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The state of the union is sick, besieged, and romantically confused: 'The West Wing' newbie recap

Season 1 | Episode 12 | “He Shall, from Time to Time ” | Aired Jan 12, 2000

This week’s West Wing Wednesday episode is all about the speeches: one State of the Union and one State of the Leo.

First, we have a pale, sweaty president running through the State of the Union speech. It’s littered with typos (gazing into the 321st century!), and the president is clearly off his game. Josh wonders if Bartlet’s glands are swollen; C.J. admits she didn’t feel his glands today. Josh then wonders if that’s why she can’t keep a man. (Her defensive joking, that is. Not her lack of gland palpitating.)

Meanwhile, the president is clearly sick. When his staff presses, he assures them that his wife gave him some pills, which he’s carrying around in his pocket having taken none of them. He enters his office, and after a moment, the staff hears a spectacular crash. The president has collapsed amid a pool of shattered Steuben glass. Not good, you guys.

C.J. enters her office to find Mandy and Danny chatting away. She’s less than pleased at their chumminess. After Danny leaves, Mandy warns her that Leo’s pill addiction story is going wide the next day, so C.J. and Leo agree to a preemptive press briefing in the morning.

First lady in the house! Will there be a time on this show when I’m not excited to see the FLOTUS? That would be great, actually, because it means she’ll be on the show a bit more often. Anyway, she promptly dresses down her husband for not calling her immediately when he fell ill.

She asks him if this fainting spell was more like the one in Nantucket or the one at her parents’ place. I … don’t think they’re talking about the flu, are they? Otherwise, that’s a lot of flu fainting.

In advance of the State of the Union, Josh is in charge of “picking a guy.” You know, the one who doesn’t attend the speech in case someone blows up the building and takes out the chain of succession. Donna advocates for herself, but I don’t think Josh is buying it. He’s leaning toward the secretary of agriculture because he’s not a famous face the camera would want to pan to. Josh finally admits that he doesn’t really care who they choose because he, Josh Lymon, will be dead. This is a fair point.

The other major speech brewing is for Leo, who’s preparing for his media availability. He makes it clear that he wants no one else from the staff speaking on his behalf. If he goes down, he doesn’t want to take anyone else with him. And then he grimly begins to address the press. It’s as horrid as you imagine.

Mallory is back, and she’s still wearing Olivia Pope’s coat’s great-grandmother. She tells Leo that the draft she read of the president’s speech supporting Leo is lovely. Leo is incensed to learn that such a speech exists, and he immediately corners Sam. Sam apologizes for disobeying Leo’s order, but if Twitter had existed in 2000, he’d definitely be #sorrynotsorry.

Leo’s day is about to get worse. Abby asks him if they could postpone the State of the Union for a few days, and Leo cuts right to it: What’s really going on? The president wouldn’t postpone for a fever, plus Abby canceled her trip to be with her ailing husband. “What does he have that he can’t tell people?” Leo demands.

At first, Abby doubles down on her flu story, and then her face crumbles. She admits that the president has multiple sclerosis, and a fever could be life-threatening.

There’s … just no funny quip for that.

Prez and Charlie

At the residence, the president recuperates with soap operas and a meal in bed (aka living the dream) when Leo enters. Bartlet spills everything: He was diagnosed seven years ago, he’s got a normal life expectancy, he completely recovers after his attacks, and it’s brought on by stress. Good thing he’s in a low-stress job, then.

Sam and C.J. are lamenting the up-in-the-air nature of the possibly romantic relationships in their lives when Mallory shows up to thank Sam for writing Bartlet’s statement supporting her father. It should be noted that she thanks him with much kissing.

“I’ve gotta say, I’m enjoying being a writer,” Sam says after she allows him to come up for air, although this leaves him no less confused about their relationship.

(Let it be noted: The proper way to thank Rob Lowe for anything is with much kissing.)

Seeing this, C.J. (and I’m ignoring the fact that the two key female members of Bartlet’s staff are competing over a boy) impulsively decides to lure Danny to her office.

AnCJ smilesd with this, C.J. turns into every klutzy rom-com heroine ever, and I mean that in the most complimentary way. She weirdly knocks on her own office door and stammers that she has a girly preoccupation with Danny so she’d like to kiss him on the mouth in order to move forward and concentrate on her work. “How’s right here?” she asks, and then there’s kissing, and it’s fabulous and she bumps into the door on her way out. I love rom-com Sorkin. But I don’t think C.J. has gotten Danny out of her system quite yet. Also, you let me down, Internet. Where are the GIFs of this historic kiss?

Immediately before the State of the Union speech, President Bartlet meets with the secretary of agriculture, and good lord, it’s Mayor Wilkinson from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I assume this is part of the Ascension, and he’s counting on everyone in the federal government dying in an attack he’s planned after he turns into a giant snake?

OK, actually, he gives the president a copy of the Constitution translated into Latin. It’s an incredibly sweet gesture, but … it’s the Mayor, you guys.

The episode ends with President Bartlet giving the mayor some advice should he in fact ascend (heh) to the office of president: If he’s got a best friend who’s smarter than he is and who he’d trust with his life, that’s the person who should be President-Mayor’s chief of staff.

Leo, listening in the next room, is touched. Here’s hoping he’ll let President Bartlet give that supportive speech now.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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