The West Wing: Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail   Rewatch 
February 1, 2017 7:58 AM - Season 2, Episode 16 - Subscribe

It's Big Block of Cheese Day II: The Cheesening!

The emotional heft of this episode though, is only a BBoC-esque story, as Donna brings a college friend to butter up Sam about a pardon for her grandfather, wrongfully accused of espionage in the 1950s. Rob Lowe got his only Emmy nomination for this episode (he lost to James Gandolfini).

It's a busy week on TWWW too, as the guys talk to Lowe himself, Ben Casselman of FiveThirtyEight, and (via email) Aaron Sorkin himself. It turns out this was one of those rare episodes where Sorkin came up with the title first (well, he heard Don Henley's "New York Minute" and stole it from there) and then wrote the episode around it (well, he cannibalized a Sports Night plot, at any rate).
posted by Etrigan (13 comments total)
 
I had remembered this episode totally wrong. When it registered that this was a Big Block of Cheese Day ep, I recalled the OCSE as being a couple of crazies whose entire presentation was basically "The map is racist!" and turning a map on an easel upside-down and then expecting CJ to be stunned into agreement, but they vastly outplayed their goofiness (thanks, as mentioned by Josh and Hrishi, to John Billingsley, who has made a career of bringing gravitas to goofy characters).

And I didn't remember the spy plotline at all, though it was apparent from the outset that it was going to end badly.

I did remember much of Toby's speech to the cop, particularly how deliciously he laid out "That rhetorical device I just used is called this, and now I'm going to use a different one," and despite being the most egregiously exposition-to-random-person (who just happens to be a woman, sigh) in perhaps the entire run of the series, Schiff makes it work.
posted by Etrigan at 8:03 AM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


That just-happens-to-be-a-woman is the amazing Roma Maffia, and she's half the reason Toby's speech works at all. Watching it again this morning, I'm struck by how easily she just stands there and cuts him down to size, all with that "not buying your bullshit" smirk.

Also, she keeps calling him "Toby". Those two have crazy chemistry. I shipped them for a while, I remember now, and was sad she never came back.
posted by Mogur at 9:31 AM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


Those two have crazy chemistry.

Toby was all about the chemistry in this episode, with his exchange with CJ at the morning meeting and then practically speech-fucking Officer Roma.
posted by Etrigan at 9:35 AM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


Schiff makes it work.

A bit of a derail, it's just too bad "Dirk Gently" did not use Mr Schiff better in the first season, it would have/could have made for a much better series.
posted by sammyo at 1:00 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


This is the episode that features this exchange isnt it?

CJ: You wanna make out with right now, don't you?

Toby: Well, when don't I?
posted by wabbittwax at 1:07 PM on February 1, 2017 [4 favorites]


I love the OCSE bit. They're right, of course.
posted by Paragon at 2:14 PM on February 1, 2017


This episode came out right at the beginning of my college debate career, and was responsible for more than a few teams running OCSE-inspired plans.
posted by Tentacle of Trust at 6:30 PM on February 1, 2017


Great episode.

and then wrote the episode around it (well, he cannibalized a Sports Night plot, at any rate). = heh, the guys on the podcasts defended Aaron on this one; I forget what Hrishi compared it to, but I responded out loud, "That's tenuous, Hrishi". It's the same damn plot. Both can be enjoyable even if one is almost an exact copy of the other. ::shrug::

Nancy McNally pulling out that NSA file, telling Sam she wasn't going to show it to him, and then letting him look through it, was the AWESOMEST.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:20 AM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


and then wrote the episode around it (well, he cannibalized a Sports Night plot, at any rate). = heh, the guys on the podcasts defended Aaron on this one; I forget what Hrishi compared it to, but I responded out loud, "That's tenuous, Hrishi".

He compared it to two songs by the same artist having the same two chords in them, and yeah, I rolled my eyes practically out of my head at that. Sorkin stole from himself. Big deal. Admit it and move on. It was still a good plot and well done.
posted by Etrigan at 10:48 AM on February 2, 2017


Yes, that was it! "Two songs with a G chord and a C chord" = come oooooooooooon.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:55 PM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


I thought Hrishi's defense was weaksauce, as well.

They're both superfans of Sorkin, I get it, but Sorkin's ridiculous about re-using lines, plots, and episode titles over and over.
posted by wells at 10:47 AM on February 3, 2017


The big twist in this one was that HUAC actually found a Russian spy!

"New York Minute" has such a dated sound that it really took me and my husband out of the story; we just started laughing.

And yes, this is Jeremy's plotline from Sports Night. I think I could assemble a pretty good biography of Aaron Sorkin from the stories he uses over and over.
posted by chaiminda at 3:31 AM on February 4, 2017


I disagreed with Sam's decision to not tell the spy's granddaughter the truth. As painful as it might have been for her to learn what her grandfather really was, she should not have been lied to.
posted by orange swan at 8:37 PM on October 9, 2017


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