The West Wing

Season 7 Episode 6

The Al Smith Dinner

0
Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Oct 30, 2005 on NBC
8.8
out of 10
User Rating
139 votes
8

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

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Donna is back and she's working for the Santos/McGarry campaign, but just not for Josh. An attack ad on Santos by a pro-life group puts Vinick in a corner when Santos demands Vinick renounce it but Vinick knows that if he does it will offend the G.O.P. Leo argues to get the women's vote for Santos and to keep them from going Republican. Meanwhile, back at The White House, Will takes over Toby's old job and faces a tough battle when the press briefings are all about the NASA leak.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Josh and Donna Blues Explosion! Oh yeah, and some other stuff, not a bad episode over all.

    8.8
    So after way too long a hiatus Josh Lyman and Donna Moss are in a room together, and the chemistry is just as strong as ever, although it's added with a lot of tension as Josh still feels a sense of betrayal via her work with Russell. Their scene has a lot of magic in it, and it's going to be interesting and very fun with Josh and Donna on the same team now, only in heightened roles. Josh is essentially Leo now, whereas Donna is now C.J. The problem is this still makes Josh be Donna's boss, which has been what's keeping them apart, so maybe they'll get around that. Maybe with Donna as the First Lady's Chief of Staff? Who knows? By the way, anyone else catch the past episode references with Donna saying how Josh likes his hamburgers burnt like hockeypucks. We've heard his prediliction for well-done meat numerous times in the past, but not for a while. Always makes me sad that my favorite character and I like our beef so different, I'm a rare man.



    Anyways, on other fronts, we get to see Will as Communications Director and Press Secretary (seriously, can't they fill the Press Secretary role? Didn't C.J. have Deputy Press Secretaries? Well, I know she did. One of them was Annabeth. Although Will is much better at it than Toby was, so, doesn't matter.) I know this isn't the only time in American history this has happened, we've had Communications Director/Press Secretaries before, and they're very related jobs, so it doesn't bug me too much. Anyways, we get a nice bit with Will and Toby's bouncing rubber balls that he uses when he A) Wants to communicate with someone or B) When he's thinking. It's a nice "changing of the guard" moment see Will with that ball.



    We also get this whole abortion plot thing, which is very same-ol same-ol. Vinick is liberal on abortions, and he's a Republican, oh my! It is jazzed up by the revelation that Santos himself is essentially pro-life. I love that look on Leo's face when he's saying the liberal thing that he believes and he has long since expected every Democrat to also believe, "Life doesn't necessarilly begin at conception." Only to have Santos go "It does." I love that grouchy ol' Leo can out-liberal even young latino Santos.



    Over-all it was a good episode, but nothing particular fantastic about it. Props to Bradley Whitford, Janel Moloney, Joshua Malina and John Spencer for some good work.moreless
  • Viernes 16 de diciembre de 2005: fallece el actor John Spencer, Leo, de la serie The West Wing

    8.0
    Es dificil escribir al ver el nuevo capitulo y, al ingresar a internet, leer que el actor John Spencer fallece por problemas cardiacos. Una perdida para la serie, como tambien para los actores y millones de seguidores de The West Wing. El capitulo final con este actor aun no lo da en sudamerica. Veremos como salvan esta terrible perdida.
  • the best whow i have seen in a long time

    9.1
    this show is a good example of a well written and tought show that make the message that wants to send rich every one that is watching. I will be surprice if this show drops it raiting even with all the changes of main cast memebers. In this episode you can see the fast track that a campain for president is run to every one involve
  • The first time I have liked Will Bailey since... well, ever. And hey, Donna's back!

    9.0
    The main plotline of this story is the abortion issue. A 527 group (think Swift Boat Veterans) releases an attack ad on Santos's abortion record. Because of this, Vinick's campaign has a chance to court the right-wingers of the Republican party, although he would lose much of the moderate support that he currently has, and Viinick has to choose whether he wants to solidify a close win with his base, or have a chance at the huge win with moderates. I think this is the first time the West Wing has devoted an entire episode to the abortion issue, which is definitely interesting since it is probably the biggest issue among voters today.



    Of course, this all brings up the question of, "how exactly did Vinick get nominated, anyway?" Pro-life voters tend to be the most active ones in the GOP primaries, so one wonders if this could actually happen in our universe. Every time they talked about how Vinick's stand could keep the base at home, I wonder how the "base" put him in this position in the first place. Ah well. I guess if that's my biggest issue with the campaign episodes, then everything's ok.



