Sorry, I have nothing special planned. In fact, I'm simply going to treat this post like any other and point to some research I just found about the television drama The West Wing (that's The Left Wing for you conservative cynics) and its usefulness in teaching young people about civics.
Yes, the program has been off the air for quite some time. There's no telling exactly how long this manuscript bounced around various journals before finding a home. Indeed, I'm fairly positive I saw a version of this at some journal in the past given how many I read for.
As the authors note: "Even though the liberal argument tends to win out in the end, the show generally represents both sides of an issue, as evidenced in the “Take this Sabbath Day” episode." That's fine, and it was a helluva show whether you agreed with its politics or not, and the authors do make note of the limitations of such programming in teaching kids about government and politics. Still, they are optimistic about such programs as a way to engage students. As they say in their last graph:
We believe creative civics and government teachers can find a multitude of uses for The West Wing if they are willing take a risk and use film or television shows in a proactive way in their classrooms. At the very least, The West Wing presents students with a portrayal of politics that is more compelling and, in many ways, more authentic than what they see on television or uncover through traditional political instruction.