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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still the Best Thing on Television
There is definitely a change in the West Wing for Season 5, while Aaron Sorkin and Rob Lowe are very sorely missed, it is still the same incredible cast of characters, for the most part, that continue to make this the best show on television.

Season is 5 is far from the best and nowhere near as good as seaons 2 and 3, but there are still some very worthwhile...
Published on December 7, 2005 by C. Marrott

versus
37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing...Get it to fill your collection.
After the great first four seasons, season five of the West Wing is, quite frankly, terrible. Aaron Sorkin, the architect of the four first seasons and creator of the show, was fired mid-story arc by NBC and probably had a hard time watching this season, as many familiar characteristics were stripped away. Donna has suddenly gone from being a bright-eyed optimist to a...
Published on June 14, 2007 by Constance Anderson


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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing...Get it to fill your collection., June 14, 2007
By 
This review is from: The West Wing: Season 5 (DVD)
After the great first four seasons, season five of the West Wing is, quite frankly, terrible. Aaron Sorkin, the architect of the four first seasons and creator of the show, was fired mid-story arc by NBC and probably had a hard time watching this season, as many familiar characteristics were stripped away. Donna has suddenly gone from being a bright-eyed optimist to a jaded Washington insider, constantly speaking in a bizarre low voice. Toby is no longer quirky, but simply mean and uninteresting. The assasination of Abdul Sharif, a story arc that had existed for over a season, is ended unceremoniously in a matter of a few minutes, shoved into the end of an episode and never spoken of again. Josh's character, once funny and energetic, is reduced to screaming at the capital building, a scene, intending to be a dramatic, more likely to produce laughter than further unerstanding of his character. Will Bailey, a great replacement for Sam in season four, takes a job with the new vice president, and loses his sharp wit along the way. Despite no longer working for the president, Will is still often at meetings determining presidential policy(?).

And all of a sudden, everyone's having sex. It turns out C.J. and the Vice President were once together, an absolutely absurd story line that is difficult to believe to say the least.Then, C.J. encourages Donna to "broaden her horizons" beyond Josh, and as a result, she sleeps with a guy before getting blown up while on a fact-finding mission to the Gaza strip.(Don't ask... just don't ask.)

The fast-paced dialogue that was a trademark of the show through its first four seasons disappears. Meetings in Leo's office or the Roosevelt Room that were once fast-paced now consist of short, bland dialogue, lacking real meaning. There were a couple of episodes that I simply couldn't get through.

And then there's the president. A man who was once, as he described himself, "full of mirth", has changed. His character is as dull as a pencil after the SATs. His part becomes bland and predictable, except for the truly bizarre storyline in which he shuts down the federal governement for five days, a decision that left even hardcore fans scratching their heads.

To sum this seaons up, I would say that this is definitely not a season where every episode deserves watching. Of the seven seasons, season 5 is by far the worst- I would reccomend it to those who are looking to have a compelte collection of West Wing episodes, not someone looking to be entertained.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still good, but they forgot the funny...., August 31, 2007
By 
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This review is from: The West Wing: Season 5 (DVD)
We're super "West Wing" fans, but have to admit that Season 5 was missing a lot of the humor of the first 4 seasons. Still, it had some great moments, such as the selection of two judges for the Supreme Court. Aaron Sorkin's brilliant writing was sorely missed during this particular season, but keep watching. During seasons 6 & 7, someone found humor once again. Not as great as the Sorkin years, but still definitely worth watching.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still the Best Thing on Television, December 7, 2005
This review is from: The West Wing: Season 5 (DVD)
There is definitely a change in the West Wing for Season 5, while Aaron Sorkin and Rob Lowe are very sorely missed, it is still the same incredible cast of characters, for the most part, that continue to make this the best show on television.

Season is 5 is far from the best and nowhere near as good as seaons 2 and 3, but there are still some very worthwhile episodes and even those episodes that fall short of the quality of this show, it is still a pleasure to watch Leo, Josh, CJ, Toby and Jed in the West Wing.

I admit, I briefly debated purchasing season 5, but in the end I

found myself at Target today, it's first day of release, buying the second to last set they had on the shelf. My love of these wonderful characters and the show itself, beat out the disappointment I felt in some of the casting, writing and storyline decisions.

