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
President Bartlet has ridden a bicycle into a tree; Josh Lyman, the Deputy Chief of Staff, is in hot water after a television appearance in which he makes an insulting comment to a representative of a Christian group; and Sam Seaborn, the Deputy Director of Communications, spends a night with a woman who turns out to be a call girl. The story also follows the fate of a group of 1,200 Cuban refugees, 137 of whom arrive in Miami and request 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 whom he met recently, C.J. arbitrates a disagreement between the President and the Vice President, and the President appoints 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 physician, Captain Morris Tolliver, MC, USN, whose first child was born 10 days ago. The episode ends when Leo informs the President that Dr. Tolliver and others died (while en route to a teaching hospital in Jordan) when Syrian forces shot down his military aircraft on the orders of the Syrian Defense Ministry.
3 3 "A Proportional Response" Marc Buckland Aaron Sorkin October 6, 1999 (1999-10-06) 225902
President Bartlet in anger seeks vengeance after Syrian operatives shoot down an unarmed US Air Force transport aircraft carrying his personal physician and 57 other US military health-care workers. The Joint Chiefs of Staff propose a proportional response to the attack, which involves air strikes against three low-level targets in Syria as well as one against the Syrian intelligence-agency headquarters. However, President Bartlet wants a stronger response, so the joint chiefs 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 his never having served in the armed forces. Leo talks with Admiral Percy Fitzwallace, USN, the chairman of the joint chiefs, who says that the President is doing fine. Despite that, Adm. 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 that 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 applied 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 White House suddenly loses five crucial votes for a questionable gun-control bill, so the West Wing staff members and the Vice President work urgently during the three remaining days to regain the votes for the passage of the bill. After Leo forgets his wedding anniversary, his wife, Jenny, announces that she's decided to leave him because of her feeling that he has neglected their marriage. Josh and Toby have trouble over their financial disclosures.
5 5 "The Crackpots and These Women" Anthony Drazan Aaron Sorkin October 20, 1999 (1999-10-20) 225904
The staff members participate in Leo's "Big Block of Cheese" Day, when they meet with fringe special-interest groups who normally cannot get attention from the White House. Josh receives a card from the National Security Council and later learns that he is the only senior-staff member (other than Leo) who will receive protection or security in the event of a nuclear attack. Uncomfortable about his special treatment, he eventually returns the card, believing that he does not deserve to be singled out among his friends. Zoey arrives at the White House, so the President holds a celebratory chili supper for the members of the inner circle.
6 6 "Mr. Willis of Ohio" Christopher Misiano Aaron Sorkin November 3, 1999 (1999-11-03) 225905
The senior staff and the President take part in a late-night poker game inside the West Wing. A social-studies teacher from Ohio finishes the term of his late wife in the US House of Representatives. Sam tutors C.J. about the decennial census, and the staffers seek crucial votes in favor of a bill about a new sampling technique for taking the census. Zoey, the youngest Bartlet daughter, has an unfortunate encounter at a bar in Georgetown in the company of several friends from the White House, which displeases her father, who later gives her a speech about "the nightmare scenario" – the possibility of an abduction of Zoey and its being used against him or the government. The staff and the President sit down to another poker game while Toby watches the end of the roll call for the bill.
7 7 "The State Dinner" Thomas Schlamme Aaron Sorkin & Paul Redford November 10, 1999 (1999-11-10) 225906
The President and his senior staff deal with major problems – a hostage standoff between the FBI and a group of survivalists in Idaho, a hurricane headed toward Georgia (then the Carolinas and Virginia), and the threat of a crippling nationwide strike by Teamsters – all while preparing for a state dinner to honor the new President of Indonesia, whose behavior is distant and uncommunicative. Toby requests a favor of a counterpart senior aide to the Indonesian president; the aide not only refuses but also lectures Toby about human rights. Sam sees Laurie while she works at the state dinner. In a predictable move to evade the storm, an aircraft-carrier task group of the US Navy (including two cruisers and two destroyers) gets underway from Norfolk, Virginia, and heads into the Atlantic Ocean; however, the hurricane makes a surprise course change and moves directly toward and across the Naval vessels. With difficulty the President chats via radio with a young petty officer in the radio shack aboard a small ship in the task group. The First Lady, Abigail Bartlet, played by Stockard Channing, makes her first appearance.
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
In an after-midnight session the President teaches Josh about the national parks. C.J. deals with a rumor that President Bartlet and Vice President Hoynes have expressed a disagreement with each other during a cabinet meeting. Sam accepts an invitation to a date with Mallory, Leo's daughter, with a condition attached; however, the plans change. Josh works long and hard to find a solution to save a wanted banking bill to which three Republican representatives in revenge have attached a harmful rider.
