The West Wing

Season 1 Episode 5

The Crackpots and These Women

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Oct 20, 1999 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
195 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The staffers spend the day dealing with private organizations, aka the crackpots. Throughout the day, Sam deals with a UFO nut, CJ gets a proposal to build a wolves-only road, Toby and Bartlet clash over everything, and Josh is overwhelmed by guilt regarding his sister's death.

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  • Leo's cheese days

    It was maybe not as fast and dynamical as previous episode but this episode's beauty was the way the characters were opened. Josh got a card with introductions what to do when there would be nuclear attack and he is shocked about it and when he finds out that none of his staff nor friends got that, he feels bad. So, he ends up in psychiatric office and we could have a deeper look into his past and we learn that he had little sister.

    But he is not the only one. Toby character gets some opening to as he is not feeling well when he finds out he was not the first choice for his position. And we do have some comic moments. Leo has idea that staff should meet some organizations. They are not keen about it but have no choice. So, Sam has to listen about UFO and CJ about wolves and their own highway.

    But in the end, we have beautiful speech about many characters we do not count as very important but they have their own story.

    Beautiful and deep thought-provoking episodemoreless
  • "You think you have to be crazy to create something powerful?"

    It was nice to see Elisabeth Moss, playing Bartlet's youngest daughter Zoey, I love her on Mad Men.

    I feel like I should start with the end of the episode as it was one of the most brilliant pieces of television I have ever seen. Bartlet's speech was amazing, though it almost seemed like a waste that only his staff, and not the American public, got to hear it.

    "A sad reminder of the time when two powerful nations challenged each other and then boldly raced into outer space. What will be the next thing that challenges us, Toby? That makes us go farther and work harder? You know that when smallpox was eradicated, it was considered the single greatest humanitarian achievement of this century? Surely we can do it again, as we did in the time when our eyes looked towards the heavens, and with outstretched fingers we touched the face of God."

    I was close to tears when Ave Maria started playing, even though the speech wasn't sad it was just that moving. Though as beautifully as Bartlet can speak I do see what Toby was saying,

    "Let the poets write that, 'He had the tools for greatness. But the voices of his better angels were shouted down by his obsessive need to win.'"

    It just seems like he is losing sight of the forest for the trees. Fighting battles instead of wars(metaphorically). Which might be why they are unable to get a true win.

    Josh's plot with the NSC card and his sister was incredible as well. I can't even imagine being put in that position, especially after what he went through as a kid with abandoning Joanie in the fire. His monologue to CJ about Small Pox was almost as good as Bartlet's, if only in a different(and terrifying) way. It was also interesting to see him so vulnerable and upset when he is usually the source of comic relief, shows both his and Sorkin's range.

    This is by far my favorite episode so far this season, and having watched a few more after this I can still say that.moreless
  • Review

    In the 5th episode of the first season of the hit TV show The West Wing Titled Crackpots and These Women.It is The Big Block of Cheese day in The West Wing and the same listen to people who they normally wont listen to at all. Josh gets an NSC card which means he will be secure incase of a nuclear attack on the country. Overall I thought the episode was good I thought both storylines where written very well the big block of cheese day was very funny I thought and Josh's storyline was good to my overall rating for this episode is 10 out of 10moreless
  • I love Leo and his block of cheese days. Alll the staffers have to spend their day with these loony people with their looney ideas, but they always seem to end up becoming interested and they get you interested as well.moreless

    They do this episode at least one other times that I can remember, in which we are shown that the map of the world that we all know and think is actually what the world is, is not accurate. There are other projections that are more accurate. Very interesting, CJ is flabbergasted.

    I should probably go review that episode if I can find it. Not sure what season it is. This is my first review ever---I understand the 100 word rule, it cuts back on the riff raff, but I think it is too much. That is why I rambled about that other episode, I didn't think I would be able to get to 100 words. I guess it made me realize that I really do love Leo's block of cheese days---and this was the orginal. I think that makes it a classic in my book.moreless
  • A big block of cheese day.

    Another great episode of The West Wing. I thought that the storyline for this episode was amazing. I liked seeing the staff working with organization that usually would not get that much notice. A wolves only highway i thought that was funny and to CJ's reaction was funny to. I thought that it was great that we finally got to meet one of the President's daughter. It was great to see Charlie interact with Zoey. I really liked that Josh was not comfortable with having instructions in case of a nuclear attack when his friends and family do not get the cards.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

Guy Boyd

Guy Boyd

Stanley Maxwell

Guest Star

Rachel Singer

Rachel Singer


Guest Star

Juwan Howard

Juwan Howard

Mr. "Rodney Grant" Collins

Guest Star

Renée Estevez

Renée Estevez


Recurring Role

Suzy Nakamura

Suzy Nakamura


Recurring Role

Elisabeth Moss

Elisabeth Moss

Zoey Bartlet

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Goof: At the party POTUS talks to Sam about how his team beat Sam's team, but Sam did not appear to be involved in the basketball game at the beginning of the episode. Toby, Josh, and Charlie were, however, playing against the President and his ringer.

    • In this episode, C.J mentions that Pluie the wolf might eat her cat. However, in the episode Dead Irish Writers in Season Three, she mentions she doesn't have a cat.

    • This is the first time we hear the theme music that is used for the rest of the series. Up until this episode, it was similar but not the same one.

    • This is the first time we see Zoey Bartlet.

  • QUOTES (18)

    • Toby: Oh, this is perfect, you know that? This is a perfect metaphor. After you're gone and the poets write 'The Legend Of Josiah Bartlet' let them write you as a tragic figure, sir. Let the poets write that he had the tools of greatness, but the voices of his better angles were shouted down by his obsessive need to win.
      Bartlet: You want to play or write my eulogy?
      Toby: Can I be honest with you sir?