I don't watch much TV, there are very, very few shows that I HAVE to see and none that I enjoy as much as The West Wing. I'm glad I got Season 5 to add to my collection, so when the sad day comes when it is only shown in re-runs, I'll know I can just pop in a DVD to get my fix of the best shown on TV.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prophetic and even more relevant today, September 15, 2012
This review is from: The West Wing: The Complete Fifth Season (Amazon Instant Video)
As I watch this now, so many years after the series ended, I get chills as the plot lines continue, constantly, to mirror the same political and social issues we're dealing with today. Middle Eastern unrest. The shutdown of the government due to political posturing. The assassination of Middle eastern terrorists. The stalemate between a Democratic president and his Republican Congress. Every episode is still relevant. Still powerful. If only we our real life leaders could be this wise and charismatic, with a staff just as erudite and lightning "quick" with both the comebacks and the pertinent facts and strategies. Sorkin's new "Newsroom" pales by comparison, but it's good to see him still fighting the good fight. "The West Wing" is one of TVs shining moments, though. And I am eternally grateful that he was bold enough to tackle Washington, warts and all, with such remarkable insight--it's good entertainment, too.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plodding at the beginning, but improves greatly as the season progressed, September 24, 2006
By 
Craig MACKINNON (Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The West Wing: Season 5 (DVD)
The unfortunate thing about Season 5 is that many of the most dedicated viewers of The West Wing started watching the show because they were fans of Alan Sorkin. There was an automatic knee-jerk reaction against the new regime on the show, perhaps understandably so in light of the early episodes. However, once they got settled in, the new writers managed to turn out some of the best episodes (including my personal favourite) of the entire series.

The season starts with a new "president," former speaker of the house Glenallen Walken, a blustering militaristic Republican who was brought in to help the country through the kidnapping of President Bartlett's daughter Zoey. The kidnapping cliffhanger of Season 4 was the best cliffhanger episode of the series, and if the payoff isn't quite as good, it's still gripping. John Goodman as Walken is one of the best guest stars the show has had, embodying an almost stereotypical member of the GOP, yet infusing a convincing degree of reality to the part. The series then continues with a depressing and overly drawn-out series of episodes containing a showdown between the new speaker of the House (a young and obnoxious Republican) and the White House over a budget appropriation bill. The season (and the series) almost goes off the rails for good in this storyline, wherein our favourite characters are repeatedly kicked and bullied for 4 straight episodes. Josh fares especially badly, which must have really angered the Sorkin purists, who remember that the show was originally supposed to focus on Josh, Sam, and the other junior members of the administration. Josh does redeem himself with a "publicity stunt" that ends this set of shows on a high note, but it doesn't really make up for the drudgery we've had to plod through to get to the resolution.

Fortunately, the series then picks up dramatically. There follows a series of 1-off episodes, many of which are among my favourite of the entire series. One subject dear to my own heart, as a scientist, is the episode Eppur Si Muove (named for a quote by Galileo), where Eli's supervisor's funding is cut off because he is investigating the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease, not a "respectable" disease in the eyes of some lawmakers on the Hill. It is eerily prescient of the current Bush administration's interference in research, cutting off funding for projects deemed as valueless in the "War" against terrorism. The point is made that independent research is necessary to find the big ideas - superconductivity, the structure of DNA, silicon microchips, etc. were discovered because the scientists looking at the problems were free to direct their research as they saw fit, without political interference.

Other highlights of the season include "The Supremes," my all-time favourite West Wing episode, guest starring Glenn Close as a candidate for a vacant Supreme Court seat. "Full Disclosure" has C.J. sparring with former VP Hoynes over a new tell-all book, in which he attempts to paint himself in the best light possible (to the detriment of the Bartletts and their staff). "The Warfare of Ghengis Khan" follows the joint stories of an unattributed nuclear test in the Indian Ocean and Josh sparring with NASA administrators over space exploration (another great science-based episode). "The Stormy Present" brings back John Goodman and brings in James Cromwell as former presidents attending a state funeral. And "Han" gives us a world-renowned North Korean pianist who asks for political asylum in the U.S. on the eve of a sensitive nuclear arms negotiation with Pyongyang.

