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A Very Merry West Wing Christmas: Day Three

I'm running a little late, but it's not midnight here yet, so I'm technically still on schedule.  Up next:

Bartlet For America (Ep. 3.10)
Written by:  Aaron Sorkin
Directed by:  Thomas Schlamme

Episode Description (from NBC):
While the White House is festooned with Christmas finery, Leo (John Spencer) fears the worst when he testifies in the Congressional investigation into the President's (Martin Sheen) possible lack of public disclosure about his illness while flashbacks reveal the background leading to Bartlet's decision as governor to not come forward with the damaging information. In addition, the President personally investigates a series of church firebombings in the South after a two-year probe proves fruitless and threatens using troops to protect parishioners the next day on Christmas Eve. 
 

The lists have worked well for me thus far, so I shall continue with the same format.

1. Echoes of Christmas Past
Josh lets Leo know he's there for him before Leo gives his testimony, "A guy falls into a hole, see...."  Great continuity there.  The viewer is reminded immediately of Noel and last Christmas when it was Josh, not Leo, who was in a difficult position.

2. Leo and Jordan
They're like a fifties screwball comedy, right?  The President thinks so.  I wish we had seen more of Jordan in later episodes...she was great at holding her own with Leo.

3. Flashbacks
As always, Tommy does a great job transition from present to past and back again.  The first flashback scene with Leo and then-Governor Bartlet always give me a warm, fuzzy feeling right about the time Leo pulls the napkin from his pocket.  Also, the basketball through the window at campaign headquarters = priceless.

4. Mike Casper!!!
I *heart* Mike.  "Listen, churces are burning down. Otherwise, I'd be hitting on you."  HA!  And, I love how he's so nervous about briefing the president and how he doesn't want to "take a curtain call" when they get a break in the case.  The church-burning thing is a really great secondary storyline.

5. Bartlet's MS revelation to Hoynes
The complete shock on Tim Matheson's face is perfect.  He was wonderful as Hoynes...a guy you wanted to like, but were always kind of suspicious of, like maybe he had ulterior motives for some of his actions.

6. Johnny Walker Blue
This is my favorite scene in this episode.  There is so much happening, but really it's just Leo recalling a story to Jordan.  The suspense builds to a fever pitch all due to the way Leo (or Aaron, I guess, really) weaves the tale.  John Spencer delivers the lines in just the right way to keep you on the edge of your seat.

7. Cliff giving the White House a little Christmas present
I really think this scene speaks to the fact that, despite being a Republican, Cliff Calley is a pretty decent guy.  He's so frustrated with the way the Senators on the committee are acting and with what they're trying to do to Leo that he feels he needs to do something so he adjourns the meeting and saves Leo from having to answer the question about his alcoholism.

8. "That was awfully nice of you."
Aww...Bartlet and Leo have a unique relationship.  I really enjoy scenes where it's just them together.

Just wondering...where is Toby?  He's in the flashback scenes of this ep, but he doesn't appear in the present-day scenes at all.

Anyway, tomorrow I'm supposed to watch Holy Night, but I have a Christmas Eve dinner with my family tomorrow night, so my entry might be delayed.  It just kind of depends on how late I'm out.