    There are two other subplots for the campaign portion of this episode. The first, is the negotiations for the debates. I certainly wish Bruno got more screentime than he does, because I loved him during the Bartlet re-election campaign episodes, and I love him now. Lou convinces Josh to let her go to the negotiations, since Bruno has managed to get inside of Josh's head. Even though Santos's campaign needs the debates far more than Vinick, Lou blows up the negotiations and walks away from the table, in what appears to be a bit of reverse psychology. I'm not sure this tactic would have worked out if Vinick and Santos don't come together at the end.



    In other news, Donna's back! Yay! Lou hires her to do midwest press coverage, and she takes on a major press conference after the big negative ad. Josh has a problem, and Lou puts them in a room and ties them together until they finally kiss. I might have made that last part up, but it's what I wanted to happen. Josh still doesn't seem to realize how good Donna can be at her job, and I'm hoping one of the plotlines for the rest of the season is Josh finally beginning to appreciate her talent. Since every sign has pointed to this season being the last, I hope they finally get together at the end, also. It sure was convinient that Josh had a folder right next to him of all the negative things Donna said about the Santos campaign, wasn't it?



    Finally, Will gets thrown to the wolves. Ok, I actually did like him when he was first brought in to replace Sam, but he quickly became annoying when he went to work for the Vice-President. He does an excellent job with the press. I thought he was arguably as good as CJ, and he was definitely an improvement over Toby, and certainly an improvement over Josh doing a press briefing. I also LOVED the spinning camera effect for once. It made the whole scene seem like a little dance between Will and the press.



    If this is going to be the final season of the West Wing, it looks like it will go out on a good note, even if, judging by the ratings, no one's watching. Perhaps word of mouth for this last season will at least help drive up DVD sales.moreless
  • A Democrat and a Republican with similar positions.

    9.9
    First of all, this season is getting higher on my scale with every episode.



    Bringing Donna back, as Santos's spokesperson was excellent. They brought her back to the mix, just in time to keep Josh sane. Also, it's the perfect way to present his character like he was before. And we will be able to see a ying-yang situation. And the student becomes a teacher.



    Louise was excellent in her meeting with Bruno, who I think should have more screen time. The man can bring on suspence like no one can. Exept, maybe Toby.



    And, for the last. We got to see two candidates take situation into their own hands. Two men, who actually have similar opinions on issues. And in a simple enviroment, like the kitchen, they managed to make an agreement which none of their staffers could. JS and AA really did a good job there, and a person ca feel their greatness by looking at them on the screen.moreless
Alan Alda

Alan Alda

Senator Arnold Vinick (Episodes 123-)

Allison Janney

Allison Janney

Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg

Bradley Whitford

Bradley Whitford

Josh Lyman

Janel Moloney

Janel Moloney

Donna Moss (Episodes 23-, recurring previously)

Jimmy Smits

Jimmy Smits

Matthew Santos (Episodes 114-)

John Spencer

John Spencer

Leo McGarry

Alex Manette

Alex Manette

Repoter #1

Guest Star

Dean Norris

Dean Norris

Steve Hodder

Guest Star

Lisa Darr

Lisa Darr

Becca

Guest Star

Ron Silver

Ron Silver

Bruno Gianelli

Recurring Role

Patricia Richardson

Patricia Richardson

Shelia Brooks

Recurring Role

Janeane Garofalo

Janeane Garofalo

Louise Thornton

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (1)

  • NOTES (1)

    • Kristin Chenoweth, Mary McCormack, and Martin Sheen do not appear in this episode. Stockard Channing & Dulé Hill also do not appear and are therefore uncredited.

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • Episode Title: "The Al Smith Dinner"

      This episode takes its title from the Annual Catholic charity dinner named in honor of Al Smith. Al Smith was born and raised an Irish Catholic in the 4th ward of New York City. A Democrat, he was the first Catholic elected governor of any state and was the first Catholic to run for president. Known as The Happy Warrior he was less happy when he only carried 8 states in the election. He then went on to serve as the public head of the company that built the Empire State Building. Many of the programs started by FDR in his first hundred days were copied directly from programs originated by Al Smith for New York State during his term as governor.

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