The West Wing (season 1)

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The West Wing (season 1)
West Wing S1 DVD.jpg
DVD box cover. Cast from left to right: Mandy, Sam, Josh, Leo, Jed, Toby, C. J., Charlie and Donna
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 22
Original channel NBC
Original release September 22, 1999 (1999-09-22) – May 17, 2000 (2000-05-17)
Season chronology
Next →
Season 2
List of The West Wing episodes

The first season of the American political drama television series The West Wing aired in the United States on NBC from September 22, 1999 to May 17, 2000 and consisted of 22 episodes.


Main cast[edit]

Recurring cast[edit]


The first season, which begins in the middle of Bartlet's first year in office, is loaded with images of a West Wing "stuck in neutral" and powerless to govern. Several episodes (notably "Five Votes Down" and "Mr. Willis of Ohio") feature the White House desperately digging for a backdoor through which to pass a particular piece of legislation. This powerlessness ends in "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet" when Leo and the president finally agree to fight any battle they believe to be important, even if they are not sure they can win. The season ends with a cliffhanger assassination attempt with an ominous call over a Secret Service radio: "Who's been hit?! Who's been hit?!"


No. in
No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date Production
1 1 "Pilot" Thomas Schlamme Aaron Sorkin September 22, 1999 (1999-09-22) 475151
Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman is in hot water after a television appearance attacking a Christian spokesperson, Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn spends the night with a woman who turns out to be a call girl, and the President has crashed his bicycle into a tree. The story also follows the fate of a group of around 1,200 Cuban refugees, 137 of whom arrive in Miami and claim asylum, while 350 are missing in a storm and presumed dead.
2 2 "Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc" Thomas Schlamme Aaron Sorkin September 29, 1999 (1999-09-29) 225901
Sam jeopardizes his political future when he decides to pursue a relationship with a call girl he met recently, C.J. arbitrates a disagreement between the President and the Vice President, and the President hires a new White House physician. The White House hires Mandy as a political consultant, much to Josh's chagrin. President Bartlet connects with his new doctor, Captain Morris Tolliver, whose first child was born recently. The episode ends with Leo informing the President that Morris died while en route to a teaching hospital when the military plane he was on was shot down by the Syrian Defense ministry.
3 3 "A Proportional Response" Marc Buckland Aaron Sorkin October 6, 1999 (1999-10-06) 225902
An angry President Bartlet seeks vengeance after Syrian operatives blow up a jet carrying his personal physician and dozens of American passengers. The Pentagon proposes a "proportional response" to the attack, which involves air strikes on three low-level targets in Syria as well as one against the Syrian intelligence agency headquarters. However, President Bartlet wants a stronger response, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff respond with a plan to attack a much more prominent target: the international airport in Damascus. The subtext of the story involves the President's unease around the Joint Chiefs and his worries about receiving their respect due to never having served in the military. Leo talks to Admiral Percy Fitzwallace who tells him the President is doing fine. Despite this, Fitzwallace tells the President that his desired response is disproportionate, saying that he "will have doled out five thousand dollars worth of punishment for a fifty buck crime." Leo confronts the President about the disproportionate response and says that he will stand up against him if he continues to insist on it. President Bartlet confesses he has personalized the terrorist attack because his physician, a good man with a newborn daughter, was among the victims. He then authorizes the proportional response and gives a televised speech in which he explains the situation to the American people. In other story lines, Charlie Young applies for a White House job and C.J. talks reporter Danny Concannon out of writing a story about Sam's relationship with a call girl. Charlie, who was applying for a messenger job, is so impressive that Josh insists on hiring Charlie as the President's personal aide, or "body man".
4 4 "Five Votes Down" Michael Lehmann Teleplay: Aaron Sorkin
Story: Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr. and Patrick Caddell
October 13, 1999 (1999-10-13) 225903
The West Wing staff works around the clock to secure the five votes they need for the passage of a new gun control bill. After he forgets their anniversary, Leo's wife Jennie feels her husband isn't investing enough time in their marriage and decides to leave him.
5 5 "The Crackpots and These Women" Anthony Drazan Aaron Sorkin October 20, 1999 (1999-10-20) 225904
The staff participates in "Big Block of Cheese Day," when they take meetings with fringe special interest groups who normally cannot get attention from the White House. Josh receives a National Security Council card and learns he is the only senior staff member (apart from Leo) who will be secured in the event of a nuclear attack. He eventually returns the card, feeling he doesn't deserve to be singled out among his friends.
6 6 "Mr. Willis of Ohio" Christopher Misiano Aaron Sorkin November 3, 1999 (1999-11-03) 225905
West Wing staffers court votes for a new census-taking methodology bill and the President's daughter Zoey has an unfortunate encounter in a Georgetown bar.
