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112 of 114 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DON'T believe the haters !!!!!
"You're the president of the United States. I'm frightened. We're all frightened....I need you back "
Firstly let me get this out of the way. The Fifth season of the West Wing is not dreadful as a lot of people have made out. When Aaron Sorkin walked out, he left behind some big shoes to fill. He had created a television series like no other, so the amount of...
Published on 30 April 2005 by Jamie Kanawaty

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as FUNNY!!!!!!!!
Whilst the West Wing brought about the seriousness in the value of the ongoings in the White House, the pace and humour of the script was to be admired and enjoyed, series 5 however only seems to have kept the seriousness. Not only have we lost the slick funny dialouge between very close colleagues, if not friends, but we seemed to have gained seemingly unnecessary...
Published on 19 Oct 2005 by Mr. R. Hodges


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112 of 114 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DON'T believe the haters !!!!!, 30 April 2005
This review is from: The West Wing: Complete Season 5 [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
"You're the president of the United States. I'm frightened. We're all frightened....I need you back "
Firstly let me get this out of the way. The Fifth season of the West Wing is not dreadful as a lot of people have made out. When Aaron Sorkin walked out, he left behind some big shoes to fill. He had created a television series like no other, so the amount of pressure on John Wells was huge. Most people as a rule don't like change, and this is why this season provoked so much negative response from so many WW fans. Personally I like it when shows mix things up a little as it makes watching it a much more exciting experience, and this is what I think Wells and his team tried and in my opinion successful achieved. Compared to seasons 3&4 it isn't either significantly better or worse. Obviously, compared to seasons 1&2, it is slightly behind, but there are few things on TV today that can compare to the genius that was the first two series.
There is a dark cloud looming over the white house and as a viewer you can really feel it from the get go. It's amazing to see the staffers being really angry and snippy with each other. In one early episode 'Constituency of One', the amount of angry confrontations between the staff is amazing. Maybe it's this different ethos that unsettled so many WW fans. For me however it seemed to a very realistic representation of what it must be like to work in such a high pressure environment.
The one thing that hasn't changed in the changeover is the quality of the acting from all the main players. They still put in the BEST acting on a television show at the present time.
During this season all the main characters get to shine and become more developed and rounded. This is also complimented with new characters coming into fray from time to time. Ryan, an intern who works with Josh and Donna fits in very nicely into the dynamic and Rena who comes in as Toby's assistant adds a nice spark of energy.
The show takes time to be less frantic and more focused on the characters motives and reasoning and probes deeper with their relationship with the other members of staff. The only main character that seems to suffer is Will, who doesn't get much screen time and is resigned to a bit player for most of the season. However his scenes with Toby are great. They're verbal sparing matches prove to be one the season's running highlights, particularly when they're paired up alone together in a room in one of the best episodes of the season 'No Exit'.
Do you notice Sorkin's absence? Yes, you do. The dialogue doesn't flow as quickly and freely as it has done and as a result the pace of an episode sometimes slows down. Sometimes you do get a sense that the writers have tried to make certain issues intellectual by being unnecessarily complicated. However these are minor quibbles that I just put this down to the writers and new staffers just trying to find their footing.
The season as a whole is not as funny as previous but this was never supposed to be a comedy show. There's a lot more visual humour; whether it be a look or something subtle off screen it's all part of the big change that the show has gone through. The snappy back and forth exchanges between Donna and Josh remain and the trademark Bartlet quips are still in there.
Another great thing about is the amount of different location shots that come into play. We aren't just taken into the Oval office or the communications bullpen, we get to see inside the Bartlet residence for the first time, and in one of the major plot lines go overseas to Gaza. It's these changes that keep the show so fresh and appealing for the viewer.
If you're a true fan I'm confident you'll love this season as much as the others. Yes, the show does have a bit of a lull in the middle of the season but the great opening and closing episodes more than make up for it. You can forgive the show for losing a little bit of steam after the fantastic quality it has displayed over 4 seasons. And let's face it, a below average WW episode is better than most television out there.
It's still the best show around !
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182 of 189 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Missing 2 key players but still way above the rest, 25 Feb 2005
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This review is from: The West Wing: Complete Season 5 [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
After the cliffhanger at the end of season four, and as the first series with no creative input from Aaron Sorkin, and missing Rob Lowe's Sam Seaborn, series five has a lot to prove.
It partially (in my opinion) manages it, a new balance is being achieved with the characters as Lowe's Sam is no longer there as a moral compass and as the writers try to fit this role onto one of the other already established characters I sometimes find myself thinking ' but X wouldn't have reacted like that'...
