The West Wing

Season 1 Episode 15

Celestial Navigation

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Feb 16, 2000 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (10)

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out of 10
188 votes
  • 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.
  • "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!
  • 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).
  • 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 end
  • 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...
  • Sam and Toby go to CT.

    I thought that this was a wonderful episode of the West Wing. I really liked how they had the episode in real time for the show and with Josh telling a story of what happened with in the last week at work. I thought that it was funny to see Josh say he could handle the press core but he ended up causing a big mess. CJ was also funny when she was trying to talk after having a root canel. It was also great to see Sam and Toby lost in CT to get the nominee of the Supreme Court out of jail on a bogus drunk driving charge.
  • This is what made The West Wing such a great show.

    I loved this episode. It was very funny and required alot from all of the actors. I have the first five seasons on dvd and I have to say that this is one of my top ten episodes. Some shows don't pull off the flashbacks very well but the West Wing does it right every time. There was humor will still enough drama and seriousness to make it the show that it was. Sam and Toby had great chemistry and Allison Janney, well this was one of her best performances. And Bradley Whitford. Who could forget him. He is one of the best actors I've seen in a while. I miss the West Wing because of episodes like this one. The first three seasons had some of the best ones.
  • How to inspire the next generation after dropping the ball?

    This episode is hilarious, the dialogues as always are sharp, witty and flavoured with personal events that will happen to all of us in any office, just in this case, it is the white house and the others aren't coworkers, they are just writers who make sure that your bungle get's known by billions.
    What a day to go through life. This is one of these classical Josh Lyman episodes that you can watch again and again and still laugh when the events occur.

    Now the only thing we need to do is to read the secret plan to fight inflation.

    Seems like the proper thing to do after he informed the public.

  • Poignant, Funny, and narratively interesting.

    Due to many reasons I didn't get to see this episode for a very long time. But I had heard about it and wanted to see it. It was well worth the wait.

    Connecting and relevant subplots, an overreaching story arch and all your favorite characters in situations and incidents that truly suit them.

    Watching this episode now, it's startling how painful the loss of Sam Seaborn was. His interactions with Toby are priceless and I'm not the kind of guy that like's buddy comedy.

    Edward James Olmos re-curring role (at this point) as Mendozza was always a treat not only for who he was, but for what he was doing.

    And...of Course, how can we not mention CJ in this episode? Allison Janney is in serious need of a sitcom spin-off. Or at least her own comedy show.

    Josh's narration and wry commentary is not only a tribute to the writer's but an understated and at the same time over the top performance style that is rare and a gem.

    I'm not doing a great job at re-capping or explaining the episoe. Let me just say Celestial navigation is one of the best episodes of the series.
  • Possibly the funniest episode in West Wing history.

    Most episodes of this series invoke multiple emotions throughout. Someone will die, you'll be sad, someone will crack wise, you'll laugh, the building will explode, you'll freak out, that sort of thing. This episode has one not-funny plot. The rest are ha-ha funny to side-splittingly hilarious, depending on who you are and whether or not you like this show when it's silly.

    The plots in this episode take place at different times. The two in the present are Josh being present at a lecture (Robert David Hall from CSI plays the professor, yay!), and Sam and Toby going to Connecticut to get Judge Roberto Mendoza (Edward James Olmos of Miami Vice, of course) out of jail. The plots in the past are very much intertwined. While Josh is at his lecture, his cell phone continues to ring with updates from Sam and Toby.

    [Toby and Sam are in the car.]
    Toby: We're supposed to be going east.
    Sam: We're going east.
    Toby: How do you know we're going east?
    Sam: The sun rises in the east.
    Toby: It's dark outside!
    Sam: Also, that star in the northern sky is Polaris.
    Toby: So what?
    Sam: I'm using celestial navigation.
    Toby: Hey, Galileo, get off at the next exit and turn the car around.

    [Toby and Sam are in the car. Toby's phone rings and he answers it.]
    Toby: Yeah.
    Josh: What's up?
    Toby: Sam feels we're zeroing in on it.
    Josh: You haven't found it yet?
    Toby: We've been navigating by the North Star, which turned out to be the Delta shuttle from
    LaGuardia. It's a miracle we’re not in Nantucket right now. [evil look at Sam]
    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?
    Josh: How long until you let up on me on that?
    Toby: Oh, it's gonna take a little while, I would think.
    Josh: Call me when you know something. [hangs up]

    Secret plan to fight inflation, you ask? CJ had a root canal and couldn't talk to the press, so Josh did the briefing while CJ watched in horror from her office. Josh screwed up majorly and invented a secret plan to fight inflation that the press badgered him about. Leo, of course, got quite, shall we say, peeved. CJ's absence also caused a problem when Bartlet told the press HUD Secretary Deborah O'Leary had to apologize for calling Congressman Wooden a racist, which caused Leo some major headaches. And poor Bartlet hadn't gotten his nap that day, either.

    [The phone next to Bartlet's bed rings. He answers it after a few rings.]
    Bartlet: What?
    Charlie: Good morning, Mr. President. It's Charlie. I hope...
    Bartlet: What could you possibly want right now?
    Charlie: Sir, it's 6:30 a.m. and...
    Bartlet: In the morning?
    Charlie: Yes, sir. And I wanted to remind you that...
    Bartlet: I mean, what in the name of everything holy could you want right now?
    Charlie: I wanted to remind you that you have a 7am at the Oval Office with senior staff, followed by your security and intelligence briefings, and a meeting with the Chairman of the Fed. Would you like me to have the stewards bring you some coffee and the Washington Post?
    Bartlet: Who the hell is this?
    Charlie: Sir.
    Bartlet: And what could you possibly want?
    Charlie: Sir, I need you to dig in now. It wasn't a nightmare. You really are the President.
    Bartlet: All right.
    Charlie: I'll have the stewards bring the coffee to your room.
    Bartlet: I'll get up now. [hangs up the phone]

    Of course, he doesn't get up, and Charlie has to go wake him. So he's cranky when he meets with senior staff, and takes it out on Josh and his secret plan to fight inflation in a hilarious scene.

    By the way, Toby and Sam do get Mendoza out of jail. He was arrested for driving drunk, according to the police, but Mendoza does not drink. But this whole plot was pretty secondary to the humor, don't you think?