(warning - spoilers follow)
There aren't many TV programmes that I treat as 'must see'. For starters my job makes it quite difficult to guarantee being in on the same night each week. the modern trend for new shows to be repeated a couple of times in the followign week are a godsend as far as I'm concerned.
The West Wing has been one programme that I have done my best to follow. It has combined brilliant writing and strong characterisation with inteligent story arcs, real drama and, of course, politics.
I'm sure that part of my reason for liking it so much is because it is about the triumph of liberal idealism over the republican right - but basically it is just solidly good drama.
Despite the sense of winding down in the last few episodes the storylines remained strong with the issue of whether or not Bartlet should pardon Toby Zeigler not being concluded until the final touching scenes.
There were some touching moments in the last few episodes. As James Graham points out Bartlet's gift of a copy of the Constitution to Charlie, that his father had given him, brought a tear to the eye. I though the final scene of Bartlet unwrapping the framed copy of the napkin he had once given to Leo MCGarry was also very sweet.
For me the real test of a good film or TV programme is how much it sucks me in. By the end of the West Wing I was left wondering what Bartlet would do next, how would Santos solve the crisis in asia, would CJ make a go of her relationship and how well would Josh and Sam run the new administration.
I was hooked by this show and will really miss it.
(The really surreal moment of the evening for me was turning on the West Wing challenge beforehand to see David Tennant's happy smiling face as he answered question after question with the zeal that is usually reserved for Dr Who fanboys - only to see the camera then pan over to our own Mark Oaten who didn't do too badly himself!)