Mister Sterling (2003)
The West Wing (1999-2006)
Type: Non-Crossover Crossover
This has to be a first: a reality connecting connection between two shows that never actually showed itself on the air. Get a load of this.
In 1999 Aaron Sorkin created the hugely popular drama The West Wing. The show centered on the inner workings of the White House and fictional President Josiah Bartlet. Movie star Martin Sheen played President Bartlet heading a cast chock full of star power. From the start it was a monster hit. It only seemed to lose steam once real world White House drama dwarfed The West Wing's fictional drama.
Come 2003 season another political drama popped up as a mid-season replacement called Mister Sterling. Its basic plot was largely cribbed to the classic movie Mister Smith Goes To Washington. Hey, if you're going to crib, do it from the best. The plot in both cases basically goes like this. A senator dies. To take his place those in power appoint an earnest political novice who they figure they can control or who at least they figure is on their team. Novice gets to Washington and surprises everybody by actually having a will and point of view of his own that doesn't necessarily line up with those of the people who appointed him. In Mister Sterling's case, Bill Sterling Jr. is the son of a former California state senator. When he is appointed to the Senate everyone assumes he shares his dad's political affiliations. Surprise! He's an independent and not allied with any party! Hahaha! Not only that, he fights crime by night as the superhero The Leopard! No wait. scratch that. That ain't right.
Now the thing is, Mister Sterling never appeared on The West Wing and likewise no one from The West Wing ever took a walk over Mister Sterling's Senate. In fact on Mister Sterling they went out of their way NOT to mention the actual name of who was President in their reality. So how they hell are these shows in any way connected???
Because, even though it is unstated ON screen, Mister Sterling creator Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. states from behind the scenes that the President in Mister Sterling's universe is President Bartlet. In his words, "I think there should be one fictional president at a time on a network."
Now I have to muddy this already iffy situation with "facts". Facts... of how I loathe them. Cause me nothing but trouble. It has been brought to my attention that there is a factual inconsistancy in this situation. President Bartlet is a Democrat. The unseen President in Mister Sterling however is a member of the Bull Moose... wait... nope... The President on Mister Sterling is a Republican. And thus I am caught between conflicting facts and must find a way out. The explanation could be simply that Mister Sterling and The West Wing are part of the same reality but take place at different times. Although my preferred explanation is that when the characters on Mister Sterling called the president a Republican, they were all actually saying it with deeply veiled sarcasm.
As it turned out, even if they wanted to do a full fledged crossover, they never really got the chance. Mister Sterling came into office as a mid-season replacement and left office at the end of its first term.
Oddly enough, at the same time over on Fox there was another show featuring the President Of The United States as a character. On Fox's 24 the country was being lead by President David Palmer, the first black U.S. President. Nothing against Martin Sheen, and this admittedly has nothing to do with the actual "crossover" in question, but for my money I think President Palmer could easily take President Bartlet. I realize this is a very silly statement and I fully expect a flood of equally silly and pointless rebuttals to begin arriving in my email about 10 seconds after I post this.
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