“Did you trip over something?” – 1×02 – Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc

Episode: “Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc”
Directed by: Thomas Schlamme
Written by: Aaron Sorkin
Original Air Date: September 29, 1999

More rock music and Mandy Hampton in a car disobeying traffic laws. I think…I thiiiiink that maybe Sorkin wants us to as a Washington outsider, but hey, I could be wrong. Again, it’s 1999 here, and this scene would never happen now because Mandy drives her car right up onto the plaza at the Archives-Navy Memorial metro stop and the police would be swarming that area. Just a small detail, but being in a pre-9/11 world will become more obvious as we progress.

After it, therefore because of it. Bartlet says it’s hardly ever true, and that’s right at a micro level in this episode. Mandy doesn’t get her job only because the Ryder Cup team cancelled and Morris didn’t die because he went to Jordan, but rather these were the last in series of events. On a large enough scale, merely one thing hardly ever causes another, and in the scope of this series, that will certainly be true, but don’t forget about Morris in the next episode.

I’m not sure if Sorkin knew what was to come for Bartlet, but it is interesting to note that his health is discussed as being not optimal this early in the series.

Episode MVP: Leo, for flexing his political muscle with Hoynes, “‘Cause I’ll win, and you’ll end up playing celebrity golf for the rest of your life.”

Memorable Quotes:

  • Bartlet: ‘After it, therefore because of it’. It means one thing follows the other, therefore it was caused by the other. But it’s not always true. In fact it’s hardly ever true. We did not lose Texas because of the hat joke. Do you know when we lost Texas?
    C.J.: When you learned to speak Latin?
    Bartlet: Go figure.

  • Sam: Last week, I was out for a late drink, and I met this woman named Laurie, and Laurie and I hit it off, and we spent the evening together back at her place, and the next day I discovered she was a call girl.
    Josh: Sam?
    Sam: Yeah?
    Josh: Do you want to maybe close the door?
    Sam: Yeah.

  • Bartlet: I don’t need a flu shot.
    Morris: You do need a flu shot.
    Bartlet: How do I know this isn’t the start of a military coup? I want the Secret Service in here right away.
    Morris: In the event of a military coup, sir, what makes you think the Secret Service is gonna be on your side?
    Bartlet: …now that’s a thought that’s gonna fester.

  • Bartlet:I am not frightened. I’m gonna blow them off the face of the earth with the
    fury of God’s own thunder. [beat] Get the commanders.

Notable guest stars:

    • Tim Matheson first appears here as the VP. C.J. is not his biggest fan.
    • Mandy Hampton joins the senior staff; just one step closer to oblivion.
    • DC! It’s always nice when you can tell they actually filmed scenes in DC, such as Mandy’s creative driving and Sam and Laurie’s nighttime walk & talk on Pennsylvania Ave.

“Tell your friend POTUS he’s got a funny name” – 1×01 – Pilot


1Episode: “Pilot”
Directed by: Thomas Schlamme
Written by: Aaron Sorkin
Original Air Date: September 22, 1999

The only pilot I’ve sat my friends down and forced them to watch more than this one is Friday Night Lights, the greatest pilot episode of all time. This is a close number two. Fifteen years ago today, the series opened on a well-groomed Sam Seaborn having a conversation with a reporter at a bar about something we wouldn’t get the full story on until much later into the episode. Classic Sorkin. Buckle in, kids.

We move on to quick vignettes of each of the senior staff as they get alerted through phone calls and pagers (1999!) that POTUS has been in a bicycle accident. Right there, in the first minute of the show, Aaron Sorkin has C.J. literally fall off of a treadmill when she interrupts her one-sided conversation about how to “have it all” to read the page. Claudia Jean will get a lot better; Sorkin will not. And so we meet our loveable gang of heroes: Leo is wealthy, stubborn, and dedicated; Josh is a workaholic; Sam might be a playboy; C.J. is a woman; and Toby is smarter than you and he knows it. What do they have in common? Welcome to the White House.

Leo gets the show’s first Walk&Talk® and enables most of the episode’s exposition along the way. The Cuban refugee problem sets an example for what this show stands for. There are an unidentified number of Cubans in makeshift boats headed for Miami and they need to figure what the President is going to do when they get there. They need to consider the political ramifications, the military ramifications, and of course basic human decency, all at the same time. They manage to wait this one out and avoid a tough decision, but that won’t always be the case.

I’d venture to guess that anyone reading this knows that Sam Seaborn, played by Rob Lowe, was originally slated to be the main character of the series and Martin Sheen as the President was only supposed to pop up occasionally. After a while though, the focus began to shift from Sam to Josh, and the President became a regular character. When considered amongst the rest of the series, the pilot lacks for a want of more Jed Bartlet.

John Van Dyke: “The First Commandment says, ‘Honor Thy Father’.”
Toby: “No, it doesn’t…Honor thy Father is the Third Commandment.”
Van Dyke: “Then what’s the First Commandment?”
President Barlet: “I am the Lord your God. Thou shalt worship no other God before me. Boy, those were the days, huh?”

How about, “Boy, what an entrance, huh?”

Break’s over.

Episode MVP: President Josiah Bartlet. No one else came close.

Memorable Quotes:

  • Toby Ziegler: We’re flying in a Lockheed Eagle Series L-1011. Came off the line twenty months ago. Carries a Sim-5 transponder tracking system, and you’re telling me I can still flummox this thing with something I bought at Radio Shack?

  • Leo McGarry: He rode his bicycle into a tree, C.J., what do you want me — The President while riding his bicycle on his vacation in Jackson Hole came to a sudden arboreal stop. What do you want from me?

  • John Van Dyke: If our children can buy pornography on any street corner for five dollars, isn’t that too high a price to pay for free speech?
    President Josiah Bartlet: No.
    Van Dyke: Really?
    Bartlet: On the other hand, I think that five dollars is too high a price to pay for pornography.

Notable guest stars:

    • Lisa Edelstein’s first appearance as Laura, the call girl trying to fund her law degree
    • Moira Kelly storms into town. Countdown til she’s never heard from again begins in 5…4…3…2…1…