The West Wing Episode Guide -
Bookmark this Site

Opposition Research

Original Airdate 01-12-05

Previous Episode  ||  Season 6 Episode Index  |  Main Index  |  Season 6 Information Index  ||  Next Episode
Descriptions  |  Credits  |  Information Links  |  Media Quotes


Santos (Jimmy Smits) begins his presidential campaign in New Hampshire. It's very idealistic and issue-oriented---too much so for Josh, who has an awkward reunion with Russell aide Donna. Meanwhile, Bartlet's son-in-law Doug Westin (Steven Eckholdt) makes some political hay at Santos' expense.
From NBC:
Josh (Bradley Whitford) goes to New Hampshire with Santos (Jimmy Smits) to set up their campaign headquarters. From the very beginning, there are problems with setting up the office in an abandoned shack and personal differences about the campaign's goals are immediately evident. Meanwhile, as Donna (Janel Moloney) and Will (Joshua Malina) work together on Russell's (Gary Cole) campaign, Will makes it clear to Donna that in order for their partnership to work, she needs to acknowledge that Josh is gone.
From Warner Bros.:
Josh travels to New Hampshire with Santos (Jimmy Smits) to establish their campaign headquarters. But problems arise from the beginning when they set up the office in an abandoned shack, and personal differences about the campaign's goals become evident. Meanwhile, as Donna and Will work together on the Vice President's campaign, Will tells Donna that in order for their partnership to work, she needs to acknowledge that she is no longer on the same team as Josh.


Joshua Malina as Will (William) Bailey Vice President's Campaign Manager
Janel Moloney as Donna (Donnatella) Moss Russell Campaign Staffer
Richard Schiff as Toby (Tobias Zachary) Ziegler Communications Director
Bradley Whitford as Josh (Joshua) Lyman Santos Campaign Manager
Jimmy Smits as
Matthew Vincente Santos Rep. D-TX
Martin Sheen as
Jed (Josiah Edward) Bartlet President of the United States
Special Guest Star
Marlee Matlin as
Joey (Josephine) Lucas Pollster
Guest Starring    
Annabeth Gish as Elizabeth "Liz" Bartlet Westin Bartlets' eldest daughter
Sam Robards as Greg Brock Reporter
Steven Eckholdt as Doug Westin Elizabeth Bartlet Westin's husband
Karis Campbell as Ronna (Beckman) Santos' Aide
Evan Arnold as Ned Carlson Santos' Aide
Bill O'Brien as Kenny Thurman Sign Language Interpreter
Frank Kopyc as State Senator Butler  
Kirsten Bishopric as Janice Jardin  
Richard Waugh as Jamie Jardin  
Joe Egender as Santos Volunteer  
Stacey Moseley as Russell Receptionist  
John F. Schaffer as Reporter #1  
Quinn Sullivan as Reporter #2  
Christopher Hoffman as Reporter #3  
Krista Sutton as Reporter #4  
Micheal Rhoades as Reporter #5  
Dan Warry-Smith as Volunteer #1  
Martin Doyle as Proprietor  
Paulette Sinclair as Woman #1  
Jessica Kelly as Woman #2  
Craig Eldridge as Man #2  

Information Links


Media Quotes

"We're trying to set up a situation where they're at odds but could also have a relationship if they wanted to," says Wells. "We love those two characters and we love their interaction. People who are interested in the possibility of that romantic relationship will enjoy the season."

"Shake-up in 'The West Wing'"
by Charlie McCollum
October 19, 2004
San Jose Mercury News

"What we're hoping to do is give the audience some insight into what the campaign process is about," Smits says.

"Can 'West Wing' build a bridge to the 21st century?"
by Bill Keveney
October 19, 2004
USA Today

"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

Producers of the award-winning NBC drama The West Wing visited Dundas this week, touring possible filming locations for three episodes.

Tentative plans include two weeks of filming in the Valley Town from Dec. 1 to 12. Location scout Drazen Baric said the community will fill in as a New Hampshire town during the presidential election primaries.

