33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Yet another great offering from The West Wing,
This review is from: The West Wing - Complete Season 4 [DVD] (DVD)
You will probably read some reviews for this season of the outstanding drama that is "The West WIng" that are somewhat derogatory. It has often been said that Season 4 is the darkest of the first four offerings, and this is indeed the case. But this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Let me explain why...
The first two seasons were phenomenal, and there really is no excuse for not having seen them. If you haven't, stop reading this review now, buy them, and settle back in your armchair for something like 29 hours of televesion that could conceivably change your life - they really were that good.
The first two seasons were all about developing the relationships between the lead characters, and introducing the viewer to somewhat complex political process that exists in the US. This was tremendously successful, but could not form the basis of an ongoing drama series. The third season, whilst excellent in many ways, did seem to flounder somewhat in comparison. It lacked some of the comedy of the first two seasons, and this was seen by some as a weakness.
So where to go with season 4? For me, it was all about going back to basics, and developing intriguing, in many cases powerful storylines, and then exploring some of the deeper emotional aspects of the characters within those stories. This differs from the first three seasons in that they often seemed to build the stories around the character rather than the other way around. This is, in my opinion, the greatest success of season 4. The emotional link that you build with the senior staff is much stronger than those seasons that went before it, as you see them face situations that have greater personal significance.
My assessment would be that this season is not worse than 1 or 2, just different. There are some truly outstanding episodes - four to pay special attention to are 20 hours in America parts 1 and 2, Game on (perhaps one of the top 3 all time episodes), and the incredibly tense and gripping commencement.