As the United States heads into the final weeks before the 2020 presidential elections, HBO Max is taking fans on a nostalgic trip back to one of NBC's most beloved, awarded shows ever: "The West Wing."
"A 'West Wing' Special to Benefit When We All Vote" is set to air Oct. 15, with many of the original cast members reuniting for a re-enactment of season three episode "Hartsfield's Landing." But what can we expect? Who'll play Chief of Staff Leo McGarry? And what is Sterling K. Brown going to do?
Trust us like you would President Jed Bartlett: We have the answers below, and we accept the thanks of a grateful nation.
When is the 'West Wing' reunion, and where can I watch it?
The "West Wing Special" will air on HBO Max on Oct. 15. But if you want to catch up, the original seven seasons of the series are currently streaming on Netflix.
What Is "The West Wing"?
The Aaron Sorkin-created "West Wing" aired on NBC from 1999 to 2006 and largely portrayed life in the White House among President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet's (Martin Sheen) senior staff during his administration. A critical and popular success, the show was named by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 10 "Best-Written TV Series" ever, and it went on to earn 26 Emmys. In addition to tackling challenging topics and real-world issues, it popularized a fluid style of "walk-and-talk" camera shots in which characters shared rapid-fire dialogue while moving through rooms and hallways, a style still in use today.
What's "Hartsfield's Landing"?
Here's the official description of the third season episode: "Bartlet engages both Sam (Rob Lowe) and Toby (Richard Schiff) in intricate chess matches that mirror the wily game of brinkmanship that Bartlet is playing with the Chinese, who are conducting war games in the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese threaten real war if Taiwan begins test firing its new U.S.-made Patriot defense missiles. Meanwhile, Josh (Bradley Whitford) is nervous about the 42 votes in a remote New Hampshire town’s election, which are counted immediately and always predict the winner of that state’s primary. Mischievous C.J. (Allison Janney) tries to upset Charlie (Dulé Hill) by hiding his copy of the President’s top-secret daily schedule — prompting a spate of playful tricks."
Which cast members are returning, and which aren't?
The staged cast reading will bring together original players Lowe, Hill, Janney, Janel Moloney, Schiff, Whitford and Sheen. Aaron Sorkin and executive producer/director Thoams Schlamme are also expected to make an appearance, along with W. G. Snuffy Walden, who'll open the show with an acoustic version of the series' magisterial theme, which he composed. Folk-rock band the Avett Brothers will close out the special.
Schiff has posted some reunion photos on Twitter:
Who'll play Chief of Staff Leo McGarry?
Sadly, John Spencer can't return to the role of McGarry, as he died in 2005, and so far HBO has not said whether they'll substitute another actor in for his lines.
Who else can we expect to see?
Former first lady Michelle Obama, President Bill Clinton and "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will all weigh in during the act breaks.
Yeah, but what about Sterling K. Brown? What's he doing there?
"This Is Us" star Brown was not in the original cast, but Sorkin has been discussing doing a reboot of the series starring him as president for years. Currently, Brown's role in the reunion has not been announced, though he will be on the show in some capacity. Maybe he'll introduce it, or maybe he'll step in for the absent Spencer? If only they'd let us vote to decide!
What is When We All Vote?
The nonprofit When We All Vote is a nonpartisan organization designed to increase voter participation; Obama and Miranda are co-chairs of the organization, which was started in 2018 before the midterm elections. For more information, go here.