"They picked Dundas because it looks like New Hampshire," Mr. Baric said.

Monday morning, he enquired about using the Dundas Star News office as one of the locations during the filming.

Phyllis Kraemer, a Dundas Downtown Business Improvement Area board member and owner of The Keeping Room on Cross Street, has been acting as the business group's film liaison since the summer.

"It appeared we were getting left out of the loop in terms of what was happening," she said. "We needed to know what was going on."

Several movies, commercials and television shows have filmed in Dundas over the past four years, with mixed reaction from local business owners. Ms. Kraemer said specific details of The West Wing filming have changed over the last couple of weeks. She described the production team as very contientious and concerned about the effect their presence could have on local businesses particularly during the busy pre-Christmas rush in early December.

She said only a few days of the 12-day shoot will be filmed downtown. The rest will be done at other Dundas locations. Ms. Kraemer has been in close touch with the show's production team over the past week.

"White House interested in Valley Town"
by Craig Campbell
November 24, 2004
Duundas Star News

White House north: "The West Wing" is flying north to Canada, but reps for the show shot down a Canadian trade mag report that star (and outspoken Dem) Martin Sheen encouraged the move in a gesture of post-election frustration.

We're told the show will shoot scenes for three episodes in and around Toronto, starting in early December, but "President" Sheen isn't even making the pilgrimage.

Ontario locations will stand in for Iowa and New Hampshire in plot developments involving the presidential primaries. According to National Post columnist Shinan Govani, those who can't stand not having a real election to follow can live vicariously through the candidacies of characters played by Jimmy Smits, Gary Cole and Alan Alda. The gracious Govani writes: "On behalf of all Torontonians and no doubt the Canadian chapter of Democrats Abroad, who will be crying into their blue wine this American Thanksgiving, I heartily send up the welcome flag to our 'West Wing' friends."

"The Reliable Source"
by Richard Leiby
November 25, 2004
Washington Post

The film crew will also be shooting at The Plainsman Restaurant on Highway 5, John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, a residence on Sydenham Road, an arena and in Flamborough.

"Dundas welcomes The West Wing"
by Doug Foley
November 26, 2004
Hamilton Spectator

NBC's "West Wing" is rounding up items from around the city so its make-believe Manchester appears more authentic in a television episode expected to air in February.

Everything from a Union Leader vending box to a New Hampshire Fisher Cats baseball cap to a Manchester Monarchs hockey jersey could appear on the show, according to Lloyd Brown, the show's set decoration buyer.

"I'm actually dealing with a lot of different companies in Manchester to acquire things," Brown said in a phone interview from the Toronto area yesterday. "Basically, I can end up using it in a number of scenes. Some things will end up on a bulletin board. Some things will end up on cars."

The show's crew is "doing some shooting north of Toronto that's doubling for Manchester and a few other towns in New Hampshire, as well as Iowa, for a story line that they're developing," Brown said.


The show called the Hatfield Gallery on Elm Street Tuesday.

"I was so excited," said co-owner Diane Boucher. "I watch the show all the time."

Brown was interested in seven photographs that her husband, Ron, shot.

"The thing that excited me the most is he has panoramic shots," Brown said.

Ron Boucher said the item Brown liked the most contains three panels. One contains a 1903 panoramic shot of downtown Manchester that mill worker Alphonso Sanborn took from the roof of Millwest, a building directly across from Catholic Medical Center on the West Side.


The show wanted other downtown scenes, including the Palace Theatre. Boucher also picked up an assignment to photograph street signs to give added authenticity to the political drama.


And forget about using a generic newspaper on "West Wing."

"Your newspaper boxes will be appearing in the television show - and your actual newspaper," Brown told The Union Leader.

"'West Wing' gathers authentic NH items for episode"
by Michael Cousineau
November 27, 2004
Manchester Union Leader

"Quite honestly, filmmaking is like watching paint dry. We do the same things over and over again," said one production assistant who was ushering the crowd to yet another location.

