Mark Watches ‘The West Wing’: S06E17 – A Good Day

In the seventeenth episode of the sixth season of The West Wing, the staff has a good day. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The West Wing.



War with Canada. Being a huge fan of Propagandhi, I couldn’t help but think of the song that opens Potemkin City Limits, “A Speculative Fiction,” which imagines what a war between the United States and Canada would be like. The West Wing took a much more humorous approach to this, particularly since this felt like Kate Harper single-handedly fighting against egotistical men in camouflage who nearly brought two countries to war. HONESTLY, ISN’T THAT WHAT HAPPENS??? So many of the men around her are almost cluelessly willing to escalate matters further and further, and her day becomes an exercise in growing absurdity. What started off as a disagreement blossomed into a hostage situation, which morphed into a culture war, which exploded into a POSSIBLE ILLEGAL INVASION OF CANADA. So yeah, I love that Kate’s solution to this all is to revoke the hunting licenses of the men involved because hunters take their licenses very seriously.

Hey, at least she got a good day at the end of this all!


I feel like the last two episodes were very light on Bartlet, but I also understand that the show is dealing with a huge cast right now. Like… incredibly huge! So they juggle characters around, meaning that there will be episodes without certain people in them. Bartlet’s now walking around with a cane, but in “A Good Day,” he looks remarkably good, and it’s a treat to see him up to his sassy old self again. And this is in spite of his constant clashing with Dr. Yosh Takahashi, the (very, very conservative) economist with which he shares a Nobel Prize. The two bicker like children (Bartlet even says that Dr. Takahashi started it first at one point), and Abbey largely exists in this episode to derive endless enjoyment from her husband being peeved by the man who he had to split his Nobel with. And while the episode doesn’t invalidate Bartlet’s dislike of his opponent’s policies or philosophy, Bartlet does learn a thing or two from him, namely finding the courage to admit that the massive deficit is one the things he regrets most about his time in office.

Lord, Bartlet isn’t going to be in office much longer. I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS.


Oh god, Richard Schiff directed this episode, which is amazing to me because it’s basically one of the happiest, most optimistic episodes of the show, and his character is DEFINITELY NOT THAT. I admit that it feels weird for this to come after Toby’s breakdown in the last episode, but it’s not like time hasn’t passed between the two episodes. Toby, frazzled and overwhelmed, tries to pass on an assignment to see a group of young students who initially seem to be on a field trip. Well, even the main kid calls it a “glorified” field trip when their actual purpose is a lot more interesting: they want to open a debate on lowering the voting age. I love that this episode puts these kids and their arguments front and center, it doesn’t make fun of them, and at the end of the day, Toby is downright impressed by their interest in policy, in changing the world to better future generations, and in being prepared to argue their side. It’s a sweet story for Toby, too, because he started off so angry at the idea of spending any time with these kids, you know? AND THEN LOOK AT HOW MUCH JOY HE GIVES TO THOSE KIDS. Stop it STOP IT. Just kidding, more of this.

Josh / Santos / Cliff

Okay, I like Cliff in this episode, I appreciate the dynamic he brings to this episode, and goddamn, this was exhilarating to watch. It’s also frustrating because it’s so irksome to watch politicians pull what Haffley does here: a trick to pass his bill. He knows he can’t pass it honestly, and so he uses an underhanded method in order to make sure he can derail Bartlet’s stem cell bill. (Actually, I wasn’t certain it was Bartlet’s bill.) However, Matt Santos – BLESS HIS SOUL – orchestrates a brilliant plan to beat Haffley at his own game. I don’t feel the need to comment on all the ins-and-outs of how Santos pulls this off, though I gotta say that I adored how this turned out like a giant heist or a spy thriller.

What’s important to me is how this clearly sets up Santos to be the candidate who is genuine, dedicated, and the real fucking thing. There’s a moment in “A Good Day” where Donna looks back on Santos, who’s talking to the junior Congressman from Arkansas, and both of them are bathed in the light of the sole lamp left on in Russell’s office. Donna sees that Santos stayed up to talk through the moral implications of stem cell research with the kid, and he’s doing it in his opponent’s office. At no point does Santos make this about his campaign. He’s doing this because he believes in stem cell research, and he believes that the Congressman deserves an intelligent, rational conversation about what he’s voting on. Y’all, DONNA IS GONNA REALIZE SHE’S WORKING FOR THE WRONG CANDIDATE, ISN’T SHE? Didn’t everyone witness Santos come up with and execute this? Cliff did. Josh did. C.J. did. Y’all, I just want Santos as president SO BADLY IT HURTS.

The video for “A Good Day” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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