The West Wing: Season 5 (2003 - 2004)


Season 5
The West Wing

Critics Consensus

Executive producer John Wells admirably attempts to maintain the spirit of Aaron Sorkin's vision after succeeding him, but The West Wing's fifth season is a sloppy changing of the guard that bears the Bartlet administration's agenda but possesses not of its finesse or flair.

62%

TOMATOMETER

Critic Ratings: 13

84%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 77

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Episodes

Air date: Sep 24, 2003

The desperate search continues for the president's abducted daughter; House Speaker Walken (guest star John Goodman) addresses the nation after news breaks that the president authorized assassination of a terrorist leader. Annabeth Gish also guest stars.

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Air date: Oct 1, 2003

House Speaker Walken (John Goodman) presides over the bombardment of terrorist camps; Zoey's kidnappers deliver an ultimatum; Toby visits his newborn twins while drafting two presidential speeches that hinge on Zoey's fate.

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Air date: Oct 8, 2003

Bartlet endures the painful process of nominating an appropriate candidate for vice president; Amy champions the first lady's violence-prevention provisions for an upcoming bill.

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Air date: Oct 22, 2003

A North Korean pianist slips President Bartlet a message saying he wants to defect; a backdoor campaign seeks approval for the vice president (Gary Cole), but there is one holdout; Donna gives her aunt and uncle a tour.

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Air date: Oct 29, 2003

Josh skirmishes with a conservative senator (Tom Skerritt) over a backlog of military promotions; the new vice president (Gary Cole) makes a flattering offer to Will; CJ's unscripted statements anger Leo.

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Air date: Nov 5, 2003

Bartlet flies to Oklahoma to lend support to tornado victims, while Leo contends with crises that need the president's immediate attention; Josh lands in the dog house after a miscalculation costs the Democrats dearly.

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Air date: Nov 12, 2003

Toby dispatches former Supreme Court clerk Joe Quincy (Matthew Perry) to check on the condition of the stricken chief justice; the president focuses on a crucial national television interview.

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Air date: Nov 19, 2003

The president engages in a war of wills with the House speaker (Steven Culp), resulting in a government shutdown; Bartlet seeks to end the fiscal crisis by challenging Republicans in the halls of the Capitol.

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Air date: Dec 3, 2003

News of relief workers jailed in northern Sudan oppresses the holiday spirit at the tree-lighting ceremony; the president welcomes his three daughters; Toby tries to keep the administration out of a debate over doctor-assisted suicide.

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Air date: Jan 7, 2004

En route to a funeral, Bartlet discusses the burdens of office with a former president (James Cromwell) and the House speaker (John Goodman); a congresswoman demands the return of her state's Bill of Rights, stolen by a Union soldier.

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The West Wing: Season 5 Photos

Tv Season Info

Cast & Crew

Martin Sheen
President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet

Actor
John Spencer
Chief of Staff Leo McGarry

Actor
Bradley Whitford
Dep. Chief of Staff Josh Lyman

Actor
Richard Schiff
Communications Dir. Toby Ziegler

Actor
Allison Janney
Press Secretary Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg

Actor
Dulé Hill
Charlie Young

Actor
Janel Moloney
Donna Moss

Actor
Stockard Channing
Abigail "Abbey" Bartlet

Actor
Joshua Malina
Will Bailey

Actor
Lily Tomlin
Deborah Fiderer

Guest Star
NiCole Robinson
Margaret

Guest Star
Melissa Marsala
Rina

Guest Star
Michael Hyatt
Angela Blake

Guest Star
Steve Ryan
Secretary of Defense Miles Hutchinson

Guest Star
Ron Canada
Under Secretary of State Theodore Barrow

Guest Star
Gary Cole
Vice President Bob Russell

Guest Star
Kris Murphy
Katie Witt

Guest Star
Jesse Bradford
Ryan Pierce

Guest Star
Renee Estevez
Nancy

Guest Star
John Wells
Executive Producer
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Critic Reviews for The West Wing: Season 5

Audience Reviews for The West Wing: Season 5

  • Dec 21, 2019
    The season of transition, so to speak. With Sorkin and co jumping ship after S4 the noticeable shift in writing styles is all too apparent for season 5. From a foundation of solid drama and subtle wit from earlier season, we now find a confused season 5 where all the lead characters seem to have grown massive chips on their shoulders, bickering and arguing with everyone; while also watering down the tight drama into a wishy-washy melodrama fit only for a second rate TV soap. That said, there are a handful of stellar episodes in "The Supremes", "Separation of Powers" , "Slow News Day" and "The Warfare of Genghis Khan". It is just a shame these are in the minority compared to the relative poor offerings from the remaining episodes.
  • Jun 15, 2017
    What pervades the airs of the West Wing is greater distrust in each other, for accomplishing whatever is on the agenda. Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) and Donna Moss (Janel Moloney) bicker more frequently, Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) and Will Bailey (Joshua Molina) are each other's red alert, Abby Bartlet (Stockard Channing) gives close to zero shits about what the public thinks of her, and, generally, no one character seems to be able to find joy, even when the resources are right in front of them. And this is most true for President Bartlet (Martin Sheen), who is far less compromising with his staff, Congress, his family, his constituents, in the wake of a family tragedy. Not on the issues you might expect, though. Individual episodes still resound, be it for phenomenal performances by this now all-star cast, compelling topical discussions, or appreciable storytelling techniques. Still a great show, continuing to grow subtler in its development.
  • Aug 28, 2014
    The season when the writers jumped the shark. Started well enough but it gets quite silly and overly preachy (again) towards the end. Plus, they killed off one of the best and most likable characters in the series, Admiral Fitzwallace. If they had killed off Toby and Will Bailey instead, it would have been a great season.

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