The West Wing Episode Guide -
Bookmark this Site

What Kind of Day Has It Been

Original Airdate 05-17-00 Rerun 09-13-00

Previous Episode  ||  Season 1 Episode Index  |  Main Index  |  Season 1 Information Index  ||  Next Episode
Descriptions  |  Credits  |  Information Links  |  Awards  |  Media Quotes


While Bartlet gets ready for a town-hall meeting with college students, several staff members are concerned about a downed U.S. plane in the Iraqi desert.
From NBC:
President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) prepares for a town hall meeting with college students while the U.S. military races to find a downed American pilot in the Iraqi desert before the Iraqi military captures him. C.J. (Allison Janney) doesn't relish the notion of misleading the press over rescue preparations. Likewise, Toby (Richard Schiff) tries to ignore updates from the distressed orbiting space shuttle which includes his brother, a payload specialist aboard the craft which cannot close its cargo doors. Meanwhile, a huffing Josh (Bradley Whitford) is dispatched to run down and convince the wayward Vice President (Tim Matheson) to re-think his position on campaign finance reform.


Rob Lowe as Sam (Samuel Norman) Seaborn Deputy Communications Director
Moira Kelly as Mandy (Madeline) Hampton Public Relations Consultant
Dulé Hill as Charlie (Charles) Young Personal Aide to the President
Allison Janney as C.J. (Claudia Jean) Cregg Press Secretary
Richard Schiff as Toby (Tobias Zachary) Ziegler Communications Director
John Spencer as Leo Thomas McGarry Chief of Staff
Bradley Whitford as Josh (Joshua) Lyman Deputy Chief of Staff
Martin Sheen as
Jed (Josiah Edward) Bartlet President of the United States
Guest Starring    
Timothy Busfield as Danny (Daniel) Concannon (Washington Post) Reporter
Jorja Fox as Gina Toscano Special Agent
Janel Moloney as Donna (Donnatella) Moss Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff
Elisabeth Moss as Zoey Patricia Bartlet Bartlets' youngest daughter
Suzy Nakamura as Cathy Assistant to Deputy Communications Director
Michael O'Neill as Ron Butterfield Head of POTUS' Secret Service detail
Special Guest Stars    
John Amos as Admiral Percy "Fitz" Fitzwallace Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
Tim Matheson as John Hoynes Vice President
Kathryn Joosten as Mrs. Landingham President's Secretary /
Delores (first name)
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Kim Webster as Ginger Assistant to Communications Director
Devika Parikh as Bonnie Communications' Aide
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Kris Murphy as Katie Witt (last name) / Reporter
Charles Noland as Steve Reporter
Ralph Meyering Jr. as Tom "Phil"
Steven M. Gagnon as Officer #1  
George McDaniel as Officer #2  
Linda Burden-Williams as Moderator  
Emidio Antonio as Lou "Lou" (wrong name)
Christopher Dukes as Phil "Phil" (wrong name)
Lisa Croisette as Patty "Patty" (wrong name)
Larry Stahoviak as Steve "Steve" (wrong name)
Derek Triplett as Mikey "Mikey" (wrong name)

Information Links



Emmy Awards

Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Series Nomination for
Tina Hirsch, A.C.E.
Submitted for consideration for Outstanding Drama Series Win

Eddie Awards

Best Edited One-Hour Series for Television Win for
Tina Hirsch, A.C.E.

Golden Reel Awards

Best Sound Editing in Television Series - Dialogue and Automated Dialogue Replacement Nomination for
Supervising Sound Editor:
Walter Newman
Supervising Dialogue Editor:
Catherine Flynn
Supervising ADR Editor:
Thomas A. Harris
Sound Editor:
Jessica Dickson
Assistant ADR Editors:
Lisa Wolf Grove
Kevin Poor
Production Mixer:
Kenneth B. Ross
Re-Recording Mixer:
Dan Hiland
ADR Mixer:
Eric Gotthelf
ADR Recordist:
Marsha Sorce

Media Quotes

"It's a matter of life and death. It's a very elaborate action sequence." - Rob Lowe

"Something squirrelly in 'The West Wing'?"
by Peter Johnson
May 3, 2000
USA Today

Speaking of season finales, we're all in D.C. filming TWW's first. You're right, that I took the same title at the 1st SN [Sports Night] finale. There was just something that felt right about doing that. - Aaron Sorkin

Posted at
by List Owner
Date Unavailable
Message 559

Think politicians are fast and loose with the truth? They've got nothing on NBC's The West Wing. In the season finale, military heavy John Amos asks chief exec Martin Sheen about the presidential seal: "Most of the time, the eagle is facing the olive branch, but when Congress declares war, the eagle faces the arrows. How do they do that?" Sheen promises to get an answer, but we've beaten him to it. "That's not accurate," says White House spokeswoman Victoria Valentine. In 1945, Harry Truman ordered that "the beak should always face the olive branch. Previously, it had faced different directions, primarily toward the arrows." Guess that one shot right by the show's eagle-eyed writers.

