The hiatus is coming, really.

My reasoning for it lies here.

I’ve just got several more jots to jot down before I do it. Here are some.

Other People // I love Chris Kelly for being an SNL writer, even more for bringing SNL and other funny people into the melancholy, autobiographical story of his mother’s death and the most for forcing said showbiz people to talk about the delusions of showbiz onscreen. Jesse Plemons (as David) and Bradley Whitford (as David’s father, Norman) were the sympathetic forces we already knew they were, while Molly Shannon (as David’s mother, Joanne) and Zach Woods (as David’s boyfriend, Paul) demonstrated a sorrowful sweetness that hadn’t emerged in previous roles.

Dodgeball // I knew more about this movie than I thought I did — “Nobody makes me bleed my own blood” — yet I’m so glad I watched it, because it was a revelation of Jason Bateman’s comedic versatility. So often he’s relegated to the straight-man role, and he kills it of course, but his color commentator Pepper Brooks made me cry with laughter.

Walk Hard // “Underrated” is probably an annoyingly common term used to describe John C. Reilly, but damn, it’s true. He’s such a quiet genius, no matter the role, and Dewey Cox is no exception. The movie is all about absurd parodies of other movies, yet he jumps seamlessly between each one, his presence consistently magnetic and curious. And I’ll take a Jack White cameo any day.

The West Wing, Season 4 // So many episodes stand out as brilliant in this arc — the whole team uniting seriously to prep POTUS (Martin Sheen) in “Debate Camp,” then playfully to tease Toby (Richard Schiff) in “Game On;” the high-stress, operatic tension of “Commencement” and “Twenty Five,” wherein Zoey (Elisabeth Moss) is abducted after her college commencement and Toby’s ex-wife has twins. Yet there is a soapy, melodramatic nature to this season, too, that I could have done without. The whole staff felt the strain of Toby’s broken relationship, for example, and the wishy-washiness between Josh (Whitford) and Amy (expert eye-roller Mary-Louise Parker) got to be annoying after awhile. But I welcomed the refreshing, Woody Harrelson-esque arrival of Will (Joshua Malina) as Rob Lowe started to phase himself out and I learned that Josh is a Mets fan. And I love all the characters dearly, even when they act silly, so I’ll keep watching. I’m anxious to see what it’s like post-Aaron Sorkin.

Terminator 2 // Linda Hamilton (as Sarah Connor) is kind of a metaphor for this movie — she is ageless, and so is it. James Cameron paid (and continues to pay) such meticulous attention to detail, from the subtle squeaks of the Terminator’s (Arnold Schwarzenegger) leather to the slick morphing movements of T-1000 (Robert Patrick), everything holds up. And the fact that a child — not a grownup — is the movie’s hook gives it an innocence and purity that should not be overlooked.

Manchester by the Sea // Watching this movie on a plane, and having read a few reviews, I expected to be drowning in my own tears for two hours. But it wasn’t quite that bleak. (Though it was pretty bleak.) The lilting music saved it, in fact, injecting ever-so-slight humor into some scenes. Michelle Williams (as Randi) was perfect, as usual, and Casey Affleck (as Lee) admittedly was too, though I suspect he’s peaked. Peaked with bleak.

Beyond Belief // There’s Going Clear and then there’s this. The inside scoop. The autobiographical horror story. I applaud Jenna Miscavige Hill — the niece of the group’s chairman, David Miscavige — for risking her life to escape, and then to tell her tale. It’s amazing that anyone can escape Scientology, especially if they’re born into it. From a young age, they’re taught that normalcy means no human variation, no nuance, no deeper meaning. They’re encouraged to be uniform, to be comfortable with vagueness, to speak with a vocabulary all their own (“TRs” are training routines, “OTs” are operating thetans), to recognize E-meters as true science and levels as sacred, exclusive accomplishments. It seems harmless until it isn’t. It’s real-life psychological horror.

Footloose // It’s scary when a 30-plus-year-old movie can have relevance today, and this one tells a very current story about different generations coming to understand each other. John Lithgow (as the Rev. Moore) is a close-minded, devout man and the father of a thoughtful, rebellious teenager. He’s unable to see the benefits of any behaviors he’s not used to, and despite being relatively gentle, he wields enormous power over a meek town. Kevin Bacon (as Ren) is charismatic sans the douche factor that a typical leading man embodies (something he’s quite used to doing, as he discussed on WTF) and I wish his love story had been with Sarah Jessica Parker (as Rusty the charmer) instead of with Lori Singer (as Ariel the hottie). Of course, Ariel is Rev. Moore’s daughter, so it was a necessary plot, but I felt he and Singer had no chemistry. The again, maybe their chemistry wasn’t entirely necessary. They just needed each other, as fellow semi-motivated people, to work up the courage to leave their town.

Intermission, I guess.

