Sometimes, you can pick up a book, one you read as a child, or in your 20s, one you loved but had, over the years, forgotten, and feel a powerful, evocative warmth.

The same happens with a poem, or a snapshot of lovers at a picnic, or an old movie.

In a smaller way, the same feeling swept over us one night about a week before Christmas, while surfing for something bigger, brighter, newer, anything to take us away from the political and pandemic horror of the year.

We came upon the once and always best ever piece of television work by Aaron Sorkin, who excels in multiple arenas, in his “The West Wing,” that has been streaming on Netflix.

“The West Wing” was produced by Warner Bros. Television and featured an ensemble cast that included Martin Sheen, John Spencer, Allison Janney, Rob Lowe, Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff, Janel Moloney, Dulé Hill and Stockard Channing.

As old fans of the show, we checked back in and found it as timely now as it always was, even more so as it came back smack in the middle of the final gasps of the reign of Trump.


Sorkin’s work here as a writer is gold, and I do not exaggerate when I say, that in this time of the political plague, it’s refreshing to watch a group of actors, educated, talented humans put together a fable of what should be working in a White House, not without flaws, but with flashing moments of honesty and humor.

It’s a testament to the brilliance and talent of Sorkin (who left after season 4) and Thomas Schlamme, that today, out of the past, we can still be amazed, startled even, shocked and thrilled by words and images from a calmer time.

The series that ran from 1999 (remember that “peaceful” year?) that had long ago become “family friends”, has now left Netflix to become part of HBO’S new HBO Max.

“The West Wing,” in its new home on HBO Max is still alive, vital and drawing in a whole new generation of fans.

The West Wing of President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen), even 12 years later, still sings with the strength and vitality that Sorkin gave it.

Thanks to Sorkin and producer Schlamme’s original technique called the “walk and talks”, which keeps us from going to the bathroom or cookie jar, as the characters move through the set; entering and exiting without any cuts, still works.


The device is laid in so delicately, that when after inhaling two hours at one sitting, we turn off the set at night, exhausted.

The impatience we felt each week back in those early days, waiting for the next week’s segment, because each segment had a cliff hanger implanted somewhere in the hour, was nerve wracking.

Sorkin carved and painted, sewed and patterned so well, that even when he left after four seasons, the place still looks and smells the same.

“The West Wing” now streams daily on HBO Max. If you have never seen it, start at the beginning.

It’s not perfect, only Van Gogh’s Irises are perfect, but I promise you seven seasons of art, stirring passion, humor and grace, and such splendid theatrical teamwork you will feel warmed, sometimes emotionally disturbed, and strangely enchanted.

Right now, “The West Wing” Redux is the best piece of entertainment on television, with no exceptions.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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