nothing is actually revealed on what she might have heard during her eavesdropping. I'm happy to say that the investigation storyline nears its end in this week's episode as it is finally revealed who the leaker was, and it was pretty obvious.

Santos, campaigning on education issues, gets pulled into the local school board debate on intelligent design. Santos ends up turning a difficult situation around making it a problem for Vinick, who is very non-religious and has problems answering questions on religious matters. This maneuver by the Santos campaign to thread the needle in keeping its own secular base happy as well as diving into the religious base of the Republicans is done well, but it pales in comparison to the convincing nature of the Vinick's campaign to swing the Latino voters from Santos. This week's maneuver by Santos is suppose to be a mirror in political tactfulness of last week's move by Vinick, but it feels uneasy and haphazard compared to last week's episode. However, things aren't all golden for the Santos campaign as Leo has received a subpoena in the leak investigation to appear at the Congressional hearings, and nobody is looking forward to having the Democratic VP candidate testifying at the hearings. Although he has no legal problems in regard to the leak, the political ramification on their campaign would be devastating.

During this political intrigue, the Palestinian Chairman is assassinated by a suicide bomber. President Bartlet is concerned that the peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians will fall apart, and he pushes hard to get a suitable contingent of world leaders to attend the funeral of the Palestinian Chairman. Many are reluctant to attend, for very obvious safety issues, but the pressure from President Bartlet to have them attend garners a viable assembly of world leaders to attend the funeral in Palestine. Hopefully next week's episode will give some time to the funeral, but I'm doubtful they will want to spend the time and/or resources on a side note of the storyline.

Charles Frost, the Vinick campaign's security briefer, keeps trying to contact C.J., and then he shows up at the White House to give a warning that the assassination of the Palestinian Chairman is just the first step in an international plan to destabilize the Middle East. Everyone thinks he's a little off base until the second assassination in Kazakhstan occurs giving much more credit to his conspiracy theory. The news of the second assassination pushes C.J. to warn the other possible assassination targets. The full theory is never explained nor the full reasoning or full target list, this should be the start of a new plot line throughout this season. Later in the episode, Kate Harper, a national security advisor, informs C.J. that Mr. Frost is currently missing and hopes that he will turn up by the next day. Hopefully this storyline will be the one that takes place in lieu of the investigation into the leak plot line. This has much more intrigue and is much more interesting than the investigation to find the White House leak, when it was pretty obvious who the leak was.

At the end of a very long day, C.J. seems resigned to having her life turned upside down by accusations that she leaked top-secret information. She seems a bit nutty, as the episode played out how she has received almost no sleep over the last few days, when Toby comes into her office to talk to her. While C.J. tries to open an old bottle of Champaign, that Toby gave her as a gift awhile ago, Toby tells her that he got a lawyer. This is draws her attention as no one that was subpoenaed took lawyers to their testimony for the aged old reason, "I've got nothing to hide, why do I need a lawyer?” Toby tells her he was the leak and the ending credits roll. Finally, the obvious is revealed and hopefully this storyline can meet a grave. The aftermath of Toby's revelation should provide a decent amount of content for future episodes. Will he ride it out? Or resign as is the more probable case. Whatever happens, it will be the end of Toby as a staple on the West Wing and should give some more face time to the MANY other characters on the show.

This week's episode of Desperate Housewives focuses once again on the personal lives of the original Housewives with minor contact with one another. Although, there is a nice return to the old as three of the four housewives, all but the now working Lynette, to discuss Susan's storyline. It's nice to have a tiny resemblance of the old formula that made the show so great, but at last it was only a momentary relapse of greatness. Come on people, although the Brie storyline was above par this week and Lynette's storyline was great as usual, the storyline of Susan and Gabrielle were very unsatisfactory. At least with their intertwine storyline and meetings, the weaker storylines would be heightened by the stronger storylines of that weak. Their current formula has left me lacking for my support for Desperate Housewives, and unless they make a return to the old, I will be downloading the episodes and watching them when I have nothing else to do instead of waiting in front of my TV for the next episode of Desperate Housewives. Onward to the episode.

