The West Wing

Season 1 Episode 1


Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Sep 22, 1999 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
273 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The staff scrambles to respond to pages telling them that the President has been in an accident -- he's fallen off the bike he borrowed from Leo; C.J. tries to spin the story to the press. Sam finds out that the woman he picked up in a bar and spent the night with is a high-priced call girl; Josh gets into trouble with the religious right, and, meeting with a delegation in an attempt to smooth things over, Toby makes things worse by getting into a shouting match over the Ten Commandments; Jed joins in the fray by telling them to condemn an extremist group called "The Lambs of God", and then pointedly shows the delegation the door.moreless

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  • About this episode

    This had great art direction, cinematography and directing.
  • The start of something great.

    I just recently began watching The West Wing for the first time. Having been a big fan of Studio 60 on The Sunset Strip, I knew I should give it a try, and so far I've been glad I did. Josh Lyman won me over pretty quickly(Whitford is such a great actor), as Toby(Schiff) did eventually. Sam(Lowe) I'm still not sure about, he's just that kind of charming that I find annoying, but I think I'll come around. Leo(Spencer) and CJ(Janney) both showed potential and I think I'll end up liking them both. The last 7 or so minutes of the episode was one of the best scenes I've yet to see on television. When Toby, Josh, and CJ sat down with Rev. Al and the Lamb Of God nutballs. Bartlet's(Sheen) entrance was just beautiful,

    "I am the lord your God. Thou shalt worship no other god before me. Boy, those were the days, huh?"

    Though I think my favorite line from the episode was,

    "She was calling us New York Jews, Josh."

    "Well being from Connecticut I didn't mind so much."

    An excellent Pilot that drew me in and left me anxiously awaiting the next episode.moreless
  • It seems like it was only yesterday when this series -- about a Democratic administration -- first aired on NBC. A wonderful series.

    The pilot episode is not my personal favorite, but it is certainly a rare example of great network television. President Bartlet is a free-market liberal Democrat from NH. He and the show's overall political slant is decidedly against the traditional left versus right in favor of a centrist or neo-liberal politics. If your politics tend to be more Ron Paul, Dennis Kuchinich, the 'religious right' or the 'Hollywood left' expect some political shots, if not satire, headed your way.

    Yet, the show's appeal came from its centrist, forward thinking, empathetic, pragmatic, and (mostly) optimistic perspective. It is the centrist Democrats and Republicans who are given high marks, which may or may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it offered consumers something different then the real life Bush Administration.

    The pilot episode shows that this is going to be a show about politics, about the pros and cons of issues, about how policy is talked about and advanced internally and the private and professional lives of various people working in the fictional administration.

    Politics aside, much (but not all) of the images and processes presented are fairly accurate and the series offered several love interests, family drama, jokes and trivia to pepper in the episodes.moreless
  • The first episode of The West Wing

    The first episode of The West Wing is pretty good not bad not bad at all. Cubans are in row boats heading to Miami.

    Josh said something on television that may get him fried. Sam accidentally sleeps with a call girl . President Bartlet rides a bicycle in to a tree while on vacation. Over all the stories of this 1st episode of The West Wing are good and not dull you always want to know what is going to happen next. I had no problems at all with this 1st episode of The West Wing which means its score is 10 out of 10.moreless
  • Superb pivotal for a serie full of action, deep thoughts and drama.

    Another series I remembered I had watched and decided to dig out and re watch it. And again, I am having those fantastic moments as I remember a little, those characters look familiar and I am remembering everything again.

    The story gets into the busy life of west wing already in this episode even in major it tries to show us all the characters and give a little idea who is who and what they do. But some chars like Josh and Sam get some deeper look already, plotting events for this and coming episodes. Fantastic and very catching serie. I am eager to see more of it.moreless
Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

President Jed Bartlet

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

John Spencer

John Spencer

Leo McGarry

Annie Corley

Annie Corley

Mary Marsh

Guest Star

Dafidd McCracken

Dafidd McCracken


Guest Star

David Sage

David Sage

John Van Dyke

Guest Star

Kathryn Joosten

Kathryn Joosten

Delores Landingham

Recurring Role

Suzy Nakamura

Suzy Nakamura


Recurring Role

Devika Parikh

Devika Parikh


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Aaron Sorkin based the character of Sam Seaborn on George Stephanopoulos, President Clinton's Communications Director and 1992 campaign adviser.

    • In the argument over the commandment "Honor thy father", it is first claimed that it is the first commandment, and Toby corrects them and says that it is the third. In fact, neither is correct, "Honor thy father and thy mother" is the *fifth* commandment (Exodus 20, verse 12).

      In order, up until then:

      1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3).

      2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image (Exodus 20:4).

      3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain (Exodus 20:7).

      4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8).

      5. Honour thy father and thy mother (Exodus 20:12).

    • Sam tells the fourth grade class that the Roosevelt Room was named for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Mallory corrects him, saying that it was named for Theodore Roosevelt, whose picture is on the wall behind him. In fact, the room is named in honor of both men.

    • Sam mispronounces Toby's last name when he talks to the fourth graders.

  • QUOTES (15)

    • C.J.: Good morning. Dr. Randall Haymen, H-A-Y-M-E-N, chief of orthopedics at St. John's Hospital has diagnosed the President with a mild sprain in his left ankle sustained while cycling into a large cyprus tree. (The Press Corps laughs.) Details can be found in the full report that Linda and Susanne are distributing. Along with pool photographs of the President resisting help from a Secret Service agent, then falling down again. By all means, enjoy yourselves.

