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West Wing: Seasons 1-4

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Studio: Warner
Genre: Drama, Television, Politics and Social Issues, TV Drama
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Debuting September 22, 1999, NBC's multi-award-winning The West Wing was America's first truly successful political drama series. Producer Aaron Sorkin had allegedly created the property to make fuller use of the White House interior sets built for his 1999 theatrical film, The American President. Whatever the case, the weekly, hour-long series disproved the long-held theory that the American TV viewing public was bored stiff by fictional political intrigue. The series was largely set during the administration of U.S. president Josiah "Jed" Bartlet (Martin Sheen), a Liberal Democrat (and a devout Catholic) from New Hampshire. The first lady was Dr. Abigail "Abby" Bartlet (Stockard Channing), who, though she publicly supported her husband in every aspect, privately expected him to hold to his promise that he would serve only one term. The Bartlets had three daughters, the youngest of whom, free-spirited Zoey (Elizabeth Moss), was a great source of consternation in many ways. President Bartlet was backed up by a fiercely loyal staff, including his venerable chief of staff, Leo McGarry (John Spencer); his blunt-talking deputy chief of staff, Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford); Josh's wisecracking assistant, Donna Moss (Janel Moloney); witty, idealistic press secretary C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney); deceptively unkempt-looking communications director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff); and deputy communications director Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe), who had trouble keeping his tempestuous private life from spilling over into his work. As originally conceived, Sam was to have been the main character, with President Bartlet merely a recurring presence. Rob Lowe left the series near the end of season four, reportedly distressed by his ever-diminishing screen time; it was explained that Sam had gone off to run for a seat in the House of Representatives. He was replaced by Joshua Malina as the new deputy communications director (and later the vice president's chief of staff) Will Bailey.

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