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The West Wing: Season 5

385 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

West Wing: The Complete Fifth Season (DVD)

Experience the inner workings of the White House in this innovative, multi-award-winning drama series created by Emmy® winner Aaron Sorkin (Sports Night). Martin Sheen, as President Bartlet, continues to leads an acclaimed ensemble cast.Entering its fifth season with a total of 24 Emmys®, The West Wing begins as the President -- and the nation -- faces the traumatic kidnapping of his youngest daughter, and that it may be the result of his controversial political actions. As the President steps down temporarily, handing executive powers to the Speaker of the House (John Goodman), the White House is overrun with rivals. This season features the 100th episode, written by acclaimed novelist John Sacret Young; a killer tornado in Oklahoma; and a visit to the Gaza Strip. Notable recurring guest stars this season include Timothy Busfield, Lily Tomlin, Mary-Louise Parker, Matthew Perry, Marlee Matlin, Mary McCormack, Jesse Bradford, William Devane, Annabeth Gish and Anna Deveare Smith.


Two administrative changes rocked The West Wing's fifth season. Offscreen, the ship of state steered a tad off-course with the departure of series creator Aaron Sorkin and director Thomas Schalmme. Onscreen, President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) relinquished the power of his office to Speaker of the House Glenallen Walken (John Goodman) in the wake of his daughter's kidnapping. In the season opener, "7a WF 83429," Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) wonders if this wasn't a mistake. What if the citizenry prefer Walken to Bartlet, he ponders. What if Walken comes off more presidential? Is he kidding? Sheen's Bartlet is the president of Hollywood's dreams, and the stuff of Rush Limbaugh's nightmares. (In a character profile included as one of the bonus features on this six-disc set, Bartlet is described as an amalgam of John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton!). Not to worry, though, Bartlet is back in the Oval Office by the end of the season's second episode, "The Dogs of War." The next order of business: choosing a vice president to replace the disgraced John Hoynes. Enter Gary Cole as "Bongo Bob" Russell, who, as the season unfolds, will confound misperceptions of him. Hoynes himself (Tim Matheson) returns in "Full Disclosure," in which the former vice president dishes dirt on Bartlet and chief of staff Leo McGrarry (the late John Spencer) in advance of a tell-all book. Formidable and usually unflappable press secretary C. J. has an intensely personal reason to spearhead damage control and thwart Hoynes' publishing plans.

Allison Janney, as C. J. earned The West Wing's sole Emmy this season. One of her showcase hours is "Access," a format-breaking episode presented as a Frontline-type "day-in-the-life" documentary. Other memorable episodes that helped to right The West Wing's course include "The Supremes," featuring Glenn Close as a Supreme Court nominee; the battle-of-wills episode, "Shutdown"; "Gaza," in which Donna (Janel Moloney) is severely wounded during a fact-finding mission to the Middle East; and "Memorial Day," a flashback episode that echoes "Bartlet for America" from season 3, and which ends the season on a strong note, and almost make viewers forget the Sesame Street Muppet cameos in the episode, "Eppu Si Muove." Almost. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

  • 22 episodes on six discs
  • Commentary by John Wells and Alex Graves on 7A WF 83429
  • Commentary by John Wells and Christopher Misiano on The Dogs of War
  • Commentary by Alex Graves, Jessica Yu, and Debora Cahn on The Supremes
  • In POTUS We Trust: presidential profile of President Bartlet and his portrayer, Martin Sheen
  • Gaza: Anatomy of an Episode
  • Unaired scenes on three episodes

Product Details

  • Actors: Martin Sheen, Bradley Whitford
  • Directors: Thomas Schlamme, Chris Misiano
  • Format: Dolby, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 28, 2007
  • Run Time: 946 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (385 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BB1MIM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,930 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The West Wing: Season 5" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Constance Anderson on June 14, 2007
Format: 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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Docken on August 31, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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 By C. Marrott on December 7, 2005
Format: 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 By Cynthia Dagnal-Myron on September 15, 2012
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Sharpe on February 3, 2006
Format: 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.
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Topic From this Discussion
The end of the first episode
The episode you are referring to is 5x01 "7A WF 83429" and the hauntingly beautiful music is "Sanvean" by Dead can Dance.
May 19, 2006 by Daniel Farst |  See all 2 posts
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