There are many times when its hard to find a true purpose for today's television: too much sex, violence, inappropriate language, etc. Most of us can think back to a time when television was something that a family could sit down and enjoy together and possibly even stir up some meaningful dialogue because of some the characters or storylines. Television found ways to address social and moral issues in a sensitive manner yet were still entertaining: prejudice and bigotry in series such as All In the Family or the Jeffersons; coming of age in series like Family or The Wonder Years, The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie were historical series that inspired millions with stories of hardships and the bonds of family.
I'm Rick Spring and I'm an insomniac. No 12 step program for me, I dont take meds and when I start counting sheep, I see lamb chops and head for the kitchen so my eventual path to slumberland passes through some sort of TV programming; mostly series on DVD which I get through netflix. I have a love affair with netflix. But I digress....I have just finished a series called The West Wing. It ran for 7 seasons on NBC from 2000-2006. It received truckloads of emmys and TV awards while it was on the air including being called the Best Series in the History of TV by TV Guide. The problem is, with my coaching schedule, its hard to commit to a weekly show so I catch up with them via my beloved netflix. And I have watched some GREAT ones: Sopranos, 24, Lost, Grey's Anatomy, all the Law and Orders and many many many more. But I can state here and now unequivocably that The West Wing is without a doubt the finest dramatic series I have ever watched. The series is set at the White House and chronicles the the last 7 years of Democrat Jed Bartlet's (played flawlessly by Martin Sheen) 2 term presidency. Having just sat through night after night of Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren as they laborously pointed out distinctions between the republican and democratic parties in the last election, the terminology of the show was still fresh and relevent. Its not necessary to be a political expert to enjoy the nuances of the show because its the writing and the character development and interactions that make the show. The casting is dead-on. The set and staging make you believe you're in the White House every step of the way and, in the last season, there is even a live episode where Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits debate each other in their attempt to be the successor to President Bartlet as he leaves office after his final term. I could go on and on but suffice it to say that I truly enjoyed the month long experience of The West Wing and highly recommend it to anyone who can remember the meaningful TV of the past or wants to remember TV as something that was positive and inspiring in a time where we need as must positive inspiration as we can get. I do, however, hope its not necessary to stay up to 2 AM to get it.