Commander in Chief (TV series)
|Commander in Chief|
|Created by||Rod Lurie|
Harry J. Lennix
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||18 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||42 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Battleplan Productions
Steven Bochco Productions (from episode 8)
|Distributor||Disney–ABC Domestic Television (episodes 9-26)|
|Original release||September 27, 2005– June 14, 2006|
Commander in Chief is an American drama television series that focused on the fictional administration and family of Mackenzie Allen (portrayed by Geena Davis), the first female President of the United States, who ascends to the post from the Vice Presidency after the death of the sitting President from a sudden cerebral aneurysm.
The show was #1 on Tuesday nights until FOX's American Idol started in January. The show was also the #1 new show of the season until CBS' Criminal Minds surpassed it. Its major competitor in the 9:00 p.m. timeslot was FOX's House, which aired after American Idol.
The network replaced Lurie with Steven Bochco as show runner, but after he failed to increase ratings he was also replaced with Dee Johnson while further declining ratings brought about a hiatus, a timeslot change and ultimately cancellation.
Cast and characters
The characters of the President and Vice President were named after the two actors who played those roles in Rod Lurie's previous political thriller, The Contender. Teddy Bridges, named for Jeff Bridges who played President Jackson Evans, and Mackenzie Allen, named for Joan Allen who played Laine Hanson, his Vice Presidential nominee.
- President Mackenzie "Mac" Allen (Geena Davis) – former member of Congress from Connecticut and chancellor of the University of Richmond, an Independent chosen by Republican President Theodore Roosevelt "Teddy" Bridges as his running mate and duly elected. The first female vice president and, on Bridges' death, the first female president of the United States.
- First Gentleman Rod Calloway (Kyle Secor) – Allen's husband; formerly her vice presidential chief of staff.
- Speaker of the House Nathan Templeton (Donald Sutherland) – Republican congressional leader from Florida and Bridges' choice to succeed him as president. Has significant resentment toward President Allen.
- White House Chief of Staff Jim Gardner (Harry Lennix) – formerly President Bridges' chief of staff, asked by President Allen to continue into her administration. Mac later offered him the opportunity to be her Vice President after Warren Keaton resigned and he accepted.
- Press Secretary Kelly Ludlow (Ever Carradine) – brought into Allen's administration from her vice presidential residential staff; formerly her communications director.
- Horace Calloway (Matt Lanter), Rebecca Calloway (Caitlin Wachs), and Amy Calloway (Jasmine Jessica Anthony) – Mac and Rod's three children, sixteen-year-old twins and a six-year-old daughter. Rebecca frowns on her mother's choice to assume the presidency and holds more conservative political views than her mother.
|Peter Coyote||Warren Keaton||Vice President of the United States (resigns in Episode 15)|
|Polly Bergen||Kate Allen||President Allen's mother and White House hostess|
|Mark-Paul Gosselaar||Richard "Dickie" McDonald||Campaign Advisor|
|Matt Barr||Mike Fleming||radio commentator|
|Anthony Azizi||Vince Taylor||Special Aide to the President|
|Natasha Henstridge||Jayne Murray||Speaker's chief of staff|
The Cato Institute and Reason magazine charged that the series glorified the "Imperial Presidency" and that it favored using government force to impose the personal values of some Americans on others who disagreed with them and to impose the values of those Americans on the rest of the world.
General criticisms included that the series was so centered on Allen's gender that this became the focus of the show instead of the character's capability. However, a counter-argument[who?] is that the series was trying to depict realistically what the general public's reaction to the first female president would be and such an occurrence would probably also focus public scrutiny on a female president's gender rather than her policies. Negative comparisons have also been drawn with 24's black president David Palmer, as while in that show a black president was depicted as having been voted into office under normal circumstances, Commander in Chief's storyline showed a female president only coming into the presidency because the existing president dies in office.
However, in interviews on the show's website, various cast members said that, as time went on, there was supposed to be less focus on the President's gender and more on the fact that she was an Independent, especially when she would have run for election. On the day the series premiered, Davis was reported to have said in an interview, "This is a show about every aspect of the life of a person who is president, the personal side and the public side." A November 2005 review in USA Today noted the show's focus was more on Allen's family than world or national political events; in the same review, Allen's leadership style was compared and contrasted favorably with that of Josiah Bartlet of The West Wing. A reviewer for United Features Syndicate wrote that "While 'Commander' avoids the overt wonkery of 'West Wing,' it also fails to give its audience much credit for knowing history or current events."