"It's much more exciting on Wednesday nights watching from your living room," he said.

"Not when you live in Dundas," called out 15-year-old Kayla Chopp.

She and friend Courtney Reilly-Larke have never watched the show and knew none of the actors but came to watch anyway.

"There's nothing better to do on a Sunday in Dundas," said Reilly-Larke.

Vicky Reed's Dundas living room will be immortalized in a scene where a young congressional candidate visits an influential New Hampshire couple.

Set designers made a few additions, said Reed, including an American flag and an old-fashioned spoon rack in the kitchen. They also asked her to remove a Birds of Canada book from her shelf.

"West Wing heads north"
December 7, 2004
Canadian Press

West Wing location scout Drazen Baric found what he was looking for in the (now slightly) lower dollar the likelihood of snow in four nearby towns - Dundas, Carlisle and Ancaster in the Hamilton area, and Port Perry in the Kawarthas - which landed the two-week, three-episode shoot.

As it turned out, snow actually had to be trucked in (from a local hockey rink) for scenes shot this past weekend in Dundas.


On Dec. 5, about 200 onlookers saw Smits and Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman) work the Dundas Town Hall and a nearby restaurant. The main street got an instant Yankee makeover. American flags and U.S. election signs were hung in windows. Newspaper boxes for USA Today and The Manchester Leader were placed in the street.


Production on the show continues in Ontario through Dec. 19 - bad weather permitting.

"West Wing veers north"
by Bill Brioux
December 8, 2004
Calgary Sun

Jimmy Smits is sucking on a Stouffville lollipop. The popular TV star, new to NBC's Emmy-winning drama The West Wing, has just ducked out of the cold and into Stouffville, Ont.'s Emerald Isle pub. "It is a bit of a shock to be in Canada," said Smits. "I knew the storylines were going to take us north. I just didn't realize this far north."


Smits says there was no partying on this shoot. Yesterday was the end of a marathon 12-day Southern Ontario swing. The town names fall from his lips like he grew up around here. "Dundas, Ancaster, Kleinberg -- little hamlets, as you guys like to call them."

Yesterday's operation was based at The Fickle Pickle, a local eatery on Stouffville's main street. It is standing in for the Merrimack, the famed New England eatery where the real Yankee pols gladhand every four years.

Producer Michael Hissrich was all set to change the sign but decided to leave the Pickle in place. "You can't invent that," he said.

Few other signs of Canada remain. Above the green and white Fickle Pickle sign waved a lone Maple Leaf flag. It's not in the shot, so it stays.

Across the street, past the Stouffville clock tower, three Old Faithfuls wave. Cardboard New Hampshire licence plates were placed on cars parked on both sides of main street. Two phony U.S. News trucks sit nearby.

Even Sun photographer Veronica Henri was fooled. She went to mail a letter in a blue U.S. mailbox before realizing it was a prop.

All the merchants had to remove their Christmas decorations during the shoot. It didn't seem to bother Sara Marsala, owner of the Tempest In A Teapot gift shop. "We're highly excited," she said. "This doesn't happen every day in our quaint little town."

Also pumped is the mayor, Susan Sherban, who snuck into the street scene (along with 59 other extras). Even though she found her back-and-forth sidewalk duty "tedious, repetitive and non-creative," she wasn't going away. "You wanna be a mayor or you wanna be an actor?" she asked, rhetorically. "You wanna be an actor."

Especially when you get to hang with Jimmy Smits. "I told Jimmy he was buying the beer," she said.

Beer would have been handy. The task yesterday afternoon was to get through four-and-a-quarter pages of tricky West Wing dialogue. (Each episode runs around 65 pages.) That's a sprint back on the Warner Bros. studio lot in Burbank, Calif., where a seasoned Hollywood crew usually works this show. This mostly local crew has to rip through it, then head to Port Perry for a final night setup.

