The West Wing: Manchester (Part 1/2)
Airdate: Saturday 8 February 2003 on Channel 4
The President and his loyal staff return for a third year in the acclaimed political drama The West Wing, as United States President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) decides to run for a second term in office.
The staff’s first major challenge results from Bartlet’s failure to publicly disclose his MS during his initial election campaign and nerves and loyalties are tested when a congressional investigation is launched into the affair. Tenacious and outspoken White House Chief Counsel, Oliver Babish (Oliver Platt), returns to defend the President.
Headed by communications director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff), and the President’s chief of staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer), Bartlet’s team prepares their election campaign, assisted by Bruno Gianelli (Ron Silver) and his group of meddling campaign strategists. Meanwhile, deputy communications director Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe), and deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) pull together to deal with the day to day running of presidential politics – mad cow epidemics, terrorist attacks and international conflict. Talented and harried press secretary C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney) tries all the tricks in the book to deflect any media criticism, but lands herself in hot water when she becomes the target of death threats.
On a personal front, The President and First Lady Abigail Bartlet (Stockard Channing) struggle to balance his political ambitions with their personal life. Sparks fly between C.J. and her secret service bodyguard Simon Donovan (Mark Harmon), but their romantic involvement is compromised by their professional relationship. Josh meets his match in Amy Gardner (Mary-Louise Parker), a women’s rights leader, and Donna has a brief encounter with republican Cliff Calley (Mark Feuerstein) which leads to a conflict of interest.
The West Wing was created and written by Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men), and Emmy Award winners John Wells (ER) and Thomas Schlamme.