    • C.J.: You can have a normal life. You'd be amazed at how normal I can be. See, it's all about budgeting your time. This time, this hour, this is my time. Five a.m. to six a.m. I can workout, as you see. I can think about personal matters. I can meet an interesting man. Her beeper goes off The trick is...

    • Bartlet: Now I love my family and I've read my Bible from cover to cover so I want you to tell me from what part of Holy Scripture do you suppose the Lambs of God drew their divine inspiration when they sent my 12-year-old granddaughter a Raggedy Anne doll with a knife stuck through its throat? You'll denounce these people, Al, you'll do it publicly, and until you do you can all get your fat asses out of my White House. CJ, show these people out.
      Mary Marsh: I believe we can find the door.
      Bartlet: Find it now.

    • Mary: I can tell you that you don't believe in any God I pray to, Mr. Lyman. Not any God I pray to.
      Josh: Lady, the God you pray to is too busy being indicted for tax fraud.

    • Sam: No. No. What I was gonna say is this: Is it possible, that in addition to
      being a law student and part-time bartender, that you are what I'm certain would
      have to be a very high-priced call girl. I, by the way, making no judgments.

    • Sam: Ms. O'Brien, I understand your feelings, but please believe me when I tell you that I'm a nice guy having a bad day. I just found out the Times is publishing a poll that says a considerable portion of Americans feel that the White House has lost energy and focus. A perception that's not likely to be altered by the video footage of the President riding his bicycle into a tree. As we speak, the Coast Guard are fishing Cubans out of the Atlantic Ocean while the Governor of Florida wants to blockade the Port of Miami. A good friend of mine's about to get fired for going on television and making sense, and it turns out I accidentally slept with a prostitute last night. Now. Would you please, in the name of compassion, tell me which one of those kids is my boss's daughter.
      Mallory: That would be me.

    • Laurie: Tell your friend POTUS he's got a funny name, and he should learn how to ride a bicycle.
      Sam: I would, but he's not my friend, he's my boss. And it's not his name, it's his title.
      Laurie: POTUS?
      Sam: President of the United States.

    • Toby: Mind-boggling to me that we ever won an election.

    • Van Dyke: Show the average American teenage male a condom and his mind will turn to thoughts of lust.
      Toby: Show the average American teenage male a lug wrench and his mind'll turn...

    • Leo (on the phone): Seventeen across. Yes. Seventeen across is wrong. You're spelling his name wrong. What's my name? My name doesn't matter. I'm just an ordinary citizen who relies on the Times crossword for stimulation. And I'm telling you, that I've met with the man twice, and I've recommended a preemptive Exocet Missile attack against his airforce. So, I think I know how to...

    • Mrs. Landingham: I don't understand. How did he...?
      Leo: He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your President's a geek.
      Mrs. Landingham: Mr. McGarry, you know how I feel about that kind of talk in the Oval Office.
      Leo: I apologize.
      Mrs. Landingham: Just in this room, Mr. McGarry. That's all I'm asking.

    • Leo: He was swerving to avoid a tree.
      Donna: What happened?
      Leo: He was unsuccessful.

    • C.J.: Is there anything I can say except 'The President rode his bicycle into a tree.'?
      Leo: He hopes never to do it again?
      C.J.: Seriously, they're laughing pretty hard
      Leo: He rode his bicycle into a tree. C.J., what do you want me...'The President, while riding his bicycle on vacation in Jackson, came to a sudden arboreal stop'. What do you want from me?
      C.J.: A little love, Leo.

    • Leo: Margaret, please call the editor of "The New York Times" crossword and tell him that "Gaddafi" is spelled with an "h" and two "d"s, and isn't a seven letter word for anything. Margaret: Is this for real, or is this just funny? Leo: Apparently, it's neither.

    • Toby: We're flying in a Lockheed Eagle series L10-11. It came off the line twenty months ago. It carries a Sim-5 transponder tracking system. Are you telling me I can still flummox this thing with something I bought at Radio Shack?

  • NOTES (5)

    • The original Josiah Barlett, a physician in New Hampshire, spelled his last name Bartlett; his direct descendant spells his name Bartlet.

    • This is the only episode of the series that does not have a teaser.

    • Music: The song playing in Mandy's car when she gets pulled over is Bif Naked's "Moment of Weakness".

    • Life imitated art when President George W. Bush had a biking accident at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

    • Awards and Nominations:
      This episode was a 1999 DGA Award Nominee for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series Night.

      This episode won three 2000 Emmy Awards: Outstanding Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series, Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series, and Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series.

      This episode was a 2000 Emmy Award Nominee for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.

      This episode was 2000 ACE Eddie Award Winner for Best Edited One-Hour Series for Television.

      This episode won the 2000 ADG Award for Excellence in Production Design for a Television Series Episode of a Single-Camera Series.

      Won the 2000 Artios Award for Outstanding Achievement in Casting in Drama.

      Won the 2000 ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Movies of the Week/Mini-Series'/Pilot.

      Won the 2000 Eddie Award for Best Edited One-Hour Series for Television.

      Won the 2000 Shine Award in the scene stealing category.


    • Toby: What to do when the Nina, the Pinta, and the Get-Me-The-Hell-Outta-Here hit Miami.

      Reference to the ships that Columbus took with him on the way to the New World (the Americas). There were called the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.

    • Sam: 'Cause Alger Hiss just walked in with my secret pumpkin.

      Alger Hiss was imprisoned in the 1950s after being convicted of spying on Americans for the Soviet Union. The documents he allegedly recorded during his "spying" were kept in a hollowed out pumpkin. The use of this allusion is just a spy joke to reference the fact that he thinks that Laurie is spying on him in the bar.

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