Thursday, August 11, 2005

Sunday Shocker

A change in direction in store for West Wing?

Amid all the summer interest in Six Feet Under and Queer as Folk, I haven't forgotten about two more mainstream dramas that I also enjoy. Both have made headlines recently.

The West Wing is moving to Sundays at 7:00 Central for its final season. We've all been assuming that Matt Santos (played by Jimmy Smits) was destined to succeed Jed Bartlet, but Tom Jicha of the Sun Sentinel says not so fast:
The West Wing white paper on handling the election between politicians played by Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda is in flux. It has been widely assumed Smits would win -- partly because he is a Democrat, like the other regulars, and partly because he has made more of a commitment to the NBC drama, which moves to Sunday in the fall.

Alda, however, has gotten caught up in the spirit of the contest and has made it known he would be available for more episodes. "It's funny," NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said. "They went in with a pretty clear idea when they made these deals with Jimmy and Alan. But they're kind of getting the fever a little bit. Alan, who initially said, `Oh, I'm only going to do X number of episodes,' said, `Well, I could do more if you want me to.' All of a sudden, I think collectively they're going, `We thought the election was going to go this way. Maybe we could let it seek its own course.'"

The uncertainty has already resulted in a significant change of plans. Election Day was going to be early in the fall. Now it will probably be postponed until deeper into the season. The longer it is delayed, the more possible it is that Alda's Republican candidate could win. This is considered to be the series' final year, so a late-season upset would not entail casting a whole new support staff for an administration of a different party.

"They just want to see how much fun they have with this thing," Reilly said. "They've got some really good surprises in store."
Would the show's creators prefer an alternate reality where the people choose a "reasonable" Republican? Is that a better stab at Bush?

Meanwhile, it's looking more and more possible that the final season of The Sopranos, slated to begin airing in March of 2006, will be longer than the ten episodes we were initially promised. David Chase seems to be getting a second wind, and reports indicate that he may extend the final season to twenty episodes. This would be quite a reversal--instead of getting an abbreviated final season, we'd get an extended one. Maybe HBO will divide it in two as they did Sex and the City?

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