Commander in Chief (TV series)

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Commander in Chief
Commander in Chief logo.png
GenrePolitical drama
Created byRod Lurie
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes17
Executive producers
  • James Spies
  • Sascha Schneider
Running time42 minutes
Production companies
DistributorBuena Vista Television
Original networkABC
Picture format720p (HDTV)
Original releaseSeptember 27, 2005 (2005-09-27) –
June 14, 2006 (2006-06-14)

Commander in Chief is an American political 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 series began broadcasting on ABC on Tuesday, September 27, 2005, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, although most countries outside North America began screening the series in mid-2006.

The show was ranked No. 1 on Tuesday nights until Fox's American Idol started in January. The show was also the No. 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 series was created by American director Rod Lurie, director of the films The Contender and Deterrence.

The network replaced Lurie with Steven Bochco as show runner.[1][2] After ratings continued declining, Bochco was replaced by Dee Johnson. Further declining ratings brought about a hiatus, a timeslot change and ultimately cancellation announced in May 2006, with the final episodes airing the following month.[2]



  • Mackenzie Allen (Geena Davis)
    • Mac is a former member of Congress from Connecticut and chancellor of the University of Richmond. An independent placed on the Republican presidential ticket alongside Teddy Bridges. It is a common belief she was the reason Bridges won the election. Mac becomes the first female vice president, a very popular one at that, and, upon Bridges' death, she becomes the first female president of the United States. During the first season, Mac decides she wants to run for re-election, with her political strategists stating her campaign is likely to secure her the middle fifty percent of voters.
  • Nathan Templeton (Donald Sutherland)
    • Templeton is a Republican congressional leader from Florida and The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. He was Bridges' choice to succeed him as president, and thus he harbors significant resentment towards Mac, who refused to resign from her position. He and Mac slowly become more acquainted with one another over the course of the series, and begin to develop a political kinship. He has his own intentions to run as a Republican candidate in the next election. He is married, with no children.
  • Jim Gardner (Harry Lennix)
    • Jim was Bridges' chief of staff, and was asked by Allen to continue into her administration. A loyal supporter of his Commander in Chief, Gardner finds himself resented by her husband, Rod Calloway, who served as her vice presidential chief of staff. Gardner becomes Vice President of the United States following the resignation of Keaton.
  • Rod Calloway (Kyle Secor)
    • Calloway is Mac's husband. He was her vice-presidential chief of staff, and thus was initially resentful of Gardner. During the first season, Calloway encourages Mac to give him an office in the West Wing, and a real role in the administration. He later returns to a more traditional First Person role, though Mac's mother continues to act as hostess.
  • Kelly Ludlow (Ever Carradine)
    • Brought into Allen's administration from her vice presidential residential staff, Ludlow was the VP's communications director. She is promoted to Press Secretary ahead of the incumbent Deputy Press Secretary, though later proves herself particularly capable in this role. As the series progresses, Mac offers her a more in-depth role in the administration, and thus keeps her apprised of numerous political developments.
  • Richard McDonald (Mark-Paul Gosselaar)
    • Dickie is a campaign advisor and political strategist hired by Rod Calloway into Mac's administration. He idolizes the President, and believes her unquestioning principles to be unmatched in Washington. He often irritates senior staff by focusing only on the political outcomes of personal situations, although he states he does so in order to secure Mac the middle fifty percent of voters.
  • Horace, Rebecca, and Amy Calloway (Matt Lanter, Caitlin Wachs, and Jasmine Anthony)
    • Horace, Rebecca, and Amy are Mac and Rod's children. Horace and Rebecca, aged sixteen, are twins, and Amy is six years old. Rebecca frowns on her mother's choice to assume the presidency and holds more conservative political views than her mother, though Horace is more supportive.


