John Wells: The West Wing

Posted on November 8, 2003

The West Wing has spent 4 seasons growing into one of the most thoughtful and funny shows on television. Creator Aaron Sorkin has a fantastic sense of pacing in his shows and can deliver a message with laughter as easily as with drama.

In its infinite wisdom, NBC decided that Sorkin was no longer needed (possibly due to a high profile arrest for drugs or maybe just the typical stupidity of the old white boy TV network executive club). NBC brought in John Wells, of ER fame to replace Sorkin. The result has been pretty much a disaster.

Wells has the gentle touch of a sumo wrestler, and drives home his points with all the subtlety of a Hustler centerfold. Everything in the new season screams “Drama! Drama! Drama! Look! I’m Important!”

The lighting for the show feels like a mortuary and the cast sleepwalks from one world shattering event to another. This type of “Stories Ripped From The Headlines” is a Wells staple. To me, this is what hack writers do when they don’t have ideas of their own… rip from the headlines.

The dialog has been dumbed down and all of the emotional content is reduced to the typical tired toolbox of knee-jerk hollywood emoto-events (which elicited the appropriate response in all of their focus groups). It’s enough to make you cry.

If you want my advise, buy the first four seasons on DVD and then pretend that everyone was destroyed by giant robots at the end of the fourth season.

NBC and John Wells earn a spot in the poo poo palace with this one.