Take 5: THE WEST WING's Top 5 Episodes - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

Take 5: THE WEST WING’s Top 5 Episodes

October 15, 2008 by  

Take 5: THE WEST WING’s Top 5 Episodes

Today we kick off a new feature here on GMMR – Take 5!!   Over the next few weeks Team GMMR will be looking back to yesteryear and sharing their 5 favorite episodes from some of our favorite shows of the past.  A walk down memory lane and back in time to revisit some of the best of the best of TV.

Today we’re kicking things off with Kari’s Top 5 eps of The West Wing, and soon we’ll be looking back at shows like Seinfeld, Alias, Dawson’s Creek and many, many more! We’re excited to get things started today and we hope you are too!


Take 5: The West Wing
Oh my god, aren’t you tired of talking about politics? And by talking I mean reading/hearing/arguing/obsessing/pulling out all your hair? Me too. Instead let’s talk about how there was a time, not so long ago, when politicians and political operatives actually seemed—how shall I put this—noble. Inspiring. Intelligent. Interested. Thanks to “The West Wing,” a show that celebrated intelligence and ideas and ideals above all, that gave us the joy of watching ordinary mortals—flawed and fallible men and women—raised higher by an unwavering belief that there was a better world to be made.

Wow; that was a little gross, huh? But I really miss this show. And so, herewith (forthwith? it’s up to you), are my top five very personal favorite episodes ever.

5. Twenty Five (Ep. 4.23)
A don’t-blink nail biter that marks the end of creator Aaron Sorkin’s four-year reign.  Here’s a meditation on parenthood, and a master class in the artful balance between dialogue and pauses. In the immediate aftermath of daughter Zoey’s abduction, witness the quiet devastation of Jed and Abbey, coming to grips with reality while slowly losing their grip. At the same time, Toby wraps the entire viewing audience around his finger as he welcomes his son and daughter into the world with this display of utterly irresistible Toby-ness: “I never realized babies came with hats.” But it’s the innocuous and suddenly invaluable Will Bailey (AKA “Sam Redux”) who walks away with the hour’s best line, reacting to the news that Jed is temporarily handing power to the Republican Speaker of the House: “I think it’s a fairly stunning act of patriotism and a fairly ordinary act of fatherhood.” And as our beloved POTUS leaves his overwhelming mantle of authority at the door, Sorkin waltzes out to the tune of a brand new ditty called “See Ya Later, Suckers…” leaving the rest of us to contemplate the prospect of an entire summer with Not Jed occupying the Oval Office.
4. Bartlet for America (Ep. 3.10)
For the third year in a row, the holiday offering sets up a Supporting Actor Emmy win for its featured player (in this case, John Spencer). It’s two days before Christmas and Leo is testifying before a Congressional committee about his knowledge of Jed’s MS cover-up and, in his usual multi-tasking way, manages to romance his savvy red-headed lawyer at the same time. Back at the homestead, the Wonder Twin Powers (Josh & Sam) unite in their quest to save Leo the embarrassment of admitting under oath that he tumbled off the wagon during the first campaign. Aided by gripping flashbacks that reveal the temptation alcohol still holds over this seemingly unflappable man, we all fall just a little bit deeper in love with Leo.

3. 17 People (Ep. 2.18)
This episode picks up a plot strand first hinted at a full year earlier, one that will continue to unravel—like it or not—throughout the entire third season. When the VP conducts some under-the-radar polling shenanigans in POTUS’s home state of New Hampshire, Toby’s curiosity leads him to confront Leo and the Prez about exactly what it is Jed’s been hiding all this time. Not suspecting “multiple sclerosis” will be the answer, Toby reacts badly when Jed declares that “multiple sclerosis” is, in fact, the answer. Surprise! Both Toby’s job and the president’s reelection bid are consequently made that much harder, what with diminished team spirit and the impending threat of impeachment and all. (Extra credit to the producers for admitting budget constraints were the impetus for this episode, which can best be described as three guys sitting in a room talking. The result is intimate, explosive drama with a decidedly theatrical feel, and you know what that means: Go budget constraints!)

2. He Shall, from Time to Time (Ep. 1.12)
Let me tell you, I love Jed Bartlet something fierce. I love his brains, his short temper, his wild sense of superiority, his commitment, his character, his heart, his bossy wife, and his nerd-like devotion to state parks and Latin. But most of all I love that, as he recovers from the flu (which might be an MS flare-up) and prepares to deliver his first State of the Union, he can stand in the middle of the Oval Office and look the Secretary of Agriculture straight in the eye and declare, without smirking, that “people have phenomenal capacity.” When was the last time you heard that from a politician, and believed it to be true? Oh, that’s right: he’s an actor.