Besides the cast, producer Hissrich and director/executive producer Chris Missiano worked the Ontario shoot. Renowned director of photography Dean Cundey (Jurassic Park, Apollo 13) was behind the lens. Virtually everybody else working the shoot was Canadian, a big shot in the arm for our local TV industry -- even if it raised a red flag or two south of the border.

As Whitford, who has been with the series since Day One, said, the Ontario airlift has caused a little tension. After all, this is a series about the U.S. president. What's it doing on foreign soil?

Producers were taken by our New England-style architecture -- as well as our still lower dollar.

"As actors, we go where the work is," said Whitford, who notes that California crews are just as upset about other states luring shows away with tax incentives.

Ontario Manager Of Films Donna Zuchlinski, on site yesterday, lobbied hard for the gig. Cozy Toronto hotel rooms were comped for the stars. Other incentives were hustled. Local unions cut deals.

Whitford said the Canadian crews have been "fantastic," an assessment echoed by both Smits and Hissrich.

"'West Wing' shoots in Canada"
by Bill Brioux
December 16, 2004
Toronto Sun

Filming of an episode of TV's The West Wing yesterday raised the excitement level along Stouffville's Main Street, particularly at The Fickle Pickle.

The restaurant was transformed into a New Hampshire eatery where Matt Santos, portrayed by actor Jimmy Smits, stops to campaign during primaries leading up to the United States Democratic Party leadership convention. The restaurant has been owned by Nick Paraskevakos for almost seven years.

Trucks and crews rolled into town Tuesday morning as Main Street was de-Christmased from Market Street to Church Street, since these episodes are set in January. That meant removing all the Christmas wreaths in the area and having merchants take Christmas-related items out of their front windows.

The whole adventure started about a month ago, Mr. Paraskevakos recalled, when someone walked into his restaurant and asked if he could take some pictures. He left without any explanation. Two weeks later, however, a call came to the Fickle Pickle to ask if the restaurant could be used as a site for the show.

Location manager Neil Lum Lock said the company had looked at about seven restaurants from Hamilton to Port Perry over a three-week period before settling on Stouffville.

Once the word got out in Stouffville, people came by to ask about the show.

"The customers are excited," Mr. Paraskevakos said. "People are curious."

When a hand-written sign first went up on the restaurant's front door telling customers the restaurant was to be closed Wednesday, "some people thought it was a joke," Mr. Paraskevakos said.

Nearby merchants, such as Sara Marsala of the Tempest in a Teapot, didn't mind changing the decor in her windows and was looking forward to being an extra. She was one of about 10 Main Street merchants who were affected by the filming.

Other extras include Mayor Sue Sherban, Eric Button, Ruth LeBlanc, Pam Mandich and her husband Rob McKenzie. They had to be ready well before 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning to have hair and makeup done. Fickle Pickle cook Natasha Tsapoitis was to be part of the filming as well.

Anna Papageorgiou, who has been a waitress at the restaurant since it opened almost seven years ago, said, "I am so excited. A nice thing happened to my restaurant."

Much of the crew for this film shoot is Canadian, said set designer, Cal Loucks, who was busy nailing up pictures of U.S. scenes and President John F. Kennedy Tuesday afternoon.


The Stouffville episode will result in about four minutes of film, Stouffville Business Improvement Area manager Ruth LeBlanc said.

Filming for The West Wing episode was also done in Kleinburg, Uxbridge, Port Perry and Pickering.

"Mayor gets role as extra in local West Wing episode"
by Hannelore Volpe
December 16, 2004
Stouffville Sun-Tribune

The West Wing popped into Stouffville, Ont., for a day's shooting. The Post's Rob McKenzie, who lives in Stouffville, files this chronology:


Wife steps in the door with news of a "Guess what? You'll never believe it" nature. Says she just heard The West Wing will be filming at a local restaurant, The Fickle Pickle.

Fickle Pickle? West Wing? As if.

Moments later on Friday, Nov. 26

Um, it's true.


Breakfast meeting with Nick Paraskevakos, owner of Fickle Pickle, a cozy spot with booths and a waitress who calls people "hon."

