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.