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Impact Winter

Original Airdate 12-15-04

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In China, an impaired Bartlet is having trouble sitting through meetings. Literally. And in Washington, a NASA functionary warns that an asteroid could strike Earth. But Donna wants to talk to Josh about her future anyhow. As for Josh, he's candidate shopping.
From NBC:
Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and his staff arrive in China for the summit and the President continues to suffer from the paralyzing side-effects of MS. Meanwhile, an asteroid is headed for the U.S., leaving Josh (Bradley Whitford) and Leo (John Spencer) to deal with the preparations.
From Warner Bros.:
As Bartlet and his staff arrive in China for a critical meeting, the President is still suffering from the paralyzing effects of multiple sclerosis. Meanwhile, an asteroid is headed for the U.S., leaving Josh and Leo to deal with the potential consequences.


Stockard Channing as Abbey (Abigail Ann) Bartlet M.D. First Lady
Dulé Hill as Charlie (Charles) Young Deputy Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff
Allison Janney as C.J. (Claudia Jean) Cregg Chief of Staff
Joshua Malina as Will (William) Bailey Vice President's Chief of Staff
Mary McCormack as Kate (Katherine) Harper Deputy National Security Advisor
Janel Moloney as Donna (Donnatella) Moss Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff
Richard Schiff as Toby (Tobias Zachary) Ziegler Communications Director
John Spencer as Leo Thomas McGarry Former Chief of Staff
Bradley Whitford as Josh (Joshua) Lyman Deputy Chief of Staff
Jimmy Smits as
Matthew Vincente Santos Rep. D-TX
Martin Sheen as
Jed (Josiah Edward) Bartlet President of the United States
Special Guest Stars    
Kristin Chenoweth as Annabeth Schott Deputy Press Secretary
Gary Cole as Robert "Bingo Bob" Russell Vice President
Guest Starring    
Mary Kay Place as Dr. Millicent "Milly" Griffith Surgeon General
Ron Canada as Theodore "Ted" Barrow Under Secretary of State
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Patrick Fischler as Walter Sprout NASA Near Earth Object Observation
Cleo King as Marla Whorisky Donna's Temp Replacement
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Kim Webster as Ginger Assistant to Communications' Director
Ben Murray as Curtis Carruthers Personal Aide to the President
William Hootkins as U.S. Translator  
Willie Gault as Secret Service Agent Agent Michael Madsen
David Grant Wright as Edwin (Austin) Kelwick NASA Administrator
Raymond Ma as President Lian  
James Kyson Lee as Chinese Translator  
Ping Wu as Chinese Official  
Jonathan Brent as White House Photographer Jim (first name)
Janette Kim as New Reporter #1  

Information Links


Media Quotes

Question: For Martin Sheen: I was very excited by the episode where we found out that your character has MS. My mom has MS and it was great to see it addressed in prime time. Will there be more episodes that address this issue and what do you think will happen?

Martin Sheen: The President is gradually going to have to come to grips with the debilitating effect it is having on his body. Depending on how long the show is on the air, we will see the full effects of the disease. If we get the full term. Meaning I would finish 3 years in the 1st administration. If I am reelected it would be 7 years. By then the President would be in a wheel chair is going to be very very interesting.

TV Guide Awards Chat with Martin Sheen
March 5, 2000
TV Guide Online

Mr. [Kevin] Reilly [president of NBC Entertainment] said that 3 episodes of the new season had been completed and 9 of 22 had been written.

"'West Wing': Is It Facing a Struggle to Survive?"
by Bernard Weinraub
August 12, 2004
New York Times

Just before the holidays, Josh will become so disillusioned with the vice-president's campaign that he'll quit the White House. "Leo talks Josh into finding his own Democratic candidate, the way Leo found Bartlet," Wells explains.

"Martin Sheen's West Wing Dilemma"
by Daniel R. Coleridge
October 14, 2004
TV Guide Online

The president's wife, Abb[e]y (Stockard Channing), will begin a storyline, shortly before Christmas, that will reintroduce the issue of the president's multiple sclerosis.

"New flight for 'West Wing'"
by Mike McDaniel
October 14, 2004
Houston Chronicle

"Part of what we're playing throughout the fall is the growing unease with the leading candidates that show up for the Democratic nomination," [John] Wells says, "and should the White House try behind the scenes to get more involved in seeing if a better candidate should be put forward?"

"Season of Change for 'The West Wing'"
by Rick Porter
October 18, 2004

Bartlet, meanwhile, is pondering his legacy and feeling a "growing unease" with the prospective Democratic candidates.

"That, we think, is interesting territory, when you look at who is likely to replace you and realize that you need to stay above the fray and, at the same time, you're not happy with the direction the election is going in," Wells says.

" In 'West Wing' time, it's more"
by Virginia Rohan
October 20, 2004
Bergen Record

For a while, Pat Gove thought Josiah Bartlet was getting off easy.

That changed when Bartlet - the fictional president on the NBC drama "The West Wing" - started having symptoms she recognized.

Gove and Bartlet have something in common: Both have multiple sclerosis (MS).

The disease - a chronic degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system - only had caused political fallout for Bartlet until a few weeks ago. Now the character, played by Martin Sheen, is shown suffering the disease's many physical effects, including numbness, paralysis and loss of vision.

"Now it's getting more into how MS really is," the 54-year-old Mason woman says.

Multiple sclerosis patients and their doctors say the series is offering a realistic portrayal of the disease's unpredictable progression.

In the Dec. 1 episode, Bartlet reports losing vision in one eye. Last Wednesday, the character slowly lost feeling in his limbs, and was paralyzed from the neck down for some hours.

A trailer for tonight's episode (9 p.m., Channels 5, 2) shows Bartlet still partially paralyzed as he begins a crucial summit with China.

Dr. Michael Schmerler, a neurologist with Riverhills Healthcare, says the symptoms shown so far track with textbook examples of how MS affects patients.

"We see these symptoms, unfortunately, all too often," Schmerler says.

Nancy Corbett, 41, a Newport artist, has suffered the same vision problems and paralysis as Bartlet.

The series "is pretty accurate for most MS patients," Corbett says.

"'West Wing' showing 'how MS really is'"
by Peggy O'Farrell
December 15, 2004
Cincinnati Enquirer

On "The West Wing," Sheen plays a president who finds ways to do his job despite multiple sclerosis. A University of California consultant has advised Sheen on how to play the struggle with the disease.

"What she told me was to be subtle. I can have many ups and downs," he said.

Subtle and optimistic. "(MS) patients see the light at the end of the tunnel," Sheen said.

Sheen isn't an official spokesman for MS because, unlike his character, he doesn't have the disease.

"Sheen shuns political aspirations"
by Dave Mason
February 18, 2005
Scripps Howard News Service

"In terms of just getting nominated [for Outstanding Drama Series Emmy], we send out three episodes that show the diversity of the cast and strong storytelling, but we don't send shows that are too similar even if they're very good," executive producer John Wells explains.

"Episodic art"
by Wolf Schneider
May 31, 2005
Hollywood Reporter

For more information about this episode:
Continuity Guide to "The West Wing"
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