The West Wing

Season 6 Episode 16

Drought Conditions

0
Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Feb 23, 2005 on NBC
8.3
out of 10
User Rating
95 votes
2

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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A new candidate for president, Senator Rafferty, has garnered much media attention with a ground-breaking speech about health care. But her words contain interesting echoes of President Bartlet's original health plan, which is known only to White House insiders, and reporter Greg Brock suspects that Rafferty is being secretly supported by the incumbent. Meanwhile, Toby is more than usually morose after the death of his brother. A bill to combat drought conditions in the western U.S. gives C.J. problems, particularly in dealing with lobbyist Clifford Calley. And Charlie tells Kate Harper that a man from his gym asked if she was dating anyone.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Wow! Really "tight" episode, where the flashbacks both illuminate and obscure the storyline. Whole episode is constructed compactly. Watching the episode for the first time AFTER having seen the beginning of the end for Toby with the White House leak imoreless

    10
    This is one of the best episodes of all time in this show. That's saying a lot! There are so many really special episodes in this show over the years.



    The woman who turns out to be Senator Rafferty—first of all, sexy as hell (I'd vote for her in a second)—is portrayed very mysteriously. One has no clue who she might be until the very end of the episode, making one wonder through the dialogs whether she is Toby's new girlfriend, or may be even a really expensive and classy call girl (remember season one and Sam Seaborn's friend?), with her manner of speech and the looks she gives him. This may just prove that either I'm not as smart as some of you who might have guessed a lot earlier than me who she was, or that I'm a male pig who is not instinctively open to the idea that Senator Rafferty could be a woman, or both!



    Although this (sexy women) is not the reason for my praise of this episode, how about Kate Harper, huh? Who would have guessed that she could look so hot when she made her first appearance in this show (very end of season 4).



    The best part about this episode, of course, is Toby and what this foreshadows about his eventual downfall, which takes place about a half a season later—at the end of season 6—which is so well summarized by Bartlet's conversation with him on season 7 (current season).



    Just brilliant!!!! I LOVE this show.moreless
  • For Your Emmy Consideration

    5.7
    To warn you in advance, I watched the episode over a week ago and don't remember all of it. So if I leave something out, or get something wrong, forgive me. In fact, I was thinking of not even reviewing this episode, because it has been so long, but I had to. This episode absolutely demands commentary, so here goes.



    First, let's talk about the director. Not typical, I know, but I noticed the direction in this episode almost immediately, which I think is a problem. Whoever the director was seemed so caught up in fancy-shmancy cinematic techniques (oh, look how I can focus on just a coffee cup, or Josh is clear while he's talking, then goes blurry when the other guy talks and back and forth and back and forth, or lets really mess with the timeline and show some scenes twice) that it distracted from the story. I don't mean to rag on cinematography, I love that The West Wing is creative with their camera use, but it should always be in service of story. Maybe you thought it was this episode, but for me, it just detracted from what we should have been paying attention too.



    This episode was so unconventional in so many ways, namely, the intense focus on personal issues. Usually there is a mix of political and personal drama, but in Drought Conditions, the issue of a drought in the West and legislation to fix it was really the only political problem and it served mostly as a means to get Cliff Calley hired. There was also the health care issue, and Senator Rafferty's speech. But again, it mostly amounted to delving into Toby's personal struggle with his brother's death and his fight with Josh. Kate and Charlie's storyline was devoted entirely to her dating life and marriage history (still a mystery, all those divorces, are they going to explain that a little more?).



    To be honest, I thought the entire episode screamed "for your Emmy consideration," especially Toby's storyline. Richard Schiff is undoubtedly a terrific actor, and I would love for him to get an Emmy, but not like this. Toby is all about understated complexity, veiled passion for his job. I don't think we have ever seen him cry, but I could be wrong. The story was really quite heartbreaking, especially when we found out that the brother actually committed suicide. But I can watch ER for that. The problem here is that this story was so out of the blue. We never knew that Toby had a brother, let alone a brother who was suffering from cancer. (Note: I stand corrected. Apparently, Toby's brother has been mentioned before. My apologies. Thanks to Sven for letting me know.) It felt kind of contrived to me, but I really love what Richard Schiff did with this, and his scene with CJ was really good. I'm also kind of worried that they are trying to give Toby his last hurrah on the show, since he isn't attached to any of the campaigns. If he goes, I will really miss him.



