Sunday, 28 October 2012

S02E07: The Portland Trip

CJ is sort of in the doghouse at the beginning of the episode, thanks to her Notre Dame gaffe. It's light and fluffy stuff, and gives us the opportunity for a few chuckles, but I always get a bit concerned when they emphasize the somewhat sadistic nature of Bartlet's character. He's the President and they all serve at his pleasure. He can order them to do pretty much whatever he wants. Personally I think a good rule of thumb would be to refrain from deliberately making your senior staff miserable on a whim. Danny's retribution is far more subtle, and all the better for it.

The meeting Josh has with the congressman in this episode is particularly interesting. It shines a light on the complexity of political opinion, which can often get lost in world where the media needs to pander to the extremes in order to be heard. In reality, not every homosexual is a democrat, not every gun-toting redneck is a republican. Not every democrat is pro-choice, not every republican wants taxes lowered. Truth be told "the enemy" often isn't the enemy at all, and we'd probably be surprised how often our "friends" don't necessarily take the position we expect. What we should recognise is that just because someone disagrees with us doesn't mean they're any less sincere than we are, and we should respect that.

Jed's final decision on the issue is also interesting. He can rail all he likes about how it's wrong, but even for possibly the most idealistic president ever portrayed on the small screen, political expediency trumps what he feels is right. A second term is more important than doing what's right. Depending on how cynical you are you can see that one of two ways. Either it's a feather in the cap for democracy - he has to bend to the will of the people or risk being ousted, or it's a reminder of just how ineffective the whole process of government is. Ever get the feeling these weren't decisions we were meant to make?

I really get the feeling at this point that they're trying to make Ainsley part of the regular cast, not just a recurring character. Her part in this episode was totally crowbarred in.

Random observations:

Sports Night crossover - Colonel Chase was also in an episode of Sports Night. His character name? Chase.

I agree with Josh about Donna's dress. Wow.

Episode grade: B-

So what did you all think?

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