About a year ago when my wife and I were gearing up for the birth of our twins, my cousin (who has twin girls) gave us a piece of advice for weathering the first year:
Twins keep you busy. You aren't housebound, but you spend a lot of time at home holding an infant. You spend an inordinate amount of time up in the middle of the night. You can get very grumpy on such occasions. You need something to do while feeding or comforting a child. Enter the DVDs.
Around Christmas time my mother in law found a deal on all seven seasons of the West Wing, and knowing I was a fan, snatched them up. That was like 9 months ago. We watched the last episode tonight. 22 episodes a season. You can do the math.
I don't want to be melodramatic about this, but this show was just what we needed on so many levels. It kept us sane during some of those late nights. When we had energy for nothing else but the tube it gave us a chance to "veg" without actually killing our brains. It was fellowship for us. Like reading a good book together. It gave us outside perspective and adult conversation at a time in life when such things tend to take a back seat. The list could go on.
Not only that, it was and still is just an incredibly poignant, personable, and powerful television series. We really got caught up in it. We shed tears at times. Maybe that's lame, but hey, when someone tells a story that strikes a nerve or you see a scene play out that subtly captures a moment or you watch an actor portray something that resonates, enlightens, or inspires---well, I think something of life is being kindled in you and that's okay. Its more than okay, it is what the arts are about.
Now, some episodes were duds. Some of the politics was a bit too much. Sometimes the seasons were less thoroughly amazing than others. When you put together 154 episodes in 7 years you are about to have a few miscues. But another thing you get, when you do it this well, is an modern epic which I daresay a century from now might be worth mentioning in the same breath as War and Peace and Les Miserables.
Sure I've become a bit of a West Wing nerd. Yeah I'd probably put Richard Schiff (pictured above) on my top three list of people I'd like to meet, and that probably brings me close to Trekkie status. But hey, his portrayal of Toby Ziegler (and his interactions with the rest of the cast performing similarily brilliantly), well, it did things for me; in me. At times a dose of reality and at times a spark of inspiration, the West Wing spoke into my life; it brought stuff out of me.
Its the kind of thing you expect to hear about a great piece of music or a play or a painting. Its what the best art does. I guess it is just hard to believe this show was actually on TV.