This is the first time fame has touched the Pickle, which will be subbing for the Merrimack Restaurant, a real-life diner and occasional political hotspot in Manchester, N.H.

"First they called me," Nick recounts. "Then about 10 people showed up to see if they liked it. They liked it." After that, "They brought about 20 people looking the place over, checking the lighting, inside the kitchen."

The pastorals of Greece hung on the Pickle walls will have to come down, perhaps replaced by portraits of the show's President Bartlet. And the location people took a copy of his menu, presumably to Americanize its prices. But they'll keep the Pickle name.

Is Nick a West Wing fan? "Tomorrow I'm going to make a point to watch it."



Sit in on a noonhour planning session between Ruth LeBlanc, manager of the Stouffville Country Village Business Improvement Area, and Drazen Baric, assistant location manager for the shoot. Drazen has just come from the town offices, where he was working with roads guys to figure out how to divert traffic during the shoot -- whether to entirely close off Main Street, or to instead let vehicles through except during filming.

This is all about details. The wreaths and Christmas lights on the block of the shoot will have to come down. Ruth has to get stores whose signs might appear on camera to sign a Warner Bros. waiver. The production trucks can park in the municipal lot to the east of the shoot and in a smaller lot by the old town hall. In all, some 100 people are working on this project.

Drazen says he and location manager Neil Lum Lock spent days driving around Southern Ontario, looking for places that met The West Wing's needs. Besides Stouffville, they also struck gold in Dundas, Port Perry and Uxbridge, among others.

Stouffville's moment in the sun will occupy three or four minutes of airtime, Drazen says. Jimmy Smits (as a Democratic congressman and potential president) and Bradley Whitford (as Josh Lyman, White House strategist) will walk the half-block from Guardian Drugs to the Pickle. Then they'll go inside the restaurant and talk.

Drazen has been a location scout for eight years. What he really wants to be is a writer. A few years back he sat down with the great Canadian jockey Sandy Hawley and wrote a screenplay based on his life -- his many successes and his fight with cancer. But when Drazen pitched it, everyone told him nobody wants to watch a story about horse racing.

Then Seabiscuit made US$150-million.

Drazen is pitching his screenplay again.



Marcia Snively is executive director of the Manchester Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. Extremely gracious is she, saying she begrudges Stouffville not one little bit for scoring a well-paying gig as her city's stunt double.

Marcia tried hard to convince The West Wing to let Manchester be Manchester, spending two weeks building her case and scouting possible locations. She figures that in the end, Canada's lower dollar was the difference-maker.

West Wing producers did ask Marcia to collect some props for use in Ontario shoot. They wanted 100 business cards (some will show up on a bulletin board in The Fickle Pickle) and a Manchester flag. Marcia describes these -- this is so poignant -- as "New Hampshire artifacts."


Wednesday, Dec. 15

Smits, who grew up in Brooklyn and Puerto Rico and knows to dress for the weather, seems entirely content in the early-morning cold. Whitford, who grew up in Wisconsin and should know better, is lightly dressed and appears approximately as warm as Captain Scott during the final moments of his doomed 1912 Antarctic expedition.

The instant makeover of Stouffville's Main Street is most impressive. CIBC is now Revolution Credit Union. U.S.-style blue postboxes are all around, as are American flags, and newsboxes not only for USA Today but for The Hippo, a Manchester alternative weekly. A statue of Jefferson stands outside the old town hall (though the lofty quotation on its plaque misspells "altar" as "alter"). New Hampshire licence plates are screwed onto all vehicles in camera range.

The hours of shooting consist of much standing around, interrupted by spasms of activity.

Producer Mike Hissrich says in an interview on the set that the Ontario trip was about two months in the making. He says these towns were chosen not because of lower labour costs but because they can look like both New Hampshire (rolling hills; cold) and Iowa (cornstalks; flat; cold), dual sites of The West Wing's upcoming presidential primaries. Further, the scenes take place in winter, and Ontario has "guaranteed weather" that its American rivals do not. "We knew," he says, "we would get some snow and cold."

