West World

Strange days, indeed as John Lennon once sung. The inauguration of President Trump took place while Australia slept, was a done deal by Saturday morning and on Sunday when I woke up, the news on social media was dominated by a spat going on between the White House and the media over the reporting on the lack of numbers who attended the ceremony and the huge numbers attending rallies around the USA and the world.

It was depressing stuff.

When the office of the President of the United States calls a press conference to tell the media off and point out that crowd numbers can not be estimated, and then goes on to assert that this was one of the largest crowds ever to attend  an inauguration, it does leave you wondering if there are not more important things that they should be worrying about.

Control of the media is a key strategical part of the game plan in politics, and so far the plan seems to be that there is no such thing as bad publicity – and that seems to be proving correct, buoyed up with a willingness to ignore fact and create rhetoric.

So I got off social media and I moved away from the news and I downloaded a podcast that I had heard recommended called, The West Wing Weekly which is two guys and an occasional guest taking one episode a week, each week and discussing it. I listened to the first episode, called (unsurprisingly ‘Pilot’) and then had a look to see if I could access the show. I watched it from time to time when it was on, loved the writing, but never reached the level of ‘wingnut’ as fans of the show adorably call themselves.

Netflix offers it, but not in Australia, so I tried the other streaming service I subscribe to, STAN. Bingo! The result was that I achieved absolutely nothing today that could not take place on the couch, which is bad unless you are a dog looking for some cuddle time.

I have always known how good the writing on The West Wing was, but sometimes you forget the effect that it can have on you as a viewer when you are watching amazing performances being driven by a great script, and of course the signature motif of the show which had the characters forever walking around labyrinthine corridors as they inexplicably picked up a sheet of A4 paper from a desk, placed it in a folder, walked to an in-tray, took out the sheet again and deposited it there and all of this while talking rapidly. One of the other effective techniques were the moments of personal heartbreak juxtaposed with national issues and the occasional outburst of spontaneous statesman-like speeches from the President to his staff.

I did not have any plans today and that was just as well, because nothing got done. I watched about four or five episodes of the show and listened to the podcasts on each, which were very good. If you like the show and can access it, then I recommend revisiting it with these two guys. Not only do they discuss the various plot lines and character arcs, but the guests, which include actors and other creatives, also provide great commentary on the behind the scenes work with, for example costume design or writing.

I walked the dogs, did some cooking and thought about a fiction piece but mostly listened to the the podcast and watched a TV show created by someone who can write a whole lot better than I could ever dream.


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