Japanese classes are back on, with sensei doing things a little differently this time. There’s more of an emphasis on vocabulary, which hopefully addresses one of the shortcomings of the course so far. It’s not a university-level course by any standards, but I’m not paying university-level fees for it.
Much of my off-time over the last two months or so has been spent watching The West Wing, from the beginning. I bought Series 1 & 2 over a year ago, and recently obtained 3 & 4, after their price was dropped upon the release of Series 6 on DVD. It’s been rewarding because much of it only makes sense if you pay attention and think about what is happening – it’s not something to put on in the background while you do something else.
One major aspect that impresses me is the flexibility of the characterizations, the way characters were allowed to develop; the most obvious being Donna (Janel Moloney), who went from a bit part to a major stabilizing force. We know the producers were not afraid to kill characters off, witness as the death of Delores Landingham (Kathryn Joosten), an event that had President Bartlet stubbing cigarettes out on the floor of the National Cathedral (Washington), swearing at his God in Latin. When Donna was critically injured in a car bomb attack in Gaza, the critical response showed just how central her character had become, both to viewers of The West Wing, and to the other characters. Rob Lowe, on the other hand, started as the top-billed star, but soon blended in to the ensemble cast, and eventually left after his character left the White House for Congress.
It’s a lot of TV, sure, but I’m careful to space it to avoid overload, and it’s not so much as to interfere with other activities. I’ve just started Series 4, which I missed much of first time around, or at least failed to pay proper attention to: can’t see reaching the end in October, but there’s no rush.