The West Wing, Season 3

After spending some time away from these incredibly idealistic characters, and then spending a really long time getting to know them again — I think it took me over 6 months to get through this season, and not because I wasn’t interested in it! — the changing face of television really came to light. We don’t have characters like Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) and Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) on television anymore. We certainly don’t have Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen). Of course, I’m grateful for this work of art that Sorkin threw together, and I still have a hard time believing it was compiled under the influence of drugs, even though I know it’s true. Maybe I’ve gotten more cynical. Maybe television’s gotten more cynical. Maybe we’re all more cynical than we were when this came out. If it were on the air today, it’d probably get chewed out by the A.V. Club for how pearly-white it is.

This season had so many great moments. Really gut-wrenching, serious, beautiful moments. C.J.’s (Allison Janney) doomed romance with Simon Donovan, a.k.a. Gibbs from NCIS, a.k.a. Mark Harmon, was truly something. Watching Donna (Janel Moloney) stand up to Josh throughout the season was truly something. Watching Toby (Richard Schiff) soften up was truly something. Those three actors, in particular, delivered the goods. They made us understand why they’re worth rooting for. In fact, more so than the politics, this season really stood out because it was wrought with emotion from the characters that we wanted to see vulnerable. Everyone seemed to take a risk in their personal lives, only to have it fail, which grounded the otherwise (aforementioned) idealism rampant throughout the series. As I said, C.J. gave it a shot with her bodyguard — and then he died. Donna tried to make it work with a lawyer opposing the President. Toby hit on the Poet Laureate (Laura Dern, in an impossibly, stupidly free-spirited role). Josh hooked up with an uber-feminist (Mary-Louise Parker). And Sam, for the first time, really railed on people. He started showing some ‘tude, especially in the episode “100,000 Airplanes.” It may have been Rob Lowe’s actual attitude emerging, or the inklings of him wanting to leave because being first-billed on the most popular show at the time was not enough for him.

Yet, when I put all of this emotional risk-taking in perspective, it’s hard not to recognize that Bartlet’s White House is made up of versions of the same person. (Except for Leo. Leo is a rock.) Everyone is a slight variation or alternate reflection of Sorkin’s own personality. Sorkin managed to figure out that he and his impulses were interesting enough to cloak with a story about American government. And it makes for exciting television — the lingo is all believable, the scenes are high-stakes, the music is perfect. You can’t watch this show and not be emotionally invested. I want to see Josh stop being an asshole to Donna and realize that she runs his life. I want to see Bartlet feel confident in a decision he makes. I want to see Toby and C.J. hook up, for some reason. And I want to see more of what made this show visually interesting — what’s unsaid on Toby’s face, what’s in the background during the walk-and-talks. I want more stunning episodes like “Two Bartlets.”

But I doubt that I’ll be able to lose myself in this world anymore, knowing that it’s too good to be true. Knowing that the overwhelming white male majority of characters is infuriating, but also probably an accurate reflection of Washington. Knowing that titles don’t really matter; they’re all just advisors to the President in some capacity. Knowing that politics can’t really be about qualifications anymore. Knowing that, after the “special episode,” which featured talking-heads moments from the likes of Bill Clinton, Leon Panetta, Dee Dee Myers, and many more, things got really prime-timey and soapy and suspenseful and atonal. Knowing that the next season will be the last one I’ll remotely enjoy, because Sorkin will have moved on thereafter. Knowing that it’s not an escape, but a distraction. It’s time for another long break from the good guys. Here’s hoping the cynicism will fade by the time I get around to Season 4.

The West Wing, Season 2

I’ve been having the following conversation a lot lately:

Them: Have you seen The Newsroom?
Me: I saw the pilot.
Them: And?
Me: It’s not as good as The West Wing.
Them: Yeah, but I’m going to keep watching.
Me: Fuck that. I’m actually watching The West Wing.

And that is what I did. While the rest of you may or may not be slogging through Aaron Sorkin’s latest attempt to woo us with his witty banter, I chose to treat myself to his greatest achievement in witty banter. Season 2 was just as enjoyable as Season 1, and actually more so, because there was more Toby (Richard Schiff), more Donna (Janel Maloney), and no more Mandy. Thank God.

Granted, with all this Sorkin stuff happening now, my sense of his inability to write a decent female character was heightened; with the exceptions of CJ Cregg (Allison Janney) and Abby Bartlet (Stockard Channing), there really isn’t a strong female character in his world. I don’t necessarily think it means he’s misogynistic, though, which is sort of what everyone reads into it. It’s just that he’s writing fiction, and he’s better at writing dudes. Whatever. The dudes he writes are lovely. I’ll just pay attention to them, and read Jezebel, and probably regret writing this sentence later.