1. In Excelsis Deo (Ep. 1.10)
A lush, affecting episode stamped with the show’s patented trademarks: soaring romanticism sprinkled with bitter reality and a dose of good-natured malarkey, all of it scored to grand, uplifting moral theme music. As the White House wraps itself in Christmas finery, a guilt-ridden Toby assumes responsibility for the burial of a homeless Korean War veteran. Sam and Josh scheme to preempt the public divulgence of Leo’s past drug abuse by a Republican Congressman, while C.J. argues in favor of hate crime legislation following the death of a gay teenager in a Matthew Shepard-style beating. Over on the comic relief side of things, Jed shops for arcane literature in a rare-book store, Mandy lurks in doorways, bothering people, and we learn that C.J.’s Secret Service codename has recently been changed to “Flamingo.” Toss in a stunning capper—of an Arlington National Cemetery funeral intercut with a children’s choir singing “The Little Drummer Boy” for Jed at the White House as the rest of the staff steps into line beside him, one by one—and you’ve got an Emmy-winning four-hankie tearjerker on your hands.

Those are my Top 5 episodes, but with so many incredible WEST WING eps to choose from, I’m sure you all have a lot to contribute to this list.  Tell us about YOUR favorite episodes of THE WEST WING.

— posted by Kari

Kari looks forward to talking to you about 30 ROCK very soon (but not soon enough).

Filed under Take 5, The West Wing


54 Responses to “Take 5: THE WEST WING’s Top 5 Episodes”

  1. Stephanie on October 15th, 2008 1:15 pm

    “Noel” is most definitely my favorite. How could you not love an episode which highlights the superb acting of Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman?
    (On a side note, I loved the 2nd season premiere… I love the drama!)

  2. Alyson on October 15th, 2008 1:29 pm

    I agree with Stephanie that Noel was an excellent episode, as was the 2nd season premiere.

    But for some reason, the episode when Mrs. Landingham dies always comes to mind. Jed alone in the office during that storm was such a powerful scene.

  3. Chelsea on October 15th, 2008 1:38 pm

    Totally agree with all your episodes. But I have to add “Big Block of Cheese Day”, for one. I watch that episode every year on the anniversary of John’s death and I never get tired of it. I also really like “20 Hours in America” and “The Cold”.
    I just finished watching the whole series all the way through for the first time yesterday and I just love it so much.

  4. kari on October 15th, 2008 1:55 pm

    Yeah, the hard part was definitely in narrowing it down to just five — I would put almost all of Season 1 in here if I could. “Two Cathedrals” and “Noel” are pretty high up there, too, as are both parts of the Season 2 premiere. (Maybe I need to schedule a weekend marathon for myself … )

  5. Natalie on October 15th, 2008 2:02 pm

    Alright, I’m a lurker here, but I’ve got to chime in on my favorite series ever. For my money the 2-hour episode “20 Hours in America” is one of the best episodes of TWW, hands down. You’ve got the comedy of Josh, Toby and Donna stranded in middle America (“I’m Toby Zieger. I work at the White House”) and skipping time zones; Sam falling out of bed to answer Josh’s call to staff the President; President Bartlet getting the heebie-jeebies about shaking the hand of the man that shook President Hoover’s hand the day before the start of the Great Depression; and the pathos of the pipe bomb killing college kids. It’s perfect.

    My husband would vote for “Angel Maintenance” or “The Portland Trip”, both of which take place primarily on Air Force One. He’s got a thing for planes.

    “Two Cathedrals”, as someone else said above is haunting and powerful – watching the President cursing God in latin in the National Cathedral isn’t something that you forget.

    Thanks for doing this! Maybe we should watch one of the debate episodes tonight instead of the real debate!

  6. c on October 15th, 2008 2:07 pm

    I second “Big Block of Cheese Day” for sure!! I also can’t forget about the pilot…seeing how the staff had to react to “POTUS” tumbling off a bicycle is a great introduction to the series.

  7. kari on October 15th, 2008 2:23 pm

    Oh! Forgot to mention “Celestial Navigation,” which is my favorite Sam Seaborn ep. Adorable.

  8. Kari (Peterson) on October 15th, 2008 3:00 pm

    Just don’t have the time to add to this list (have the entire series sitting here on the shelf), but damn! these are great descriptions, Kari, and omg, chills aplenty just reading them. They WERE great, one and all. Inspired no end to think intelligence will return to the white house. Gotta go make Obama calls. Bye.

