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What did you think of the live The West Wing debate?

Last night, the venerable NBC political drama The West Wing went live and partially unscripted for a special presidential debate episode. The two make-believe candidates, Republican senator Arnold Vinick, played by Alan Alda, and Democratic congressman Matt Santos, played by Jimmy Smits, went head-to-head in a mock debate that was a combination of written and improv.

The West Wing is now in it's eighth season, and last night's heavily promoted sweeps episode boosted viewership from 8.2 million to 9.6 million. The show is preparing for the departure Martin Sheen's incumbent President Bartlett and the entrance of either Alda's Vinick or Smits' Santos as the new president. While it's too early to tell who will win the pretend presidential election, it's not too early to cast your vote about last night's episode!

What did you think of last night's episode? Was it exciting, boring, or just a pathetic reminder of how inadequate our "real" presidential candidates are?

What did you think of shooting that episode live and trying to keep it in a "real" debate format? Did it work? Do you think they should have made changes to an actual debate format? If so what changes?

Did you guys tune into the episode because the live aspect piqued your interest? Or if you're already a West Wing fan, did the live aspect seem too gimmicky? If more programs are broadcast live, would that be an incentive to watch them?

These days live televison is enjoying a renaissance of sorts. While only one show, Saturday Night Live, is regularly broadcast live (on the east coast), other recent series' such as Drew Carey, The Apprentice, and Will & Grace have aired live episodes. Additionally, George Clooney starred in a live television production of the classic cold war thriller Fail Safe.

Tell us what you think of live TV!

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Great show. The Republican Party mightn't be so reveiled the world over if they had candidates of the quality of Vinnick instead of the gibbering buffoon currently at the helm!
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I thought it was better than most shows, especially because thoughout the debate both people made good points, and the episode did not slant too much for one candidate or the other
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It is regrettable that it is only on make-believe television that the political process works. The topics debated, like many of the episodes aired, are current and relevant. Shouldn't real life politics be as relevant? Why do we demand more of our entertainment than of our representatives?
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I loved it, the droping of the rules was a great move.
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I had found the live debate episode to be very entertaining. It really showed the caliber of acting that Alda and Smitts have. I have been a big fan of The West Wing since episode one and love the direction that the show is going in lately. It has really livened up over this season and I look forward to what the writers have in store for us.
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I was very impressed by this episode. If only politicians were this open and real. I am seriously considering watchin this show again for the rest of the season.
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I thought it was excellent and I clapped both candidates at the end. Great show
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Yarika don't correct other peoples grammar/spelling unless you are willing to make sure yours is correct. Alda's acting was great and the other candidate performed well.
I miss Mash.
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As a long time fan of the West Wing, I think that the live aspect of the show was a waste of time. I would have much preferred a normal format. Throughout the entire debate, I was more interested in what the reactions of the other charicters to the debate was than the debate itself.

P.S., I was sure of the inadiquicies of our real presidential candidates way before the debate episode was aired.
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Terrible idea--all the nuance and clever dialog were absent. I watched the whole thing because I'm a regular viewer, but I can't imagine this is going to attract any new viewers.
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GREAT I Love this Show and Hope it comes back for years to come
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Yeah, I liked the episode - I see a few people thought it was 'gimicky'. Maybe it was but I thought it was still a good show. Though I do miss episodes with Martin Sheen. He plays it like you would hope the president be like.
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Alan Alda ... what a guy!!!
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Bartlet is spelled Bartlet not "Bartlett" as printed in the article. If your going to write a story make sure you your research.

The episode was gimmicky.
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Bartlet is spelled Bartlet not "Bartlett" as printed in the article. If your going to write a story make sure you your research.