The season then concludes with the "third rail" ("touch it and you die") of foreign policy - the Israel-Palistine conflict. In what is the weakest series cliffhanger to date, a congressional delegation (including Admiral Fitzwallace and Donna as observers, and Toby's wife, Congresswoman Wyatt) is attacked by terrorists. A roadside bomb hits their motorcade (apparently deliberately targetted), setting off a crisis in the Middle East. While I applaud the ability of the writers to bring clarity to the issue (including the distrust felt by the administration over the thinly veiled Yassar Arafat-esque chairman of the Palastinian Authority), there is little tension for our main characters, as we learn before the season ends who lives and dies as a result of the explosion. Thus, the "cliffhanger" part is nothing more than a political/intellegence mistep by Bartlett (and an international one, at that), hardly in the same league as Zoey's kidnapping of the season before, or the assassination attempt at the end of Season 1.

Overall, the middle is very good, the end is a little weak, and there is a 4-show set near the beginning of the season that is best forgotten. As usual, there are few extras, and so I'll include my standard plea - why can't we have political scientists comment on the show in audio commentaries? This would be the perfect opportunity to showcase the intellegence of the writing and foster debate about issues like the Arab-Israeli conflict, social security, the vetting process of appointing judges, etc. Instead, we get mild and bland commentaries on the making of the shows. What a waste of an opportunity.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GOOD BUT NOT GREAT AS BEFORE, December 9, 2005
By 
This review is from: The West Wing: Season 5 (DVD)
There's no doubt the quality of the show has dropped since Sorkin and Schlamme have left. Certain dialogue parts are uneven and in one episode the degree of tension and anger between everyone was very different from the four previous seasons.

Season 4, by the way, for those complaining about the kidnapping, was done that way to give the new writers something to work with since the heavy hitters were leaving.

Overall, I'd say this doesn't measure up to the first four seasons, especially the first three, so, it's a few notches down.

However, as the quality was so high, even though it's dropped a few notches, it's better than almost all of the current TV programs.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buy it if you like sex and pizza ..., February 3, 2006
By 
Aaron Sharpe (North Carolina, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The West Wing: Season 5 (DVD)
I discovered the West Wing late in 2003, just as the first season became available on DVD. As a person who looked upon TV with some disdain (having not really watched any significant amount of television since I was a kid), the show demonstrated to me that TV really could be something worth watching. I eagerly ate up every available episode on Bravo and bought the DVDs as they came out.

Imagine my pain when I learned of the departure of Sorkin and Schlamme. Season 4 ended on a cliffhanger like no other in all of television, on several levels. Here I was, a person who didn't really even like TV, actually mourning the fact that the situation would never see a "proper" resolution as Sorkin would have imagined it.

In fact, my worst fears were true. The first three or so episodes of season 5 are without a doubt the worst episodes of this series ever made. The climax at the end of season 4 is resolved clumsily, in true "deus ex machina" form. It was almost heartbreaking. However, the show did pick up again, though never achieving its former glory, and there are definitely some worthwhile moments in season 5. Season 6 started out terrific, and I really had hopes for the show's future. But I think interest petered out with the transformation of the show into "The Campaign Trail." Alan Alda notwithstanding, I suppose the show's recently announced finality was inevitable all along.

I'll be buying this DVD set, however, and not just for the sake of completeness. West Wing is much like pizza and sex: even when it's bad, it's still pretty good. In fact, it's better than pretty good. It's still just about the best thing on TV, and the smartest. With the possible exception of those first three Season 5 episodes (which are personally painful for me to watch), the show is still dazzles with its terrific cast.

Here's hoping the series finale this May is a worthy conclusion and makes for some memorable television (and Rob Lowe, please call John Wells ...)
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strictly a quality in manufacturing issue., December 15, 2005
This review is from: The West Wing: Season 5 (DVD)
There are enough reviews involving the quality of content for this excellent show, you don't need mine. My gripe is with the packaging. I prefer the fold-out style of the first three seasons. The fourth and fifth season cases are less appealing. The fifth actually fell apart in my hands upon opening. Binding plastic sleaves with tape; "hey thats quality!". Enough said, I yield the floor.
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62 of 89 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do Not Waste Your Time and Money, September 10, 2005
By 
Political Critic (Princeton, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The West Wing: Season 5 (DVD)
This is NOT the "West Wing." Period. This is an awful shadow (in every sense) of what used to be the finest show on network television. After NBC's horribly miscalculated decision to show writer/producer Aaron Sorkin the door (and executive producer Thomas Schlamme), John Wells took over as exclusive executive producer and delivered, well, junk. This season the show quickly turned into e.r. comes to the White House, with drama developed the only way John Wells knows how - by having characters fight with one another. Where once this show delivered a working family of committed, dedicated civil servants united in their effort to do what they think is best for the country, in this season the show devolves into arguments, bickering and darkness among all the characters.