Josh Malina's Will seems to become less likeable as the series progresses and again I find myself curious as to what Sorkin had intended for the character, there seem to be several plot threads (and I'm avoiding spoliers here) that take characters in directions that you wouldn't expect and seem a little 'out of character' with the history already established by series 1 - 4.
On the other hand, the acting remains excellent and the series is still head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. Sheen's President Bartlett remains the guy I wish would run for office, John Spencer's Leo keeps the ship afloat making the tough decisions at times when no one else can. Allison Janney's C.J keeps me laughing & thinking - watch out for the 'big bird moment'. And the Josh and Donna 'will they wont they' continues - though Brad and Janel keep their chemistry and the dialogue snapping back and forth even if the script doesn't have the flow they had before.
All in all it remains a great show, and I remain a 'wingnut' but there are times I find myself missing Sorkin and Lowe....gone but not forgotten
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Outshines Most Other TV By Leagues, 22 May 2006
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This review is from: The West Wing: Complete Season 5 [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
No one should claim that Season 5 of the West Wing matches up to the highs of the earlier seasons, particularly 1-3. The episodes tend to be slightly more disjointed, occassionally irreverant, and certainly less gripping than those of the West Wing at its peak. As happened towards the end of Season 4, there is an altogether unnecessary tendency to use time jumps within episodes, which can both be confusing and break up the flow of the plot in a rather ineffective way. Also, as mentioned in an earlier review, Kate Harper enters the series as a thoroughly redundant and one dimensional character who cannot hope to match Fitzwallace or Nancy McNally in terms of security advisors.

Nevertheless, as the title says, the flaws still don't prevent the series from outshining the vast majority of other drama series by some distance. The characters remain as brilliantly conceived and performed as ever, and the story lines are still excellent if not so perfectly executed. Never even consider letting the drawbacks prevent you from watching or buying, simply be aware that its not the West Wing at its finest, which is hardly a mighty criticism.
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95 of 101 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not All American, but even better for it, 9 Mar 2005
This review is from: The West Wing: Complete Season 5 [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
The departure of Sorkin was the critical test of the West Wing. No one doubted that it would be different, the question was in what way would it be different. Let no one doubt that it has passed the test with honours and continues to entertain and amaze those who remain true to the show.
What's different? Why did the ratings plummet? The ratings dropped in America (in my opinion) for one reason. The show has lost the feel of an all American quarterback revelling in the glory of a Super Bowl victory. No longer does it present a picture of the Presdient victorious against all comers- dictating disputes with other nations and always finding harmony, not only in the world but even within his own party.
Series 5 is darker- there is indecision and friction within the walls of the offices. The party is unhappy, Toby is unhappy (go figure), CJ is cross and Leo is furious. It is in short a lot more realistic. America is not given the automatic blessing from the show and even its closest allies are treated to criticism. More realistic, but less pleasing to those who revelled with pride as they demanded Martin Sheen for President rather than Bush.
The show moves forward despite the changeover and after the usual changeover of stories quickly hits its pace and becomes encrossing and even better engaging. Yes there is less humour, it was never meant to be a comedy and the passion and direction of the show is clear for all to see.
Why 4 stars? Its really 4.5 but it isn't yet perfection so I cannot justify a full mark although I was sorely tempted.
I implore you all to watch this season- it is a rare thing to get a show of this intensity and brilliance nowadays.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This much maligned series deserves far more credit, 20 Sep 2005
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m.bison (Cheshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The West Wing: Complete Season 5 [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
It seems to be fashionable for people to comment on how good series 1,2,3,4 and 6 were of The West Wing and to frown on the 5th year as a sort of transitional period after writer and creator (and absolute genius) Aaron Sorkin departed. It seems that because the show was so good in the first place, everyone was waiting for any kind of stumbling block convinced that something this good can't keep going for ever. Well, Season 5 does not stumble; it more than keeps the stride of the past 4 series.
As Sorkin had scripted nearly all 100 of the episodes previously, you would expect these 22 episodes to lurch the show seriously off course. But with John Wells admirable writing input (right from the off, John Goodman's Majority-Speaker-turned-President is a brilliant Republican hawk creation) and with probably the greatest cast ever assembled for a TV show, the 5th season can certainly hold it head up high with the rest. Highlights include the President's dramatic walkout in 'Shutdown' and episodes about Social Security, Outsourcing American programming jobs to India and Israeli nuclear submarines. Although it was never going to be the same without Sorkin, this is as good as you could possibly hope for.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as FUNNY!!!!!!!!, 19 Oct 2005
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Mr. R. Hodges "richardj_hodges" (Marlborough UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The West Wing: Complete Season 5 [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
Whilst the West Wing brought about the seriousness in the value of the ongoings in the White House, the pace and humour of the script was to be admired and enjoyed, series 5 however only seems to have kept the seriousness. Not only have we lost the slick funny dialouge between very close colleagues, if not friends, but we seemed to have gained seemingly unnecessary antagonism towards their workmates.
