Bruce Fretts says that 2002 is the perfect time for Aaron Sorkin to make some changes to his White House series
Martin Sheen, The West Wing
Credit: The West Wing: Warner Bros.

5 New Year’s resolutions for ”West Wing”

Resolutions were the theme of the Jan. 9 episode of NBC’s ”The West Wing.” The title, ”H. CON-172,” is the name of a congressional resolution censuring President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) for concealing his MS from the American public. And since it was the first original installment of the new year, it seems like a good time to offer some of our own resolutions that we hope ”West Wing” will heed in 2002.

Leave the impeachment plotline behind Given that the President has accepted his censure — over the protestations of chief of staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer) — it’s time to drop the whole congressional investigation. It’s so 1999.

Hire the President a new secretary It’s understandable that Bartlet would want a mourning period to remember his late assistant, Mrs. Landingham (Kathryn Joosten). But the void in the front office has lately been filled by Charlie (Dule Hill), and he’s too vital a character to be reduced to bickering with and doting over the Chief Exec. The subplot about the staff warning Bartlet not to hang an 1709 Middle Eastern map Charlie gave him (its exclusion of Israel was deemed potentially offensive) was amusing — but not as amusing as watching the Prez squirm when Charlie dated First Daughter Zoe.

Give C.J. more to do than sing Spencer has been in the spotlight for the past two episodes, and the preview for next week makes it clear it’ll be Rob Lowe’s turn to shine (Sam pens the State of the Union speech and is followed by a Vanity Fair reporter played by ”Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place” survivor Traylor Howard). But why has back-to-back Emmy winner Allison Janney been relegated to crooning silly tunes in her minimal scenes? This week, it was a number from ”West Side Story.” What’s next, ”Cats”?

Let Josh and Donna pursue separate relationships I wasn’t in love with Amy, the feminist leader played by Mary-Louise Parker, when she dropped a water bomb on Josh (Bradley Whitford), but she won me over when she busted him for using a wonky policy discussion as a front for a booty call. And now that the inquisition is winding down, Donna (Janel Moloney) should be free to reconvene her conference with Republican counsel Cliff (Mark Feuerstein). Josh and Donna could be a cute couple, except that he’s her boss. Did we learn nothing from the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill scandal, people?

Book Rudy Giuliani for a guest shot The President needs a strong Republican opponent for his reelection campaign, and who could be stronger than Time’s Man of the Year? Just one request: No duets with Allison Janney.

What New Year’s resolutions do you think ”The West Wing” should make?

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