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I Am a Sentimental Fool

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 9, 2006

I took a look at a new episode of ''The West Wing,'' which airs on Sunday. It's still following the two tracks -- the presidential campaign between Santos and Vinnick, and the international crisis where the U.S. may have to intervene -- and even finds a place for the tracks to come together. It has some good stuff in the campaign portions, where the Santos campaign has finally pulled close and Vinnick's moderation on some issues may have to be compromised to keep his campaign viable. Ron Silver and Patricia Richardson, who have been playing members of Vinnick's team, have some good scenes. Still, it wasn't a great ''West Wing,'' and I thought Vinnick had stepped out of his moderate box when he went knee-jerk in the debate episode.

But that, as you are undoubtedly aware, is not why I am a sentimental fool. It was the first sight of the late John Spencer, still alive and playing Leo, in this episode. It was just a glimpse, but it choked me up. I miss the guy, even more when I see him at work.

And I still love to see him work. There is a scene in this episode with Leo and Bartlet that reminds us how well those two worked together, what a good fit they were. It was a good enough scene that I just watched the characters interact, and the actors at work, without thinking once again that Spencer was gone.

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