There is nothing in the world quite like a West Wing Christmas episode. The first three seasons’ Christmas episodes basically won supporting actor emmys for the actor featured most prominently: Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford, and finally, wonderfully, John Spencer.
In the first season, Toby Ziegler is drawn into the story of a homeless Korean War Veteran who dies of exposure on the National Mall a few days before Christmas. He eventually arranges for a funeral for the man, and finds the man’s brother, another homeless man with an unspecified mental illness.
The second season revolves around the post-traumatic stress syndrome of Josh Lyman, who was shot at the beginning of the season. In the days before Christmas, he becomes irritable and unstable, and his friends take note. Leo eventually brings in a trauma specialist, to try to help Josh deal with his problems. This is the speech Leo gives him at the end of the episode, and it’s such a wonderful bit of Leo in a nutshell.
Speaking of Leo, in the third season Christmas episode, Leo takes center stage. Leo is testifying before congress about the President’s decision to withhold knowledge of his Multiple Sclerosis. But the real problem for Leo is that he, a recovering alcoholic, relapsed several years previously, during what turned out to be an MS attack by the President. He is saved from having to testify about this at the last minute by a recess, but the episode’s heart is the friendship between Leo & Jed Bartlett.
Excuse me, I’m just crying like a baby, don’t mind me.