The West Wing
In an eerie bit of synchronicity, tonight's West Wing
focused on Leo McGarry, just three weeks after the sudden death of actor John Spencer
. While I assumed there would be a special intro mentioning his passing, I was unprepared for how moved I was by Martin Sheen
's words. Johnny, we hardly knew ya, indeed. This episode was a fitting tribute, a reminder of all the splendid work Spencer has done over the years. From playing the usually unflappable Leo as vulnerable and self-doubting in the beginning of the debate prep, to the inevitable revelation that he was leaking bad reports on himself to the press because he knew Josh wouldn't — it was classic Leo. (By the way, for my money, the greatest Leo moment in the history of the series: "So a guy's walking down the street, and he falls in a hole....") That said, I couldn't help but feel a little creepy watching the show. Did anyone else spend the hour looking for signs of ill health, searching for some indication of Spencer's looming heart attack?
Spencer wasn't alone in doing solid work in the episode. Kristin Chenoweth stole just about every scene she was in. Her discussion with Leo about controlling his smirk in the debate was hysterical. "Do you want to come off wise or wiseass?" Nice. And one can only hope that some of President Bush's handlers were taking notes.
Speaking of wiseasses — OK, just asses — how about Mrs. Santo's thong making front-page news? Don't you think a politician's wife would be a tad more careful, even in her own front yard? On the upside, the Santos campaign just locked up the endorsement of America's Maxim subscribers. The underwear flap, however, did afford us a nice look at the strength and humor of the Santos' relationship (as well as Teri Polo's butt). Their solid family ties played nicely off the burgeoning romance between Will and Kate. The banter there was terrific, but that's got to be the worst first date in human history: dinner and a vice-presidential debate.