The West Wing

Season 1 Episode 14

Take This Sabbath Day

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Feb 09, 2000 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
173 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

After the Supreme Court refuses to stay the execution of a convicted murderer, Bartlet has forty-eight hours to decide whether or not to commute the sentence; Josh faces off with Joey Lucas about his staff's not backing her candidate as vigorously as she'd like.

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  • The West Wing is working on the weekend and has to make a difficult decision.

    I swear Marlee Matlin has a lifetime contract with NBC, dating back to Reasonable Doubts. I liked her scene with Bartlet.

    "I don't like guys who run for congress because they think it's a great gig. Find yourself a live one and I'll get interested. In the mean time; the devil you know beats the devil you don't, and I like the devil I got."

    The scene between Toby and his rabbi was one of my favorites, thus far. The music was beautiful as well(liked that they used it again later in the episode).

    "Society has a right to protect itself, but it doesn't have a right to be vengeful. It has a right to punish, but it doesn't have a right to kill."

    "You know what I think? I think you knew I was coming back here and I think you put her up there on purpose."

    "She's our communications director."

    CJ is really starting to give Josh a run for his spot as my favorite character. She was brilliant in her scene with Mandy.

    "That's my job tonight. I have to go in and tell the President that Simon Cruise is dead and we're the ones who killed him. So, I just wish I didn't know his mother's name was Sophia."

    I felt bad for Sam, if only because he put in all that time and energy and didn't even get a chance to make a pitch to the president.

    One of the better episodes so far.moreless
  • Review.

    In the 14th episode of the hit TV show The West Wing. Titled Take This Sabbath Day. The Supreme Court of The United States of America denies a death penalty appeal one of the attorneys for the defense ask a West Wing Staffer to ask The President to commute the sentence meanwhile Josh has a run-in with Joey Lucas who is mad about not receiving any champion money. Over all I thought this was a good episode of the series I thought The Supreme Court storyline was well done and liked it a lot. Josh storyline of the episode is the better one it was very funny when Joey Lucas and Josh first meet. In this episode we meet Joey Lucas who becomes one of my favorite recurring charters of the series. My overall rating for this episode is 10 out of 10.moreless
  • Beautiful episode with very deep meaning and lot to think off

    Weekend is starting but instead of that they have much to worry - an execution of criminal is planned and many try to convince president that they should not let that happened. But there are too many pros and cons and majority of people are in favor of capital punishment, so president have to let it go - but it is not easy for him or anyone else..

    I adored the dilemma they had, they way everyone tried to find their way out - Sam, Toby and President... a deep meaning episode.. and needed much time to follow it and think along. It does not happen to often.

    The other little storyline concentrates in Josh, his bad night before the day and Joey Lucas. I have seen Marlee Matlin in some other films and series and she did impressed me here too - there is something special in every character she plays.moreless
  • Josh meets Joey Lucas.

    What a great episode of the West Wing. They never seem to have a disappointing episode of the show so far in the seires. I thought that it was really funny that Donna was telling Josh not to drink that much because he can not handle liquor but he had to much to drink any way. It was hilarous to see Josh meet Joey Lucas wearing rain gear because his cloths were dirty. Who knew that Joey was a girl they made it out to be a guy. I thought that it was wrong that their was so much pressure on the President to stay the excution of a murder.moreless
  • One of the best of the series!

    President Bartlett is put in trouble by Sam's, who is following a friend's petition to ask the president to get to indult a death condemned criminal. The president then turns to everyone he meets (Leo, Toby, the survey-woman) about it, and all of them, each from their own point of view (something curious since each of them professes a different religion) suggest him to indult the criminal. The president, anyways, keeps waiting for a definite signal from God to show him the right way to follow, not realizing the mistake he does not indulting until his confessor arrives and tells him a story that clearly ressembles his. This episode was sooo great. President Bartlett is shown to doubt where the good lies, and seek help and others. Also the side stories (Toby's as example) are good. Definetly recomendable!moreless
Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

President Jed Bartlet

Dule Hill

Dule Hill

Charlie Young

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

Noah Emmerich

Noah Emmerich

Bobby Zane

Guest Star

David Proval

David Proval

Rabbi Glassman

Guest Star

Felton Perry

Felton Perry


Guest Star

Renée Estevez

Renée Estevez


Recurring Role

Marlee Matlin

Marlee Matlin

Joey Lucas

Recurring Role

Bill O'Brien

Bill O'Brien

Kenny Thurman

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Bartlet: Why is [the execution] my problem at all?
      Leo: As opposed to who?
      Bartlet: The Governor of Michigan.
      Leo: Oh, you mean why isn't it a state crime? It was prosecuted by the US Attorney under the Drug Kingpin Law...

      It's a good thing the Federal statutes on executions are being argued in this episode--because in Michigan (the state in which Simon Cruz was apparently tried) the death penalty is not an option. The strongest term one can serve in Michigan is life imprisonment.

