But of the two, I’d rather keep Geena Davis/Mackenzie Allen around for a while.
OK, I admit it. I am a sucker for TV. I have given it up several times in the past, but always end up returning to suckle at “The Glass Teat,” to use SF author
Harrison Harlan Ellison’s phrase.
ABC premiered Commander in Chief last fall, starring Davis as a female vice-president who ends up in the seat of power. She is a political independent, a former academic with three kids and an understanding, politically savvy husband. Her running mate, a Democrat, picked her to appeal to that demographic, but as he lies in his sickbed, makes it clear to her that she has to step aside to let the Speaker of the House (played by Donald Sutherland) take charge.
After some internal conflict, she refuses, taking the oath of office at the end of the first episode.
The second ep was also pretty good, as we get a glimpse of the problems Allen and her family face professionally and personally as she settles into office.
Later eps lost the initial lustre and viewers bailed out. There were apparently some problems between the creator/writer/producer Rob Luria and ABC, too. They sacked him, replacing him with veteran TV writer/producer Stephen Bochco of NYPD Blue fame.
Then CiC went on hiatus, which is thinly disguised TV biz shorthand for, “we’re not too sure what to do now. We don’t have enough episodes in the can to run while we figure it out. So we’ll pull it off the air, run some other drivel in its place, and try later.”
It’s a sure way to kill a show off. It happened with Witchblade, so I figured CiC was as extinct as T. rex. But, lo! It returned last Thursday with a so-so plot (still unrealistic, but it’s TV after all) and will be on tomorrow.
TV pundits, however, predict CiC will disappear before the current TV season ends. The show has lost half its original viewership, and in commercial network TV, ratings dictate policy. Unless the current producers and writers (Bochco left, too) can pull a rabbit out of a hat, Geena Davis and party will be out of jobs by May.
It’s a shame, because the show had great promise. While TV and movies have portrayed female presidents before, this show had a spin on it that made the premise more appealing. The verbal and political sparring between the SotH Nathan Templeton (Sutherland) and Mac Allen (Davis) was entertaining, since the actors involved can make even bad writing appealing. The plots sometimes veered into the outlandish — a teenage party at the White House, with necking in the Oval Office?!? — but at times had some decent political commentary.
As Ellison noted years ago, we cannot expect network (corporate) TV to produce works of high art, but we can hope they can try. Sadly, ABC dropped the ball on this show, so it may never recover.