  9. Ashley on October 15th, 2008 3:27 pm

    Have to comment as The West Wing is my all-time favorite show. I miss the drama, the humor, and the romance. Josh and Donna are still my #1 couple (Pam and Jim are right there). Celestial Navigation was hilarious with CJ getting the root canal and Josh filling in. Loved In the Shadow of Two Gunmen: Part 1 – I was totally shocked when it was Josh (my fav) who was shot. And I loved Ainsley’s first episode and how she handed it to Sam on live tv (Toby, come quick. Sam’s getting his a** kicked by a girl.) This made me miss my show even more…

  10. Martha on October 15th, 2008 3:43 pm

    How in the heck could we ever pick just five!?!? I still miss West Wing :~(

  11. Ryan on October 15th, 2008 3:46 pm

    I think its safe to say Kari’s favorite WW character is Toby. 🙂

    Great list. It’s so tough for me to pick a top 5.

    Natalie is dead on about 20 Hours in America. That episode would have to be in my top 5.

    In the Shadow of Two Gunmen (season 2.1) is an awesome episode of well. The drama is great, but the flashbacks are awesome. Getting to find out how these characters all came together was a treat.

    Bartlett for America is another flashbacks episode, but the last scene makes the episode. Leo’s reaction to Jed’s gift to this day gets me misty. RIP John Spencer.

    Noel being the Josn Lyman show puts it in my top 5. Leo waiting for Josh and giving the “man falls in a hole” story (with Josh giving that story a call back in Bartlett for America) was an awesome moment.

    So one more. Jeez. Let’s go Posse Comitamus (spelling–season 3 finale). Bartlett’s struggle between his personality morality and job as president to protect the country is compelling television. CJ’s loss of her secret service agent turned boyfriend tugs at the heart strings. President Bartlett schooling Governor Richie, “In case you were wondering, ‘Crime, boy, I don’t know’ is when I decided to kick your @$$”–flips the liter to a secret service agent–is awesome.

    I love this show. It will always be my favorite.

  12. kari on October 15th, 2008 3:51 pm

    I’m so glad I’m no the only one who misses this show! Damn, it was smart TV. And these are all great adds here, guys, thanks for playing along today.

    Ryan, surprisingly, Jed was my favorite character. So I purposely avoided making this a Top 5 POTUS list (“Bartlet’s Third State of the Union” being one of my favorite Jed eps.). I will never get over the fact that Martin Sheen didn’t win an Emmy for that role. (Although my other favorite Prez, Laura Roslin, is in good company that way, I guess.) And “Bartlet for America” was also amazing.

  13. Kathleen on October 15th, 2008 3:56 pm

    OMG, a list that is totally right up my alley.

    1. Noel: yes, I am a little Bradley Whitford biased, but the revelation of how Josh really hurt his hand at the end gets me every time I see it.

    2. In The Shadow of Two Gunmen Parts I & II: we had to wait all summer to see the outcome of the black screen and the words “shots fired”. Talk about cliff hanger!

    3. Evidence of Things Not Seen: Matthew Perry, an episode full of Josh and Donna-ness, a lockdown… classic.

    4. Two Cathedrals: this my own personal list, but if you ask me what is the best episode ever… it is this one, hands down. This is the one Martin Sheen should have gotten an Emmy for. I recently went to DC and I walked through the National Cathedral and it is impressive… as was the speech in Latin.

    5. Transition: Finally, us Josh and Donna Shippers getting what we wanted… our happily ever after. Plus, this ep includes the best Santos line ever about driving Josh to the airport himself, if it weren’t for the secret service. Plus, there is the re-emergence of Sam Seaborn.

    Honorable mentions must go to: Tomorrow, 17 People, Bartlett for America, 2162 Votes, and The Black Vera Wang.

  14. Kathleen on October 15th, 2008 3:59 pm


    1. Noel: yes, I am a little Bradley Whitford biased, but the revelation of how Josh really hurt his hand at the end gets me every time I see it.

    2. In The Shadow of Two Gunmen Parts I & II: we had to wait all summer to see the outcome of the black screen and the words “shots fired”. Talk about cliff hanger!

    3. Evidence of Things Not Seen: Matthew Perry, an episode full of Josh and Donna-ness, a lockdown… classic.

    4. Two Cathedrals: this my own personal list, but if you ask me what is the best episode ever… it is this one, hands down. This is the one Martin Sheen should have gotten an Emmy for. I recently went to DC and I walked through the National Cathedral and it is impressive… as was the speech in Latin.

    5. Transition: Finally, us Josh and Donna Shippers getting what we wanted… our happily ever after. Plus, this ep includes the best Santos line ever about driving Josh to the airport himself, if it weren’t for the secret service. Plus, there is the re-emergence of Sam Seaborn.

    Honorable mentions must go to: Tomorrow, 17 People, Bartlett for America, 2162 Votes, and The Black Vera Wang.

  15. megan on October 15th, 2008 4:11 pm

    Celestial Navigation is absolutely one of my top five. And with all the prez debate spin swirling right now, I felt the urge to pull out Debate Camp, which led me to Game On – another one of my favorites. Bartlet trouncing Richie right out of the gate – “Unfunded mandate is two words, not one big word.” / “So my question is – can we have it back, please?” CLASSIC Bartlet.