    • The small pocket bible Father Cavanaugh uses is the same one Karl Malden used in the movie, On the Waterfront, in which he also portrayed a priest.

    • This wasn't the first time Martin Sheen and Karl Malden had worked together. They previously had worked together on the TV series The Streets of San Francisco in the episode "Betrayed" in 1973.

    • This episode was a 2001 WGA Award Winner and a 2000 Award Winner of the Humanitas Prize in the 60 Minute category.

    • Toby: "Even two thousand years ago, the rabbis of the Talmud couldn't stomach it."

      Toby tells the President that the ancient rabbis were averse to the death penalty. This is fairly true since the Talmud states that the fundumental difference between capital crimes and property crimes is sentence reversibility. A miscarriage of justice in the latter can be reversed by returning the property to its rightful owner. But a miscarriage of justice in a capital crime can never be reversed and the Talmud warns the rabbis that the blood of the accused, and the blood of all his progeny will be upon them till the end of time. As a result they instituted impossible conditions that the state had to meet in order to execute a person (that it can be proven that he was warned that is actions carry the death penalty, that the witnesses know that if they are caught lying they will receive the same punishment they intended for the accused, that the witnesses actually saw him commit the crime, etc.).

      This is taken from the Babylonian Talmud's chapter "Sanhedrin". There are many more procedural restrictions mentioned there regarding witness examination, witness reliability, the judges involved etc.

    • Father Cavanaugh says to the President that God, "...sent you a priest, a rabbi, and a Quaker...." How did he know about Toby's rabbi and Joey Lucas (the Quaker)? Cavanaugh appears in only one scene with no breaks, during which the president does not mention either rabbi or Quaker. Maybe that part of the conversation was cut from the final.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Joey Lucas: (barges in and beings signing while Kenny translates) Are you the unmitigated jackass who has the DNC choking off funding for O'Dwyer campaign in the California 47th?
      Josh: What in God's name is happening right now?

    • Josh: I can hold my liquor.
      Donna: No, you can't.
      Josh: I can drink with the best of 'em, Donna.
      Donna: You can't drink with any of 'em, Josh.
      Josh: I'm a politician, okay? I can drink.
      Donna: You have a very sensitive system.
      Josh: I wish you'd stop telling people that. It makes me sound like an idiot.
      Donna: You're gonna have two drinks and spend the rest of the weekend sleeping it off.

    • Bartlet: We can not execute some people and not others, depending on the mood of the Oval Office. It's cruel and unusual.
      Leo: If that's the only thing stopping you, I'll say for the first time in your presidency, let that be the next guy's problem.

    • Glassman: Say what you will about the Catholic Church, but their position on life is unimpeachable: no abortion, no death penalty.
      Toby:I spent yesterday...
      Glassman: You spent yesterday hoping the President wouldn't call the Pope.
      Toby: You're damn right I did.
      Glassman: If he had done it, after doing so, the fear of every non-Catholic who voted for him would be realized.
      Toby: Congratulations Rabbi Glassman, you may now join the White House communications staff!

    • Father Cavanaugh: You know, you remind me of the man that lived by the river. He heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town. And that all the residents should evacuate their homes. But the man said, 'I'm religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.' The waters rose up. A guy in a row boat came along and he shouted, 'Hey, hey you! You in there. The town is flooding. Let me take you to safety.' But the man shouted back, 'I'm religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.' A helicopter was hovering overhead. And a guy with a megaphone shouted, 'Hey you, you down there. The town is flooding. Let me drop this ladder and I'll take you to safety.' But the man shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him and that God will take him to safety. Well... the man drowned. And standing at the gates of St. Peter, he demanded an audience with God. 'Lord,' he said, 'I'm a religious man, I pray. I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?' God said, 'I sent you a radio report, a helicopter, and a guy in a rowboat. What the hell are you doing here?'

  • NOTES (3)

    • Awards:
      Martin Sheen was nominated for a 2000 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his performance in this episode in conjunction with "Five Votes Down"

      2000 Emmy award for Outstanding Drama Series in conjunction with many other episodes from the season

      2001 Christopher Award

      Won the 2000 Humanitas Prize (Lawrence O'Donnell Jr., Paul Redford, Aaron Sorkin)

      Nominated for 2001 WGA Award for Episodic Drama (Aaron Sorkin, Lawrence O'Donnell Jr., Paul Redford)

      Won 2000 Wilbur Award for Television Drama

    • Music: The piece the cantor sings in the synagogue, which is repeated at the end of the episode, is a prayer for peace called "Hashkiveinu" (Cause Us to Lie Down in Peace). This particular version is by Max Helfman, and is available on the CD Sacred Chants of the Contemporary Synagogue.

    • Marlee Matlin starts a recurring role as pollster Joey Lucas and Bill O'Brien starts his recurring role as her interpreter Kenny Thurman.


    • Sam: The United States is one of five countries that puts to death people under 18.

      The other 4 are: Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran.