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'The West Wing' newbie recap: What's David Hasselhoff doing on an Aaron Sorkin show?

Season 1 | Episode 16 | “20 Hours in L.A.” | Aired Feb 23, 2000

This is a thrilling “West Wing” episode, transportation-wise: We see the president take trips in a presidential motorcade and on Air Force One, which I believe is a first for both. (It’s these little things that bring me joy.)

Not bringing anyone joy? The fact that Air Force One departs for Los Angeles at 3 a.m. C.J. and Donna immediately start comparing the different types of sun protection they’ve packed for their sensitive alabaster skin. (I feel that, ladies, although true alabaster beauties also pack big floppy hats). Elsewhere on the plane, Charlie apologies to Zoey in advance for being a less than attentive boyfriend on this trip because he’ll be busy with the president. Did we know they were officially BF+GF 4eva? I must’ve missed them going to the soda counter to share a malted.

In other Zoey news, she’s got a new secret service agent, Gina (played by a pre-CSI Jorga Fox), who sits down for a chat with President Bartlet. Wait, did I say chat? Because I meant interrogation. The president wants to make sure she’s up to the job of protecting Zoey, particularly in light of threatening letters that he believes are from white supremacists. Anyway, he satisfies himself that Zoey’s in good hands. Gina also refuses to report on Zoey if she cuts English lit. I like her already. (Indeed, we later see Gina eyeing possible skinhead types in a crowd around Zoey, and boy, do I hope this isn’t foreshadowing for something terrible to come.)

At the hotel, Donna is reading Josh the messages he has to return, all while effortlessly getting his stubborn keycard to work. He’s all ignore, ignore, ignore until he hears the name Joey Lucas, the campaign strategist from California whom he met while dressed like the Gorton’s fisherman, at which point his whole demeanor gets adorably swoony. Donna diagnoses his blatant crush and recommends that he call Joey right away. Gather ye rosebuds and all that, she tells him.

Unfortunately, Josh decides to first call Ted Marcus, the studio president (Bob Balaban) who’s hosting the $2.5 million fundraiser that prompted the West Coast trip. Marcus is upset about a bill banning gays in the military that’s been introduced in the House. He threatens to cancel that night’s fundraiser if the president doesn’t go on television to condemn the bill. “I’ve been president a lot longer than he has,” he warns Josh.

Toby and Sam give Josh all the talking points for Marcus: The president won’t bow to blackmail, even mentioning the bill will give credibility and attention to something that will never pass, etc. In the end, Marcus keeps the party in exchange for 10 minutes of alone time with Bartlet.

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Over lunch, a pollster played by John de Lancie, the man who will always be known as Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation, is pushing the president to lead the charge on an anti-flag-burning amendment. Q says that based on his poll results, he guarantees that a public that sees Bartlet as weak will admire his leadership and give him a second term. Everyone looks deeply skeptical, and a little put off their feed by Q’s oily smarminess. Let them enjoy their guacamole (which was made before their very eyes at the table) in peace, Q!

That night, the fundraiser is in full swing. Whoa, is that David Hasselhoff? In an Aaron Sorkin show? Enjoy it, Hoff; this is probably as close as you’ll get to joining a Sorkin joint. Donna, already excited about the Hoff, flips her lid when she spies Matt Perry, which is funny in light of his eventual starring role on the dreadful Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, may it rest. Ugh, Jay Leno is here too. Let us never speak of this again.

And then, you guys, Josh bumps into Joey Lucas and her translator! They’re cute. Not C.J./Danny cute, but what other couple is? The Bartlet Bunch gathers to meet Joey, who did better polling than Q and efficiently destroys his argument that the flag-burning amendment is an election-winning issue. Everyone looks impressed, especially Josh. Joey tells him she came to the party with someone, but to call her the next time he’s in California.

In the Bartlet/Marcus meeting, the president explains all the reasons that he won’t address the bill, and Marcus accepts. Then Marcus pulls a Doctor Who and tells the president he’s looking tired. Bartlet admits he’s not been sleeping well.

At the hotel, Donna chastises Josh for taking Joey Lucas at her word that she was with someone else and tells him to go knock on her hotel door. Josh finally agrees after Donna clucks at him like a chicken.

And then, oh my God, he rings the bell, and out comes Q from Star Trek in a bathrobe. Josh thinks he has the wrong room—but, my friends, he does not, because here comes a chagrined Joey, also in a towel. It’s super-awkward. Josh offers Joey a quiet goodbye. Oh, this is terrible. Terrible! I’m worried this will keep Josh from gathering rosebuds ever again.

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Oh, right, and Leo (and a sulky Margaret) have stayed behind in D.C. to wrangle the vice president about ethanol and a tied vote in the Senate and his future career and blah blah blah. I’ve got to be honest: I do not care at all about Hoynes’ political aspirations.

As Air Force One lifts off, President Bartlet closes his eyes to try to sleep, but they spring back open. No rest for the weary here. But hey, at least he doesn’t have the mental image of Q in a bathrobe stuck in his head.

Oh, I just realized that there was no Mandy in this episode. Think poor, shouty Moira Kelly saw the writing on the wall at this point?

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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