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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 19:31 GMT 20:31 UK
West Wing terror show criticised
The cast of The West Wing
The cast are donating their week's wages to charity
Award-winning political drama The West Wing has been criticised for a "pompous" and "condescending" special episode responding to the events of 11 September.

The programme, set in a fictitious White House, attempted to confront fears and concerns following the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

Written by the show's creator Aaron Sorkin, the episode was finished in less than three weeks but made no reference to the events which inspired its creation.

The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin (right) won a TV Critics award in July
The storyline placed the White House characters in a lock-out crisis mode following a breach of security.

But it was "a crashing and often condescending bore" and came "too soon" after the tragedy, the USA Today newspaper said.

And it "did little but make pompous speeches", the New York Post said.

But Newsday praised it for being "more articulate and succinct than what passes for discussion on cable news channels most nights".

Entitled Isaac and Ishmael, the episode showed an Arab-American man being arrested on suspicion of plotting terrorist activity.


Meanwhile, Josh Lyman, the deputy chief of staff, played by Bradley Whitford, found himself locked in a cafeteria with a group of visiting high school children.

They looked to him for answers to questions similar to those asked by many Americans over the past few weeks.

"So, why is everybody trying to kill us?" one student asked.

The way to "get these people", Lyman told the children, was to embrace pluralism. "Keep accepting more than one idea. Makes 'em absolutely crazy."

President Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, told the school group: "We don't need martyrs right now. We need heroes.

"A hero would die for his country, but he'd much rather live for it."

The Arab-American man is later found to be innocent.


Sheen and other members of the cast introduced the special episode out of character.

And the opening credits were replaced with phone numbers and addresses for the Twin Towers Fund and the Red Cross.

Warner Brothers, which produces the show, is donating profits from the episode to help the families of police officers and fire-fighters who were killed in the disaster.

Cast members from The West Wing are also donating their week's pay to charity.

The stand-alone episode displaced the debut of the programme's new series.

The separate and ongoing storyline of President Bartlet's re-election bid will continue from 10 October.

See also:

20 Jun 01 | TV and Radio
West Wing creator in rehab
27 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
West Wing cast 'win dispute'
11 Sep 00 | Entertainment
The West Wing sweeps Emmys
04 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
West Wing airs attacks show
16 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
West Wing stars 'offered pay rises'
26 Sep 01 | Showbiz
Cameras roll again in New York
03 May 01 | TV and Radio
West Wing creator pleads innocent
26 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
Subdued schedules for US TV
28 Jun 01 | Showbiz
Sheen gets three years' probation
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