The West Wing

Season 1 Episode 15

Celestial Navigation

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Feb 16, 2000 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
185 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Toby and Sam travel to Connecticut to get Roberto Mendoza released from jail; Josh must run a press briefing when C.J. has an emergency root canal.

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  • As I watch the series via DVD from the start, this episode struck me as a disappointing outlier for its gimmicky, contrived premise.

    Having an episode told from the vantage point of Josh reflecting at a lecture series was a contrived, embarrassing way to go, especially so early on in the series. Having just hit the ball out of the park with "Sabbath Day", the writers went to gimmick that seems more appropriate for a sputtering, aging show than one finding its bearings exceptionally well in a first season.

    First, in trying to present the lecture audience, what a day-in-the-life of the White House was like, Josh Lyman speaks with completely unrealistic candor about events that have just transpired in a way that might not have appropriate even years after having left the job. For half of the first season, The West Wing told stories in such a way that I could believe events might truly unfold in such a manner. Sure, this is a television show, an occasionally over-melodramatic TV show. But I felt myself reacting throughout the show with the thought, "This lecture would NEVER be happening in reality".

    Second, the show had been succeeding in revolutionary fashion in presenting a day-in-the-life perfectly fine. The gimick was totally unnecessary.

    Third, just a week after shining the spotlight on Marlee Matlin as a very a capable deaf political consultant who speaks through an interpreter but occasionally uses her own voice when needed to stress a point, it was very jarring to have the writers poke fun at C.J.'s lisping following dental surgery. Taken on its own, this might have been very funny. However, watching C.J.'s character been the butt of jokes for having essentially the same speech impediment of Matlin's character from a week earlier was uncomfortable. Finally, we know Josh is arrogant and prone to inappropriate outbursts. This episode seems to make his character completely unsympathetic, however, in a way that is not consistent with the depiction the viewer has seen up to this point.

    I am baffled by the high ratings for this episode. It's a startling low-point amidst a tremendous first season.moreless
  • "The Pwesident nweeds to be bweifed!"

    This episode is silly and hysterical, the funniest West Wing ever!

    My favorite parts:

    *Sam and Toby trying to drive! I love it! Sam using the North Star and Toby kvetching the whole time! Classic!

    *CJ's Woot Canal! How hysterical! She walks around in cotton the whole time, not being able to talk. "Fwoggy Bottom!"

    *Josh doing the briefing. Possibly the best part of the episode. He walks in all arrogant, "I'm gonna woop you into shape," and ends up insulting multiple reporters, and saying that the President has a secret plan to fight inflation!

    *Charlie waking up the president = classic!!!

    A great episode, non stop hilarity! Definently one of my favorites!moreless
  • Watch a problem unfold.

    Well it was definitely the funniest episode thus far. Though honestly it could have just been 40 minutes of CJ talking with cotton in her cheeks and it still would have placed highly.

    Josh: Sam went to Foggy Bottom.

    CJ: What's he doing in Foggy Bottom?

    Josh: (laughs) I'm sorry. I just wanted to see if I could make you say Foggy Bottom.

    Josh: Hey there cats and kittens, this is Josh Lyman coming at you with your two o'clock briefing!

    CJ: Josh please! Be very careful. Try very, very hard not to destroy us.

    Josh: You shouldn't say that, CJ, you've got a great body.

    Josh's interaction with Danny right after that was hilarious as well, and Danny's look to Josh at the end of the briefing was perfect.

    Sam, as he has the last few episodes, was great in laying down the law to anyone that crosses him.

    Sam: Officer Peter, we're in a certain amount of trouble tonight, and the only thing I've gotten going for me is that you're in more trouble than we are. My name is Sam Seaborn, I work for the President, and the sooner you reach the conclusion that I'm telling you the truth the better off we're all gonna be. Why don't you go get your watch commander.

    Toby was excellent as well in his scene with Mendoza,

    Toby: Nothing about this that doesn't stink. And nothing about it that wouldn't be better if you were a Supreme Court Justice.

    Charlie also endeared himself a little more to me. Having to wake someone up is something I truly dread doing. I guess its just a combination of feeling bad for them and knowing that the best possible reaction I can hope for is them not being completely pissed off at me.

    Bartlet was on point as always

    Bartlet: I'm tired, I'm cranky, and my wife's in Argentina. Lets get this over with.

    I think what made this episode so good was that we got to see a problem unfold from beginning to end, and see each member of the staff's role in fixing it(or in some of their cases making it much worse).

    Celestial Navigation may not be my favorite episode(The Crackpots and These Women still holds that spot), but it definitely made my top three(so far).moreless
  • Review

    Spoilers - In this season 1 episode of the hit TV show The West Wing titled Celestial Navigation. Sam and Toby are traveling to Connecticut to meet with President Bartlet's Supreme court nominee. CJ has emergency root canal and can not do a briefing with The White House Press core so Josh takes her place and fails. Overall I thought the whole episode was good and none of it was bad all of the stories work well with each other and the flashbacks were great part of the episode my overall rating for this episode is 10 out of 10 the endmoreless
  • A story what happened in last 36 hours.. and it gets only better...

    It was not the devastating day - it was day of full different events what made this episode exciting. Josh is in lecture talking about his job and in the same time in different place Sam and Toby are trying to find arrested Mendoza. He was arrested because he was suspected of drinking but.. the point is he cannot drink because he gas liver problem. But they have to find him and solve that before it gets out.