And darkness in every sense of the word. As if realizing how miserable the writing and stories are, the producers try artificially to heighten the drama by turning off the lights (NBC is owned by General Electric, right? Someone really should have been paying the electric bill!) and shooting several scenes in near darkness so that you may think something is wrong with your television.

Certainly you'll think something is wrong with your favorite characters, as people you once liked because they crackled and sparkled with life and wit suddenly experience lobotomies and personality disorders (witness C.J. counseling a recovering Zowie, by offering the witty line to say to a TV interviewer: "Just say, the help helped!" . . . ah that's the kind of wit we loyal viewers had tuned in for four straight seasons before now to hear, right?).

The season picks up after Aaron Sorkin masterfully kissed off NBC by leaving the show as decapitated on screen (with the temporary resignation of President Bartlet while awaiting the fate of his daughter, Zowie, who had been kidnapped at the end of Season 4) as it was off screen when Sorkin was forced out. Given this impossible situation, the show's new writers resolve the kidnapping without really explaining how the government agents found Zowie, who kidnapped Zowie, or why. Meantime, they resolve in a few minutes the public revelation that Bartlet had ordered the assassination of Shariff (a storyline that had been building all through Seasons 3 and 4).

After that, well, it's hard to say what, if anything, happens that's worth even reviewing. The President and the first Lady don't speak to each other. Will devolves into a shrill ghost of who he once was and goes off to work for the new Vice President, an empty suit and an empty character. Then Will keeps showing up in the West Wing (as though we'd ever seen VP staffers on a daily basis before). There are some bioterror episodes, the government is shutdown, we learn that CJ once slept with former Vice-President Hoynes, the President and Leo start to bicker and fight on Israeli policy, and we of course have to end with sound and fury, signifying nothing, with Donna and Admiral Fitzwallace being blown up in the Gaza Strip (don't ask why Donna was going on the trip, it makes no sense - like everything else about the season).

Finally, season 5 introduces some really AWFUL recurring characters. Toby gets a tart for a research assistant during the government shutdown who inexplicably gets Sam's old office for awhile. Josh meanwhile gets a smarmy intern (really annoyingly played by Jesse Bradford) who offers nothing to the show but villainry (a favorite John Wells trope to try to spice up a show he no longer knows what to do with; see e.r.'s Dr. Romano for further examples). Then, we replace everyone's favorite national security adviser, Dr. Nancy McNally, with an obsequious and annoyingly pious deputy NSA adviser Kate Harper (a nothing character that Mary McCormack really has nothing to do with).

In short, there is NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING about this season to recommend it for purchase. If you have not done so already, purchase the first four seasons - they are television gold and recommend a high water mark for network drama in the past two decades. Do not bother wasting any time or money on any of the West Wing seasons that follow the first four, which are the real witty, dramatic and idealistic "West Wing" that fans love and remember fondly.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Season Five...fumbling a bit, January 25, 2006
By 
This review is from: The West Wing: Season 5 (DVD)
West Wing Season 5 shows clearly the departure of the talented Sorkin and Schlamme team. Nonetheless, the ensemble cast is so strong and compelling that the show lives on. Janney deserves more credit for her brilliant, complex portrayal of C.J. - an addictively watchable unfolding story of a brilliant woman with a lot of power which she wields responsibly. Whitford does yeoman's work as the probably very life-like Josh Lyman but is somewhat laughable as a nearly 50-year old man playing a thirty-something wearing a suit and carrying a ridiculously incongruous backpack. John Spencer made acting the part of Leo look easy, but his seamless elegance must have been the product of a lifetime of work. His face and voice logged a thousand miles and every scene he played was a brilliant character piece. I don't know what they will do without him! The editorial reviewers for this site should be ashamed of their illiterate staff. I count several glaring typos in the very brief blurb describing Season Five of The West Wing. That's "Bingo Bob," not "Bongo Bob and it's Leo McGarry, not McGRarry. Nice tribute to departing Jonathan Schlamme - you couldn't even bother to spell his name right. Doesn't anyone care about publishing standards on the Internet? I don't think mis-spellers ought to be granted space on billboards or web pages.
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