The episode was gimmicky.
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i didn't watch the debate but heard alan alda was awesome. why can't he be president?
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This is just a god awful show. It is written by liberals who portray liberals as they wish they would be and Republicans as they fear they are. Neither is even close. Alda's portrayal of the Republican is laughable. . . he is much closer to being a **** than anything other than some form of Teddy Kennedy scum. Simply a joke.
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I enjoyed the live debate. It felt "real" with things like the sound dropping in and out, the sound of Vinick tapping the podium when he was talking, Santos occasionally mispronouncing words that would normally appear on a goofs/outtakes reel etc.
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Great, well written.
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I have never been a fan of The West Wing, but this season has really ****ed me in! Maybe it's because elections are my favorite sport, or maybe it's because Alan Alda and Janeane Garofalo are just such amazing actors, but I now wait in anticipation for each new episode.

That being said, I have to say that I was disappointed by the recent debate episode. While it was an interesting idea, it felt a bit too contrived. The ways in which the writers tried to make it interesting (the throwing out of the rules, the audience "participation," the portable mics) seemed somewhat desperate, like they had come up with this innovative concept, only to realize: live political debates are boring!

That being said, I am as steadfast a fan as ever, and hope that The West Wing will continue to tick along at the calibre that I have, in such a short time, come to love!
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omg that was amazingly awesome. i loved it. it was different, it was original, it was new. i wish guys like vinick and santos were running for president in real life instead of the clowns we have now. they were great. and the alan alda and jimmy smitts are fantastic actors to be able to do that so flawlessly. it was amazing.
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The Debate was awesomely great
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Last nights episode rocked! I loved the concept of the show and how well both of the candidates did. It was a nice change for the show... but I'll love it no matter what!!

~~VOTE 4 JIMMY!!~~
lol
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I enjoyed the scripted adlib which worked well for this setting. More debates should have the same shoot from the lip quality. Get people to see candidates on the foot.
Watched the whole show and think it was a nice change of pace for a very complex show.
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Maybe it was me, but I really enjoyed this episode. As much as I have loved the show from Series One, I am loving the shift towards the future, and this episode broke new ground. The "live" element and the partially, I believe, unscripted elements showed how good Alda is as an actor, and Smits also, witha few wobbles, came out as a class act.

As many have said, I wish they were the real contenders, in fact I would have dounts as to how to vote, unlike in the real world where there has been no contest in recent years.

I hope the rest of this, sadly likely last series, maintains this standard, whilst keeping the "old" characters in the show as we progress to the inevitable change in administration.

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Don't forget that ER tried a great live show for their season opener from a few years ago.
They actually did it twice, once for the Eastern time Zone and once again for the Pacific Time Zone.
Did West Wing do it twice live?
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I was very nervous as to whether something was going to go wrong.. it didn't, at least nothing I was aware of. The little slip-ups in words were actually a very good thing, it made it seem a LOT more realistic. I felt it was genuinely entertaining and a real lift for the season.
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Last nights episode was great. I only wish a real presidential debate could be like that. I liked how Vinick(Alda) made the statement that Lincoln participated in real debates and that people used to come from possibly hundreds of miles away to witness democracy in action.

I liked the live debate format for the show, it felt real. If the debate had been pre-recorded it wouldn't have been as fun to watch. This way we got to see the true range of the actor's skills as they had to face off without the safety net of the editing room.

I have always been a fan of the show. I was there when the first episode aired and I will be here through the last one, hopefully not for many, many more seasons. I admit that Wells is no Sorkin and he brought the show down during the fifth season but he has brought things around these past two seasons. Especially in this season he has managed to assemble a team that has brought the show closer to its golden days under Sorkin.
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I liked the fact that the show was mostly improv. The actors had to do there research and really prepare. I thought that it was a great episode.
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I thought the episode was well done. I voted for jimmy and I am a republican.
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I thought it was an interesting use of an episode. The aspect that was most interesting was that apparently they didn't give Smits or Alda many lines - they were told to prepare as if it was an actual debate and needed to come up with arguments that made sense for their characters' views.
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Where are you Aaron Sorkin???
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I think the show was awesome and santos definatly won.
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