'West Wing' kicks off must-see season

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Almost everyone agrees that "The West Wing" (8 p.m., NBC) lost its focus last season. And along the way, creator and writer Aaron Sorkin lost his job. But Sorkin deserves much credit (and his Emmy nomination) for penning a humdinger of a season finale. For those who missed it, the Bartlet administration goes into crisis mode after the president's daughter Zoey is kidnapped by foreign terrorists. Will Bartlet act -- or, more to the point, react -- as a father or as commander in chief? Or will he take a third, surprising option? Look for John Goodman in a powerful guest stint.

The final two contestants emerge on "Big Brother 4" (8 p.m., CBS). When the season began, I compared the show to Jean Paul Sartre's existential drama "No Exit," a 1944 play about characters who discovered they were damned and that "Hell is other people." I think the comparison still stands. I can think of no more fitting damnation for Robert, the crude, deluded misogynist, than enduring incarceration with Allison, with her grating, sandpaper voice.

Halloween is right around the corner. Why else would AMC present "Fang vs. Fiction" (9 p.m., AMC)? This documentary explores the lingering myths about undead entities and their place in movie history. It also examines the underground world of pallid poseurs who believe that they are Nosferatus.

Tonight's other highlights

Late night

Gen. Tommy Franks visits "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Beyonce Knowles visits "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).