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'The West Wing' newbie recap: 'In the Shadow of Two Gunmen: Part I'

Season 2 | Episode 1 | “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen: Part I” | Aired Oct. 4, 2000

Was two weeks of stewing about the fate of the Bartlet Bunch sufficient? I hope so, because it’s time to start season 2 of The West Wing nostalgia recaps.

We open on the postshooting chaos that left us in horrified limbo for three months over the summer of 2000 (or for the 30 seconds it took to cue up the next ep on Netflix, depending on your circumstances). President Bartlet seems fine until blood starts to leak from his mouth. POTUS is hit! His motorcade scrambles for the ER.

Back at the shooting site, our favorite presidential staffers appear one by one, assuring us that they’ve survived. C.J. hit her head when someone knocked her out of the way of the gunfire. Sam’s fine, Leo’s fine, Toby’s fine, Charlie and Zoey are fine. And hey, it’s Secret Service agent Gina! I 100 percent expected her to be a casualty of the gunfire so she could be reborn on CSI.

But wait. Where’s Josh, people? WHERE IS JOSH?

Oh God, he’s down and leaning against a wall. His skin is gray, and Toby watches helplessly as Josh slides to the ground, the hearts of every viewer tumbling down with him.

Josh has been shot in the season 2 premier of "The West Wing"

What was it like, fans from 2000? Did you watch this episode not knowing if Josh was going to die? Because I know he’s going to be fine, and I’m still freaking out.

The news starts to spread. Vice President Hoynes is hustled away by the Secret Service. Mrs. Landingham and Margaret learn about the shooting on television. Abbey Bartlet hurries at her husband’s side, the fear on her face devastating. As soon as she arrives, Abbey corners the anesthesiologist, and he becomes the 15th person in the world to know that the president has MS. She says she doesn’t care if he tells the press after the surgery, but she needed him to know before putting him under. The medical team assures Bartlet that the gunshot to his abdomen is in and out, which is good news. Also good news? They’ve removed his pants, and we’re all treated to a healthy glimpse of presidential thigh.

And now, we flash to three years ago for a “getting the band together” origin story that’s rivaled in greatness only by “Out of Gas.”

Josh is working for Hoynes’ presidential campaign and chides him for not having any platform beyond winning. Hoynes explains that while he’s sorry, his sorriness stems from the fact that he is not in fact sorry at all. Ergo, when Leo asks Josh to travel to Nashua to hear Gov. Jed Bartlet speak, Josh agrees.

On his way to Nashua, Josh stops to visit his buddy Sam, who’s about to make partner in the second-largest law firm in New York. Sam and Josh straight-talk each other: They’re both working in soul-killing jobs. Josh promises Sam that if what he sees in Nashua is the real thing, he’ll come and tell Sam.

Hospital, present day (er, 2000): The president is going to be fine. Relief abounds! But Josh, not so much; the bullet lacerated his pulmonary artery and collapsed a lung, and he’ll be in surgery for 12 to 14 hours. A hospital bigwig arrives to not-so-subtly suggest that the Bartlet Bunch don’t have to go home, but they can’t stay here.

And then Donna arrives, full of concern about the president, and it’s immediately clear that she hasn’t heard about Josh. No one wants to be the one to tell her, and when Toby finally makes her understand that Josh is in critical condition, her whole body crumples. Oh, Donna.

Donna learns about Josh

A shaken, shocked C.J. is giving a press conference to an understandably frantic press corps. They want to know about the 25th Amendment establishing the line of succession and why the Secret Service allowed the president to walk out in the open. Above all, they’re frustrated by the lack of answers from C.J., who isn’t willing to spill.

The problem is that the president didn’t sign a letter giving power to one specific person before being sedated, and nobody’s invoked the 25th Amendment. Danny presses her on who’s actually running the country, but she’s so rattled that he eventually backs off in a way that a member of the press probably shouldn’t on a story this important.

Flashback: Toby was even more Eeyore-like three years ago as he oversaw Bartlet speaking to the smallest, saddest group of people ever assembled in a VFW hall on a campaign stop. Josh is there, looking unimpressed as Bartlet gives dry, uninspired answers to the visibly bored crowd. And then a man stands up to tell Bartlet how much his vote against a dairy farming bill hurt the man’s business, to the tune of 10 cents per gallon of milk.

“I screwed you on that one,” Bartlet admits. “You got hosed.”

This gets Josh’s attention. And then we see the Bartlet we’ve come to know. He says that children make up 20 percent of those living in poverty, and he wanted to make it easier for them to afford milk. “If that angers you, if you resent me, I completely respect that, but if you expect anything different from the president of the United States, I suggest you vote for somebody else,” he says.

The crowd is unmoved. Josh is not.

After Bartlet’s dismal appearance, staffers Jerry, Cal, Mac, and Steve tell Leo it’s time for a change, then practically make throat-slashing gestures at Toby. So Leo makes a change: He fires Jerry, Cal, Mac, and Steve. Then he tells Toby, “Don’t screw up.”

Leo breaks the news of the firings to Bartlet, who isn’t happy that Leo kept the only guy Bartlet doesn’t know. Leo says Bartlet won his past elections because he was basically unopposed, but they’ll need Toby to win.

“They say a good man can’t be elected present. I don’t believe that, do you?” Leo asks.

Part 1 of the season 2 premiere ends with overlapping media reports about the manhunt for the shooting suspect, the thousands of people holding vigils, the question of presidential succession, a heightened Iraqi threat, and even C.J. seeming off in her briefings. It’s a downer ending. Part 2 of The West Wing season 2 premiere tells us they all live happily ever after, right?

TV Families | EW.com
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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