The West Wing (1999–2006)
9.8/10
2,082
10 user 1 critic

Two Cathedrals 

As the Haitian army continues their seizure of the American embassy there, Bartlet and the staff prepare for the announcement that Bartlet has M.S. and the President must decide whether or ... See full summary »

Director:

Thomas Schlamme

Writers:

Aaron Sorkin (created by), Aaron Sorkin
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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Rob Lowe ... Sam Seaborn
Dulé Hill ... Charlie Young
Allison Janney ... C.J. Cregg
Janel Moloney ... Donna Moss
Richard Schiff ... Toby Ziegler
John Spencer ... Leo McGarry
Bradley Whitford ... Josh Lyman
Martin Sheen ... Jed Bartlet
Stockard Channing ... Abbey Bartlet
Anna Deavere Smith ... Nancy McNally
Kirsten Nelson ... Young Mrs. Dolores Landingham
Jason Widener ... Young Jed Bartlet
Don McManus ... Greg Summerhays
NiCole Robinson ... Margaret
Lawrence O'Donnell ... Dr. Bartlet (as Lawrence O'Donnell Jr.)
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Storyline

As the Haitian army continues their seizure of the American embassy there, Bartlet and the staff prepare for the announcement that Bartlet has M.S. and the President must decide whether or he will seek re-election. As the funeral for Mrs. Landingham takes place and the announcement draws nearer, Bartlet thinks back to his past in search of the answer to the question everyone is asking: Will he seek re-election? Written by timdalton007

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

TV-14
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Latin

Release Date:

16 May 2001 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the flashbacks a young Jed Bartlett is seen as a student at a school where a younger version of Mrs. Landingham is seen as an adult working for Bartlett's father. In reality Martin Sheen who plays president Bartlett and Kathryn Joosten who play Mrs. Landingham, the president's secretary, were only born a year apart. Kathryn Joosten was born in 1939 and Martin Sheen was born in 1940. See more »

Goofs

In the episode, "Two Cathedrals", the credit for the character Dolores Landingham is misspelled "Mrs. Landinham". See more »

Quotes

Dolores Landingham: You don't know how to use the intercom.
President Josiah Bartlet: It's not that I don't know how to use it. It's just that I haven't learned yet.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Kenny & vänner: Kenny & Mark Knopfler (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

West Wing Main Title
(uncredited)
Written by W.G. Snuffy Walden
Performed by Pete Anthony
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User Reviews

Season 2: Tones down the smugness to good effect
26 January 2013 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

I recently rewatched the first season of this show because it had been many years since I last did and from memory the first season was the only one I had wholly seen as the rest of the show was used to launch Channel 4's new digital service (all those years ago) and I couldn't get that channel at that time. I dipped in and out of it later but never really got back into it but my memory of the show was the same as generally accepted wisdom that it is one of the great shows. So, I was a little surprised then to find that the first season was actually a very simplistic show that never missed a chance to throw on uplifting music and a soft focus to have a character proclaim the rightness of their liberal politics while everyone else looked on misty-eyed with inspiration. Sure it had energy, wit and intelligence in there too, but my overwhelming impression of the show was that it was painfully smug – and I say this as one who shares my political views with it!

I wasn't even sure I would bother with the second season but I did and in fairness it did get significantly better very quickly. The shooting is a very simple affair and it was a bit disappointing to see that it was clearly just an end of season device to get viewers to return. It takes up a few episodes and has a bit of a lingering effect on some characters but generally it is not well used. Fortunately the show does get settled once this is out of the way and this season sees much better plots and scenarios thanks to the introduction of a bit of balance in the writing. I say "a bit" because there is no point in pretending that the show doesn't continue to lean very much to the left but at least we get to see these views having to be compromised, get to see the politics of politics a bit more and also have some decent non-liberal characters in there – it went from 100% to a "balance" of 70/30, which is still an improvement.

As a result of this shift away from total wish-fulfillment self-love, the general sense of smugness is greatly reduced and the show becomes much more palatable and engaging as it seems more interest in telling stories rather than pushing an agenda. I'm not naïve enough to suggest that the agenda has gone away – just that the writing has improved to make it less obviously the reason behind lines and characters' actions. The cast benefit from this despite essentially doing the same performances as before. Sheen benefits from this the most and his "kindly grandfather" now has more meat on it for him to work with. Likewise Janney, Spencer, Lowe, Whitford and others benefit from still having the same slick banter and movement but also having a little bit more substance behind these words. It is telling though that the best episodes in the season tend to be the ones where the main characters are forced to compromise or are shown to be wrong – I guess even the actors tire of staring off into the heroic distance.

Season 2 doesn't change enough to win over those who are totally against the agenda and politics that runs though this show like a stick of rock, but it does change enough to become a better show. The improvement in balancing to a certain degree really reduces the smugness of the show and allows for more interesting exchanges, scenarios and plot threads. Not perfect but a lot better than the first season and I have no doubts this time that I'll follow it into the third season, with the hope that the direction in this second season can be continued.


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