16 April 2006

West Wing Fantasy

I rarely read fiction as after reading the newspaper there seems so little time to read books. When I do have time have time it is always non-fiction I turn to. Curiously the same does not apply to the films or TV I choose to watch. We are half way through the final series of The West Wing in the UK, and the presidential election campaign theme is working well although initially I thought it was a mistake to move so much of the action away from the White House. The West Wing is fiction (although apparently some of the stories have been based on real incidents) but in some respects it is more fantasy than fiction, with an election campaign featuring two charismatic, intelligent, principled and committed politicians: Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) and Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) as the central theme. (My guess is that if this was reality Vinick, as a liberal-leaning Republican, would win comfortably because he would also appeal to many Democrats.) Sadly such candidates only seem to exist in the imagination of Hollywood scriptwriters, such as the brilliant Aaron Sorkin who left at the end of the fourth series but whose influence remains. The series has lost something since Sorkin left but even second best West Wing is better than almost anything else on TV. Apparently the last ever episode of this series has just been shown in the US and so ends, in my opinion, the best TV drama ever to come out of America.

Back in the real world we have George W Bush as president - on this occasion I prefer the fiction.

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