Tonight, if everything goes right, NBC is going to play what I
is the best hour I've ever seen on a television set.
I call it the "Pockets" episode, even tho it has a real name.
Produced by Llewellyn Wells.
Written by Aaron Sorkin, the genius.
Directed by Tommy Schlamme.
(I want him to direct the BartCop Movie)
I've seen the good parts a dozen times or so, but it wasn't until
the entire show on the 12th that I caught a lot of the little things.
I'm the type that has to see something again and again to soak it in.
The hour opens as the day from Hell.
The president is engulfed in political turmoil, a staff on the verge of panic,
a war about to break out in Haiti and that's the best part of his day.
Also on today's schedule he's got the funeral of his oldest friend
got to come clean on the big lie he's kept from the voters for years.
Leo, the Chief of Staff is catching shit from scared bunny Democrats.
(Have I mentioned that this is the most realistic show on TV?)
"Leo, we think he should step down."
Leo snaps back,
"You think you're the first person to suggest that?
I've heard that 35 times in the last hour and a half."
They try to pin leo down - "Will Bartlet run again?"
Leo says, "There's a press conference tonight, ...I'd watch."
Sam & Toby have a nasty exchange.
Tensions are high, and they still haven't gotten an answer
from the president on what his next move is going to be.
So, the theme has been set - will Bartlet run for another term?
Josh goes to CJ with some tough-talk on fighting the Cancer lobby.
"This is like the fire we used to throw in the early primaries," she says.
"Yeah, we gotta let Bartlet be Bartlet," Josh replies.
You can tell, they're tense, worried.
They have doubt and fear, not unlike what we're going thru today.
Sam is in a meeting with other top Demos who start talking about
VP Hoines (sp?) having an easier time if he can run as an incumbent.
Sam closes his folder and says, "This meeting is over."
Sam is pissed, too - everybody is having a bad day.
Then, our first flashback.
It was the day he met Mrs. Landingham, whose funeral was today.
His asshole of a father was screaming at him because somebody
dropped a cigarette on the chapel floor. That's big.
Back in the present, Bartlet is told a freak storm is heading up the
coast towards Washington.
It's a hueueueuge storm, and it's heading his way.
More trouble in Haiti, it just won't quit.
The tension keeps building.
Now they tell the press that a bombshell is coming
The president is trying to talk to some people in thre Oval Office
but the outside door keep swinging open, as if by a ghost.
Charlie explains that there's a weird wind tunnel when certain doors are open
at the same time, which seems to interest Bartlet more than it should.
Back to the present, Bartlet has made his decision - he's going to quit.
His party is running away from him, his staff feels betrayed and let down,
the polls tell him 80 percent of Democrats won't vote for him.
He feels like he's got no choice and he tells Leo he doesn't want to run again
Time for the Funeral
Riding to the funeral, he seems lost and full of despair.
He just wants to crawl in a hole and go to sleep.
Inside Washington's National Catherdral, Bartlet has another flashback.
This one showed how he was getting to know Mrs. Landingham better,
and how their "no bullshit" relationship was coming along.
The Cathedral in Washington is a magnificent building.
The stained glass, the giant pillars, even the echoes sound important.
Another flashback, Mrs. L is on his case about something.
"You have a habit of telling me I'm doing something wrong before I even do it."
She replies, "That would be annoying."
She tells Jed he needs "a big sister," but what she meant was that he needed focus.
Then a moment that would change them both forever.
Mrs. L drags Jed into school politics.
The women are paid less than the men, she said, and could Jed speak to
his asshole dad who was the school's headmaster about it?
"Give me numbers," he recalls telling her.
She said, "If you think women deserve less pay, then I can respect
But if you think we're right but you just don't want to speak up,
well, then, I don't even want to know you."
Mrs. L came back with numbers, dates and names. She was right, the women
were being paid less and what was Jed going to do about it?
He thrust his hands in his pockets and said he'd have to think about
But Mrs L cackled and said, "You've already made up your mind.
When you put your hands in your pockets and look away, you've decided."
Back in the present, the funeral has ended.
The President asks Leo to clear and seal the church - everybody outside.
You talk about a dramatic scene - Bartlet's about to tell God off.
He starts with "You son of a bitch."
He told God he was vindictive for killing Mrs. L.
He called God a "feckless thug," right to his face.
Then the Latin came out.
The President chewing out God in a dead language.
Somewhere in the back issues is the word by word translation, but I
his closing line was "Go hang yourself - you got Hoines."
I think the Latin people said "hang yourself" because "go fuck yourself"
doesn't look right coming from the President towards God.
Bartlet lights a cigarette and steps on it, grinding it into the Cathedral
He was flashing back to his asshole dad, showing all the disrespect he could.
Bartlet storms out, a bitter and beaten man.
Back at the White House, Toby is told he must take a meeting with a
Rupert Murdoch-type of weasel who offered him Roger Ailes's job.
It was a test - to see if Toby thought it was best to desert the sinking ship.
Toby gets mad as hell. he passes the test and says he's staying.
It's the first good news to come Bartlet's way in a long time.
Toby was Bartlet's biggest and most vocal critic.
If Toby was willing to stay and fight, that must mean something.
Leo tells Toby the decision to quit has been made, but Toby doesn't
and Leo doesn't know the wheels are turning in Bartlet's head.
The President asks Donna to get him hard facts on the storm.
Turns out, in recorded history, a storm this big has never hit Washington
in the month of may - it just doesn't happen, Donna tells him.
The press conference of his life is looming.
CJ goes over it again and again with the President.
"First guy on the right." ...that's who Bartlet should call on, so he can field
an easy question before he tells drops the big bombshell about his future.
Alone in a room about to go live, the damn draft causes the door to
fly open and,
as he's done for so many years, he bellows, "Mrs. Landingham!!!"
About the time he remembered she was dead, her ghost comes walking thru the door.
They have a brief talk, well, no, actually the President was hallucinating
talking to himself, and it was a lively conversation. Mrs. L reminded Jed
what a "prick" his daddy was, and that was one of the best lines in the show.
I like hearing a woman in her seventies use the language most Anmericans use.
As the conversation was ending, he remembered what she said all those
"If you don't want to run, I respect that, but if you don't do it because you
think you might lose, then I don't even want to know you," and she walked out.
With his mind raging, Bartlet walked out into the storm and faced it.
Arriving to give his speech, the camera cuts to the janitor of the Cathedral
who is wondering who the crackpot was that dropped a cigarette on the altar.
The camera zooms from the janitor up to the stained glass as we hear the sirens
of the president's motorcade go by. Jed looks at the church as if to say
"Thanks for sending me the signs."
Check the look on CJ's face when Bartlet intentionally calls
on the wrong reporter.
Bartlet came looking for a fight - a tough one.
There's only a handful of words in the last ten minutes.
I've always said the best acting is done without words.
This made that point even clearer.
Toby staying, the signal God sent him with the storm of the century
and the ghost of his old friend brought back the old fire in Bartlet.
That''s why this episode means so much to me.
When things were darkest, kinda like the way things are today, Bartlet found a way to fight back.
When things just couldn't get any worse, he could've quit, but he stayed and fought.
Koresh, what I wouldn't give for half a Bartlet right now.
Right now America is pretty dark, too.
We're being "led" by a clueless moron who's not up to the job,
and his only opposition is a handful of under-financed websites because]
the Democrats are all too scared to make a move that might anger Mr. Rove.
We need somebody with Jed Bartlet's courage.
But until she steps forward, we'll have to settle for President Bartlet.
Watch this show tonight.
TV doesn't get any better than this.
I think this episode was Godfather great.
TV isn't supposed to be this good.