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

'The West Wing' newbie recap: Submariners and soft money

Season 3 | Episode 7 | “Gone Quiet” | Aired Nov 14, 2001

This week’s West Wing episode opens with Nancy McNally, and you know what that means: It’s time for some bad news!

In fact, the U.S.S. Portland has gone silent in North Korean waters. McNally says it’s either lost power and is drifting aimlessly, or it’s gone quiet because a hostile ship is sitting on top of it. Neither option is great, Bob.

Toby is tasked this week with wrangling Tawny Cryer, who’s on Appropriations and wants to cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. She spits examples at Toby of dumb, wasteful, avant-garde modern art (which, to be fair, are pretty dumb, wasteful, and avant-garde). What’s most important about this plotline is that it reminds us all that Rob Lowe is a funny man. Cryer brings up an NEA-funded performance piece in which a man destroyed all of his belongings outside a Starbucks in Haight-Ashbury. Without missing a beat, Sam replies, “I’ve done that a couple of times. I didn’t know there was funding available.” Marry me, Sam Seaborn!

Okay, actually, the most important part of this plotline is Toby, who, after Godwin’s Law-ing himself, argues that societal progress and progress of the arts are linked: Pericles and Phidias, de Medici and da Vinci, Elizabeth and Shakespeare. Preach, Toby man. In the end, Cryer says they can keep the NEA funding if they dump its quick-to-fund chairman.

C.J. is also into the arts this week; she spends this episode doing a cute little dance around the West Wing to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy,” which was already a very old song in 2001. She’s pumped because the majority leader was asked The Question: Why do you want to be president? He responded with word vomit of alarmingly meaningless, feel-good proportions, and no one is more jubilant about this than C.J.—until she thinks to ask what Bartlet’s answer would be. Josh is pretty sure they have one. C.J. asks him to check into that.

C.J. and Josh are both too sexy for their shirts.

Of course, when Josh asks Bartlet The Question, his answer is “I don’t.” Josh says they’ll work on it. But hey, at least Josh and Donna seem back to normal this … wait, no, I typed that too soon. They’re literally dancing awkwardly around each other in his office. Sigh.

Back at the submarine crisis, Assistant Secretary of State Albie Duncan arrives and urges them not to talk to the North Koreans about the missing sub. Bartlet wants to know why, and Albie explains that the U.S. violated international law, which makes this an act of war. Well, okay then.

Leo’s gut says to trust the captain and crew and hope they’ve just gone quiet, so Bartlet agrees to wait three more hours before mounting a rescue. Since he’s sticking around, Albie orders a complicated drink from the president and then starts telling literal war stories as the president yearns for death.

NBC/The West Wing

The other Bartlet  is answering some questions this week too, and nursing an ankle she broke while hiking. Oliver Babish isn’t surprised.

“Nature, like a woman, will seduce you with its sights and its scents and its touch. And then it broke your ankle. Also like a woman.”

“What the hell kind of dates are you going on, Oliver?” Abbey wants to know, as do I. Dating in D.C. sounds rough.

The Bartlet/Babish meeting is necessary because the Oversight committee has subpoenaed people who filed malpractice suits against Abbey. Babish explains that the committee doesn’t have a criminal case against the president, so they’re going after her. This displeases Abbey and her impressively fluffy hair, who doesn’t want to be a distraction from the campaign.

Abbey Bartlet won

In the end, though, Babish wants her to tell the truth in an effort to stop the committee from criminalizing politics to hurt politicians they couldn’t defeat at the ballot box. Man, I hope we get to Abbey’s steely testimony.

Speaking of the election, Sam spends this episode arguing with Bruno and Mrs. Coach, who want to exploit a loophole and turn their regular ads into unlimited and unregulated “issue ads.” Sam is agin’ it, and brings up Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court decision that declared that money equals speech. (This takes me right back to my grad school classes, which, ironically, are the reason I wasn’t able to watch this show the first time around.) Sam continues to argue against soft money until Bruno unleashes the reason he wants to fight fire with fire:

“Because I am tired of working for candidates who make me think I should be embarrassed to believe what I believe, Sam. I’m tired of getting them elected. We all need some therapy, because somebody came along and said ‘liberal’ means soft on crime, soft on drugs, soft on Communism, soft on defense, and we’re gonna tax you back to the Stone Age because people shouldn’t have to go to work if they don’t want to. And instead of saying, ‘Well, excuse me, you right-wing, reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-eductation, anti-choice, pro-gun, Leave It to Beaver trip back to the ’50s,’ we cowered in the corner and said, ‘Please, don’t hurt me.’ No more. I really don’t care who’s right, who’s wrong. We’re both right. We’re both wrong. Let’s have two parties, huh? What do you say?”

WB/Harry Potter

Toby saves the day by suggesting they actually do an issue ad, and everyone is awestruck by this aboveboard suggestion. And as we contemplate the approach of the 2016 presidential election, I want to thank this show for featuring characters who almost always choose the honorable over the easy and the moral over the manipulative. Would that we had more of that in our actual politics.

And hey, good news! The Portland is back! It went quiet to avoid contact with a Luna class destroyer, whatever that is, and everybody is okay. Huzzah! (P.S. If you also lost 20 minutes reliving the Kursk submarine disaster following this episode, we should be best friends.)

The episode ends with C.J. entering the Oval and asking Bartlet The Question: Why does he want to be president? He sighs and takes off his glasses, telling C.J. that he’s been thinking about that for the last couple of hours and almost has it.

Aaaaand, end credits. Oh, Aaron Sorkin, you scamp.

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