As part of an initiative to raise awareness on the importance of voting and support the When We All Vote organization, HBO Max has reunited the cast of Emmy-winning drama The West Wing to put on a theatrical presentation of the season three episode “Hartsfield’s Landing.” This marks the first time in 17 years that the original cast has reunited with creator Aaron Sorkin (who left the show after season four) and executive producer/director Thomas Schlamme.
Here is how to watch the special online for free.
HBO Max’s Free Trial
If you are an HBO Max subscriber, it will be available on the streaming service on October 15. If you are not an HBO Max subscriber, you are eligible for a free trial, even if you have previously subscribed to HBO Now in the past. Eligibility criteria is mentioned when you sign up, according to the HBO Max FAQ.
The free trial lasts for seven days, during which time you can stream anything on HBO Max. After the free trial is up, the subscription will auto-renew each month, but you can cancel at any time. When you do cancel, you can continue to stream for the duration of the free trial or for any month you have already paid for.
The subscription costs $14.99 per month plus tax. It charges each month; annual pricing is not available at this time.
The Cast and Plot
The “Hartsfield’s Landing” episode of The West Wing originally aired in February 2002. It is the 14th episode of the third season. In the show’s timeline, it is the night of the presidential primary, with the title referring to a fictional New Hampshire town that casts its votes at midnight on the voting day. It represents two real-life New Hampshire towns: Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location, according to the West Wing Weekly podcast about this episode.
Podcast creator Hrishikesh Hirway told his co-host Josh Malina, who played Will Bailey on the show, that this is one of the episodes he includes in his “crash-course” for the show.
“Say I’m trying to get someone to watch the show and catch them up to where I’m at or something just like speed them through a marathon to have them fall in love with the show. This is one of the episodes is a must-watch for me,” said Hirway, adding, “I think it’s just an exquisite episode … It’s maybe not huge or it’s not exciting — as I’ve said many times before: The big exciting ones aren’t necessarily my favorite ones. The quieter ones often are and this one I think is.”
In the episode, President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) plays chess with both Toby (Richard Schiff) and Sam (Rob Lowe), while Josh (Bradley Whitford) agonizes over the 42 votes cast in Hartsfield’s Land. Meanwhile, C.J. (Allison Janney) and Charlie (Dule Hill) engage in a prank war.
The whole cast is back — however, cast member John Spencer, who played Bartlet’s Chief of Staff Leo McGarry, died during the seventh season of the show back in 2005. In this theatrical staging of the episode, his role is played by Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown from This Is Us.
Additionally, A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote will include act breaks with guest appearances from When We All Vote co-chair Michelle Obama, President Bill Clinton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and more.
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