  16. natasha on October 15th, 2008 4:20 pm

    Good call on 17 People. It is my favorite hour of television, ever, hands down. I love the recurring sound of the rubber ball, the Josh/Donna storyline, which reveals so much about their relationship, Sam and Ainsley and Chinese food and Richard Schiff just doing a bang up job of acting. I love it all. And it usually plays second fiddle to some of the other greats from that season, like Two Cathedrals (which is admittedly completely awesome) but for my money, 17 People is where it’s at. And I didn’t even know about the budget constraints! Thanks for including it in the list.

    I think my list would look like this:

    1. 17 People
    2. Shibboleth
    3. Two Cathedrals
    4. 20 Hours in America
    5. Holy Night

    I miss this show.

  17. kari on October 15th, 2008 4:34 pm

    “Shibboleth”! Another favorite; there aren’t many great Thanksgiving episodes out there on TV, and I love the whole turkey story. And Jed meeting with that Chinese refugee, and giving Charlie the knife? Oh, breaks my heart still.

  18. Victoria on October 15th, 2008 4:44 pm

    I am SO happy that you started your “take 5” with the West Wing. It is my favorite show of all time and I miss it dearly! I am going to have to agree with you on all of your picks.. and then I would have to add Shadow of Two Gunman- those episodes get me every time! ( and ok i admit it- im josh/donna shiper) but you have to admit when Toby finally tells her what is going on- thats some pretty powerful stuff!!

    Another fave would have to be the season 3 finale- posse comitatus- when they decided to assassinate that crazy terrorist guy and when CJ’s body guard- who she is in love with- is shot. That episode to me was just beautifully done, and shows a lot of heart. Not to mention Allison Janney totally kicks ass!!

    Thanks for taking me down west wing memory lane… i think tonight will be a WW marathon night at my house

  19. Melody on October 15th, 2008 6:50 pm

    Ahhh, I can’t believe no one mentioned Take This Sabbath Day! That’s one of the most powerful hours of television I have ever seen. I’m getting chills just thinking about it.

    Another favorite that no one has mentioned – The Stackhouse Filibuster! The final scene, which ends with, “and if politics bring out the worst in people, then maybe people bring out the best,” is beautifully written and beautifully choreographed.

    Oh, how I miss West Wing!

  20. Amy on October 15th, 2008 7:34 pm

    HOW FUN!

    Yes to all of the above in this near impossible task. 17 people gives me chills every time- the bouncing ball is an incredible device in creating tension. It is painful to watch Toby lose his closely guarded idealism. I would definitely add Shibboleth- high humor and heartbreaks all in one episode. Anytime I am in a bad mood I watch CJ bonding with Eric and Troy. Celestial Navigation, ISOTG 1 and 2, Noel, Somebody’s going to Emergency, Portland Trip….gosh, just about anything by Sorkin. Have to say Season 2 is the highlight season- I can watch it front to back without blinking.

  21. Martha on October 15th, 2008 9:41 pm

    Excellent fun, you guys!

    I have to add Six Meetings Before Lunch just for the best Toby line ever:

    “Then get us two regular bears. A bucket of black paint, a bucket of white paint, bam-bam. Next case.”

    Still makes me laugh just thinking about the delivery.

  22. Jules on October 15th, 2008 9:57 pm

    I have to comment on this post because like others who have commented, The West Wing was one of my favorite shows on TV the time it was on. All great top five episodes people have. I can’t choose my top five, but Noel, 20 Hours in America and Two Cathedrals are definitely in my top 10. I think any episode from season one or two are worthy of being in the top five. Oh and The Supremes is a rare episode from later seasons that was most excellent.

    I love this show so much that I’ll just randomly watch an entire season from time to time on the weekends…hmm idea for this weekend??

  23. Maddy on October 16th, 2008 6:20 am

    You’re right when you say there are almost too many phenomenal episodes of this show to choose from, but I shall do my best to whittle it to my Top 5.

    1) Two Cathedrals – The culmination (sort of) of an inspired arc through a year and a half. A President dealt a final blow that will either shatter or galvanise him and that jaw-dropping final montage in the rain to Brothers In Arms. Perfection on a TV screen.

    2) Noel – Without doubt showcasing the incredible depth of Bradley Whitford. He steers Josh though covering with humor to a breathtaking spiral into his own soul crushing angst and then back to humour again without seeming to break sweat. A Tour De Force for both Sorkin and Whitford.

    3) In Excelsis Deo – Again another showcase for immense talent. This time Richard Schiff who shows us that the grouch in the corner has a heart of gold and honor above and beyond. With a wonderful Mrs Landingham moment! A beautifully shot montage at the end breaks my heart each time I watch.

