DVDs in Review: #36 - The West Wing: The Complete Series

Category: , By Rev/Views

(hey look, that's me reflected in the bottom of this logo/box top!)


Created by Aaron Sorkin


Starring:
Allison Janney as Claudia Jean 'C.J.' Cregg
Martin Sheen as President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet
John Spencer as Leo McGarry
Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman
Janel Moloney as Donna Moss
Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler
Dulé Hill as Charlie Young
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick
Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborne
Joshua Malina as Will Bailey
and Stockard Channing as Abbey Bartlet


The Show:

The West Wing is Aaron Sorkin's multiple Emmy award winning show about a fictional Democratic White House President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet and his administrative staff during his presidency. It's a show filled with blistering and snappy dialog that looks at the various crises faced by the office of the President of the US and the compromises that have to be made by the office in order to get policies and bills passed.

The first season alone garnered nine Emmys, which is a record for an opening season and for a single season, and overall it gathered a total of two golden globes, a Peabody and twenty six Emmys in it's seven year run. Which is an impressive pedigree by anyone's standards. It has also gained a great deal of acclaim for a relatively realistic portrayal of life inside and around the Oval Office from actual retired staffers. So it's (apparently) pretty genuine in it's design, of course I'm no expert in American politics and bureaucracy (or politics and bureaucracy full stop) so don't hold me to that claim.

The majority of the stories revolve around the President, the First Lady and his core staff, with reoccurring characters sometimes supplementing these stories or supporting them. Performances across the board are superb, but of particular note are Rob Lowe, Martin Sheen, John Spencer, Allison Janney and Bradley Whitford (who later went on to star as Danny in the short lived Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip).

Now at this point I've not seen every single episode of The West Wing, so I can only speak for the quality of the earlier seasons, which are all just top notch. I was a little unsure when I first purchased this as I'd only seen a handful of episodes before, but I can say now that I feel like I've spent my money well as every single episode I've seen so far has been filled with great stories, clever, engaging characters and superb dialog. I didn't think I'd be so interested in a show about politics, but I am.


The Other Stuff

Packaging:











The packaging is a pretty simple affair for the complete collection, all that has been done is a box has been built to hold all the seven seasons, each of which is identical to the individual versions. But the box is a nicely crafted piece which looks good and doesn't take up too much extra room. You also get an extra slimline case that contains a lot of extras.

Extras:

All of the Extras are located in this little two disc set that comes with the complete collection, there's over five hours of material spread across all seven seasons.

In total there is the following:

Season One:
The Primaries: Making the Pilot
The Inauguration: Season One Unfolds
Capital Beat: The Politics Behind the West Wing
Sheet Music: The West Wing Notes
Gag Order
The West Wing Suite
Off the Record

Season Two:
Constructing Two Cathedrals: An introspective look at the making of the finale
Access Granted: A Walk-and-Talk Tour of the White House Sets
Deleted Scenes
Gag Order

Season Three:
A Property Master's Story: How D.C. Details are recreated on the sound stages
The Chief of Stuff: Day-to-day experiences of providing support services to a President
Reel-Life to Real-Life: Documentary special about real-life White House veterans
Deleted Scenes

Season 4
Behind Every Good Man... Is the First Lady: A Comparison and contrast between Abbey Bartlet and the real-life Presidential wives.
The Letter of the Word: How real-life Presidential speechwriters have gotten the job done
Unaired Scenes

Season 5:
Political Missteps: Gag Reel
In Potus We Trust: A Presidential profile of Josiah Bartlet and his portrayer Martin Sheen
Gaza: Anatomy of an episode: The elements of recreating a foreign country are explored

Season 6:
C.J. Gregg: The Evolution of the character

Season 7:
Live from the Director's Chair: A multi angle view from the truck as the director calls the live debate episode
Countdown to West Wing Live

It's everything that was left off the Region 2 discs that was present on the region 1 ones. True it's material that should have been included with each season anyway but at least we're getting it unlike another series I could mention *cough* Homicide *cough* Fremantle *cough*.

Price:

Right now both Zavvi and HMV have this available online and in their stores for £49.99, now the total viewing time for this entire package not including the extras runs at an incredible 112 Hours. That's 0.74 ppms (pence per minute spent), in contrast the next best ppms I've found so far was the 1.5ppms with The Complete Adventures of Tintin. So seriously, this is almost as good as it gets with regards to price. If I was still scoring on a numerical scale this would get the full 100%.

The Details:

Audio: 2.0 Dolby Sound
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Regular/Colour
Runtime: 112 hours (Approx 42 mins per episode)
Languages: English
Hearing Impaired: English
Subtitles: English
Format: Dual-Layer
Region: 2

(Warning, possible episode spoilers abound in the large version of this picture, click on it at your own risk.)

The Final Word:

Right now the price competition between Zavvi and HMV has resulted in an absolutely superb product being available in the UK for a quarter of it's original RRP. If you've ever been interested or curious about the West Wing, if you caught the odd episode and liked it or if you enjoyed Studio 60; now is the time to pick it up. If you have a Zavvi Student Card (10% off) then go with Zavvi, otherwise pick whichever store has the hottest staff members. But seriously, a great show, a great product and a really great price.

Must Buy.

 

2 comments so far.

  1. MysterLynch 17 October 2008 at 22:36
    First couple of seasons: Very good.
    Three and Four: Solid.
    Five: Ugh.
    Six and seven: Ok, but lacking the Sorkin magic.

    For me, TWW ended with season four.
  2. Rev-Views 18 October 2008 at 00:21
    I've read similar elsewhere on the web, but even if it only has four good seasons that's £50 spent instead of £100 here in the UK so I'll still feel like I've had a great deal. :)

    Plus I'd quite like to watch Jimmy Smits in something else as he's been very good in Dexter so far.

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