The West Wing

Last weekend I finished watching the final series of The West Wing, and sad as it may sound, there’s now a big hole in my life.

I only discovered The West Wing last year after someone recommended it to me. I never caught it when it was shown on TV so I went back to the beginning and bought the DVD’s. After watching the first episode of the first series, I soon new that this would become my favourite programme on TV.

Regularly over the last year I’ve sat down on a Friday night, opened a bottle of red wine, and watched a 4-episode disc. It got towards the end that I couldn’t watch an episode without first opening a bottle of wine – it somehow gave me a nostalgic feeling. You know you’re getting old when the nostalgia you feel on a Friday night is towards a bottle of wine and a political drama, rather than a night out on the town with the lads!

It may seem strange that a TV programme can have such an impact, but for me, The West Wing is the most intelligent, moving, insightful and intriguing TV programme ever made. The research that went into each series was outstanding; both the look and feel of the White House as well as the way the political stories were presented, many of which seemed to mirror present day events. Best of all was the character development. We followed the whole team from beginning to end of both terms of the Bartlett Presidency and watched as relationships developed, and individuals struggled to cope with the enormity of their responsibilities.

The series was very successful in capturing the dynamics and dynamism of the west wing of the White House, to a degree that you could imagine that is exactly how it would be working in arguably the most powerful offices in the world. I was often on the edge of my seat and could feel a palpable rise in my heart rate trying to keep up with the characters on screen working at 100 miles per hour as they were trying to simultaneously deal with incidents, power broking, and handling the demands of the 24/7 media. It was truly breathtaking stuff. The ‘walk with me’ lines, where fast-paced conversations flip from one topic to the next while the characters walk between meetings in the west wing are now written into popular culture.

Not sure what I’m going to do on a Friday night now. I may have to start again at series 1!

We have Foxtel

We had Foxtel fitted yesterday. Foxtel is basically the same as Sky in the UK (both owned by Rupert Murdoch).

The biggest revelation (they didn't tell us this when we ordered it) is that we can't get Channels Seven or Ten through Foxtel, which is a bit of a bummer because Seven and Ten are two of the main channels that show the programmes we like, such as Lost and House. We can still watch them by changing the AV mode to Digital or Anologue, we just can't record them. The reason we ordered Foxtel in the first place is so that we can go back to watching programmes when we want to watch them and forward through the adverts (of which there are far too many in Oz), like we did using Sky+ in the UK. So it's a bit of a let down.

Apparently, the reason Seven and Ten aren't available is because Foxtel want to charge Seven and Ten more to carry them over the Satellite subscription than their main rival Channel Nine. Why? Because PBL owns Nine who also own a 25% share in Foxtel. So Nine gets a discount. Seven and Ten are rightly not happy about this so until this is all sorted out I can't watch House at the weekends and forward through the adverts. I've got a mind to write a strongly worded letter!

In comparison with Sky, there's not half as many channels on Foxtel, but they have started to trial on-demand programmes, and there is a free Foxtel Active service called Air Active which lets you listen to different music channels which display the song title and artist playing. HD hasn't launched yet on Foxtel either although I do believe it is due imminently.