    As much as I have griped about this episode and how it was very un-West Wing, there were things of merit. The parallel between Josh walking out on Toby and his brother walking out on him and everybody else was really interesting, and subtly done. The conflict between Toby and Josh was unforeseen, but it made sense. Why didn't Josh ask Toby to join him on the campaign trail? He probably should have. Although, I can see how Josh would think that Toby wouldn't go, since he was less than pleased when Josh jumped ship. Also, thank goodness they finally found a new Josh. I think Cliff Calley is a good replacement. He shares a lot in common with Josh and he clearly knows what he's doing. Besides, the M&M bit was very funny. Not to mention, Cliff didn't show up randomly, we already know him. AND there is the whole issue of his previous relationship with Donna. Hopefully we can count on Cliff to shake things up a bit at the White House.



    OTHER THOUGHTS:

    - Was it supposed to be a surprise as to who Senator Rafferty was? Maybe. I mean, I was unsure for a while. I hope it wasn't supposed to be a surprise because the Senator was a woman. It was kind of strange how she interacted with Toby, almost as though they had known each other for a long time, or used to be married, or that she was his brother's wife, something. Strange.

    - "Is our relationship about to change?" This line made me want to cry. Why would they choose to joke about Josh and Donna? Why? You can't ignore them or make light about their romantic tension. Not cool. Maybe this was supposed to be example of a Freudian slip by Josh. I hope. At least they had a scene together. I miss them.



    Written: 3/3/2005

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Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

President Jed Bartlet

Dule Hill

Dule Hill

Charlie Young

Allison Janney

Allison Janney

Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg

Richard Schiff

Richard Schiff

Toby Ziegler

John Spencer

John Spencer

Leo McGarry

Jimmy Smits

Jimmy Smits

Matthew Santos (Episodes 114-)

Mel Harris

Mel Harris

Ricky Rafferty

Guest Star

J.F. Davis

J.F. Davis

Bartender

Guest Star

Kurt Scholler

Kurt Scholler

Guard

Guest Star

Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth

Annabeth Schott

Recurring Role

Nicole Robinson

Nicole Robinson

Margaret

Recurring Role

Mark Feuerstein

Mark Feuerstein

Clifford Calley

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Cliff Calley: I turned you down.
      CJ: Nobody turns us down. We're like the Mob, only less violent. Ultimately responsible for more death and destruction.

    • CJ: You want me to hire Cliff Calley? ... No. He's the wrong choice. And he's irritating. And he's obnoxious.
      Leo: That's worked for us in the past...

    • Toby: Sometimes I think, what if I were at UNICEF or United Way pulling together the AIDS fight, or back in New York turning the public school system around, would that be a more effective use of my 24 hours? Not this. Not pushing on the ocean.

  • NOTES (4)

    • Cliff Calley is the third Republican hired by the Bartlet administration. The first was Ainsley Hayes (Emily Procter, before she left for CSI Miami). In Episode 26 (Season 2 Episode 4) "In This White House", when Leo questions his seriousness in hiring Ainsley, Bartlet makes the statement that he might hire as many as two Republicans. The second was Joe Quincy (Matthew Perry, doing a 180 degree shift from his Chandler Bing persona), who was hired in Episode 86 (Season 4 Episode 20) "Evidence of Things Not Seen" to replace Hayes in the Counsel's office. Quincy appeared twice more, in Episode 87 (Season 4 Episode 21) "Life On Mars" & Episode 95 (Season 5 Episode 7) "Separation of Powers."

    • Stockard Channing does not appear in this episode.

    • Music Featured in this Episode:
      1. The jazz instrumental played during the party scene is "Take Five" by Paul Desmond, originally recorded in 1959 by the Dave Brubeck Quartet for the classic album Time Out.
      2. Jimmy Smits as Matt Santos sings "Alison" by Elvis Costello early in the episode.

    • 6.6/10 rating. 8th highest rated show of the night.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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