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!