08 August 2009

West Waiting


I've been watching West Wing on the iPhone between passengers. Sometimes the waits get pretty bloody long, especially around one in the morning.

When the series was broadcast in Australia, it was usually late at night, often pulled for a sports broadcast, had huge gaps in transmission, switched channels and eventually just killed off.

I became a fan somewhere halfway through the first series. I had a hell of a job just trying to understand what was going on, especially when Josh would disappear off to congress and have complicated meetings with all sorts of monster-egoed people.

And it was West Wing I was watching - a crucial episode with the death of a minor character and an escalating world crisis - when a bulletin came in that a plane had flown into the World Trade Centre. The episode came to an end as fiction segued into reality and the world changed.

Eventually I began watching the whole series on DVD, often with the subtitles turned on to catch the details I'd mist the first time around. I'm up to series six now, and a lot of the new characters are now making the sense they didn't when it was first screened, Channel Nine having decided that the first few episodes in the season didn't need to be shown.

Seasons Six (and presumably Seven) are very different to the first five. In a way this is good, because it was starting to get just a little bit predictable with the election out of the way and Jed Bartlett heading for retirement, but it was unsettling to see so many of the gang break out into other pursuits.

But enjoyable, full of incomprehensible American politics and as addictive as ever. One reason why I don't mind too much if the action becomes a little slow out on the taxi ranks. With a few screen touches, I'm back in Washington DC.

She hopped into the cab on the main city rank, late at night. "Oooh, that's cool!" she said, indicating the iPhone, showing Dire Straits. I considered changing to ABBA. She looked about the right age.

"Bit of in-flight entertainment," I said. "And when I'm waiting on a rank, I watch episodes of West Wing."

Oh boy! Was that the button to push! For the rest of the ride, a longish ride, we two West Wing fans enthused about the show. Our favorite episodes, our favorite characters. Like me, she had bought the series on DVD, but she had looped through it all two or three times - I'm still working my way through Season Six, with Season Seven to go.

Seldom have I let a passenger out of the cab with more reluctance, but she insisted.

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