In season 2, The West Wing was still superior to almost anything on television at the time. The problems began to surface, however. Season 2 concentrated far too much time on the whole MS deal. I missed the powerful insider political stories. Still, there is little question that the writing and production style of the show continued to shine. Up to this point only Hill Street Blues had more Emmy nominations in one season.
Dialogue is everything in this show. A Dolby Digital 2…. track is more than adequate to deliver here. You can hear every word clearly and accurately. Walden’s bright and catchy theme music is delivered with plenty of flair. Need you anything more?
The big news here is the arrival of the series in a sweet 16×9 widescreen transfer. If you have an HDTV, you’ll truly appreciate how nice these transfers really are. Colors are right on and the picture detail is a marvel to behold. This is the kind of presentation we were promised years ago when HDTV was first introduced.
This time around, there are only 4 commentary tracks… and they are well worth a listen. Sorkin dominates these sessions, but Bradley Whitford and Janel Maloney are a pretty good listen on “In The Shadow Of Two Gunmen Part 1”.
As for the other extras, “Constructing Two Cathedrals” is an episode specific set of interviews and behind the scenes looks. “Gag Order” is a second season reel of the usual flubs and show-offs. Lastly, there are 10 minutes of deleted scenes and an interactive tour of the White House sets and other designs.
Menus function just like Season One and are easy to navigate.
Every show suffers somewhat the “Sophomore Curse,” so it really isn’t any surprise that some of the show’s experimentation didn’t quite measure up. It’s also very hard to make improvements to a show that started with such quality to begin with. The problem is that any changes you make have a better than even chance of annoying the fans. What didn’t change was the solid cast and crew. The season begins where the first ended. The aftermath of the assassination attempt on Bartlett makes for compelling stuff. So pick these discs up and take a good look at what went right with this show rather than “What went wrong”.
Special Features List
- Commentaries on 4 episodes with creator/writer Aaron Sorkin, director Thomas Schlamme, and cast members Martin Sheen, Bradley Whitford, Janel Moloney, Robert Burlinger & Kathryn Joosten
- “Access Granted” – a walk and talk through the set with director Thomas Schlamme and production designer Jon Hutman
- “Constructing Two Cathedrals” – making-of documentary of the season finale episode
- “Gag Order” – a collection of outtakes and bloopers
- Deleted scenes