EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

'The West Wing' newbie recap: The sky is falling

Season 2 | Episode 20 | “The Fall’s Going to Kill You” | Aired May 2, 2001

The women are in the hot seat, “conspiracy to defraud the public”-wise, on The West Wing this week. First up is C.J., and White House counsel Oliver Babish wastes no time in asking her whether she ever lied about the president’s health. C.J. tosses her hair, looks him in the eye and says, “Many, many times.”

C.J. Craig: mentor, role model, spirit animal.

And she’s telling the truth, too. Who else has been giving the press his presidential health reports on the regular? She’s sharp-tongued and funny in her answers, as is the C.J. way, but Babish isn’t having it. “In my entire life, I’ve never found anything charming,” he warns her.

This is obviously a heretical thing to say to C.J., but she turns around and delivers a sick burn about his four divorces, so maybe it’s tit for tat. And even though she only reported what the physician and the president told her, Babish wants to know how she asked for more information. Did she ask, “Is there anything I should know?” or “Is there anything I need to know?”

C.J. asks for clarification, and Babish pulls a “what the definition of ‘is’ is” on her. “Need to know” lets her maintain plausible deniability; “should know” indicates that she was aware that something more was going on. C.J. insists that she can’t possibly remember what minor bit of wording she’d used over the years.

In slightly lighter news, Donna is Chicken Little this week, having been given a fax from NASA warning that a Chinese satellite is going to crash into Earth. She’s horrified that nobody else seems to care that a garbage truck-sized object is headed toward the Earth at 2,000 miles an hour. To be fair, they have more pressing concerns.

Speaking of, Josh wants to do some polling on how the public might react to the MS news, but it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t shout, “Hey! The president has a secret!” So he meets Joey Lucas at the airport, sending away her interpreter. She reads his lips and writes out her responses on an airport bar napkin. (Side note: Their table has a little bamboo plant on it, in accordance with 2001 law. Come on, you had one, too, until you forgot to water it and it got weird and rooty and brown and you pitched it.) Anyway, Josh spills about the MS diagnosis by literally spelling “MS” in sign language and tells her she needs to put together a poll that doesn’t overplay their hand, analyze it on her own, and have it done within 96 hours so they can go public. Man, I hope she’s charging them a lot.

Joey, smart cookie that she is, immediately says she’ll poll about a governor of a major industrial state — say, Michigan — hiding a degenerative illness. Then she asks Josh how the president is and gently tips his chin up so she can read the answer on his lips. At the end of their conversation, Josh submerges the napkin with her responses in his water glass. More subterfuge, more lies.

Back at the White House, Abbey Bartlet arrives, fresh from having a Medivac helicopter named after her (new life goal, BTW). She comes in guns blazing at the president, furious that Leo’s the one who told her about the college health forms she fraudulently signed. The president, meanwhile, is furious that she didn’t say hello to him before launching into palace intrigue. (Life goal the second: get involved in more palace intrigue.) Bartlet calls her “hot pants” and asks her to speak to the White House counsel. They’re adorable even when they’re fighting.

The Bartlets argue in the Oval Office on The West Wing

Naturally, Abbey dominates the meeting with Babish in her usual brassy fashion, saying that Zoey’s health forms were blank and she just signed off on them along with countless others. Babish hits back, going after her medical credentials the way opposing counsel will. He wants to know whether the president was in the room when she signed, and she accuses him of wanting to defend the president in primetime for resume-building purposes. Tsk, Abbey. Don’t deflect. Babish points out how bad it’ll be if the president announces he has MS and then says he doesn’t remember if he was there when she signed the forms. Huh. Good point. Guess that’s why he’s White House counsel and I’m not.

After this interlude, Abbey bumps into Donna, who laments the fact that a giant object is hurtling its way toward them at a devastating velocity.

“Tell me about it,” Abbey sighs.

Then Abbey and C.J. convene, and it’s a delight to watch these women interact. Abbey apologizes that she wasn’t there when Leo told C.J., and C.J. confesses that she saw Abbey injecting the then-candidate with something during a campaign stop in Kansas. C.J. knew something was up, in other words, and when she got the president’s health updates, she was definitely asking if there was anything else she needed to know because she had an idea that there was stuff she should know but didn’t want to.

Don’t think I’ve forgotten about Sam, who’s been in the dark about all of this. He’s called in to see the president, and Toby tells him, “I’ll be here in the office when you’re done,” just like he did for C.J. when she learned the news the day before. I mention this only because the episode featured an earlier exchange between Sam and Toby, and I think we could all use a little levity:





Don’t worry, guys. We all know which of you is Robin.

Finally, C.J.’s walking home for the night and Josh tracks her down to tell her the president and Leo are worried that polling is a bad idea. C.J. loses it a little bit.

“You guys are like Butch and Sundance peering over the edge of a cliff to the boulder-filled rapids 300 feet below, thinking you better not jump because there’s a chance you might drown. The president has this disease and has been lying about it, and you guys are worried that the polling might make us look bad? It’s the fall that’s gonna kill ya!”

“Us,” Josh quietly corrects her. “You meant us.”

They end their conversation (and the episode) on Donna. C.J. says they get that NASA fax at least once a week, and Josh points out that 17,000 space objects have fallen to Earth and not one person has been hit.

“So I suppose there’s an argument to be made that we’re due,” he concludes.

Neither C.J. nor I am comforted by this, and as a first-time viewer, I’m anxious to see how they’re going to get out of this whole situation — if they do. Dun!

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

You May Like