I have loved West Wing since the first episode - sort of. I thought that it was one of the most well-written and well directed shows on television for the first four seasons. Then Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme left and the tone changed. The snappy dialogue was gone, the direction was "jumpy" and my dear show had changed to the point where I didn't care nearly as much anymore.
There even came a point last season where I stopped watching. It was sad.
Then, near the end of last season I happen to watch the season finale (in which Leo fell in the woods) and I was intrigued. Some of the old fire was still left in the show. They appointed CJ as chief of staff and there were some interesting things starting to happen. It felt like the show was being reinvented instead of just trying to hang on for one more season.
Most people I know assumed that the show would have to quit when Jed Bartlett's second term ended. After all, the prospect of The West Wing, the Library Years doesn't have a lot of excitement to it. But, much to my surprise they added a bunch of good new characters and kept the focus shifting between the election process and the White House and they won me back. I think this show can survive and even thrive with a new President.
Then, last night, for the season finale they put it all together into an episode that ranks as one of the best episodes of this season, if not the entire series. It had a great twist at the end and set up the next season really well. It was great!
Now, if only Alias would get back to first/second season form I'd be even happier.