This is the last West Wing review I wrote last year before apathy took over. It’s not that the series takes a crashing dive after this episode – I’m still watching – but it simply wasn’t motivating me to put fingers to keyboard.
The West Wing – 6×05 – The Hubbert Peak
This is a definite step down from last week, but still a good humoured and relatively issue-led story. As issue-led as the series tends to be post-Sorkin, at any rate.
The scenes of Josh buying a car are, as with much this season, a mixture of excellent comedy and cartoonish implausibility. While crashing his huge, fuel-guzzling SUV into a hybrid-engined environmentally friendly car is amusing, it could hardly be a more obvious way of introducing the episode’s theme if it tried. That theme being that people say they’ll buy hybrid cars, but end up buying SUVs. Josh’s punishment is that he ends up chairing a meeting of alternative energy-source groups, which feels strikingly like a Big Block of Cheese day episode only less clever. The reps are, naturally, all argumentative nerds. This makes for funny TV, but perhaps undermines the environmental theme just a tad.
Meanwhile Toby The Grouch gets personal tuition in how to woo the press corps, with very entertaining results. Toby is such a grumpy individual that he bounces well off someone who is quite the reverse. In this case, the perky newly-hired Deputy Press Secretary who is (barely) likeable enough not to be teeth-gratingly annoying. Toby is put through one humiliating critique after another, but does at least emerge with a respectable performance on the podium.
So what else does the episode have to offer? A miscellany of minor plot threads, essentially. Charlie’s graduation and attempts not to find a job is inconsequential but it’s nice to see Zoe again. Will seems startlingly critical of Bingo Bob as he briefs Kate on Bob’s failings on international politics (possibly a dig at George W Bush and his infamous lack of awareness prior to the Presidential campaign); it’s increasingly unclear why exactly Will is still working for the VP. Kate meanwhile darts about looking for something to do, which in the main appears to be making fun of Josh. And we get a welcome cameo from Leo with an extremely telling insight into the Presidential chess game and Leo’s motives for playing it. I’m grateful that Leo hasn’t been dropped entirely, although recent episodes have damaged the character for me.
Lastly, no Jimmy Smits this week, in the credits or in person. Curiouser and Curiouser.