Review of Shutdown
Written by Toniann
Ah, now, there's the show I love.
Catch the "American President" Oval Office/White House home-court
advantage reference, and win a prize! And without Sorkin around, no less.
I don't think I can even grasp my mind around the trickle-down effects
shutting down the federal government would have on this country, though we
can all feel safe that nothing will jeopardize the sanctity of the American
hamburger, apparently. Donna's bit with the Social Security checks was
obviously a small way to show us the complex interworkings of the system,
but I think my favorite was the little girl on the TV screen saying, "We
drove all this way to see the Smithsonian and Grandma. Now we just get to
see Grandma." Watch out for that trust fund, kid.
I think there was a two-line blurb that explained why assistants like
Donna and Margaret couldn't simply choose to stay on of their own
volition -- something about coercion? As Donna pointed out, we're really
splitting hairs when she's just going to end up doing her job via cell phone
instead, in that not-quite-Wilt-Chamberlin-like way she has. Though that
really would have been easier if she had a computer at home -- and what do
you mean, Donna doesn't own a computer? In this day & age? Heathen. And
really almost unbelievable. Because, you know, borrowing Josh's "don't read
the folder marked 'private'" laptop was a pretty unrealistic suggestion.
This is Donna we're talking about.
Who the heck was that Rena/Marina woman, the walking lawsuit giving Toby a
hard time about Americorps and leaning over every man in the room whenever
possible? Why was she still working? What "program" of hers wouldn't be
affected? Is it possible she's some kind of political spy? Or in a house
arrest work program from the pen? Those are just the only two possibilities
that occurred to me, I mean, obviously there are more.
While we're at the pressing questions, when these people want coffee they
have to go out to get it, if there's no one there to make it for them? Toby,
CJ, Will, none of them know how to operate a coffee pot? Clearly they should
have just asked Josh.
Who, by the way, clearly uses that annoying cell phone ring all the time.
The shutdown storyline obviously had a number of levels, and I'm still
wrapping my mind around each of them... one that sticks out is that I
couldn't have previously envisioned a scenario that would get Josh out of
the dog house (Leo was still keeping him there, obviously, for the first
half of the episode), but this did the trick. In a way, it's entirely about
Josh and Leo. Leo has been carrying the weight of the presidency around for
months since Zoey's kidnapping, and I think what we heard and saw tonight
indirectly confirmed that it's that responsibility that's been making him
somewhat intractable and almost dictatorial of late: the burden was on his
shoulders. Though he is Jed Bartlet's best friend, Leo, too busy trying to
keep their head above water, couldn't see what the president was doing. But
Abbey could, and she knew Josh would as well. Josh was exactly the right
person for the president to bring into the room just then. At the same time,
though, Bartlet knows just what Leo's been doing for him, as always.
Speaking of Abbey, even if it took shutting down the government to get her
back in the White House, I think it was worth it: Stockard Channing and
Martin Sheen's scenes together make this show a delight to watch. Although,
let me just say that I hope I never have to cook on CNN, and for the Prime
Minister, no less.
After all, Bartlet's stroll to the Hill, with press in tow, his patient
wait outside Haffley's office, and Josh's idea to tell the president to
leave before Haffley could get out there and let him in the room was a
pretty masterful public relations move (one that even interrupted "Days of
Our Lives"). As Leo said, it's not always enough to be right, but I think
tonight's episode meant to say that it is if you play the game right.
Haffley strikes me as being powerful and not so dumb and possibly even with
some good points to make -- but he got outplayed.
"They've got a seven-foot center, why are they playing zone?"