    4) Take This The Sabbath Day – Only this show can juxtapose the Death Penalty with Drunk DCoS’s in fishing waders and make it WORK so provocatively. Also bringing my favourite guest star Marlee Matlin into the fold.

    5) Inauguration 1 and 2 (okay, so i cheated and picked a double episode!) – Again many heavy issues are dealt with in a style that became a West Wing tradition. Non-Linear storytelling. Clever and witty and down right noble with some fabulous moments. Not only the snowball scene, but also the final speech from my wished for President. ‘Mothers are standing in front of tanks… and we’re going to get their backs’ (paraphrased, my apologies).

    There are so many I missed out that I thought hard about before cutting – Crackpots and These Woman, Celestial Navigation, In the Shadow of Two Gunmen, Dead Irish Writers, Game On, Shutdown, The Supremes and Election Day 1 and 2. There are more, it’s a very easy show to list great episodes from, its a harder task to choose just 5!

  24. Lisa (aka lmr) on October 16th, 2008 8:29 am

    My favorite show ever and you nailed number 1 for me, GMMR, In Excelsis Deo is one of the best of the best for me and always will be.

  25. Give Me My Remote on October 16th, 2008 8:36 am

    I haven’t chosen my 5 favorites yet because it’s just too difficult – these are Kari’s picks which are fantastic. All the aforemention eps are incredible. I think “Twenty Five” is one of my favorites for sure. I’m going to pull together my list soon.

  26. Ryan on October 16th, 2008 9:25 am

    I’m glad someone finally brought up my favorite post-Sorkin episode, The Supremes. Glenn Close and William Fichtner knock it out of the park.

    My real top five would look a lot like most of the others posted, Bartlet For America, 17 People, Two Cathedrals, 20 Hours, Shadow of Two Gunmen, but The Supremes, along with Evidence of Things Not Seen and The Stackhouse Filibuster will always have a special place for me.

  27. Courtney on October 16th, 2008 10:38 am

    You really chose some great ones. In Excelsis Deo is definitely one that belongs to the list, and while I don’t know if they handled the Zoey abduction entirely correctly, you’re right, the episode where she’s gone and Toby makes his babies/hats speech is fantastic. But what about “Two Cathedrals”? Mrs. Landingham’s death with Bartlett’s speech in the church was amazing. That definitely belongs on the list.

  28. Take 10: Our Favorite Moments from THE WEST WING » the TV addict on October 16th, 2008 2:07 pm

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  29. Take 10: Our Favorite Moments from THE WEST WING | Piazz.com on October 16th, 2008 3:31 pm

    […] As I­’m wo­n­t to­ do­, thi­s TV Addi­c­t spe­n­t ye­ste­rday afte­rn­o­o­n­ wo­rki­n­g far to­o­ hard we­l­l­, n­o­t wo­rki­n­g. Was I­ bre­aki­n­g my c­ardi­n­al­ ru­l­e­ by watc­hi­n­g te­l­e­vi­si­o­n­ du­ri­n­g the­ day? Abso­l­u­te­l­y n­o­t! I­ was su­rfi­n­g the­ n­e­t. An­d fo­r that my fe­l­l­o­w TV Addi­c­ts, I­ bl­ame­ Gi­ve­Me­My­Re­mo­t­e­ an­d n­ew­ c­on­tributor K­ari, w­h­o dec­ided to drive m­e bon­k­ers­ by­ p­os­tin­g th­eir Top 5 Favori­te­ E­pi­sode­s of THE­ WE­ST WI­N­­G. […]

  30. tessa on October 17th, 2008 12:46 am

    So I opened a new tab for this, went and read all of the election blogs that I feel I need to keep up on, then came back to this because I knew how fuzzy and happy it would make me.

    I think all of the episodes that I would pick have been mentioned, but I had to say something because this show meant something to me. So, my top five favorite things about this show: the enduring relationships (despite disagreement and disappointment), the ability to remain true to your best self in the face of difficult (or impossible) decisions, the sense of humor and humility, the respect for history/hope for the future, and the genuine humanness displayed by the characters (and interpreted beautifully by the actors).

    And did you all see EW’s ‘pop interview with James Roday and Dule Hill about pop culture? Dule’s 5th ‘pop culture mystery:

    “5. Did Martin Sheen really never win an Emmy for his portrayal of President Bartlet on The West Wing? They couldn’t find one to give to Martin Sheen?!? I’m just saying.”

    The whole post is here: http://popwatch.ew.com/popwatch/2008/01/psych-james-rod.html

  31. Mike on October 17th, 2008 6:11 am

    I really wanted to find my top 5. I really love this show and the list would most likely begin with In The Shadow of Two Gunmen. Those episodes really encompassed everything I love about great television (and film).