Back to Toby for a second. Richard Schiff brought it this season. Toby got the chance to be deeper and realer and crazier and grittier than ever before, and even though I’m madly in love with Josh Lyman (more on that later), I can see why Vulture claims that Toby reigns supreme. He’s the most believable character in the Sorkin world, and he’s unpredictable, and Schiff is acting his heart out. Seeing Toby crack a smile is like seeing a comet; it only happens once in awhile, and when it does, it’s worth it. Onto Lyman, though. Bradley Whitford, what a middle-aged dreamboat. There’s something about the way he walks and talks. He commands the Sorkin language like no one else; others fall behind in the hallways, he speaks as though he’s always had that cadence in his speech and his steps. And he got to do a bit of emotional digging this season too, what with his PTSD and his more obvious attraction to Donna coming out. And speaking of Donna, despite the fact that her character is a little clingy, I do like how Sorkin handles her increasing attraction to Josh. We’ve all done it; we see someone we like, and so we drive a wedge to protect ourselves. The wedge is Marlee Matlin, who is also fantastic, and Donna has to deal with the repercussions of her own silly actions. In the meantime, she spits lines like, “If you were in an accident, I wouldn’t stop for red lights,” (“17 People”) and I melt.

The real focus of this season, of course, was how the President (Martin “Ramon Estevez” Sheen) was going to deal with this whole Multiple Sclerosis business. As the season wore on, the tone of the show became frantic, the pace quickened, and it was generally very stressful to watch! But I mean that in the most complimentary way. Though the show has been criticized for being unrealistic (uh, because it’s fiction, duh), I have to say that I feel like I gained a tiny glimpse into the infinitely confusing, multitasking, crazed schedules of the people that work in the White House. They don’t sleep, they don’t concentrate, and yet they manage to operate at very high-functioning levels every day, making mostly the right calls on very important decisions. And in the real White House, I imagine there isn’t as much clever wordplay, simply because they don’t have the time. (That was a joke.)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the climax of the season, Bartlet’s soliloquy in the Great Cathedral, and the stamping of the cigarette on the church floor. Shit made me tear up, and not just because of the whole [Spoiler Alert] Mrs. Landingham dying thing. It was so powerful because it was so human. Bartlet wanted this moment to himself, and yet he had to ask Secret Service to seal up the building for a second, he had to ask for a moment of peace. He has protection following him around all the time (which was especially prominent in this season), and yet when he’s alone in that church for the first time ever, it seems like something is missing. His faith, I suppose.

I’m going to take a break from The West Wing for awhile, but I’ll be back. I can’t stay away from Josh Lyman too long, after all.

The West Wing, Season 1

If you read my blog with any semblance of regularity, (a) please tell me because I have no idea that you exist, and (b) you probably know that I think Aaron Sorkin is a god. Actually, Aaron Sorkin is God. Even though I’m a relative newcomer to Sorkinism, my conversion was quick and fast. I devoured Sports Night and Studio 60, only to arrive at the true Sorkin mecca, which is The West Wing. Hallelujah.

Okay, done with the stupid religious metaphors. I seriously do feel like I’ve “arrived,” though, after watching the first season of this phenomenal show. I was hesitant at first, just because I felt I would relate more to the TV-centric topics of the aforementioned shows. And, admittedly, the subject matter on The West Wing is still not abundantly clear to me. There are terms and conversations that will probably go over my head, because I’m not a heavily political person, but that’s okay, because this show is simply too mesmerizing for that one hiccup to stop me. In short: Jed Bartlet for President!

Of course, I’m roughly 6 years too late in this statement, but happy to join the party. The Bartlet administration is more like a witty, efficient symphony, where Leo McGarry (John Spencer) is the conductor and Bartlet (Martin Sheen) is actually the soloist. You’ve also got the first chair instrumentalists, like Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe), Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff), CJ Cregg (Allison Janney), and the man I hope to marry someday, Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford). And you’ve got the rest of the beautiful symphony, Abigail Bartlet (Stockard Channing), Zoey Bartlet (Elisabeth Moss), Charlie Young (Dule Hill), VPOTUS (Tim Matheson), all the secretaries, Cuddy playing a prostitute, OTH’s Karen Roe playing a Type-A analyst, and so many other guest stars that my jaw dropped with every title sequence. Simply put, it’s one of the best shows ever created.

Works like this just don’t happen very often. Sorkin, a genius in his own right, took a topic that doesn’t necessarily interest everyone, including me, and made it accessible and intriguing to an intelligent audience. He also created characters that drew you in, characters that begged for your sympathy and admiration, characters that made you think about your own life and devote an hour each week to thinking about theirs. He penned dialogue that could make you laugh and cry in the span of a minute, and he accrued a cast and crew that worked seamlessly together. It’s no surprise that his co-conspirator was Thomas Schlamme, director extraordinaire, and that the man behind the music was W.G. Snuffy Walden, who has created pretty much every great TV theme song ever. But let’s go back to that cast.

I was drawn in by my love for Bradley Whitford, of course, and thought no other character could ever win my loyalty. But Lowe as Sam Seaborn exudes an effortless cool, Schiff as Ziegler makes me ache for a single cracked smile, Sheen as Bartlet brings out a patriotism I never knew I had, Spencer as McGarry makes me hope I have my same great friends when I’m his age, and Janney as Cregg gives me more confidence in my natural ability to tower over men. These people are endlessly lovable, and I cannot wait to see what happens to them in the coming seasons. Or at least the ones Sorkin was involved with, anyway.