  • Vince Taylor (Anthony Azizi); a special aide to the president.
  • Jayne Murray (Natasha Henstridge); the Speaker's chief of staff.
  • Warren Keaton (Peter Coyote); the vice president of the United States who resigns in episode fifteen.
  • Kate Allen (Polly Bergen); Mac's mother and the White House hostess.
  • Mike Fleming (Matt Barr); a guy from Becca's high school and her boyfriend later on.
  • Joan Greer (Julie Ann Emery); a Secret Service agent.


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUS viewers
1"Pilot"Rod LurieRod LurieSeptember 27, 2005 (2005-09-27)16.370[3]

While on a diplomatic mission in Paris, Vice President Mackenzie Allen is informed that President Teddy Bridges has suffered a possibly fatal stroke. Since it is very unlikely, that Teddy Bridges will be able to remain in office, Jim Gardner asks Mac to resign. That way Speaker of the House Nathan Templeton would assume the presidency.

Mac visits President Bridges in the hospital and he asks her to resign, too. Upon the President's death, Allen is again asked by Templeton to step aside. Even though she holds her resignation speech in her hands, she chooses to take the oath of office.

As her first action in office, Allen finishes a mission she championed as vice president. She negotiates to free a Nigerian woman who is sentenced to death by stoning for having sex outside of marriage. While the first female president speaks to Congress, the Nigerians quietly hand their prisoner over to the U.S. military and she is flown out of the country.

The episode contains several inaccuracies about Nigeria; for instance, Nigeria has a president as both head of state and head of government, therefore it does not have a prime minister as is mentioned in the series. Like the United States, Nigeria is a federal republic and most domestic laws are state-, and not nationally set. Hence, while Sharia law is existent in a minority of states, Lagos, in which the woman is apparently imprisoned in this episode, is not one of them.
2"First Choice"Rod LurieRod Lurie and Dee JohnsonOctober 4, 2005 (2005-10-04)16.940[4]

Allen faces the first political crisis of her presidency as her selection of a new Vice President is manipulated by Speaker Templeton. Someone leaked a wrong name to the press. Meanwhile, the White House is still in disorder after the resignation of several other members of the Bridges administration, including the Press Secretary. Allen appoints her personal speechwriter, Kelly Ludlow, to be the new Press Secretary.

Allen's daughter Rebecca is concerned when her personal diary disappeared from her possessions during the family's move to the White House. The Secret Service is summoned to by the President to help find the diary. It turned out the diary was not lost but had been mistakenly placed among the possessions of Allen's youngest daughter (Amy).

President Allen offers the Vice Presidency to her former political rival Warren Keaton, a former United States Army General and vice presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket who was defeated by the Bridges-Allen ticket.
3"First Strike"Rod LurieRod Lurie and Dee JohnsonOctober 11, 2005 (2005-10-11)16.230[5]

President Allen faces her first international crisis when nine undercover DEA agents are killed in the fictitious South American country of San Pasquale. In the meantime, the First Gentleman begins coaching vice presidential nominee Warren Keaton for his upcoming confirmation hearings and Horace and Becca begin their new terms in a public school.

The President orders the Air Force and the DEA to destroy coca fields in San Pasquale and calls for the people of the country to ask for the arrest of General Sanchez, the dictator of San Pasquale. Before the attack begins, the military of the country overthrows Sanchez. Juan Duran, San Pasquale's exiled president, is asked to return to power.
4"First Dance"Vincent MisianoSteven A. Cohen and Allison AdlerOctober 18, 2005 (2005-10-18)16.300[6]

President Allen faces her first summit and state dinner with the President of Russia Dmitri Kharkov. The subject of civil liberties and dissident journalists is a source of deep division between the two world leaders.

To coincide with the summit, Nathan Templeton has organized the resignation of several members of Allen's Cabinet by offering them positions in a future administration with himself as President. Among the resignations were those of the National Security Advisor and the Secretary of the Interior. Chief of Staff Jim Gardner visits Templeton to demand explanations for his actions, but instead, Templeton offers Gardner the opportunity to be his Vice President if he resigns his position as Chief of Staff. Gardner refuses the offer as Templeton vows that he will run and defeat Allen in the next election.