"Campaign stop"
by Rob McKenzie
December 16, 2004
National Post

A little too early for the next presidential primary? Not on The West Wing.

The cast of the political drama made a pilgrimage to New Hampshire during last week's episode.

The show was filmed in Canada, but the set and script were packed with Granite State artifacts. The Manchester Monarchs were plugged, the property tax structure panned. Alas, no one mentioned Capital Beat, but we're pleased to say Jimmy Smits's character was reading the Concord Monitor and remarking on its coverage.

The show already has quite a fan base in these parts, mostly because fictional President Josiah Bartlethails from New Hampshire. But Wednesday's episode was special. Democratic activist Debbie Butlergave the show's producers tips on setting up campaign events. Her thanks? A fictional state senator with her surname.

"He was kind of a jerk, but I don't care," she said.

Butler worried, though, about Smits's character - a Texas congressman with presidential dreams - opining that New Hampshire looks like "a Mayflower reunion."


"We're all hoping the show ends up being a plug for the New Hampshire primary, and not feeding into the stereotype we're just a bunch of white hicks," she said.

" Benson's last tasks paid well"
by Dan Barrick & Meg Heckman
January 16, 2005
Concord Monitor

The episode, titled Opposition Research, starred Jimmy Smits as Texas Democrat Matthew Santos and Bradley Whitford as his campaign manager during the New Hampshire primary. It is one of three episodes to include scenes filmed in Dundas. The others were scheduled to air on Wednesday, Jan. 19 and Wednesday, Jan. 26. Cast and crew of the award winning series spent three full days filming in Dundas, from Dec. 4-6. Scenes used in the Jan. 12 episode featured the 200-year-old building at 2 Hatt St. standing in as a dry cleaner's, the former town hall and private residences on Sydenham and Hatt Streets.

"America's watching Dundas"
by Craig Campbell
January 17, 2005
Dundas Star News

But after a rocky two years, Graves says the writers are particularly excited about chronicling the "complicated" race for president.

"That was one of the things we always wanted to do (with President Bartlet), but we couldn't watch Martin campaign through New Hampshire and Iowa because he had already won," Graves says. "But you learn all about the political process and it becomes this fascinating thing."

Once admittedly "bored" with themselves, Graves says the writers are now filled with boundless energy.

"It feels like we're doing something tough and exciting," he says. "And it comes off on the show because that's how the series was when it started. It was so hard to pull off and it was so exciting to try and pull off."

"The West Wing's Political Shakeup"
by Kevin D. Thompson
February 6, 2005
Palm Beach Post

"I think John [Wells] got what he wanted in terms of going backstage in the (primary) campaign process" this season, he [Jimmy Smits] says.

"'The West Wing' wants you"
by Bill Keveney
April 5, 2005
USA Today

Says Wells: "People seemed to be really engaged. ... In dealing with the primaries, it was one of the areas during the first five years of the show that we hadn't explored. One of the things you're constantly doing is look for places in the story you haven't done sometime before."

Equally intrigued by the storyline was Smits, who met with Wells about playing Santos. "John's idea was to give insight about what goes into particular points of the campaign," the thesp says. "We talked about the power of the media and show how great it would be to have young people aspire to be in politics."

"Rejuvenation Station"
by Stuart Levine
June 1, 2005

"It's a pinnacle for an actor because the writing is so fantastic," says Annabeth Gish, who played Elizabeth, Bartlet's oldest daughter. "In my career, I was the most nervous guest-starring on that show because you have to speak politically, you have to speak eloquently and you have to speak rapidly."

"'West Wing' finale a perfect coda"
by Charlie McCollum
May 14, 2006
San Jose Mercury News

For more information about this episode:
Continuity Guide to "The West Wing"
Previous Episode  |  U.S. Flag Main Index 6 Cast Season 6 Episode Index U.S. Flag Season 6 Information Index  |  Next Episode