The episode Ties That Bind generated further controversy and negative press in its fictional depiction of the bordering suburb of Hyattsville, Maryland, as having one of the fastest growing crime rates in the United States. It also indirectly depicted the town as being an urban ghetto dominated by poor minorities. The city and Prince George's County were very upset at ABC and somewhat surprised as well at this depiction; in reality, the city is ethnically mixed, middle-income and mostly suburban in density and character. On May 1, 2006, ABC formally apologized to both the city and county.
The Traditional Values Coalition, FrontPage Magazine and conservative commentators have gone on record complaining that the show was really a thinly veiled attempt to lay groundwork for a possible 2008 Presidential run by prominent Democrat Hillary Clinton. This charge has been denied by Lurie, Davis and ABC.
The series had good ratings initially, but they waned in the weeks to come.
The series went on hiatus after its January 24, 2006 episode. In its place, ABC promoted a new Arrested Development-type show titled Sons & Daughters. Commander in Chief was scheduled to return on April 18. However, on March 29, ABC announced that it would instead return on April 13 and move from its Tuesday 9 p.m. slot to a 10 p.m. slot on Thursdays, directly competing with CBS hit Without a Trace and longtime NBC standby ER. Some media experts thought that ABC was hoping the show could be saved by gaining viewers from the surprise reality hit American Inventor aired right before Commander in Chief. However, the reality show saw its ratings drop by half and proved to be a weak lead in to Commander in Chief.
The show's return on April 13 was met by low ratings in its new time slot. Preliminary ratings available on April 14 indicated that only 8.2 million viewers (2.4 rating/7 share in the 18-49 demographic) tuned in for the show's return. CBS's Without a Trace dominated the hour with 18.6 million viewers. NBC's ER, airing a repeat, beat Commander in Chief in the 18-49 demographic (2.6/7 versus 2.4/7), although it had about two million viewers less overall.
ABC pulled the series from its lineup on May 2, 2006, and on May 13 announced that the show had been cancelled. The remaining three episodes of the season were broadcast after the ratings year had ended.
|1||101||Pilot||September 27, 2005|
|2||102||"First Choice"||October 4, 2005|
|3||103||"First Strike"||October 11, 2005|
|4||104||"First Dance"||October 18, 2005|
|5||105||"First...Do No Harm"||October 25, 2005|
|6||106||"First Disaster"||November 1, 2005|
|7||107||"First Scandal"||November 8, 2005|
|8||108||"Rubie Dubidoux and the Brown Bound Express"||November 15, 2005|
|9||109||"The Mom Who Came to Dinner"||November 29, 2005|
|10||110||"Sub Enchanted Evening"||January 10, 2006|
|11||111||"No Nukes Is Good Nukes"||January 17, 2006|
|12||112||"Wind Beneath My Wing"||January 24, 2006|
|13||113||"State of The Unions"||April 13, 2006|
|14||114||"The Price You Pay"||April 20, 2006|
|15||115||"Ties That Bind"||April 27, 2006|
|16||116||"The Elephant in the Room"||May 31, 2006|
|17||117||"Happy Birthday, Madam President"||June 7, 2006|
|18||118||"Unfinished Business"||June 14, 2006|
TV film and second season
Shortly after the cancellation of the regular series, rumors began to arise that a TV movie would be produced in late 2006. Soon after, there were a number of reports confirming the TV film, one of which was made by Geena Davis to The Stage. The TV film was set to enter production, but columnist Matt Roush reported "on excellent authority" in TV Guide that it is no longer in the works.
- Starting with the episode Rubie Dubidoux and the Brown Bound Express, Steven Bochco replaced Rod Lurie as head executive producer and showrunner. Bochco's changes included a staff of new writers and a new title design similar in style to that of NBC's The West Wing.
- Part of the Greater Richmond Children's Choir (GRCC) of Richmond, Virginia was the French Choir in the pilot episode, making an ironic connection between real life and fiction since Mackenzie Allen was Chancellor of the University of Richmond when Bridges tapped her as his running mate as seen as a flashback in the pilot, the scenes in Paris were also filmed at the University of Richmond.
- Former Clinton Administration National Security Advisor Sandy Berger was signed on as an advisor to the show.
- City Hall - 200 N. Spring St., Downtown, Los Angeles, California, USA
- Oriole Park at Camden Yards - 333 W. Camden Street, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
- Raleigh Studios - 5300 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, California, USA (studio)
- University of Richmond - 28 Westhampton Way, Richmond, Virginia, USA
- Washington, District of Columbia, USA
- The Huntington Library - San Marino, California, USA
- Intersection of North Vermont Avenue and Russell Avenue, Los Feliz, California, USA
Awards and nominations
On April 28, 2006, Buena Vista Home Video formally announced the release of Commander In Chief: The Complete First Season. However, following the show's cancellation, it was decided that it should be split into two volumes.
