The West Wing: 17 People   Rewatch 
February 16, 2017 12:12 PM - Season 2, Episode 18 - Subscribe

Toby is told about the President's multiple sclerosis, becoming the 17th person to know, and he and the President have a heated row over the matter. Meanwhile, the President considers an extensive security alert for the nation's airports, and staffers struggle to punch up a speech the President is set to give at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Fittingly for such an important and excellent episode, the guys on TWWW really kick it up a notch, welcoming not only Richard Schiff (nominated for an Emmy for this episode; lost to that damn Bradley Whitford) and Emily Procter (upbraided during filming this episode for flirting with Rob Lowe too much); but also Rebecca Walker and Jessica Neuwirth to talk about the ERA; and even Jon White, creator of the amazing SeventeenPeople.com.

Chief among the startling revelations: this was a bottle episode, specifically requested by the studio and/or network because the show ran expensive; as a result, this has no new sets and the smallest cast of any episode, with only three people outside the main cast (Ainsley Hayes, Ed, and Larry) and no CJ at all (Alison Janney was filming reshoots of The Hours).
posted by Etrigan (6 comments total)
 
I love this episode. Toby is one of my top two characters and this is one of his best episodes. We see all the sides of him - brooding, strategic, self-righteous, and ultimately quite empathetic in a kind of gruff way.
posted by mai at 4:46 PM on February 16


A couple of things that always annoyed me about the 17 people -- he was diagnosed before he was even running for the presidency. He was the governor of a small state, with no pretensions for anything more. So sure, he doesn't tell the people of New Hampshire that he has MS, because who cares, but he tells his kids and his brother, sure. But Liz doesn't tell her husband?

Also, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff knows, but not the Secretary of Defense? Not the National Security Adviser? This after we've been told that Fitzwallace (and all the other Chiefs) hated Bartlet at the outset?
posted by Etrigan at 5:46 AM on February 17


Also, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff knows, but not the Secretary of Defense? Not the National Security Adviser? This after we've been told that Fitzwallace (and all the other Chiefs) hated Bartlet at the outset?

Maybe I'm going for my No-Prize, but...
* Pick one out of the three (because one of them HAS to know, but all three of them don't)
* Fitzwallace picked up on it somehow?
* Sorkin didn't look at how, in some ways, the Secretary of Defense and National Security Advisor are as or more important than the Chair of the Joint Chiefs?

Realistically, it's because Fitzwallace is a known character, and the others aren't (name Bartlet's Secretary of Defense or National Security Advisor, please) at this time.
posted by aureliobuendia at 7:27 AM on February 20


Nancy McNally is a pretty familiar face by this point I think. But, even knowing nothing about how military information security works, it's pretty clear to me that the West Wing writers know nothing about how military information security works. Who knows what in these kinds of situations in the show seems to pretty much always just be dictated by what the plot demands. And I'm pretty comfortable accepting that.
posted by 256 at 7:33 AM on February 20


(name Bartlet's Secretary of Defense or National Security Advisor, please)

Nancy McNally appeared on one fewer episodes than Percy Fitzwallace. She had been on the next-to-last episode prior to this one. Fitz was, in fact, not on the show at all during this entire season.

But yes, Sorkin's Razor is that he just didn't realize that the SecDef is for all intents and purposes the CJCS's boss and would not be out of that loop, and none of his real-world advisers had any particular military experience either and wouldn't necessarily know to throw a flag on that.
posted by Etrigan at 7:40 AM on February 20


You know, I'm actually kind of ashamed I didn't remember that Nancy McNally was the National Security Advisor. I'm an Anna Deavere Smith fan and I should have remembered her.

That said, yes, plot expediency. Also, the way it played, I felt like Bartlet and Fitzwallace had more chemistry. And agreed on Sorkin's razor.
posted by aureliobuendia at 10:18 AM on February 20


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