Home / TV Review: Commander-in-Chief: Only Slightly Believable

TV Review: Commander-in-Chief: Only Slightly Believable

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ABC’s Commander-in-Chief: Only Slightly Believable

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a female President and all that the gender might entail, with a male Vice-President who is a tough General and isn’t afraid to speak the truth?

Said female President would, of course, be an Independent, while the Vice-President would be her former opponent.

Naturally the only way, given our current political scene, that this would happen is through a series of weird circumstances and taken opportunities.

With only two years until the next election, as the plot for ABC’s Commander in Chief (Tuesdays-9 pm) would have us believe, and with no chance for re-election, these two odd bedfellows could change the world with no mind to politics and the burden of campaigning.

It’s an improbable set of circumstances but that’s what fiction is in so many ways. For the moment, let’s say the concept intrigues.

While, as a self-confessed political junkie, I enjoy the show, but, I’m already thinking of boycotting it.

Because didn’t Donald Southerland, who portrays the nasty Speaker of the House in the series, go overseas and bash the United States of America?

Of course the ACTOR has the right to speak his mind given that free speech thing. It’s bothersome to me that someone who plays a powerful politician in a TV series is all of a sudden blessed with the wisdom to be granted an international audience.

To add to Southerland’s outrage, the man totally boo-hooed to the world forum over the despicable state of his country, a country so damn bad that he must cry over the entire mess it has become.

Obviously, given the statements he made about the administration being corrupt and so evidently a proponent of the rich, Southerland has problems with the current executive leadership.

Hey, somebody tell Mr. Boo-Hoo Southerland that the current occupant of the White House was ELECTED by the people. The common people who carry this country on their backs and are not rich ACTORS with a world forum to watch sad tears descend from ACTING eyeballs.

By a margin of four, count ’em, FOUR MILLION votes.

Then I guess we are all idiots for not obeying the wisdom of Hollywood elites who do, what with all those ACTORS, know way more than us schlubs.

If I don’t boycott the series for Southerland’s total lack of class, I might for the improbability of the plot.

NBC’s West Wing is a wishful form of political-think, (my review on this series HERE), but it is way more realistic in terms of working within the existing political system with all of its faults and warts.

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McKenzie Allen, played fairly well by Geena Davis, becomes President by virtue of the fact that the President died suddenly with Allen as his Independent VP.

A couple more improbable plot stretches from the most recent episode (Tuesday, 10/4/05). Allen’s eldest daughter manages to misplace her diary. Which causes, as one might imagine, an uproar because should such a thing land in the wrong hands the tabloids and gossip columns would run amok.

First, this child’s mother had been the country’s Vice-President before her strange ascendancy to the nation’s highest office. It’s not like this first daughter wouldn’t be aware of the political sensitivity of having a diary, written in her own hand, hardly kept under lock and key but shoved into a dresser drawer.

Second, how many teenage girls really keep diaries like this any more?

This is not to say that teenage girls still don’t have deep thoughts and adolescent confusion as in the days before Word Processors with deeply embedded passwords.

An adolescent in such a sensitive situation would more likely keep her private thoughts on a personal computer or at the least, go with me here, have it under some sort of lock and key!

In a strange twist, the former President’s wife also resides in the White House living quarters. This oddity is explained away by the fact that Eleanor Roosevelt remained in the White House for several months after her husband died.

It’s obvious that the former First Lady, Grace Bridges, is going to play a part in this series. In the first episode of Commander-in-Chief, Grace was very encouraging to McKenzie.

Perfect. Have a real insider from the Bridges administration right on the spot to advise and inform.

I find it totally not believable.

Which is not to say that Commander-in-Chief is without its believable drama. The troubles and dilemmas of the “First Husband”, for example, are interesting. Something Bill Clinton might soon face.

And there’s plenty of political in-fighting to give the series a dose of reality. There’s even some sort of Nancy Pelosi clone, the Senate Majority leader on the series, who threatens Allen with punishment should she not go along with the flow.

Tentatively I will watch the next episode of the series as the political junkee in me can’t resist. If I hear one more thing about the ACTOR Donald Southerland boo-hooing in foreign countries about our elected officials, and I’d feel the same way no matter who was in the White House if they were fairly elected, then I will watch no more.

And Geena Davis, the ACTRESS, better not get all wise and think she’s the new national guru on all things political.

ACTORS and ACTRESSES have a right to free speech, of course.

I do not have to watch their self-aggrandizing speech, however.

Or do I have to watch their strange and oddly-plotted TV series.
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  • Baronius

    Yeah, I couldn’t get past the premise either. A VP is chosen to help the ticket! What a shock. Something like 20% of Vice-Presidents have had to replace their Presidents, and not many of them were popular and competent. The writers have some third world idea of the US government, where a staff can bully someone out of office.

  • Janet

    You must not have daughters if you don’t know that girls still keep diaries and lots of them – without lock and key!

    The former first lady staying in the Whitehouse may signify the plight of women who are financially dependent on their husbands. She needs a plan – where to go? What to do? Women would support each other in this situation. The new President would allow the stay-on. The former first lady would support the new President.

  • imelda

    holy cow, it’s only a TV show! You go right ahead and boycott it girl. I’m sure Hollywood will be crushed. Besides it’s science fiction – an academic, an intellectual – and a woman – as president of the US – yeah, a likely scenario.

    It is like railing against Buffy the Vampire Slayer because her watcher was British – and you don’t need no stinking Brits to pulverize vampires in California?

    But the show’s producers should have a chat with Geena Davis’ make-up artist about toning down that lipstick. Getting it off her teeth would be good.

    Sci-Fi shows are about wishful thinking, and it will be interesting to see what size of an audience this show garners. Meanwhile you can watch it with your framed photo of G.W. and point out all of its faults on those dateless evenings.

  • Sutherland

  • whoops. Hit return too early.

    I’m having trouble picturing this into a second season. After all the angles of the “woman as president” point are turned and examined, you don’t have anything new.

    But new issues in the real world come up every day and West Wing always played off that well.

  • Temple, you are right about there always being issues on which to base a politically-themed drama. This show looks like it wants to play up novelty more than politics.

  • -E

    I find the show entertaining. Plus Gina Davis as president isn’t really a woman president, it’s more half man half woman. I love her to death, but um yeah.

    I’ll be watching the show this season for sure.

  • christian

    donald sutherland isn’t actually an american citizen. canadian.

  • MSanger

    I am in complete agreement with your statements on Actor’s and Actresses being granted the public forums to state their political opinions. And although I am no fan of Donald Southerland, I will continue to watch it as long as the teenagers on the show don’t turn into the next O.C. Although the plot is a bit far fetched, I find it no more far fetched than Alan Alda playing a Republican candidate, and I am very impressed by the fictional account of a woman dealing with both necessary power (decisions that affect the entire country) and unnecessary politics (the garbage that she has to deal with from the others in DC).

  • MSanger

    Sorry, I meant actors and actresses instead of Actor’s and Actresses. I didn’t proof read.