    I’d like to say I have a top five but as I was going through season 2, I found myself thinking that “Somebody’s Going To Emergency”, “Stackhouse Filibuster”, “17 People” (Interesting to find out about budget restraints … the episode meant even more to me as it came 4 months after my father was diagnosed with MS), “The Fall’s Gonna Kill You”, “18th and Potomac” and “Two Cathedrals” could easily be any show on television’s top 6 of their entire series run. For The West Wing, they were simply a run of 6 or so great episodes in a season of incredible storytelling.

  32. Joel on October 17th, 2008 11:56 am

    This is like picking among your children, and I am focusing on my favorites, even if not necessarily the “finest” episodes.

    He Shall From Time To Time

    In The Shadow of Two Gunman

    The MidTerms


    Bartlett For America.

    I know it is a little flashback centric, but it is also a little the most goosebump driven. It was very hard to leave out the Christmas episodes, In Excelsis Deo and Noel, and some of the finest espisodes like Twenty Hours in America and Celestial Navigation as well as other personal favorites like Galileo, Game On and 100,000 Airplanes.

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  39. Jeanine Guidry on February 7th, 2009 9:25 am

    The West Wing is my all-time favorite show ever…. I miss it so much! My hubby and I are actually re-watching the entire series at the moment…. It’s almost impossible for me to pick the best five eps… but let me try.

    1. Noel – what amazing acting by Bradley/Josh
    2. 17 people – I love the way it is shot, the storyline, the way it fits in the entire series storyline….
    3. Shutdown – while I think the Sorkin seasons are generally better than 5,6, and 7 – there are some gems in the final seasons, and I think Shutdown is one of them. It made me love Bartlet even more!
    4. Mr. Willis of Ohio – one of the excellent early episodes
    5. In the shadow of two gunmen 1 & 2 – ok so I cheated too…. I love all the flashbacks here as well as the “current” story

    I could easily mention another 20 episodes that deserve to be on this list for me……

  40. Anna on February 18th, 2009 2:11 am

    Great effort in choosing your top five- as I finished you list I was thinking but what about “Two Cathedrals”, or “18th and Potomac” or “Game On” but then I couldn’t figure out which ones from your list I’d drop!!
    The scene where Bartlet and his men walk, in the rain to ‘Brothers In Arms’ always gets me.
    I’d love to see a list of everyone’s favourite Bartlet moments- mine would have to include the butterball hotline, when he’s a “magic man” and places a call to Donna’s old teacher, when he gives Charlie the Paul revere knife.. so many to choose from..
    Also, for those who love the show and are on Facebook, Aaron Sorkin has created a group called “Aaaron Sorkin and the Facebook Movie” and he answers questions posted by users.

  41. Aaron Johnson on April 10th, 2009 11:36 pm

    In another 20 years, I’m still going to be saying the best television show ever on was the West Wing. This includes later MASH, and even any Carol Burnette Show episode. Due to life in general, I missed WW episodes when it was on. A few I’ve caught by happenstance in an odd moment on a syndicated station.

    I had time to kill this evening and decided to turn on the box. I really don’t watch much television. After 10 minutes of flipping, and feeling IQ points being slowly sucked out of my noodle, I remembered the commercials with Alex Baldwin for HULU and thought “AHA!” maybe West Wing is on there! But no. So I googled and found this thread.

    While I can’t name a favorite episode, or even 5, one of my favorite moments was Bartlett in a room with news people, and a snarky blonde reporter in a red dress sitting while everyone else stands. Him dressing her down using uber-fundamentalist references to stoning at the gate of the village….

    I couldn’t breathe for a week.

  42. MD on May 22nd, 2009 11:45 am

    Incredibly difficult to pick just 5. But here goes…

    1) Two Cathedrals – Just pure excellence all around. Martin Sheen puts in his greatest performance and the final few minutes with “Brothers in Arms” sends shivers down my spine every time!

    2) Commencement – Such a brilliant episode. The way Zoe’s kidnapping is slowly revealed and how “Angel” gradually builds up is spectacular.

    3) Here Today – This episode has one of my favourite scenes in the series; Toby and Bartlet in the Oval office. Richard Schiff is incredible throughout the series but this episode is superb.

    4) Posse Comitatus – A brilliant finale to Season 3. The way all the stories tie together is brilliant.

    5) Institutional Memory – I see this epsiode and Tomorrow as the show’s two-part finale. I chose this episode however for the whole CJ/Toby scene. Alison Janney and Richard Schiff are excellent in this episode.

  43. Kirsten on June 30th, 2009 5:31 pm

    A top 5 is impossible. Insane. Really. 🙂

    But some random moments from episodes that send chills through my spine every time… that I can do:

    1. Bartlet in ‘Two Cathedrals’, shouting at God. And the scene in the rain and Oval Office. BRILLIANT performance by Martin Sheen. He should have gotten that Emmy, dammit!!

