The West Wing, Thank You…

After watching last Sunday’s episode of “The West Wing,” I realized that by the end of May, there will never be a new episode to look forward to.

 

It struck me harder than I thought it would.

 

For all its criticism of being a soapbox for liberal views, those pundits who called that out about the show missed the point. It isn’t a show to reflect your own personal political stand. This is the kind of rare television show that quickly proved TV can produce great art. Yet more importantly, “The West Wing” challenged its viewers to look at both sides proving politics, or even matters of the heart, aren’t clear-cut left or right or black or white issues. If anything the show got many to be interested in our very own real-world issues and to get involved.

 

 

So to “The West Wing,”

 

Thank you for teaching us that not everything is black and white, that there are grey areas and often there is no good choice.

Thank you for giving us a ‘secret plan to fight inflation.’

 

Thank you for raising the level of public debate.

Thank you for ‘decisions are made by those who show up.’

 

Thank you for Big Block of Cheese Days, complete with lunatic mapmakers and wolves named Pluie.

Thank you for showing the entertainment industry that just because a show is popular, doesn’t mean it has to appeal to the lowest common denomenator.

 

Thank you for Josh Lyman, who will always be an inpiration to me, proving that despite the tremendous stress hanging over your shoulders you can never be too smart, too clever or too witty.

 

Thank you for CJ Cregg who showed us that a truly exceptional woman can be tough, fair and funny all at once.

 

Thank you for Toby Ziegler who has the capacity to love no matter what he may think, who was the one person who had the courage to speak up for the point of view that few others had the courage to voice, and in a way that few had the gift to articulate.

 

Thank you for President Bartlet, his passion and drive, who showed us how a Presidency could be run if those in the Oval put Country before popularity.

 

Thanks for Leo McGarry, for his uncompromising wisdom, and redefining what a friend truly is and should be.

 

Thank you for Sam, Donna, Mrs. Landingham, Mrs. Bartlet, Fitz, Nancy, Debbie, Charlie, and yes, even Kate. Thanks for Will, Carol, Ginger, Bonnie, Ed and Larry. Thanks for President-Elect Matthew Santos.

 

Thank you for giving me a springboard from which to start writing again. Thank you for teaching me what good writing sounds like when it dances off the page.

 

Thanks for electrifying my creativity when it needed a jumpstart.

 

Thank you for teaching us that complexity isn’t a vice. That actions are immoral, but opinions aren’t.

For being a comfort to your friends in times of tragedy and celebrating with them in times of triumph.

 

Thank you for making me laugh.

Thank you for making me cry.

Thank you for making me think.

Thank you for inspiring me to always be the better person.

 

What’s next?

Over The Hedge – Work-In-Progress Screening

Over The Hedge

 

I just saw an advance work-in-progress screening last night of DreamWorks animated film, Over The Hedge and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. As a matter of fact, I was pleasantly delighted by it. Steve Carrell steals the show (as always) as Hammy the squirrel and his character’s got most of the funny bits (particularly one involving caffeine) Imagine an over-caffeinated squirrel! It was just too much.

I would say the quality of animation is good, especially from DreamWorks Animation, who in my opinion lags right behind Disney/Pixar. They could have spent some more time on the human characters but then again we saw it with 80% of the animation completed and I noticed most of the unfinished animation involves the human characters. There are funny bits in it, and most of them are pretty sly commentaries on life in the suburbs (SUVs, lawn care and watching Dr. Phil).

On the other hand, the story isn’t original. Granted it’s based on a comic strip with avid followers, the problem with the film is much like everyone has already stated. It does follow the tried and true formula of the buddy/odd couple movies like Toy Story and Shrek. Everytime the story focused on Verne the Turtle (pitch-perfect Garry Shandling) and his jealousy towards RJ the Racoon (Bruce Willis, who didn’t sound like Bruce Willis), I kept going back to Buzz and Woody. There’s even a scene that’s eerily reminiscent of the Andy’s room scene in the first Toy Story, where Buzz is strapped to the rocket. It follows the formula of many animated movies to a tee.

I’m much more forgiving than most people on here though. I’m hoping that these animators are doing what most great artists do from time to time: variations on a theme.

What makes Over The Hedge better than some of the bad CGI that’s come out lately is that it dabbles in being a solid animated heist/caper movie at the end of the second act, playing to the strengths of the animal characters. Again, the funniest bit throughout the heist sequence involves Hammy the Squirrel and a laser pointer.

This in my opinion is the highlight of the movie a la Ocean’s Eleven. As a matter of fact, they used temp music from Ocean’s Eleven! The Ben Folds songs are pretty good, too.

I brought my little sister to the screening and she loved it. Most of the adults laughed at the bits that were geared towards life in suburbia, but the kids in the audience got a kick out of the whole damn thing. It’s good. It’s no Toy Story, but it’s definitely better than Madagascar.

RATING: B+