I watched the whole of series 5 three times in one long run, as I have done for all of the other series and series 5 I have found lacking in all points of the previous ones.
I did not chuckle or laugh once as I have in the past when I first discovered this masterpiece of TV, and that has taken away one of the main reasons why I so much enjoyed this show.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, 11 Dec 2005
This review is from: The West Wing: Complete Season 5 [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
After having read some of the reviews for season 5 I started to watch this season with trepidation, but I was astonished to discover that season 5 is not just good, it’s fantastic! In fact, I enjoyed it more than seasons 3 and 4 – and I didn’t expect that!
Of course it’s different to the ‘light, bright and sparkling’ first two seasons, but it needed to be. I don’t think that wish-fulfilment fantasy could have lasted beyond season four, and in my opinion the cracks were already beginning to show by the end of the fourth season.
Season five sees a more gritty approach to both the characters, their relationships and the business of politics. The days of Aaron Sorkin’s Camelot are over, and we get to see the West Wing without rose tinted glasses. At this point these people have been in power for six years. They came to Washington to change the world and they’re realising that they haven’t done it – and that they’re running out of time to make a difference. Tempers are frayed, relationships start breaking down. It’s fabulous drama and the acting is, as ever, sublime. There wasn’t a single episode of S5 that I didn’t enjoy, but for me the stand outs were: Constituency of One, Disaster Relief, Shutdown, The Supremes, No Exit, Gaza, and Memorial Day.
The received wisdom seems to be that no one could write The West Wing as well as Sorkin, and I’ve even seen it suggested that if you enjoy this season you’re not smart enough to appreciate the genius of the first four seasons. Well, that may be true. Obviously, if it is, I’m not smart enough to realise it! But The West Wing has always been greater than the sum of its parts, and it continues to be so with other writers at the helm. Real fans of the show – of the characters, the drama, the politics and the relationships – will relish season five, as much for the changes as for what stays the same.
Rent or buy it now, you won’t be disappointed!
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66 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Change of direction...but just as good!, 16 Mar 2005
This review is from: The West Wing: Complete Season 5 [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
Those that say this season of the West Wing lacks the flare of previous seasons are wrong. Although Sorkin left, John Wells and the team supporting him were able to engage with issues behind the patriotic stories of the first four seasons and produce a collection of stories more realistic in content. The season openers are the natural result of Sorkin's storylines in seasons one and two, and reveal the underlying tension in the relationship between the President, Leo and Abbey that has only been insinuated previously. Leo's determination to make Bartlet the President always carried the risk of 'endangering' the lives of the First Family.
The episodes entitled 'Separation of Power' and 'Shutdown' are perhaps the most true to life - how many times has the Federal government been shutdown over Budget diputes, with national monuments and office buildings closing? Similarly, 'The Supremes' addressess an issue that remains at the forefront of American politics today - the composition of the Supreme Court and potential long term effect any change within would cause.
Sometimes, the dialogue isn't as sparky as it once was, but surely this is a reasonble sacrifice for stories that deal with the issues - such as nuclear weapons, the Supreme Court, the threat posed by WMD ('No Exit') and the Middle East - that feature so prominently in the world today and in such an effective manner.
Every show has a season in which it has to pursue a new direction and distance itself from previous seasons, partially reinventing itself; this is such a season.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dip in quality....not for this viewer, 9 Feb 2006
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This review is from: The West Wing: Complete Season 5 [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
I was never not going to buy series 5 but I thought I would read all the reviews anyway. "So what" I thought. The standards of this programme are sooooo high that even in a dip in form would still outshine anything else by a country mile or 3. There was no need to worry. I found every episode engaging and whilst there was a slight change of style and sometimes pace, I found this to be even more gripping. Several episodes had enormous cliffhanger moments and the laughs were still there.. The administration is all over the place at times and this can be felt through the excellent writing and acting. S5 is stimulating grown up TV and I really enjoyed it. S6 now on order.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good as ever, Gripping !, 10 Nov 2005
By 
review one (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The West Wing: Complete Season 5 [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
Ignore any negative reviews of this season, we have watched half the episodes so far only one bad episode (stormy present)
We keep watching one after the other as it is as good as ever.
They have made it less humourous and turned a few people against each other but this spices it up and works very well and makes it a bit different.
Buy or rent you won't regret it !
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