7 7 "The State Dinner" Thomas Schlamme Aaron Sorkin & Paul Redford November 10, 1999 (1999-11-10) 225906
The President tries to focus on key problems--a hostage standoff involving an FBI agent, a hurricane aimed for Georgia and the Carolinas, and an impending truckers' union strike--all while trying to prepare for a state dinner for the President of Indonesia. In preparation for the hurricane, an aircraft carrier, destroyer and other naval vessels are moved from the coast. When the hurricane changes course it puts the naval vessels in the direct path of the hurricane. The episode ends with the President speaking by radio to the ship as the storm worsens. This episode marks the first appearance of First Lady Abigail Bartlet, played by Stockard Channing.
8 8 "Enemies" Alan Taylor Teleplay: Ron Osborn & Jeff Reno
Story: Rick Cleveland, Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr. & Patrick Caddell
November 17, 1999 (1999-11-17) 225907
C.J. tries to quash rumors that the President and Vice President Hoynes got into an argument at a Cabinet meeting, and Leo's daughter Mallory begins to date Sam, to Leo's dismay. Josh works overtime to figure out how to save a banking bill from Republican poison pill provisions.
9 9 "The Short List" Bill D'Elia Teleplay: Aaron Sorkin & Patrick Caddell
Story: Aaron Sorkin & Dee Dee Myers
November 24, 1999 (1999-11-24) 225908
President Bartlet considers candidates for an open seat on the Supreme Court, when something emerges about their ideal candidate. Publicity-seeking Congressman Peter Lillianfield accuses the West Wing staff of drug use, leading Josh to conclude that Leo's drug and alcohol abuse, and subsequent rehabilitation, will soon be made public.
10 10 "In Excelsis Deo" Alex Graves Aaron Sorkin & Rick Cleveland December 15, 1999 (1999-12-15) 225909
Amid Christmas preparations, Toby tries to arrange burial for a homeless Korean War veteran found dead with Toby's business card in his pocket, while Danny Concannon and C.J. discuss the possibility of a first date.
11 11 "Lord John Marbury" Kevin Rodney Sullivan Teleplay: Aaron Sorkin & Patrick Caddell
Story: Patrick Caddell & Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr.
January 5, 2000 (2000-01-05) 225910
As a border war between India and Pakistan poses the threat of a nuclear clash, a flamboyant British expert on the matter, Lord John Marbury, is summoned to the White House. C.J. is kept out of the loop on the crisis in its early hours, leading to a loss of credibility with the White House Press Corps. Zoey begins to pursue a romantic relationship with Charlie. Mandy angers the senior staff with her plan to advise a moderate Republican politician. Josh is deposed regarding the internal investigation he ran into an accusation that one-third of White House staffers use drugs.
12 12 "He Shall, from Time to Time..." Arlene Sanford Aaron Sorkin January 12, 2000 (2000-01-12) 225911
Crises abound as the President faints in the Oval Office and is confined to bed, the situation in India and Pakistan intensifies, and Leo faces scrutiny from the press about his previous drug and alcohol problems. The First Lady tells Leo that the President has relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, which could be exacerbated by his current illness.
13 13 "Take out the Trash Day" Ken Olin Aaron Sorkin January 26, 2000 (2000-01-26) 225912
While Bartlet and his staff debate the best way to handle a controversial sex education study, a Congressional committee expands its efforts to expose and condemn Leo's past substance abuse, and the mystery of how Leo's confidential treatment records got into the wrong hands is solved.
14 14 "Take This Sabbath Day" Thomas Schlamme Teleplay: Aaron Sorkin
Story: Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr. & Paul Redford and Aaron Sorkin
February 9, 2000 (2000-02-09) 225913
Bartlet spends the weekend deciding whether to commute the death sentence of a man convicted of drug-related murders. Josh deals with an under-funded congressional campaign manager named Joey Lucas (played by Marlee Matlin) who impresses both the President and himself. Guest starring Karl Malden.
15 15 "Celestial Navigation" Christopher Misiano Teleplay: Aaron Sorkin
Story: Dee Dee Myers & Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr.
February 16, 2000 (2000-02-16) 225914
While Sam and Toby go to Connecticut to get the President's Supreme Court nominee out of jail, Josh gives a lecture to a group of students about a typical day at the White House, not glossing over his own very unfortunate stint as a pinch-hit Press Secretary for C.J.
16 16 "20 Hours in L.A." Alan Taylor Aaron Sorkin February 23, 2000 (2000-02-23) 225915
It is time for a one-day trip to Los Angeles for the President, Josh, Toby, C.J. and Donna. The agenda includes a meeting in Orange County about flag burning and a celebrity-packed reception and dinner at the house of studio boss Ted Marcus. President Bartlet meets his daughter's new Secret Service agent, Gina Toscano. The studio boss threatens to cancel the fundraising reception when he learns that the White House is not actively opposing a conservative congressman's bill to ban gays in the military. Josh is concerned by the threat, but cheers up considerably when he learns that Joey Lucas is in town. Josh and Toby agree they cannot stand an aggressive pollster named Al Kiefer who says the President can guarantee his legacy by aggressively supporting a constitutional amendment banning flag burning, and are very happy later when Joey Lucas produces data to show the issue is not very important to most voters. Back in Washington, Leo notes that the Senate vote on ethanol production is tied 50-50 and Vice President Hoynes will have to cast the winning vote. The problem is that Hoynes has never been a fan of ethanol production, calling it wasteful and useless in reducing foreign oil dependence and even campaigning in Iowa against it. Leo threatens his position, and the President says he wants to fire him, but Leo and Sam admit that the Vice President is right. They decide to let some reluctant Senators vote "no", letting the VP off the hook.