    2. Leo’s performance in ‘Running Mates’, in which he prepares for his debate. Why? Because we know what’s going to happen on election night. 🙁

    3. The turn of the presidential limo after the shooting at Rosslyn. I think I have replayed that scene a thousand times… the moment that Ron finds out the president is hit, and tells the driver to turn around… and then that spectacular turn… woww…

    4. The scene in which Bartlet tells that Christian Republican reporter to stand up when the president is in the room. 🙂

    5. The scene when Abby cuts off Jed’s tie… 🙂

    6. ‘Crime, boy I don’t know’ is when I decided to kick your ass.

    7. Josh and Bartlet walking up to the Hill. And then leaving after 7 minutes…

    Oh hell, I should make a top 100 website. 🙂

    Anybody who wants to talk about West Wing to me, let me know on http://www.twitter.com/locuta 🙂

  44. Liam on April 2nd, 2010 1:07 am

    I’d like to offer my top 5 musical moments of the WEst Wing which don’t necassarily translate into my favourite episodes (but in some cases…do!)

    5. In a New York Minute: As the camera travels through the White House in the light of Dawn, who can forget the lighting as this song played? And Sam sleeping in his office…I love Sam.

    4. Desire: Episode King Corn, such a sad song and sums up Josh and Donna perfectly (with a nice shot of Alan Alda looking at photo of deceased wife)

    3. Not sure on the song, but the string arrangement from Noel as Josh recalls how he injured his hand. A brilliant episode, the first I ever saw of TWW.

    2. I don’t like Mondays: 20 Hours in America is a triumph and possibly the most complete West Wing episode. It has everything, a complicated and brilliant Josh vs Toby debate throughout the heatland of the country they both love, Fiderer (need i say more) Sam’s single-minded desire not to let the team down but the kicker is the speech POTUS gives while Tori Amos scratches out a haunting rendition of the Boomtown Rats hit. “The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight” sends shivers down the spine.

    A joint winner for me. The first being Sanvean from premiere of Season 5. The montage of the vigil outside the White House for Zoe, Jed receiving communion and praying for her safe return interspersed with Walken in the Oval and the planes initiating the attack that will surely end Zoey’s life.

    But i don’t think anyone will forget “Brothers in arms” from the Two Cathedrals (also best episode ever). There isn’t much to say about this last scene, you really have to watch it in surround sound to understand it’s true power.

    West Wing is quite simply the greatest show of all time.

  45. Liam on April 2nd, 2010 1:26 am

    Sorry, have to mention my top 5 Toby quotes (humour) because, well, they’re Toby quotes!

    “I hate this issue, it’s like walking around with a sick chicken”

    “I’m eating this salad, which by the way you could smother with BBQ sauce and it would still taste like the ground”

    “Dad’s trying to haul a yard sale up Mt Kilimanjaro and Mom’s sitting in the front seat thinking “WOW…I married and idiot”.

    Toby What kind of car do you drive?”
    Congressman “A Toyota”
    Toby “Then shut up”

    “Suicide is..painless….it brings on…many…changes”
    Really the whole scene he is drunk on the “Voyage of the damned”

  46. JT in LA on April 22nd, 2010 1:42 am

    Liam – I love all those musical moments too! So much in fact, that after recently watching the whole series, those were the exact songs I bought on iTunes! The string arrangement in Noel was played by Yo-Yo-Ma and it is called Suite for Solo Cello in G Major (Bach suite).
    My favorite episodes would have to include Two Cathedrals, Celestial Navigation, Somebody Going to Emergency… (mainly for CJ’s scenes with the cartographers), Shibboleth (for the Charlie and the knife scene – gets me everytime), ugh…can’t decide on any more! There’s just too many lovely episodes and scenes, speeches and characters – definitely my favorite series ever.

  47. Robert Vistaverde on July 24th, 2010 9:34 am

    An often overlooked but wonderful episode is “Life on Mars.” Every character shines, and Matthew Perry is brilliant in his guest spot.

  48. Patrick on January 13th, 2011 1:23 pm

    Picking 5 is amazingly hard.
    1) The Two Cathedrals– Any episode that gets the devout Bartlet to refer to God as a “feckless thug” is heavy-duty. Grinding the cigarette into the marble floor and then later the montage to Dire Straits “Bothers in Arms”. This may be the best episode of anything every made for TV.

    2) 20 Hours in America I & II — Okay we have the funny interchange between Sam, Toby and Donna as they travel across the midwest. What gets me here though is the speach at the end referring to the pipe bomb incident where Bartlet says that there are too many angels in heaven tonight and Bruno leans over to Sam and asks when he wrote that part, Sam says in the car and Bruno calls him a freak…I get choked up every time.

