The West Wing

NBC (ended 2006)



User Score: 688

  • Season 2 Episode 8: Shibboleth

  • Ironically enough, Toby tortured history when he complained about torturing history. Jamestown was incorporated in 1607, which was the seventeenth century, rather than the sixteenth, as Toby claimed.

  • Season 2 Episode 9: Galileo

  • The problem with this ambassador's name was that both names were female.

    The name "Vigdís Ólafsdóttir" is a fine name for a female named Vigdís who's father's name is Ólafur.

    She can also be "Vigdís Ólafardóttir" if her mother's name is Ólöf.

    If it was a male, it could be for example "Vignir Ólafsson" og "Vignir Ólafarson"

  • Dioscorea is the scientific name for the genus including the yam. The word is, in fact, Greek. The yam's genus was named after Pedanius Dioscorides, who was a Greek physician, though, as he was a Roman citizen, his five-volume book of drugs (c 77 AD) is known by its Latin translation, De Materia Medica. This work was used up through the 15th century with additions made to it over the centuries.

    It is a different plant from the sweet potato, which is sometimes called a yam in the US and is more commonly consumed as part of the Thanksgiving Day feast. Sweet Potatoes (Ipomeoa batatas) are native to the new world and thus there is no Latin word for sweet potato. Ipomeoa is Latin but means "resembling bind weed" and batatas is the Taino word for sweet potato.

  • CJ's fishbowl has red rocks on the bottom. A reference to the Mars mission that is one of the sub plots of the episode.

  • The episode focuses on a "Galileo 5" mission to Mars. In fact, there was just one Galileo mission, to Jupiter and its main satellites.

  • Leo McGarry tells the President of Iceland's Ambassador, Vigdis Olafsdottir, that "he's very excited to meet you." But Icelandic surnames are formed from the father's first name plus "-son" or "-dottir", so a name finishing in "dottir" is always a woman's name. Also, Vigdis is a female forename.

  • FYI, if an Icelandic woman has a child out of wedlock, or the father's name is simply unknown, it is permitted to use the mother's first name to form the child's surname.

  • Season 2 Episode 10: Noël

  • During the initial briefing on the rogue pilot in the Situation Room, a general mentions scrambling F-16's out of "Edwards".

    Edwards Air Force Base is a massive operational air base in Edwards, CA, in the Mojave Desert. It is one of the largest air bases in California, but is most notable for historical flights including Chuck Yeager's breaking of the sound barrier in 1947 as well as the location of the first landing of any space shuttle in 1981. It is also the home of the Dryden Flight Research Center, the Air Force Flight Test Center and the Air Force Rocket Research Laboratory.

    However, Edwards is primarily a test and training facility and would be unlikely to have armed F-16s available for missions such as this.

  • Instead of using recorded music and just mimic, Yo-Yo Ma actually played the song for each take. He did it about 45 times.

  • When Josh talks to Sam in his office, there is a Christmas stocking on the wall beside the chalkboard. Twenty minutes later, when Leo is there, the stocking has disappeared.

  • Season 2 Episode 11: The Leadership Breakfast

  • It is mentioned in this episode that the 107th Congress is about to have its first session. At the time of the original broadcast the 107th Congress had in fact just started. Apparently in the alternative world of The West Wing congressional elections are concurrent with the real ones. The presidential elections, however, are not.

  • Season 2 Episode 12: The Drop In

  • CJ's fishbowl has a missile half buried in blue rocks that look like the ocean. A background story is about a missile defense shield that failed and the missile landed in the ocean.

  • When the Swedish ambassador is presented the name of the Swedish king is wrong. His number is missing. It should be 'King Carl the 16th Gustaf'. They could easily omit the numbers but the British ambassador is presented by 'Queen Elizabeth the 2nd'.

    The Swedish ambassador's family is presented very stereotypically, they are all blond and tall.

  • Speaking of Sydney Ellen Wade and the movie The American President, who played the president's Chief of Staff? The answer: Martin Sheen!

  • Season 2 Episode 13: Bartlet's Third State of ...

  • Toby opens by telling his staff to "delete 'vigorously' from the first sentence," so they are not "going to vigorously pursue campaign finance reform" because 'vigorously' feels inflammatory.

    Since Toby is a speech writer, he should have been more concerned with removing 'vigorously' because it splits the infinitive of 'to pursue.' Infinitive verbs cannot have adverbs inside them, only before or after. The prohibition on the splitting of infinitives is a 18th century Victorian relic. Most modern English style guides have dropped this prohibition. It dates from spurious a belief that Latin was the most 'pure' language, and as in Latin the infinitive is a single word (e.g. Ire - to go, Ire audaciter - to go boldly) However, English has a rhythm and metre that defies such archaic constraints, and "To boldly go..." is a much more powerful construction

  • Season 2 Episode 15: Ellie

  • The Family Values Leadership Council which is opposed to the movie "Prince of New York" does not exist. However, it does sound extremely close to a real council called Family Research Council.

  • The movie "Prince of New York", which is described as "an updated version of Dostoyevsky's The Idiot which tells the story of a Christ-like epileptic young man who embodies goodness, but encounters sex, crime, and family dysfunction, does not actually exist.

  • Season 2 Episode 16: Somebody's Going to Emerg...

  • The story that Josh relates to Sam about Abraham Lincoln signing a pardon for Patrick Murphy, a California soldier, on the day he was assassinated, though thought to be true at the time, was revealed to be a fraud in 2011.

  • In one scene, the president puts his glasses in his left pocket and then two shots later retrieves them from his right.

  • Mercator is named here as a German cartographer, while he is in fact a Belgian (Flemish) one. He was the most respected and famous map maker of his time (16th century) and well beyond that.

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Politics, Classics