To shamelessly steal from another blogger, I bring you the Peter David Proposed Ending for THE WEST WING:

Moira Kelly's "Mandy" simply evaporated between seasons 1 and 2. No mention was even made of her. The running in-joke behind the scenes was that, if a character disappeared from sight (such as Sam or Ainsley) they'd moved to Mandyville.

I would just love to see Mandy show up in the last episode in which CJ is walking down a corridor and Mandy just falls into step next to her, talking to her about something. And CJ just acts as if she's been there the whole time. Maybe at the end of the scene CJ says in an offhand manner, "Hey...haven't seen a whole lot of you lately. Where you been?" and Mandy just says, "Meetings." And they head off in opposite directions.

That amuses me.

Though Peter David and I agree most strenuously that while the class reunion planned for the finale of what was once the best show on television is excellent, the missing man is Aaron Sorkin. I find it amusing that a main character in Sorkin's new dramedy is a TV show creator who was forced off his own show by the network - and NBC is letting him run it.

Sooner or later networks might realize that the best work, creatively AND financially, comes from a single madman or -woman's driving vision.

Witness BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER for the first three seasons, when it had Joss Whedon's undivided attention... and how it faded into dreck when Whedon was focusing 85 percent of his attention on the late, seriously lamented FIREFLY and 10 percent on ANGEL. Witness the best of THE X-FILES, before Chris Carter got bored and wandered away, letting the arcs spin more wildly than the teacups at Disneyland. Witness Steven Bochco's entire career, as he hopped from L.A. LAW to NYPD BLUE to MURDER ONE... and we'll just try to forget COP ROCK. Look at David E. Kelley, who ran THE PRACTICE and ALLY MCSQUEAL simultaneously and went on to BOSTON PUBLIC just as THE PRACTICE sailed over the shark.

Speaking of sharks, compare the incredible single-minded vision of Steven Spielberg's JAWS to the sequel, which had three directors and a rewritten ending. The first ALIEN movie was a Ridley Scott masterpiece of a haunted house, and the second was a brilliant Vietnam allegory wrapped up in a hellishly good action film by the just-warming-up James Cameron. The third movie... well, it had three different scripts, one of them by the famed William Gibson, before the truncated written-by-committee ALIEN 3 hit theaters. I didn't hate it, unlike everyone else. But it wasn't the same.

More and more, the world of DVDs are inspiring us to look to television's graveyard for the dearly departed shows that remind us that there was a time before BEAUTY AND THE GEEK 2 and FEAR FACTOR. Personally, I miss the brilliant early years of QUANTUM LEAP, SLIDERS, NEXT GENERATION and DEEP SPACE NINE. Since I've already come out as a geek, I might as well admit to being a 'Phile.

They've all gone to Mandyville. There's a few worthy successors - my guilty pleasures these days are SMALLVILLE, SUPERNATURAL and VERONICA MARS - but the days of quirky, strange and creative seem to have gone the way of Mandy and her friends. I'm not going to claim that television has always been brilliantly written and inspired by creativity over rank greed - anyone but me remember WOOPS? - but as we sit and wait for the next X-FILES to come along, cable is spinning off into another round of assaholic antiheroes and the great ensemble shows are shuffling off the stage, three seasons after jettisoning the good writers that made them great.

I won't miss THE WEST WING. It jumped that fabled shark when NBC kicked Sorkin out with his mushrooms. The show's quality took a nosedive and despite critics' assertions that the tiresome eighteen months of Vinick-v.-Santos has "rejuvenated" the show, I stopped watching before John Spencer sadly left us. I'll watch it bid farewell, though, and hope they can make some attempt to do Sorkin's creation justice in its final bow. It's been written by committee and directed by ratings. But hey, the scripts were in on time!

So long, President Bartlet. For a while, you made us think, and that's pretty damned rare for television. We wish all of you well.


  1. Devin Harris12:53 AM

    anyone but me remember WOOPS?

    ::guiltily admits to really liking WOOPS::

    I still miss Ainsley, you know.

  2. Don't forget Battlestar on Sci Fi. There's another example of a series doing things the right way, pushing the edge of creativity while staying true to it's own story.


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