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'The West Wing' newbie recap: Dear diary, today was sad and awkward

Season 3 | Episode 6 | “War Crimes” | Aired Nov 7, 2001

Welp, it’s time to debate gun control on The West Wing. A bad guy with a gun fired a round in a Texas church, and a good guy with a gun fired back and killed a 9-year-old child. Bartlet immediately announces his plans to send Hoynes to Texas. Hoo-boy, Hoynes will not like that.

And indeed, the veep argues that going to Texas is political suicide, because critics will accuse the president of welcoming a shooting so he can push his gun-control policies. Bartlet and Hoynes argue about concealed carry and the Second Amendment and axe murders and civilian militias and murder rates and guns don’t kill people, people kill people and SERIOUSLY, YOU GUYS, THIS SHOW IS GOING TO BREAK ME. WE ARE STILL ARGUING ABOUT THIS AND PEOPLE ARE STILL DYING IN SHOOTINGS AND THIS MUST BE WHAT SISYPHUS FELT LIKE ROLLING THAT BOULDER UP THE HILL OVER AND OVER.

*deep, cleansing breath*

So. Hoynes and the president move beyond gun control to other issues. Specifically, the president accuses Hoynes of inciting the press to look into his MS.

Hoynes defends himself loudly.

In the end, they agree that the only way the president gets reelected is if Hoynes is on the ticket, and Hoynes agrees that he’ll go to Texas in exchange for a seat at the table.

Other plots this week:

Plot B: Toby made an off-the-cuff remark to a few White House staffers that if the president wins, it’ll be on Hoynes’ coattails, and a reporter catches wind of this. Toby knows he’s hosed.

Toby knows that loose lips sink ships

In response, he assembles the junior staffers and gives the greatest “I’m not mad, I’m disappointed” speech ever. Seriously, the only way this could be worse is if Toby were my mom and I were 15 and we were in a moving car from which I could not escape.

Anyway, the assembled staffers look somber and guilty as Toby tells them that they’re a team, and he understands the impulse to show off to the press. He promises not to go on a witch hunt to find the leaker, and further promises that they’re all his guys, and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for them. Now, win one for the Gipper!

Plot B: Sam deals with a proposed bill to eliminate the penny, which sends him into a Sam-ish tailspin of bright, focused interest in the penny. It’s delightful. (And, incidentally, pennies are still accepted at Illinois tollbooths.)

Plot C: Leo and his old buddy Gen. Alan Adamley meet to debate the U.S.’s support of a permanent international war crimes tribunal. Leo is for it in the name of prosecuting unspeakable crimes. Adamley is against it in the name of preserving national sovereignty.

Their debate is briefly interrupted by Sam thusly:






This fantastic aside over, Adamley pulls out his final argument: Operation Rolling Thunder, in which he commanded Leo to bomb a bridge in Thailand in 1966.

“It was a military target,” Leo says.

“It was a civilian target. It was a dam,” Adamley corrects him. “There were 11 civilian casualties.”

Leo is staggered by this and demands to know why Adamley told him.

“Because you could be charged and tried for a war crime,” he responds.

Oh, Leo.

“Why did you tell me that?” Leo repeats, voice rising.

“All wars are crimes,” Adamley tells him.

That’s a hell of a thing to do to a person. After Adamley leaves, Leo is silent, and I don’t think he’s ever looked older.

Plot D: Donna’s about to be deposed over the MS coverup, and she turns to Sam for last-minute advice because, she claims, Josh is angry with her. Sam says he’s not (and Josh backs him up), but Donna knows the truth: He is, even if he may not be completely cognizant of why.

In the deposition, Donna gets read her rights by Cliff, her secret Republican boyfriend. He discloses that he and Donna have seen each other socially, and no one objects. He’s a little too jovial, given the nature of the proceedings, until Donna testifies under oath that she doesn’t keep a diary. He frowns and asks the court reporter to read that portion back. Uh-oh. Has he been peekin’ at her private thoughts?

Then we come to one of the loveliest shots we’ve seen on The West Wing: An overhead camera shows umbrellas drifting down a rainy street, where Donna finds Cliff sitting on her front stoop, wanting to know why she lied.

“I saw your diary. When I was over that night,” he says. He wants to help her walk back her mistake. Instead, Donna replies, “Just out of curiosity, what would you say? That you thought you saw a diary when you were hunting around for your boxer shorts?” Then she tells him to bounce. Yasss, girl.

At the White House the next day, Donna approaches Josh almost skittishly to confess the diary flap. She doesn’t know why she denied its existence, and she confirms that Cliff saw it, which presumably tells Josh all he needs to know about the Cliff/Donna relationship.

He is so angry with her now, and hey, he’s got a legitimate, non-jealous reason to be, so what a relief for him! They’re talking about her deposition and they’re not talking about her relationship with Cliff, but Josh’s response is all tangled up in both of those topics.

Josh and Donna wait for Cliff

We close on Josh and Donna outside, waiting for Cliff. Donna’s work boyfriend approaches her actual boyfriend to tell Cliff he’s got an hour to read the diary, which Josh himself hasn’t read. If there’s anything noteworthy, Cliff can subpoena it. If not, they drop it. And if anything about it ends up in the media, Josh has Donna’s entries for Oct. 4 and 5.

Cliff asks the significance of those dates.

“You,” Josh says, pointing an angry finger.

I actually full-body shivered at this. Also, damn, Cliff, you don’t remember the dates you were wooing the lovely Donna? Not cool.

Josh sits back down on the bench next to Donna.

“You’ll be fine,” he tells her, but he doesn’t quite meet her eyes.

Look, I know they’ll be fine because I’ve read the spoilers, but man, it doesn’t seem like they will be anytime soon.


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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