During the state dinner, whilst dancing together which was viewed badly by the White House staff, President Kharkov and President Allen seem to mend their differences and offer support for each other's countries. The family life of the First Family has some controversies when Rebecca, the President's daughter, decides not to attend the dinner in order to have a date with a school friend.

At the end of the episode, President Allen presents Templeton with a biography of the 10th President of the United States, John Tyler, whose Cabinet largely resigned when he assumed the presidency. Tyler managed to stay in the White House until the end of his term.
5"First...Do No Harm"Dan MinahanDahvi Waller and Anya EpsteinOctober 25, 2005 (2005-10-25)15.620[7]

Just after announcing Anthony Prado as the new National Security Advisor, President Allen is called out of the press conference. She is told that a terrorist has been caught attempting to cross the Canada–US border into the United States with a car full of explosives. His intended target was an elementary school in Springfield, Missouri. Because the terrorist's organization always plans simultaneous, thematically-linked attacks, they must figure out what other locations were targeted and stop the attacks. A problem arises, however, when Allen and Attorney General Melanie Blackston have different views on how to deal with the situation; Allen wants to invade a known training camp for more information while Blackston believes that the information can be coerced from the captured terrorist. Allen finally decides to go ahead with the raid of the camp, but also permits Blackston to interrogate the prisoner, so long as Allen doesn't "hear" that he was tortured. Furthermore, when news of the situation is leaked to the press, Speaker of the House Nathan Templeton goes on TV and publicly second-guesses Allen's decisions on how to handle the threat.

At the same time it's Halloween, and Allen's daughter Amy desperately wants to go trick-or-treating like a normal kid. She is disappointed when, due to security concerns, Allen tells her daughter that she might have to settle for a party this year. More family matters arise when Rod, the First Gentleman, learns that he is being humiliated by late-night comics. This seriously affects his son, Horace, who tries desperately at school to stand up for his father, nearly getting into a physical fight. After the fight, Allen catches Rebecca making out with her boyfriend. Horrified by thinking that her daughter might be interested in sex, Mac kicks her boyfriend out of the White House, and orders Prado to have the Secret Service guard Rebecca's room, therefore preventing her from having her boyfriend in her room.

In the end, the terrorist plot is unraveled using the information found in the raid, and Allen averts the first real security crisis of her administration. Amy is allowed to go trick-or-treating. But when Allen discovers, via comments from Templeton, that Blackston had indeed allowed the imprisoned terrorist to be tortured, she is horrified and fires Blackston.
6"First Disaster"Vincent MisianoCrystal Nix-Hines and Richard ArthurNovember 1, 2005 (2005-11-01)14.640[8]

After a hurricane affects the state of Florida, an oil tanker off of the coast of the state is damaged. Large amounts of oil are spilled into the sea and though the ship stops leaking oil, it is only a matter of time before some hairline fractures break and more oil spills. President Allen is presented with two options: sink the ship in the hope that such a move would not rupture the hull or take it to a Florida port where it can be repaired. She orders it to return to Florida, so that should there be a further oil spill it will damage only a localized part of Florida as, alternatively, the oil could be carried with the Gulf Stream, which would carry the spill to a great part of the eastern coast. Nathan Templeton persuades the Governor of Florida to go to court so that the ship won't be allowed to go to port and it's instead forced to be sunk. However, the President then declares the ship part of the Coast Guard so that she can legally bring it into a naval port, which is federally controlled.

At the same time, there are controversies within the First Family, when the First Gentleman is considering to accept the office of Commissioner of Baseball, an action which disturbs the President, since her husband did not tell her about this offer and his serious consideration of it before telling their children and White House officials. The President's daughter Rebecca convinces her security officer to allow her to have ten minutes alone with her boyfriend outside of the view of the Secret Service which is making her self-conscious. However, as a result of this, the first child is swarmed by autograph-seekers and the First Gentleman removes the security officer from the presidential detail as a result.