    But that was the end of the day. It all started with new bill or law about teachers.. but instead of talking that.. president said that one person should apologize to others.. ok.. they thought they managed to get that.. but CJ had dentist appointment and was not able to talk so Josh volunteered for her place and ruined everything - and Toby said his day is awful and there would be only one thing making it worser - Mendoza.. and... so we get back to the beginning

    Exciting story, well structured, and written...moreless
Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

President Jed Bartlet

Dule Hill

Dule Hill

Charlie Young

Allison Janney

Allison Janney

Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg

Moira Kelly

Moira Kelly

Mandy Hampton (Episodes 1-22)

Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe

Sam Seaborn (Episodes 1-84)

Richard Schiff

Richard Schiff

Toby Ziegler

CCH Pounder

CCH Pounder

Deborah O'Leary

Guest Star

Vaughn Armstrong

Vaughn Armstrong

Sgt. McNamara

Guest Star

Robert David Hall

Robert David Hall

David Nessler

Guest Star

Timothy Busfield

Timothy Busfield

Danny Concannon

Recurring Role

Janel Moloney

Janel Moloney

Donna Moss

Recurring Role

Kim Webster

Kim Webster


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

  • QUOTES (12)

    • C.J. (with cotton in her mouth): I'll have Carol cancel the briefing.
      Josh: No, we're still doing it.
      C.J.: Who?
      Josh: Me.
      C.J.: No way.
      Josh: C.J.
      C.J.: You get hostile.
      Josh: I get hot stuff?
      C.J.: Hostile. Hostile. You get hostile.
      Josh: I don't get hostile. I don't get randomly hostile. I...I get hostile when hostility is called for.
      C.J.: Let Sam do it.
      Josh: Sam went to Foggy bottom.
      C.J.: What's he doing in Fwoggy Bottom?
      Josh (giggling): I just wanted to see if I could make you say "Foggy Bottom". Sam's working with the speech writers.

    • Josh: The President spoke briefly. The President has never spoken briefly in his life

    • Bartlet (following Josh's disastrous attempt to substitute for the ailing C.J.): C.J., if you are gushing blood from the head wound you just received from a stampeding herd of bison, you will do the press briefing.

    • Bartlet: You said you'd fix it.
      Leo: I did fix it.
      Bartlet: It's broken again...

    • Leo: Mr. President, we experienced a few public relations, what's the word...
      Toby: Catastrophes?
      Leo: Incidents, in the few hours you were away last night.

    • Josh: I'm a graduate of Harvard and Yale and I believe my powers of debate can rise to meet the Socratic wonder that is the White House press corps.

    • Josh: There's no such thing as a typical day. There's a schedule and a structure, to be sure. And to a certain extent it starts off as a 9-5 job, but it's blown to hell by 9:30.

    • C.J. (muffled): Josh.
      Josh: What the hell happened?
      C.J.: I had woot canaw.
      Josh: What happened to your cheeks?
      C.J.: I had woot canaw.
      Josh: Why are you talking like that?
      C.J. (louder): I had woot canaw!
      Josh: Yeah, I heard you the first time, I was just amusing myself.
      C.J.: I can suggest some othew things you can do wiff yourseff.

    • Charlie: Sir, I need you to dig in... It wasn't a nightmare. You really are the President.

    • Donna: My god, Josh. I mean, my god.
      Josh: I can fix this.
      Donna: I don't think you can, Josh.
      Josh: A little support would be nice here.
      Donna: You have my support.
      Josh: Good. that's a start. What do you think I should do?
      Donna: Go into your office and come up with a secret plan to fight inflation.

    • Josh: Toby, how hard can it be to find the Wesley police station?
      Toby: I don't know, Josh, but while we're looking can you tell me a little more about the President's secret plan to fight inflation?

    • Sam: I'm using celestial navigation.
      Toby: Hey, Galileo, get off at the next exit and turn the car around.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Awards and Nominations:
      Allison Janney won the 2000 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her performance in this episode in conjuction with "Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics"

      Won the 2000 Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series in conjuction with many other episodes from the season (Aaron Sorkin, Thomas Schlamme, John Wells, Kristin Harms, Llewellyn Wells)


    • Josh Lyman: You're not going to a press briefing looking like Bullwinkle.

      Bullwinkle the moose was an animated cartoon character who was featured in a number of classic television series created by Jay Ward. Always partnered with Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Bullwinkle was notable for being particularly stupid and clumsy.

    • Sam: Although I've gotta say, telling a reporter his question's stupid's not like a page out of Dale Carnegie or anything.

      Dale Carnegie is famous for his books and seminars on public speaking and interpersonal skills.

    • Toby: So you give Barney Fife a hard time to make a point.

      Barney Fife was a character on the The Andy Griffith Show. Fife was the deputy sheriff and was often considered to be overzealous.

    • Josh: I believe that my powers of debate can rise to meet the Socratic wonder that is the White House Press Corps.

      Socrates was an Athenian philosopher. He was one of the first critical thinkers ever and he questioned everything and everyone in his philosophical endeavors. It is believed that he founded the basic rules for debate and logical reasonong.

    • Leo: "Never argue with a drunk or a fool."

      This quote is from Gibran Khalil Gibran (January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931). He was a Lebanese poet and artist.

    • Toby: Hey, Galileo, get off at the next exit and turn the car around.

      Galileo Galilei was a Tuscan astronomer, philosopher, and physicist who is closely associated with the scientific revolution. He often refered to as the "father of modern astronomy."

    • C.J.: It's not Cook County, Toby. It's Friday night in Wesley, Connecticut.

      Cook County is a county in Illinois. It's county seat is Chicago. The county makes up about 40% of the population in the state.

    • Sam: Driving while being...Hispanic.

      This is a reference to racial profiling in America. The acronym DWB is short for Driving While Black. It is not a legal crime but it is used to describe a common situation in which certain people are pulled over by the police purely because of the color of their skin.