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The West Wing: The Complete Fourth Season

Martin Sheen , Richard Schiff    Unrated   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 33.74
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The West Wing: The Complete Fourth Season + The West Wing: The Complete Fifth Season + The West Wing: The Complete Third Season
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Product Description

West Wing: The Complete Fourth Season (DVD)


The winning streak for this veritable show continues through its fourth year. As with many long-running series, The West Wing faces the inevitable--a cast member chooses to leave. But this show handles Rob Lowe's exit with such well-executed grace, a could-be-harmful experience (or at least sudden) is turned into an asset. The season begins with three staff members marooned in the heartland (played mostly for laughs) and ends with a dramatic cliffhanger even more powerful than the initial season's shooting. In between are 20 excellent episodes packed with the series' trademark wit and pace, and an uncannily ability to create excellent moments for the entire cast. The election nears and West Wingers brace for the final onslaught including a make-or-break debate. There's a horrible genocide in Africa changing the course of the Bartlett administration and a covert assassination with effects lingering throughout the season. There's also the now-annual flashback episode, this time to the first days at the White House (with another comforting appearance by Kathryn Joosten as Mrs. Landingham). The series also has its first episode set mostly outside the West Wing when C.J. (Alison Janney) goes back to Ohio for a high school reunion and visits her father (Donald Moffat) who is starting to feel the effects of Alzheimer's.

Lowe's Sam Seaborn picks a new fate at the spur of the moment and is eventually replaced by the very person whose verve he was swept up by--a harried, vastly intelligent campaign manager, Will Bailey (Josh Malina, best known for his work in creator Aaron Sorkin's previous show, Sports Night). He's an excellent fit for the West Wing, both fictionally and for the series. Part of the show's success belongs to the continuity, helped immensely by high-caliber guest stars continuing long runs on the show, including Mary-Louise Parker, John Amos, Marlee Matlin, Tim Matheson, Timothy Busfield, Lily Tomlin, Anna Deavere Smith, and Ron Silver (hey, that's a pretty good cast for their own show). One-time guest stars are also used to the fullest. Notice how a single-episoe appearance by Christian Slater (as a naval attaché who strikes Donna's fancy) turns into a three-episode arc. Matthew Perry delivers an Emmy-nominated performance in a key role in the season's final arc. This fourth season was capped by the departure of creator-writer Sorkin and producer-director Thomas Schlamme, plus another Emmy win for Best Drama, its fourth straight. Many were surprised or even angered that the series kept up the winning streak. Perhaps the series was not as relevant to the times as four years earlier, but the proof is in the pudding--the series was still in rarefied air by the end of this season.

Luckily, Sorkin and Schlamme were invited to air the commentaries for the DVDs, here on three episodes. It allows them to talk about their departure, a subject barely mentioned in the two making-of featurettes. One deals with speechwriters and other with Stockard Channing's role on the show. Note: the documentaries and deleted scenes are hard to find. Look for the pointer (>) at the bottom right of the special features menu of the sixth disc. --Doug Thomas

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The only drama worth watching June 26 2005
By A Customer
Not since the days of Homicide: Life on the Streets has a show managed to change with the times and still maintain a level of excellence unmatched by any other drama on the television. Sheen continues to inspire his audience, often making this viewer desperately wish fiction were reality and an intelligent, morally upstanding president occupied the white house. Will Bailey provides an excellent change of pace from the sometimes overly-idealistic Sam Seaborne, whose niavite was sometimes too far fetched for a politicado. Allison Janey is given more meat to chew on with her role and actually has a romantic encounter with a member of the opposite sex (who thought she'd ever find the time?) Bradley Whitford continues to be charming and brilliant with more than his share of mistakes made in the name of pride. Richard Schiff never falters in his portrayl of Toby, who's private life falls into the spotlight and his humanity is explored. Dule Hill wins the heart of every woman, young or old, in his role; Janel Maloney is brilliant as Donna finding her own dream in the face paced world of politics and shrugging out of her limited role of Josh's would-be love. And then there's Leo. What can you say about Leo McGarry (Jon Spencer) besides the obvous: wow. Simply, wow. This man has been in movies and on television for decades, but his talent has never been so well displayed. Finally, Stockard Channing is hauntingly beautiful and inspiring to all woman who long to see a powerful, assertive woman as first lady. Her performance at the end of the season brings me to tears as she attempts to make a plea on television.
Buy this series. All of it. You will not be dissapointed.
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3.0 out of 5 stars the good and the bad... May 12 2005
By c.e.c.
First the good: great program, and Season Four continues the good acting from this cast, as well as Aaron Sorkin's superb writing, mixing informative dialogue with amusing banter, that keeps one caring about this ensemble, and makes this whole series one to return to again and again.
The bad: the boxed set was sent without the booklet listing the episode titles and descriptions, so it is hard to find the episodes ones wants to watch. Returning for exhange didn't help, as ALL the stock in a major outlet was also missing the booklet, so I tried to track down the booklet separately, from the online seller, as well as from Warner Home Video directly - still waiting, after 2 months. I'd advise potential buyers to wait until this is sorted out, and ask specifically if the booklet is included, before purchasing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful June 19 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I was so very happy I was able to obtain this for my husband as a Christmas gift. Thank you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best season's yet April 14 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Season 4 is one of the better season's of The West Wing.
With the MS scandal... the re-election campaign... I could watch this season over and over...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best season yet March 22 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
New characters, more drama. The fast pace of the show keeps you interested throughout. Cannot wait to watch season 5.
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