The episode ends with President Allen reaching an agreement with Templeton and the Governor of Florida; the president will work with more funding for the state and will ensure that military bases which are being shut down elsewhere are transferred to Florida, providing thousands of new jobs, while the Governor allows the damaged tanker to enter a port in Florida.
7"First Scandal"Dan AttiasRod Lurie and Dee JohnsonNovember 8, 2005 (2005-11-08)14.780[9]

A new book is released which reveals that President Bridges had asked Allen to resign the presidency on his deathbed. This results in a major crisis in the White House and protests in the streets outside. In the meantime, General Keaton's confirmation hearings are set to begin in the House of Representatives and Speaker Templeton appears set to reveal some damaging personal information on Keaton that a Republican congressman learned when the two were friends and serving together in the Army.

Rebecca convinces her father to allow her to go to a party hosted by her boyfriend and the two go alone to his room where he expresses his interest in having sexual intercourse with her. Rebecca, realizing that she likes him but this is something she is not yet ready for, declines and leaves and it is revealed to the viewers that her boyfriend was recording them with a hidden video camera.

Rod convinces President Allen to confront her chief of staff, Jim Gardner, on the book as Rod believed Gardner is the source. Gardner denies this and, citing the President's lack of trust in him, tenders his resignation. Eventually, he and the President discuss this and Gardner suggests that President Bridges himself may have been the source as he was very close to the author and often used him as a sounding board for his ideas. This, however, does not explain how the author obtained Allen's handwritten resignation speech which she penned after Bridges' death. As Press Secretary Kelly Ludlow said, on the night the speech was written it was "a full house". Among others Attorney General Melanie Blackston, now a rival, and Speaker Templeton could have swiped the letter.

Finally, as the House hearings on Keaton's nomination to the Vice-Presidency enter the late evening, questioning begins on the damaging personal information, which seems to relate to Keaton's deceased daughter, who we learn was a medical doctor and a single mother. Templeton halts the hearings, then informs Keaton that he knew what was coming forward and would not permit such dirty politics. Keaton expresses his gratitude and Templeton indicates he will expect the favor to be returned.

In the end, President Allen has a news conference in which she admits that Bridges had asked her to resign but that she would have been derelict in her duty as the elected Vice President to comply with his request. She agrees to answer all questions on the subject on the condition that the press gallery not raise the issue again. The Speaker announces that the House has held a snap vote and confirmed Keaton by a margin of 386–46 (a comment by the president that Keaton should "kick some tail, just like [he] did in the Senate" suggests that his nomination has already been confirmed by the United States Senate, as per the 25th Amendment) and the President returns Gardner's resignation letter unopened.
8"Rubie Dubidoux and the Brown Bound Express"Jeremy PodeswaSteven BochcoNovember 15, 2005 (2005-11-15)12.570[10]

At the White House, President Allen names her husband Rod as strategic planning advisor to assist her in transitioning her administration from reactionary to visionary. Gardner protests saying that strategic planning should be the purview of the chief of staff but the President explains to him that as the chief aide to an Independent President, he has a far greater workload in coalition building from issue to issue to fully focus on the big picture.

Using the information provided by lobbyists in the pharmaceutical industry, Speaker Templeton learns that Vince Taylor is HIV-positive and plans to exploit this information to embarrass the president. The speaker's aide, Jane, warns Jim of this as she believes it is taking matters too far. In the meantime, friends of Kelly's from Florida provide her with a 1965 speech of Templeton's making strong statements in favor of segregation. The President at first refuses to use the tape against Templeton. When Jim tells Allen about Vince's condition and private life, she confronts him. Vince accidentally offers her his resignation, and as a result, she fires him for not trusting her to tell her about this in the first place. Jim tells her that firing Vince was a bad idea and warns her about what else Templeton will do to her in the future, but the President at first refuses to have Vince hired again, as she cannot work with someone she can't trust. However, when she learns of Templeton's plan to embarrass Vince and the President herself, she shows him the tape and warns him against embarrassing her or her staff. The Speaker fires Jane for having revealed his plan to Jim while the President hires Vince to work again.