17 17 "The White House Pro-Am" Ken Olin Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr. & Paul Redford and Aaron Sorkin March 22, 2000 (2000-03-22) 225916
Presidential daughter Zoey and presidential aide Charlie argue when she suggests they heed Secret Service warnings and not attend a party together. The President and First Lady, as well as their staffs, clash when it's time to appoint a new Federal Reserve Chairman.
18 18 "Six Meetings Before Lunch" Clark Johnson Aaron Sorkin April 5, 2000 (2000-04-05) 225917
The President's Supreme Court nominee is confirmed, but all is not well in the West Wing. An arrest at a frat party attended by the President's daughter could prove explosive, as could the views about slavery reparations of a controversial nominee for Assistant Attorney General.
19 19 "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet" Laura Innes Teleplay: Aaron Sorkin
Story: Peter Parnell and Patrick Caddell
April 26, 2000 (2000-04-26) 225918
When a damaging memo critical of the President, outlining a strategy to defeat him for re-election, is discovered, the White House press cover it with zest, much to C.J.'s dismay. It is revealed that Mandy wrote the memo when she was working for Lloyd Russell, leading to tension between her and the rest of the staff. Sam, Toby and Josh are involved in a series of meetings which go nowhere and result in nothing: Sam knows no progress is possible on getting a policy in place so that gays and lesbians can openly serve in the military; Josh confronts a group of Republican Congressional staffers who threaten him with poison-pill legislation if he even thinks about pushing for campaign finance reformers on two newly opened Federal Election Commission seats; and Toby screams to Leo that they've had only one victory in office and that was putting Judge Mendoza on the Supreme Court. The staffers and the President feel listless and ineffectual in their jobs, and worry that they will be unable to achieve anything meaningful due to the constraints of the political system. The staff begin to realize that the Bartlet administration has been ineffective because it has been too timid to make bold decisions, focusing instead on the exigencies of politics. Finally, Leo confronts President Bartlet with his own timidity, challenging him to be himself and to take the staff "off the leash" - in other words, he seeks to "Let Bartlet be Bartlet". The President and his staff resolve to act boldly and "raise the level of public debate" in America.
20 20 "Mandatory Minimums" Robert Berlinger Aaron Sorkin May 3, 2000 (2000-05-03) 225919
The President nominates controversial advocates of campaign finance reform to the Federal Election Commission. Toby spars with his ex-wife, Congresswoman Andrea Wyatt, but they agree on the need to fight mandatory minimum sentences for drug users. Sam learns his relationship with a call girl is known to his political enemies.
21 21 "Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics" Don Scardino Aaron Sorkin May 10, 2000 (2000-05-10) 225920
The staff anxiously awaits approval rating poll results while potential crises flare, including the possible revelation of Sam's call girl friend and a complicated plan to stack the FEC with pro-campaign finance reform members.
22 22 "What Kind of Day Has It Been" Thomas Schlamme Aaron Sorkin May 17, 2000 (2000-05-17) 225921
Bartlet hosts a town-hall meeting as the military races to recover a downed U.S. pilot before the Iraqis can capture him, and a space shuttle (carrying Toby's brother) is plagued by mechanical problems. As Bartlet and his staff exit the town hall meeting, white supremacists open fire on the presidential party.


Critical response[edit]

The first season of The West Wing received positive reviews, and scored a Metacritic rating of 79 out of 100, based on 23 reviews.[1]


The first season received 18 Emmy Award nominations for the 52nd Primetime Emmy Awards, winning a total of 9 awards. It won for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Richard Schiff), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Allison Janney), Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (Aaron Sorkin and Rick Cleveland for "In Excelsis Deo"), Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (Thomas Schlamme for "Pilot"), Outstanding Main Title Theme Music (W. G. Snuffy Walden), Outstanding Cinematography for a Single Camera Series (Thomas Del Ruth), Outstanding Art Direction for a Single Camera Series, and Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series. Notable nominations included Martin Sheen for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, John Spencer for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Stockard Channing for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, and Aaron Sorkin for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for "Pilot".[2]

Thomas Del Ruth received a nomination from the American Society of Cinematographers for the pilot episode.[3]


  1. ^ "The West Wing: Season 1". Metacritic. Retrieved September 4, 2013. 
  2. ^ "The West Wing". Retrieved September 4, 2013. 
  3. ^ "The ASC Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography". American Society of Cinematographers. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
General references