…the presidential election depicted last night on “The West Wing” on NBC would have had a different ending had it been held four months ago.
But the reversal of fortune for Matt Santos — the Democratic nominee, played by Jimmy Smits, who was the victor — had nothing to do with any shift in opinion among voters.
Instead, Lawrence O’Donnell, an executive producer of the show, said he and his fellow writers had declared Santos the winner only after the death, in mid-December, of John Spencer, who portrayed Santos’s running mate, Leo McGarry. At the time of Mr. Spencer’s death, the plot for last night’s episode had been set: the election was to be won by Alan Alda’s Arnold Vinick, a maverick Republican (modeled a bit on Senator John McCain), whom many Democrats (including the Democrats who write the show) could learn to love.
Not that I don’t miss John Spencer but dammit they should have stuck with the original ending. Last night’s outcome felt too formulaic for a show that has set it’s own course one more than one occasion. I do appreciate how the writing has improved since Sorkin’s departure and this dramatized look at the management of a presidential campaign has been good solid entertainment.
On a side note, from the same article; Martin Sheen was asked by the DNC of Ohio to run for a seat in the Senate. Sheen turned them down saying, “I’m just not qualified, you’re mistaking celebrity for credibility.” Say what you will about Martin’s politics and protest tactics but it’s nice that someone in Hollywood knows when to say no.