At the beginning of the episode, we see Gabrielle arguing with her lawyer about getting her conjugal visits with her husband Carlos. The lawyer thinks he should focus on Carlos's appeal instead of her sex life. The disagreement comes to a head in the middle of a chain-linked corridor that bisects the prison yard. The lawyer says some unsavory things to Gabrielle, and all the chivalrous prisoners, who have been quite enamored by Gabrielle, start yelling at him to apologize, and then they start to poke him through the fence with many, many, many, many, oh yea did I mention MANY? broomsticks. Seriously it was a gauntlet of broomsticks poking the lawyer, I don't think they have that many gardeners in prison, but it was a great and funny start to the episode.

After the prison riot, Carlos and Gabrielle decide to get a new lawyer, and she winds up with a new lawyer with a history of sexing up his female clients. He attempts to do the same when Gabrielle comes in to talk about her husband and their case. Gabrielle rebuffs his advances and also his criticisms about her marriage. Despite this, the new lawyer gets Gabrielle and Carlos their bedtime visit, but also manages to lay the groundwork for some potential future Gabrielle bedtime of his own. I guess they replaced the gardener with the lawyer and kept the exact same idea going, although Gabrielle was suppose to have learned her lesson from the first time. I don't see how the lawyer will be able to get her to make the same mistake twice, though he does have a considerable edge than John the gardener did being Carlos' lawyer.

In Susan's storyline, Susan takes back Mike despite the issues between her and Zack. They go out during the day to post flyers and look for Zack at a common place for runaways. Susan spots Zack and chases after him, but is scared off when Zack threatens to attack her with a stick. The turn in the storyline occurs when Susan decides not to tell Mike about this encounter. This in itself was odd, but it was in the beginning of the episode, so I could see her fixing her mistake later in the episode to remain the good girl that she is. So later in the episode, after feeling guilty about not telling Mike about her encounter with Zack, she goes back to the park to find Zack with the idea of bringing him home. But when Zack starts in with the crazy Julie stalker talk, Susan gives him money and encourages him to go to Utah to find Paul. I can see this happening, I guess, but it felt so off on what Susan was suppose to represent, a flawed person who at the end of things tries to do what is good. She has become the villain of the story in a one episode span, so this is a bit hard to accept. Perhaps in later episodes we can see this mistake corrected, as we most undoubtedly will, but in the meanwhile it puts me in a state of limbo on who to feel about Susan as a character on the show.

In Lynette's now working life, her son Parker fills the aching hole created by Lynette's daily absence with a new imaginary friend, Mrs. Mulberry, who is a sort of Mary Poppins type also with a big black umbrella. This makes Lynette sad and also very jealous, so she throws the umbrella in the trash in hopes of officially killing off an imaginary friend. But instead of getting whisked away by the garbage truck, the umbrella springs free and opens up in the middle of the road, allowing Parker one last glimpse of the umbrella as it's brutally run down by a truck. This makes Lynette feel quite guilty, which makes her cry, which makes Tom pat her head and tell her lies about how she's a good mother. The simplistic storyline of Lynette with its always humorous ending to a situation is what keeps the humor in this show alive in my opinion. Until the return of the formula that worked in the past comes back, Lynette will have to anchor the episode's humor category.

In Bree's life, Bree invites George over to the house for dinner after a very angry encounter between George and her son Andrew. At the dinner, while Danielle and Bree are away from the table, Andrew tells George some awkward things about what Bree sounds like when she climaxes (and yes, it's as uncomfortable as it sounds). This causes George to yell at Andrew, but because George is unwilling to say what brought on the yelling, due to its inappropriate manner, Bree sides with Andrew. Fighting fire with fire, George to kisses Bree in the middle of Andrew's swim meet, prompting a suddenly angry Andrew to leap from the pool and clobber George. Bree, blind to George's manipulations, sends Andrew back to behavior modification camp, sounds pretty scary to me, which was what George was aiming for all along. Bree's storyline brought about an unexpected comedic bonus to the episode when Andrew told George how his mother's sex life was and the sounds of her and his, now dead, father. Very, very uncomfortable, but yet extremely humorous.

This week's episode was above par in regards to this season's episodes, but it was lacking in comparison to their first season's episodes. Perhaps it is new writers, or the inability of the writers to recapture the style in the first season that causes such a gap. The only thing that is for certain is that this season's episodes have not been anywhere near as good as the episodes in the first season due to its inability to interconnect the different women's storylines to one another as they were previously able to do. The show went from a humorous show with Seinfeld'esque flair, into a comedy show with separate storylines with no connections among them. Here's hoping for next week.


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