The West Wing

Season 6 Episode 15

Freedonia

0
Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Feb 16, 2005 on NBC
8.2
out of 10
User Rating
85 votes
1

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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It's five days before the New Hampshire primary, and Josh is desperately trying to find a "silver bullet" that will get his candidate into the local debate between the two front-runners, Vice President Russell and former Vice President Hoynes. Then, Josh and Santos's disagreements over how to run the campaign come to a head when Santos hires Josh's ex-girlfriend Amy Gardner to help him prepare for the debate he may never be in. And Donna has a memorable encounter with a chicken.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Debate and Compromise

    8.0


    Well, West Wing, congratulations on a job well done. You achieved what I thought was unlikely and made me really, really buy into this one. You know that The West Wing is right on track when you can't decide whose side to take. In Freedonia, both Josh and Santos were so convincing I found myself thinking "‘Good point...oh, but that is true, Josh...well on the other hand, Santos is right on that account" and back and forth.



    When we first met Santos, I liked him very much and I wished all politicians were like him, but I didn't believe it. I didn't believe that anyone would sacrifice what seemed like any chance at winning just for values and ethics. But now we get to see Santos' way not only working, but blowing Josh's more conventional method out of the water. His advertisement was amazing, no? Finally we got to see how it can work, and work really well. And we got a sort of agreement between Josh and Santos on how to run this campaign. It was getting rather tiresome to see them constantly disagreeing on the most fundamental campaign strategies and ideas. I happen to think that Santos needs to trust Josh a little more. The chicken idea was pretty creative. The way things had been he practically didn't need a campaign manager. But now that they are on the same page, I think good things are in the future. I would SO vote for Santos. I think the public finally got to see the candidate we (the oh-so-privileged few who get to see the behind the scenes action) all knew was fantastic, but possibly incapable of convincing the country of that fact.



    Although I really engaged in the Josh/Santos debate, thought it was a really great commentary on the way campaigns are run, and generally loved the idea of the episode, I have some significant gripes for our dearly beloved writers and producers. Please, please, for the love of all that is good in this world, deal with the Josh and Donna issue already! They never even saw each other in this episode. You've been hinting and hinting, doing subtle and then not-so-subtle plot lines that lead up to the two of them, and now you are just ignoring it? I hope you have some plan for this, and I'm sure you know what you are doing, but there is only so long that you can ask an audience to invest in a story line. This one has been six seasons in the making. It's about time (by the way, that line from a review ago was a quote from Angels in the Outfield, starring Christopher Lloyd). Although I would love to see Josh and Donna together, at this point, all I want is for them to have the conversation. Confront the issue. They've eliminated the reason they can't be together (being assistant and boss) so now they either need a new reason or to have them together. I've spoken my peace about that. Oh, wait, no I haven't. Was it just me or were the writers trying to hint and a Donna/Will relationship? All that asking each other to dinner made me extraordinarily nervous. Donna, please try to have some interest in people you don't work for. Ugh, if they go down that road, oh the letters I will send to John Wells. Unless of course, if they make it so that ultimately Josh gets jealous and they can deal with those two. Ok, now I'm done.



    OTHER THOUGHTS:



    - At least they showed CJ, but I do miss the other characters. I'm getting used to it though, and I think they will resolve the split location/episode issue soon.

    - I thought it was a good idea to address the issue of how having the candidates approve the ads really doesn't do much of anything to stop attack campaigns.

    - I thought that Mary-Louise Parker was a very welcome addition to this episode. I'm glad she is only visiting for one episode, but I really liked the storyline she brought with her. Her character is so smart. I though addressing the closing gender gap and the fact that women are voting Republican based on security issues was a nice touch. She also brought the great quote: "You know what Amy won't tell you about the presidential voice? You have to become president to use it. " Good stuff.

    - Author's note: I know some people felt I was a little harsh about the Annabeth character, and I want to make a few things clear. I like that she is different and peppy and there is no reason why singing in the hallways and being cheerful is a bad thing. I think Legally Blonde taught us all that. I only wish they would explain her job more clearly and show her doing her work. She is very entertaining in the way she deals with the press. Make her press secretary already. I do, however, maintain my position that she is a little too know-it-all for a newbie. I thought the same thing with Kate Harper. I don't care who you are, everyone needs a little adjustment time and I just think they skipped over that on these characters.

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Allison Janney

Allison Janney

Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg

Jimmy Smits

Jimmy Smits

Matthew Santos (Episodes 114-)

Bradley Whitford

Bradley Whitford

Josh Lyman

Janel Moloney

Janel Moloney

Donna Moss (Episodes 23-, recurring previously)

Joshua Malina

Joshua Malina

Will Bailey (Episodes 78-, recurring previously)

Stockard Channing

Stockard Channing

Abbey Bartlet

Joe Egender

Joe Egender

Santos Volunteer

Guest Star

Jay Brazeau

Jay Brazeau

Mackey Lowell

Guest Star

Gabe Cohen

Gabe Cohen

Studio Manager

Guest Star

Gary Cole

Gary Cole

Bob Russell

Recurring Role

Tim Matheson

Tim Matheson

John Hoynes

Recurring Role

Mary-Louise Parker

Mary-Louise Parker

Amy Gardner

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (2)

    • The New Hampshire scenes (for this episode and Opposition Research) were shot in Toronto Canada.

    • This was supposed to be in New Hampshire, but when Smits and Whitford leave the clothing store, across the street there is a Shoppers Drug Mart. These stores are only in Canada and not the US.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Santos (in a live TV ad): I will never say anything about my opponents, or anything about anything, without saying it myself, right into the camera. You might not get to hear much of me, but when you do, you'll know I stand by it. I'm Matt Santos and you better believe I approve this ad.

    • C.J. (to Josh about Donna): Didn't you teach that girl not to engage a chicken?

    • Josh: We can't afford a huge, glitzy ad buy, so we run something feisty, funny, out-of-the-box. Turns our one minute of prime time into a national sensation.
      Aide: Santos on ice skates, wearing a goalie outfit, pledging to defend America?
      Josh (pause): Closer to the box than that.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Freedonia is the mythical country in the 1933 Marx Brothers film "Duck Soup". In this episode, Santos complains that political discourse has fallen so low that when one politician was asked recently about the "situation in Freedonia", he claimed he was "studying it".

      A similar situation had happened in real life. In the 1990s, a satirical magazine called Spy pulled a practical joke, in which they got several Congressional members to issue statements condemning the ethnic cleansing in Freedonia.

    • Martin Sheen, Richard Schiff, John Spencer, Dule Hill, Stockard Channing and Mary McCormack do not appear in this episode.

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • Ronald Reagan: I'm paying for this microphone...

      The events in this episode are loosely based on a 1980 Republican primary debate in New Hampshire. It was originally only going to include Ronald Reagan and George Bush, who were neck and neck in the polls. A protest was lodged and it was ruled that the newspaper sponsoring the debate was making an illegal campaign contribution. So Reagan's campaign underwrote the cost of the debate. Reagan decided to invite the other candidates. Bush's campaign manager was surprised when the other candidates showed up and objected, and there was a brief impasse. As the exchange of words became heated, a representative from the newspaper that was originally paying for the debate said to turn Reagan's microphone off. Reagan snapped back "I'm paying for this microphone..." and it resulted in national coverage and an immediate swing to Reagan in the polls, virtually assuring that he would be the Republican nominee.

      It is claimed that Reagan reached out to his Hollywood roots when he said that because it is used the movie State of The Union, starring Spencer Tracy as a presidential candidate who sees corruption all around says "I'm paying for this microphone"

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