Meanwhile, Rebecca's boyfriend turns out to have only been interested in sex and tells her that she can give him a call if she is interested in doing the same but in the meantime things are off.

Finally, Horace gets into a confrontation with Rebecca's former boyfriend as he is spreading rumors that he did, in fact, have sex with Becca. When Rod confronts Horace about getting an F and plagiarizing an essay, Horace responds, "What's worse a cheater or a slut?", letting his father know of what has happened to her daughter. Rebecca assures her parents that the rumors are false. Allen hears about the rumors and politely confronts her daughter in a suspicious, but not in a mild physical way, and reveals she was not a virgin herself when she got married. Rebecca is keeping her secret that she nearly did have sex with him. Her mother suggests talking to his parents. Becca refuses immediately. The President offers her to have him arrested under the Patriot Act and ship him off to prison in Syria. Becca knows her mother is joking, so she agrees.

The episode ends as the President reveals that she will be holding weekly news conferences and, with Vince at her side, reveals that he is HIV-positive and tells the American people that victims of the disease can be very productive members of society.

Starting with this episode Steven Bochco takes over as executive producer after replacing Rod Lurie.
9"The Mom Who Came to Dinner"Chris LongSteven Bochco, Stuart Stevens, and Steven A. CohenNovember 29, 2005 (2005-11-29)13.660[12]
During the Thanksgiving holiday, Mackenzie's mother, Kate (Polly Bergen),[11] comes to spend the holiday and is invited to remain permanently. Mac decides to invite Nathan Templeton and his wife to join them for dinner, which Kate insists on cooking herself much to the chagrin of White House tradition. When an independent commission proposes the closing of a major naval base in Mac's home state of Connecticut, which could devastate the local economy, Rod brings in Richard "Dickie" McDonald (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), a media consultant, to help build her image and lagging poll numbers. Mac also weighs her opinion on the fate of a woman on death row.
10"Sub Enchanted Evening/No Nukes is Good Nukes"Jesse Bochco and Bobby RothSteven BochcoJanuary 10, 2006 (2006-01-10)11.400[13]

The first of a two-part-episode story arc, Allen is discussing the possibility of running for reelection with her family, when she is summoned to deal with a huge crisis: a submarine has just collided with a seamount and drifted into North Korean waters. Furious, she questions the Secretary of Defense, the Director of Central Intelligence, and a member of the Joint Chiefs as to why a submarine was there, to which they reply that it was sent on a spy mission ordered by President Bridges. Annoyed that she was kept out of the loop, Allen tells the trio that nothing will be kept from her.

Several plans are tossed around: Vice President Keaton even suggests abandoning the sub in fears that North Korea will find out about the entire operation. However, Allen brings in the subject of possible assistance from the Chinese, and Templeton is brought in, since he is on friendly terms with the Chinese Ambassador and knows the situation well over there. The United States can't send a rescue boat in time to save the crewmen inside the sub, so Allen and Templeton brainstorm and come up with the idea to ask the Chinese to pilot their rescue boat. This information, of course, is kept from most people in the White House to ensure that the secret of the submarine will not be compromised.

Allen and Templeton meet with the Chinese Ambassador, and expecting that the Chinese will want something in return, come up with the deal that they will let China sell arms to Myanmar and Algeria. The Chinese Ambassador takes the deal back to his government, and they accept the terms.

Plans are underway for the rescue mission, and Mac retires to her private residence. However, she is alarmed to find that the North Koreans have found out about the submarine, and that they consider the submarine in their waters to be an "act of war". Mac rushes to the Situation Room, and the episode ends here.