"Reality Check"
by Corey Takahashi
June 2, 2000
Entertainment Weekly

"It's not about who's coming back and who's not, ... but a kind of convention that he's [Aaron Sorkin] interested in exploring." - John Spencer

"The fact that he's [Aaron Sorkin] using it now when we don't need it is further evidence that it's not part of [a audience-grabbing] plan." - Richard Schiff

The cast members joked about the resolution of the cliffhanger next season.

"I think Toby dies," mused Hill.

"But first he has an affair with C.J.," added Schiff to laughter.

"West Wing stars say they're in the dark about series' cliffhanger"
by John McKay
June 8, 2000
Canadian Press

"I promise you that moment in the show happened for the exact same reason every moment on every show happened: I thought people would like it," - Aaron Sorkin

"West Wing finale shot down"
by Tyler McLeod
July 15, 2000
Calgary Sun

The legendary shootout in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was his inspiration, Sorkin said.

"Who wants to be a West Wing survivor? Not Kelly"
by John Allemang
July 17, 2000
The Globe and Mail

"I wish everybody had liked it. Obviously that's not the case," - Aaron Sorkin

"'West Wing' creator looks past finale to next season"
by Chuck Barney
July 17, 2000
Contra Costa Times

"I'd be fibbing if I told you we didn't get hammered by critics about that ending," Sorkin said over lunch at the Warner Bros. studio where The West Wing is produced.

"Not many critics liked it. Wait, that's not quite accurate. Nearly all the critics hated the ending.

"Was I hurt by the bad reviews? A little bit. I get upset when I get blasted in a supermarket shopper.

"But this wasn't a spur-of-the moment decision. I actually planned this two-minute scenario last fall. It leads into an important, two-part season premiere, which provides a back story about how Bartlet and his West Wing staff got together. Remember, in our story, Bartlet is at his midterm. From that perspective, that assassination attempt was an important scene to show how he got to the White House.

"So there is a method to this seeming madness," Sorkin said.

"I normally write on the wing, like six days before filming. So planning that scene last fall worked against my usual style. "

Then Sorkin, who talks with the rapidity and intelligence of his characters on The West Wing and the canceled Sports Night, confessed to a writing weakness.

"I've always had trouble with action sequences. I worried over the episode when Bartlet collapsed and was diagnosed with MS. That wasn't a particularly strong show.

"It's like closing my eyes and jumping into water. So maybe the assassination-attempt sequence wasn't as good as it should have been. But I think all will be forgiven when you see those season-opening episodes."

"'Wing' cliffhanger a sellout? Hang in there"
by Dusty Saunders
July 18, 2000
Rocky Mountain News

"I have read plenty of negative reaction, ...You write something and you hope everybody likes it. Sometimes that doesn't happen." - Aaron Sorkin

"It was the only episode all year that I planned ahead," he said. "I knew how I wanted to begin this season and I knew how I had to get there." - Aaron Sorkin

"Wing commander"
by Tom Jicha
July 19, 2000
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

"I have heard a lot of people say that it's the worst cliffhanger of the year," says [Aaron] Sorkin, who concedes there may be some truth there. "In everything I have written I tend to get into a little bit of trouble with action."

"The last two minutes of the show in May are really the first two minutes of the season opener," Sorkin says. "It really wasn't done to be shocking or to shake up the show."

"The first time I saw the [final scene] I said, 'Holy cow, it doesn't really look like our show,' "

"'West Wing' cliffhanger dogs creator"
by Terry Jackson
July 19, 2000
Miami Herald

"We accidentally ran over her [Jorja Fox] leg with a limousine -- and she was great about it," said "West Wing" writer/creator Aaron Sorkin.

Fox was filming on location in front of the Newseum in Arlington, Va. After the shooting, Fox fell to the asphalt alongside Dulé Hill, who plays Charlie, the president's aide.

"We were waiting for them to yell cut and all of a sudden I feel something heavy on my leg," Fox said. "And there's this limousine coming off my right leg. I was like, OK, it's a new life experience. I've been run over by a presidential limousine, which is kind of hilarious."

