Tonight, 'The West Wing' airs for the last time. For a time it was the show for which I couldn't wait for its next new episode as soon as I finished watching the previous one. But that ardor cooled and was replaced by other shows like 'Lost' and the new 'Doctor Who'.
Still, it was part of my weekly "Must-See" appointment TV and there'll be a big hole in my Sunday night sked come next fall.
And as the finale approaches, my sense of tele-synchronicity kicked in while I was working on the Hat Squad tribute to Susan Browning. While confirming the identity of Ben Piazza's character on 'Forever Fernwood', I discovered that he appeared in a 1987 episode of 'St. Elsewhere' as Josiah Bartlet(t).
Up until that point, I was under the impression that "Dr. Josiah Bartlet" of Boston General was mentioned, but never seen. Honestly, I never remembered him from that episode ("You Again?") and I can't even claim that was due to the time that's lapsed since it aired.
That's because one of the other sub-plots dealt with Dr. Kiem's attempts to concentrate on her work, even though her son had disappeared while hitch-hiking to Boston.
Why would that matter to me? According to reports, her son was last seen in Meriden, Connecticut, after ditching classes at Choate in Wallingford. And Meriden is my hometown.
With a face now attached to that of Josiah Bartlet in the main Toobworld, I can no longer claim that the character who became the President of the United States in an alternate dimension has a counterpart in Earth Prime-Time who became a Boston physician.
I can't even fudge the matter with claims about facial structural damage as the cause for the difference in their looks. I mean, can you picture the late Ben Piazza?
Summon an image of Martin Sheen in your mind. Then click here to see what Ben Piazza looked like in "The Blues Brothers".
If plastic surgery was involved to alter his appearance from Sheen to Piazza, then Dr. Josiah Bartlet better consult somebody at Crane, Poole, & Schmidt!
There is only one way that I can rescue some kind of connection from all of this......
Jed Bartlet has a brother whom we've never met on the show by the name of John. (We learned the brother's name when President Bartlet dressed down that smug bitch of a Dr. Laura Schlessinger radio host in a classic scene from 'The West Wing'. If you want to read that scene, check out Brent McKee's running theme of great moments from the show.)
What if in the main Toobworld, the Bartlets' parents decided to switch their sons' names from the way we know them in the 'West Wing' universe? So that Josiah was now John, and vice versa?
There may be power in names, but it can only go so far in molding a person's future. Being named Josiah Bartlet didn't automatically seal his destiny to go into politics; instead he found his calling in medicine.
Okay, I just read that back. The only downside really is that I think that President Josiah Bartlet is supposed to be considered the older brother. If Martin Sheen and Ben Piazza were supposed to be playing brothers, Piazza was by far the older of the two actors by at least a decade.
And let's face it - they don't look like they could be brothers (not that that's ever been a deterrent for casting in TV shows past).
I've always wanted to see John Dye of 'Touched By An Angel' play the role. (He played Andrew, an Angel of Death.) He at least had a physiognomy that seemed connected to the same genetic lottery from which Martin Sheen might have sprung.
As it turns out, it was so much easier to find Leo McGarry's doppelganger in the main Toobworld when John Spencer played a detective named Leo, speaking of 'Touched By An Angel'.....