What a surprisingly terrible episode! I expected it to be mediocre, but I didn't expect it to be on the lower end of mediocre!
There was nothing to really hold my interest, nothing to make me particularly interested in the next episode, and the "scenes from" was pretty poor. To top it off, there were two product placements (as far as I could tell): one for Diet Dr. Pepper and one for Nortel.
A little hunting turned up this web page. SPOILERS AHEAD.
"...Martin Sheen, who plays President Josiah Bartlet, and the show's other regulars will continue with the show throughout the 2004-2005 season, although some of their jobs may change, John Wells told television reporters in a conference call.
"...Donna Moss (Janel Maloney) will recover from wounds suffered following a terrorist bombing in the Middle East, and she and her boss, deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford), will return to Washington.
"...A heart attack will strike the president's chief of staff, Leo McGarry (John Spencer). The president will ask McGarry to become a trusted adviser and press secretary C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney) to become his new chief of staff.
"...By midseason, Lyman will leave the White House to work for Santos, and Moss will go to work for Russell. That strange working relationship will free up both to pursue a personal relationship.
"...'It will definitely be a large part of the season,' Wells said. 'The thing that has prevented us from proceeding on the Josh and Donna romance is the Moonlighting syndrome (a reference to a poor outcome involving Cybil Shepherd and Bruce Willis on that ABC series). I'm not really sure how interesting that relationship is once the actors end up in it. Also, it would have been a very bad idea for Josh, as Donna's supervisor, to allow a relationship to develop. It's strictly prohibited within the White House and in most workplaces.'
"...The president's wife, Abby (Stockard Channing), will begin a storyline, shortly before Christmas, that will reintroduce the issue of the president's multiple sclerosis.
"...'It would be our preference to do our election next season (around Christmastime),' Wells said, but if Sheen doesn't agree to a new season, Wells is prepared to move that timeline up, changing the administration sooner.
"..'"While we don't have a contract with NBC for an additional season, I don't believe this will be the last year of the show,' he said. 'You can look at NBC's schedule and see that losing a show of The West Wing's quality would be a bad thing. Also, I do a lot of other business with them (as executive producer of ER and Third Watch), and I think NBC will respect the quality of the show and show us respect.'"
Ho hum. Now I can finally watch the old TV shows I never did like 24, or Northern Exposure, or The Odd Couple.