    • Bartlet: Do I look like Joe McCarthy to you, Toby?
      Toby: No sir. Nobody ever looks like Joe McCarthy. That's how they get in the door in the first place.

    • Bob: We'd like the White House to pay a little more attention to UFOs.
      Sam: Are we paying any attention at all right now?
      Bob: No.
      Sam: Thank God. Like we don't have enough trouble with the First Lady and her Ouija board.

    • Bartlet: Ah! Mr. Ziegler from the Coney Island Killjoy. You have a follow up?

    • Mandy: Yeah, so Mr. President, if you could further see clear to not answer that question like an economics professor with a big old stick up his butt, that would be good too.
      Bartlet: I AM an economics professor with a big old stick up my butt, but I'll do my best for you there, Mandy.

    • Leo: Andrew Jackson, in the main foyer of his White House had a big block of cheese.
      Toby: Hmmm.
      Leo: I am making a mental list of those who are snickering, and even as I speak I'm preparing appropriate retribution. The block of cheese was huge--over two tons. And it was there for any and all who might be hungry.
      Toby: Leo, wouldn't this time be better spent plotting a war against a country that can't possibly defend itself against us?
      Leo: We can do that later, Toby. Right now I'm talking about President Andrew Jackson.
      Sam: Actually, right now, you're talking about a big block of cheese.
      Leo: And Sam goes on my list!
      Sam: What about Toby?
      Leo: I'm unpredictable. Jackson wanted the White House to belong to the people, so from time to time, he opened his doors to those who wished an audience.
      Mandy: And then he locked the doors behind them and made them eat two tons of cheese.
      Leo: It is in that spirit...
      Sam: Hang on. Mandy doesn't go on the list?
      Leo: Mandy's new.
      Sam: So it's just me... on the list?
      Leo: Yes. It is in the spirit of Andrew Jackson that I, from time to time, ask senior staff to have face-to-face meetings with those people representing organizations who have a difficult time getting our attention. I know the more jaded among you, see this as something rather beneath you. But I assure you that listening to the voices of passionate Americans is beneath no one, and surely not the peoples' servants.
      Josh: [walks in with C.J.] Sorry, we're late. Is it "Total Crackpot Day" again?
      Leo: Yes, it is.
      Sam: And let us please note that Josh does not go on the list.

    • Josh: I serve at the pleasure of the President, and it's a great privilege that I will never forget. I can't keep this. I think it's a white flag of surrender. I want to be a comfort to my friends in tragedy. And I want to be able to celebrate with them in triumph. And for all the times in between, I just want to be able to look them in the eye. Leo, it's not for me. I want to be with my friends, my family, and... these women.

    • Donna: And you don't find that adorable?
      Josh: That you seek to control me?
      Donna: Yeah.
      Josh: Love it.

    • Cathy:(walks up with mouth full) You know that doughnut sitting on your desk?
      Sam: You ate it.
      Cathy: That was predictable, wasn't it?

    • Toby: It's "Throw Open Our Office Doors To People Who Want To Discuss Things That We Could Care Less About... Day".

    • C.J.: Hang on. How are you gonna teach wolves to follow road signs?
      Man 2: Our scientists are working on a plan.
      C.J.: Yeah, but in the meantime, Pluie's gonna get drunk and wander off the wolves-only road and end up eating my cat.

    • Toby: It's not so much that you cheat sir, its how brazenly bad you are it.
      Bartlet: Give me an example.
      Toby: In Florida, playing mixed doubles with me and CJ, you tried to tell us your partner worked at the American Consulate in Vienna.
      Bartlet: She did.
      Toby: It was Steffi Graf.
      Bartlet: I'll admit the woman bore a striking resemblance to her.
      Toby: You crazy lunatic, you think I'm not going to recognize Steffi Graf when she's serving a tennis ball at me?

    • Leo: I'm the only one in the room who isn't an economist but the annual budget should be in balance, deficit or surplus. I don't know how I can sell Congress, to say nothing of people who graduated eighth grade, on the idea there's anything in between.

    • Bartlet: Ten years ago, the Federal budget had a deficit of 22 billion dollars but the national debt rose from 5.2 trillion to 5.4 trillion in the same fiscal year
      Economist: You knew those figures in your head?
      Leo: The President's startlingly freakish that way.

    • Toby: Leo, wouldn't the time be better spent plotting a war against a country that can't possibly defend itself against us?

    • Bartlet: It was not a space ship from another planet, just another time; a long since abandoned Soviet satellite. One of its booster rockets didn't fire and it couldn't escape Earth's orbit. A sad reminder of the time when two powerful nations challenged each other and then boldly raced into outer space. What will be the next thing that challenges us, Toby? That makes us go farther and work harder? You know that when smallpox was eradicated, it was considered the single greatest humanitarian achievement of the century? Surely we can do it again, as we did in a time when our eyes looked towards the heavens, and with outstretched fingers, we touched the face of God.

    • Sam: Because there are levels, and an order to our Air Force Command, and to jump from a radar officer to the Commander in Chief would skip several of those levels.
      Bob: Like what?
      Sam: Like the Pentagon, and, you know, perhaps therapy.

    • C.J.: There's an article I want you to read in The New Yorker.
      Josh: What's it about?
      C.J.: Smallpox.
      Josh: The disease?
      C.J.: No, the dessert topping, Josh.

  • NOTES (4)


    • Leo: Andrew Jackson, in the main foyer of his White House had a big block of cheese.

      This story is true. Andrew Jackson received a 1,400-pound block of cheese from a New York dairy farmer. It remained in the Entrance Hall to the White House for two years to age, and, in 1837, Jackson invited the public to come in and eat it. It was gone within two hours.