In Italy, the 5 DVD boxset was released on December 1, 2006 and it contains all original episodes dubbed in Italian plus voice tracks in English and Spanish and also special features the Pilot episode with comments by Rod Lurie and deleted scenes.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Region 1||Region 2||Description|
|The Inaugural Edition, Part 1||10||June 27, 2006||N/A||Episodes 1 - 10|
|The Inaugural Edition, Part 2||8||September 5, 2006||N/A||Episodes 11 - 18, Interview with Geena Davis, Unaired Scenes, Bloopers, Exclusive Creator Commentaries.|
|The Complete First Season||18||N/A||January 29, 2007||Interview with Geena Davis, Unaired Scenes, Bloopers, Exclusive Creator Commentaries.|
- Australia - Previously: Seven Network Australia (Original airing)
Currently: 7TWO (Encore Screening - 2009)
- Asia - STAR World, Hallmark Channel
- Belgium - Fox life
- Bulgaria - Fox life as "Главнокомандващ"
- Canada - CTV (English), Historia (French)
- Denmark - TV 2
- Estonia - Fox life
- Finland - Nelonen
- France - M6 then Téva
- Germany - Sat.1 as "Welcome, Mrs. President"
- Hong Kong - ATV World as 最高統帥 (Commander in Chief)
- Hungary - Viasat 3 as "Az elnöknő" (Mrs. President)
- India - STAR World
- Indonesia - Metro TV
- Republic of Ireland - RTÉ One
- Israel - Yes Stars as "Gvirti Hanasie" (Madam President)
- Italy - Rai Uno and Fox Life as "Una donna alla Casa Bianca" (A woman at the White House)
- Japan - Fox life as "マダムプレジデント"
- Kenya - NTV
- Latin America - Sony Entertainment Television
- Latvia - Fox life
- Lithuania - Fox life
- Malaysia - 8TV
- Middle East - Showtime Arabia / MBC 4
- Netherlands - Foxlife
- New Zealand - TV2
- Norway - TVNORGE
- Philippines - STAR World
- Pakistan - STAR World From October 12, 2007
- Poland - TVP1 as "Pani prezydent" (Madam President)
- Portugal - SIC as "Senhora Presidente" (Mrs. President)
- Russia - Fox Life
- Serbia - RTS 2 as "Predsednica" (Mrs. President)
- Singapore - MediaCorp TV Channel 5
- Slovenia - POP TV as "Gospa predsednica" (Mrs. President)
- South Africa - SABC 2
- South Korea - KBS2
- Spain - People&Arts/La Sexta as "Señora Presidenta" (Mrs. President)
- Sweden - TV4
- Switzerland - SF zwei as "Welcome, Mrs. President" (German+English Bilingual)
- Taiwan - Public Television Service as "白宮女總統" (Female President at the White House) 
- Thailand - TrueVisions16 Hallmark Channel as "ประธานาธิบดีดอกไม้เหล็ก"(Iron Flower Mrs. President)
- Trinidad and Tobago - CNMG
- Turkey - DiziMax
- United Kingdom - ABC1 (Apr 2006), More4 (10 October 2006), with repeats on More4, Channel 4, and E4
- Gay, Verne. "He's not blue about leaving network TV". The Boston Globe, September 5, 2007. Accessed 2 July 2009.
- Alston, Joshua (2008-02-11). "Diversity Training". newsweek.com.
- Jay Bobbin (Zap2it), "Geena Davis becomes ABC's 'Commander in Chief'," Albany Times Union, On TV section, p. 3, September 25, 2005.
- Bill Keveney, "Study in leadership styles," USA Today, November 1, 2005.
- Kevin McDonough, "Davis begins term as President," United Features Syndicate, Albany Times Union, p. n/a, September 26, 2005.
- Maynard, John (2006-03-30). "Pulled After Approval Ratings Fell, 'Commander in Chief' Returning". washingtonpost.com.
- Thomas, Liz (2006-06-30). "Geena Davis confirms Commander in Chief telemovie". thestage.co.uk.
- Roush, Matt (2006-10-27). "Roush on Commander in Chief". tvguide.com.
- Lacey, Gord (2006-04-28). "Commander in Chief - David Takes Office in October". tvshowsondvd.com.
- Lacey, Gord (2006-05-25). "Commander in Chief - One Set Become Two Volumes". tvshowsondvd.com.
- "Una Donna Alla Casa Bianca Stagione 1". dvd.it.
- Commander in Chief at the Internet Movie Database
- Commander in Chief at TV.com
- Commander in Chief at epguides.com