Apparently I'm one of the few still watching The West Wing, to judge by the miserable ratings, but even former fans will find this interesting:
Did you happen to notice who wasn't in the opening credits of Sunday's The West Wing? Dule Hill (Charlie Young), Joshua Malina (Will Bailey) and, most interestingly, Janel Moloney (Donna Moss) were all missing, suggesting that they've been downgrading to recurring status. (Stockard Channing never appears in the credits unless she's in the episode as the First Lady.) And if Richard Schiff (Toby Ziegler) was right when he said he expects to be in only three episodes this season, next week could be his exit. The old Bartlet gang is definitely breaking up, even if folks like Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman are still around.It does appear that a lot of old characters will be making only cursory appearances this season, if the first two episodes are anything to go on. Leo wasn't in this week's episode--and he's running for VP! Jed wasn't in it. Donna, Charlie, Will? No, no, no. In a few weeks, watching WW if you've taken a few years off will be like watching E.R.--you won't know who anyone is. You'll be asking yourself, "How did the guy from M.A.S.H. and the girl from Home Improvement and the guy from NYPD Blue take over this show? What happened to Rizzo and the guy from Apocalypse Now?"
If the ratings continue to tank--the show finished fourth this Sunday night, behind Cold Case, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and even the Fox tandem of cartoons--I predict your time to see even these new characters will be limited. Instead of the dignified run-up to a series finale that this old warhorse deserves, NBC may burn off the remaining episodes as quickly as possible and free the timeslot for something else. Sad to watch something so fine fall so far, so fast.