    3) Noel — I was always a big fan of Josh and I think this is one of the episodes that exhibits the range of the character. The story at the end that Leo tells Josh about a man jumping in the hole to help his friend always gets me too.

    4) Hartsfield Landing — Bartlet mends fences with Toby through a game of chess and also plays Sam at the same time. The scene where he tells Sam that he has faith that Sam will someday run for president is another grabs me moment. Meanwhile Donna and Josh stress out about the first NH votes of the night.

    5) The Stackhouse Filibuster — I like this one because we get insight from several characters in the form of letters to home (an old MASH trick) and Bartlet saves old Stackhouse at the end. Toby puts the pieces together that will lead to the excellent episode to follow (17 People) and Donna puts the pieces together to save the day.

    I could put 40 more on this list, there are moments in almost every episode that get me. Glen Close and William Fichtner’s interplay in “The Supremes” Abby cutting Jeds Tie before the debate, Josh telling Bartlet to walk out of the speakers office after walking up to the hill. Bartlet telling the radio host that when the president stands, nobody sits. Donna telling Josh that if he were hurt in a car crash that she would not stop for red lights…the list goes on.

    What an amazing show, I miss it. I watch the seasons on DVD all the way through about once a year to get my fix.

  49. Ian Mc on March 3rd, 2011 10:50 am

    Loving this thread, and still going strong 3 years later.

    Gr8 to read everyones comments on fave episodes. i think all my faves are covered with special mention of
    Celestial navigation ….the look by Toby to Sam at the cop shop desk as he says ‘shut up’ still cracks me up.
    The Supremes
    Han (just watched this again last week, very poignant)
    Shadow of the gunmen
    18th and Potomac (the shock ending)

    Plus dont know if anyone else has any thoughts, but by the time it wrapped up at end of 7th season, i would really have loved one more year at least. With Sam coming back, Alan Alda in the background, I think it could have been a great season.

  50. Ian Mc on March 3rd, 2011 11:21 am

    Sorry to add just one more thing….my son who is now 7 years old is called Joshua, and you guessed it named after one of my all time fave characters!! 🙂

  51. Kimby on March 15th, 2011 7:02 pm

    Like many of you — picking 5 was a challenge …

    My # 1. The Supremes — I know this may be a bit controversial to some since it is from a post-Sorkin season — but the combination of the excellent performances by all of the guest stars (literally every performance was worthy of a best guest actor nod) and the great performances of the core team of actors — it is in a word — great. When I watch this episode I think the core team read the script and said — whew! at last — now we are talking – let’s knock this out of the park. They succeeded.

    The rest of my list is less “controversial”
    — He Shall from time to time
    — In the Shadow (parts 1 and 2)
    — the Pilot (Leo’ answer when CJ asks what to tell the press about the president’s bicycle accident, ” the president while cycling on vacation came to a sudden arboreal stop” hilarious.

    This is impossible — how could I leave off Two Cathedrals — love the flashback scenes and the conversation with the ghost of Mrs. L. Also Stackhouse, Shutdown, arggh!! I give up.

  52. Andrew on March 23rd, 2011 4:34 pm

    I could (and currently am!) just watch the whole lot in chronological order, and finish and return to the start again ad infinitum!
    As other people have said, picking 5 is nigh on impossible, but let’s give it a go!

    1) Two Cathedrals – the greatest episode of anything I’ve ever seen. So incredibly powerful, and the last 3 minutes with Dire Straits in the background is just glorious television.

    2) 17 people – An incredible opening 4 minutes, culminating with the sound of the ball hitting the wall leading into the title sequence, still send shivers up my spine. The contrast between the tension of the Oval Office and the attempts to write jokes for the speech outside makes the clashes between Bartlet and Toby all the more powerful.

    3) ITSOTG – I’m a sucker for the flashback scenes. I’d love to have seen more from Bartlet’s first presidential campaign, but the story of how the staff came to work for Bartlet for America gets me every time.

    4) Bartlet for America – Just for John Spencer, and flashbacks!

    5) Noel – wonderful written and beautifully performed by Bradley Whitford. I love Leo’s story about the guy who falls down a hole.

    Honourable mentions for The Two Bartlet’s (I love Josh detailing the times he’s hooked up with Amy on the phone only for Leo to interrupt) and moments such as Jed giving Charlie the Revere knife.

  53. Charlie on April 30th, 2012 9:43 pm

    Come on, Two Cathedrals is probably the best hour of tv I’ve ever seen

  54. bev on January 23rd, 2013 5:50 pm

    I can still hear lord marbary, british ambassador seeing leo and yelling GERALD…
    cracked me up.. everytime