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
Josh, Sam, and Toby have spent two months in vetting a strong and attractive candidate for an open seat on the Supreme Court of the US, and he consents to accept the nomination; the senior aides show jubilation, but Donna advises Josh to use cautious optimism. The retiring associate justice privately expresses displeasure to President Bartlet. Sam receives an anonymous tip, he meets the caller, he reads an old law-review note, and he discovers damaging material, which he reports to his colleagues and the President, who requests data on a different candidate. Danny gives C.J. a goldfish. A contrarian member of congress, seeking publicity, alleges that one-third of the White House staff members regularly use illicit drugs; Josh tells Leo that the latter is the target of the campaign. After two serious meetings in the Oval Office, the President offers the nomination to the other candidate, who accepts, and who later wins the required confirmation.
10 10 "In Excelsis Deo" Alex Graves Aaron Sorkin & Rick Cleveland December 15, 1999 (1999-12-15) 225909
While the senior staffers discuss the preparations for the Christmas celebration at the West Wing, Toby receives a telephone call from the office of the local coroner, and he responds by meeting a detective of the Metro PD at "the wall" at the National Mall. Toby becomes emotionally and actively involved with the death of a homeless veteran, who had served as a lance corporal in the US Marine Corps in the Korean War. President Bartlet jovially chats with a group of grade-school students at a Christmas tree, and Mrs. Landingham reveals to Charlie a sad bit of her family history. Danny and C.J. continue to discuss the pros and cons of a first date. The President and his entourage sneak out for a short shopping trip. Sam and Josh visit Laurie, who reminds them to behave as the good guys; Josh hands Donna a special gift with a touching inscription. The President and various staffers attend a concert of carols by a boychoir in the Mural Room, and Toby and Mrs. Landingham accompany the veteran's brother to his burial, at the Arlington National Cemetery, with an honor guard.
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
US satellite surveillance detects that India has moved six warships and 300,000 ground troops against Pakistan and its occupation of Kashmir, thereby raising the possibility of a nuclear clash; border skirmishes begin; the UN tries to get a cease-fire agreement. After receiving a dismal intelligence briefing on the situation with India, President Bartlet sends for Lord Marbury, a former ambassador of the United Kingdom to India, whom the President describes as colorful, and whom Leo describes as lunatic. The ambassador from Beijing tells the President that China may enter the fight against India, the ambassador from Islamabad tells him that Pakistan will no longer tolerate any oppression of its defenseless people, and the ambassador from New Delhi tells him that India will no longer follow the directions of any other nation. However, Lord Marbury reports that the UK ambassador to the UN expects to obtain a two-week cease-fire agreement, and he agrees to stay awhile to help. C.J. expresses displeasure about her loss of credibility with the press corps during the early hours of the crisis, so Toby apologizes. Josh obeys a subpoena to give a deposition about a recent investigation; Sam represents him on the second day, which does not go well. Mandy ruffles feathers among the senior staffers with her plan to advise a moderate Republican congressman. Zoey invites Charlie to ask her for a date; he asks for permission from her father, who first balks but later agrees and cautions.
12 12 "He Shall, from Time to Time..." Arlene Sanford Aaron Sorkin January 12, 2000 (2000-01-12) 225911
After practicing for the address on the State of the Union, President Bartlet collapses onto the floor of the Oval Office; an admiral and medical officer from Bethesda says that the President has the flu. The First Lady cancels a trip and returns; Dr. Bartlet the physician treats Dr. Bartlet the economist and President. Skirmishes continue along the cease-fire line in Kashmir; Pakistan gives control of nuclear weapons to their field commanders. Leo faces the news media about his addiction and recovery from it, then he faces the First Lady about the President's medical condition; Abbey eventually admits that the President has relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, and she says that a fever could become fatal. Josh and Toby continue to wrestle with the speech; C.J. watches Sam and Mallory, then she meets Danny in her office. Lord Marbury advises the President, who sends India a message, which produces good results. The motorcade heads toward the Capitol for the address to the joint session of the Congress.
13 13 "Take out the Trash Day" Ken Olin Aaron Sorkin January 26, 2000 (2000-01-26) 225912
President Bartlet and the staff members deal with an incendiary study on sex education in public schools, a forthcoming signing of a hate crime bill, the parents of a young victim of a recent murder motivated by hatred, and an aide to the VP who has lived well at government expense. C.J. and Danny continue to deal with their friendship. An influential man offers Leo some unwelcome advice, which he refuses. A ranking member of the House summons Josh and Sam and leans hard on them; they make a deal, which avoids a hearing on Leo and the related inquiries. Sam finds out how Lillienfield and Claypool obtained the information about Leo's addiction and treatment; he takes care of it. Leo and a young lady agree to give each other a second chance.
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