Fox jumped up immediately and she thought she was fine, but producers insisted she get checked out at a hospital, where all the nurses recognized her from her role on "ER."

"I felt like a walking miracle because I didn't break anything," Fox said. "It was kind of like a big bruise, a big contusion."

"Giving Her All"
by Rob Owen
July 25, 2000
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

... [Thomas] Schlamme, who logged onto the Internet the night the episode aired and discovered that "people were going back and studying the tape like it was the Zapruder film."

"West Wing won't bask in glory as season opens with two-parter"
by Alan Sepinwall
July 31, 2000
Newark Star-Ledger

Aaron explained that there's only been one time where he's changed the script in because of an actor's wishes. "In the season finale President Bartlet says, 'Decisions are made by those who show up," and names the source. He originally said that it was by...Woody Allen. Now, Martin Sheen happens to be a close friend of Mia Farrow, and didn't want to insult her. "I said, 'Martin, I can't exactly change the source of the quote!'" and added to us, "Emilio Estevez once said..." LOL. I think it ended up as "a famous writer from New York."

Posted at
by Jenn
September 26, 2000
Message 6797
Notes from the Harvard Law School Forum with Aaron Sorkin

"I understand people's misgivings, ...The cliff-hangerness of it all perhaps seemed a step down. Perhaps." - Aaron Sorkin

"Taking 'Wing'"
by Brian Lambert
October 1, 2000
St. Paul Pioneer Press

"There were complaints about the last scene, ... That was interesting to me that people were upset about that, just because assassination attempts are something that happened three times in my lifetime ... somebody has shot at the president." - Bradley Whitford

"'Wing' sets high bar for second term"
by Mark Dawidziak
October 1, 2000
Cleveland Plain Dealer

"It was never designed as 'a cool cliffhanger,' as a 'Who Shot J.R.?' way just to get more viewers," explained "West Wing" director and executive producer Tommy Schlamme of the assassination debate. "Our intent was to open a storytelling avenue."

"Bullets pump new energy into 'West Wing' storyline"
by Mike Duffy
October 1, 2000
Detroit Free Press

"You know what? I read plenty of negative reaction to it, ... But it's good to point out that response wasn't universal. There are lots and lots of people gripped by it and going around all summer and saying, 'Who got hit? Who got hit?' It, frankly, was as exciting a piece of film as I've ever been involved with." - Aaron Sorkin

"'West Wing' finale was planned as setup for new season"
by William Larue
October 3, 2000
Newhouse News Service in San Jose Mercury News

Bradley Whitford, who plays the opinionated deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman, defended the season-ending tease when talking to reporters this summer.

"It was interesting to me that people were upset, because it's something that three times in my lifetime has happened, where somebody has shot at the president," he said. "A lot of the appeal for the show is what goes on behind the castle walls. ... And to see what happens at a White House when shots are fired at the president is fascinating."

"Soapy sleaze invades family hour"
by Rick Bird
October 3, 2000
Cincinnati Post

"Those last two minutes kind of sailed into a lot of peoples' problem with television - that it will go to the cliche, that there must be a cliffhanger," ...

"All of a sudden, (there was) cops-and-robbers kind of violence ... which was very un-West Wing like." - Aaron Sorkin

"Writer shoots back"
by Betsy Powell
October 4, 2000
Toronto Star

In real life, Sheen visited the town of Bartlett, and the Josiah Bartlett Elementary School, to campaign for Democrat Howard Dean in the weeks before New Hampshire's Presidential primary two years ago.

School librarian Jean Garland, who arranged a photograph in which the actor is holding a picture of the real Josiah Bartlett, said the show has actually helped preserve Bartlett's legacy.

"Anything that can bring his name up and make people aware of Josiah Bartlett is great," she said.

" As 'West Wing' folds, NH will miss its fictional native son"
by Scott Brooks
January 24, 2006
Manchester Union Leader

"Back then, it was all about collaborative problem-solving," he says. "We were ahead of the game, and working 15, 16 hours a day, five days a week going deep into Saturday morning on this fortified Hollywood studio lot. Whenever there was a problem, you could say to Aaron or Tommy [Schlamme, the show's producer] if you were unhappy, and that problem would spark nine new ideas... Suddenly, you'd have an amazing script. The first year was always my favourite - there was a purity then - but I always felt that even our worst show had value."

"Richard Schiff: Life after 'The West Wing'"
February 8 2007

For more information about this episode:
Continuity Guide to "The West Wing"
Previous Episode  |  U.S. Flag Main Index 1 Cast Season 1 Episode Index U.S. Flag Season 1 Information Index  |  Next Episode