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'The West Wing' newbie recap: Galileo and green beans

Season 2 | Episode 9 | “Galileo” | Aired Nov. 29, 2000

The White House is abuzz with talk about Galileo in this West Wing episode. No, not the Renaissance-era inventor. And not the Indigo Girls song, either. Nope, it’s Galileo V, the unmanned mission to Mars.

Sam’s having fits about the speech that NASA’s PR guy wrote for the president and sniffs that they’re both writers only if they “broaden the definition to those who can’t spell.” Ooooh, brainy sick burn. Then again, the flack’s speech does contain the phrase “very unique,” so I’ll allow it.

Naturally, Sam, off the cuff, comes up with a replacement speech that weaves a glimmering tapestry of words praising the astro-scientists and engineers who launched this extraordinary voyage. Of course. Stupid brilliant beautiful man.

C.J. preps the president on the next day’s televised event in which he’ll address 60,000 schoolchildren on the Galileo mission, encouraging him to turn their questions over to the NASA officials who will be appearing with him. The president intends to do no such thing, obviously.

Leo, meanwhile, has put the Reykjavik Symphony Orchestra’s performance at the Kennedy Center on the president’s agenda, which causes the president no end of consternation. Something-something meeting with an ambassador about whale hunting, something-something the president doesn’t like music written after 1860, something-something what would the 2015 version of President Bartlet think about Lady Gaga, I wonder?

Anyway, at the Kennedy Center, Sam, who’s wearing a tux (swoon!), is fretting because Mallory, aka his boss’s daughter who he maybe sort of dated, is going to be there, and the two of them haven’t talked since a newspaper published a photo of him kissing Laurie the call girl. Naturally, she tracks him down, and Sam basically throws his champagne glass to the ground and prepares to flee. And then Mallory tells him she’s dating a hockey player, and they’re having lots of sex. Sam is displeased.

Sam prepares to flee from Mallory in the West Wing episode Galileo

Also at the Kennedy Center, C.J. and Charlie are dealing with the fallout of a PR crisis. Charlie spilled the beans (heh —it’ll be funny in a second, I promise) to some reporters that the president hates green beans. (Okay, no, not actually funny. Sorry.) This causes Oregon to FREAK OUT because that’s a big crop there, and unfortunately, Bartlet barely squeaked out a win in the state last time. Charlie thinks it’s an overreaction. C.J. doesn’t.

“Everybody’s stupid in an election year,” C.J. tells him.

“No. Everybody gets treated stupid in an election year,” Charlie retorts.

When C.J., who’s rocking some excellent formal toile, steps outside for fresh air, a handsome-ish man whom the White House passed over for a promotion tracks her down and accuses her of not promoting him because they stopped seeing each other. He smarmily assures her they didn’t break up because she was bad in bed. Oh, C.J. knows that wasn’t the case.


Regardless, he won’t believe that it’s not personal and calls her unprofessional. He’s is obviously the worst person on earth, and Danny would never do that.

More romantic woes at the Kennedy Center: Mallory found Sam again and gives him grief about the taxpayer expense of Galileo V.

“We went to the moon. Do we really have to go to Mars?” she asks.

Sam says they do, because it’s next, and he weaves another word tapestry. Yes! I could listen to Sam talk about space exploration all day. Turns out, Mallory actually agrees with me (and him); she just wanted to watch him get all puffed up about it. Remember a few weeks ago when I confessed to shipping Sam and Ainsley? Sam and Mallory are pretty great together, too; they challenge each other in exciting, intellectual ways. (On the other hand, Ainsley does that, too. Everybody loves Sam!)

But, oh no! They’ve lost contact with Galileo. They’re concerned that it landed wrong and borked its antenna, which means the president may need to cancel his televised classroom Q&A.

It’s not all spaceships, modern music, and awkward exes this week. Sad sack Toby is stuck on the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee and has to decide whether to place someone on a stamp who, alongside his many accomplishments, called for Puerto Rico to become a state. Josh is afraid putting him on a stamp will make it seem like the White House endorses this. Donna’s on board, though: “We have colonized Puerto Rico, and they will rise up against us,” she warns.

In addition, a huge fire in Russia leads to Leo meeting with the country’s ambassador, who I’m pretty sure is hitting on him. It doesn’t pull him off course, though, as he tries to get her to admit that it’s at a missile silo and not an oil refinery as she’s claiming. In fact, the explosion happened because deserting soldiers were draining liquid hydrogen in order to steal the warhead. The sexy ambassador balks at the president’s demand that NATO inspectors be given access, and Bartlet takes her to the woodshed.

“I really don’t know from where you guys get the nerve,” he tells her.

“From a long, hard winter,” she says. Um, is this post-Cold War Russia, or Westeros?

At an end-of-the-day debrief, the Bartlet Bunch are trying to solve the problems that have mounted during the episode. Josh and Toby want the president to publicly eat green beans. Before they can move on to deciding on the stamp, C.J. snaps. People are allowed not to like green beans, she says, and they can look past an unpopular opinion to honor the rest of a person’s accomplishments.

“People stopped trusting the government during Vietnam, and it was because government stopped trusting them. It’s a cautionary tale,” she argues. I hope Charlie knows that he’s gotten through to someone today.

Finally, the president and C.J. have to decide what to do about the next day’s televised classroom with Galileo V still MIA.

Before he answers her, he lights a cigarette and admits that he fell hard for one of the pieces of modern music that the Reykjavik Symphony played that night. It surprised him, and he didn’t think he could be surprised by music anymore.

Getting back to the topic, C.J. says they should go ahead with the classroom because of the students who don’t go to the blackboard for fear that they might get an answer wrong.

“I think you should say to these kids you think you get it wrong sometimes,” she says. “I think you should tell them you haven’t given up hope, and that it may turn up, but in the meantime, you want NASA to put its best people in the room, and you want them to start building Galileo VI. Some of them will laugh, and most of them won’t care, but for some, they might honestly see that it’s about going to the blackboard and raising your hand.”

We change and we grow: C.J., Sam, Mallory, the president, West Wing viewers. So we might as well keep trying to make it to Mars.

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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