The episode also deals with Rebecca's reluctance to be a part of the reelection campaign, the negative aspects of Jane's new job as well as Jane's friendly encounter with Dickie, and the staff trying to figure out what's going on with the secret meetings. As the submarine situation with North Korea increases, Mac is faced with a possible nuclear war. Templeton supports Mac by remaining at the White House but it becomes evident that he and Mac think differently on certain stands on leadership, determining how having Templeton in power might lead to a very different conclusion to the situation. After an intensive round of negotiation with the North Korean regime, Mac was able to secure China's help in order to use deep-sea rescue facilities to save the trapped sailors. After all of the sailors were rescued, Mac greeted them via a video link, the scene was subsequently broadcast to the nation. After this incident, Mac won over the support and respect of the Military, also the trust of the North Korean regime to a certain degree. The crisis was smartly averted and even Rebecca expressed her gratitude and appreciation to her mother.
11"Wind Beneath My Wing"Greg YaitanesSteven BochcoJanuary 24, 2006 (2006-01-24)10.380[14]
Templeton and Mac travel to California for the dedication of former President Bridges' Presidential Library. As Air Force One lands, the plane is held hostage by a man who demands to speak with the President or he will blow up the plane. Meanwhile, Kate watches the children while the first couple is out of town, and allows Horace and Rebecca to throw a party for their friends. One of the original texts of the Gettysburg Address is supposedly stolen but six-year-old first daughter Amy Calloway was hiding it to get back at her older siblings. Grandma Kate told them that if it never happened again, she wouldn't say anything.
12"State of the Unions"Steve ShillDee Johnson and Alison CrossApril 13, 2006 (2006-04-13)8.200[15]
Mac works on her upcoming State of the Union Address. Rod ends up in an odd position with an intern, after he trips on the way out of a restaurant as paparazzi take pictures of the incident. The following morning, a humiliating photo ends up on the front page of the papers, embarrassing Mac which threatens to politically deteriorate her image. Meanwhile, Templeton sets out to destroy Mac's Homeless Initiative Bill, in return for her to play "political hardball".
13"The Price You Pay"Jesse BochcoJoel FieldsApril 20, 2006 (2006-04-20)7.690[16]
Mac stands by her longtime friend and nominee for Attorney General, Carl Brantley (Adam Arkin), who suffers during his first Senate confirmation hearings after his background is checked. A cargo plane in Pakistan carrying sensitive military weapons goes missing and the Vice President uses his military skill to resolve the situation. Kate leaves for a date which troubles Mac and Rod who mistake her for being lost.
14"Ties That Bind"Dan LernerAlex Berger and Cynthia J. CohenApril 27, 2006 (2006-04-27)6.510[17]
Mac asks the Attorney General to research the growing urban unrest in nearby Prince George's County, Maryland, the home of Chief of Staff Jim Gardner. Meanwhile, a friend from Jim's past pays him a visit at the White House to deliver a first-hand account of the situation. Mac is then informed on the situation of the missing surface-to-air missiles that went down during a military plane crash in Pakistan and are now available on the black market. Mac must use all of her necessary means to determine that the weapons do not fall into the wrong hands. Templeton champions the Templeton Act targeting domestic crime, which Mac threatens to veto, instead supporting more law enforcement and education over the bill's calls for harsher jail sentences. The Bill passes in the House and is expected to tie in the Senate. Templeton-reminding Keaton of the favor he received at his vice presidential confirmation hearings-asks Keaton for a political favor. As his ex officio role as President of the Senate, Keaton has the power to break tied votes. Keaton, seeing no other options proceeds to the Capitol Building, but upon arrival votes down the Templeton Act, and later tenders his resignation to Mac. When Dickie learns of Vince's plans for a commitment ceremony with his partner, he urges him not to invite Mac since it may hurt her in the polls.
15"The Elephant in the Room"Bobby RothDee JohnsonMay 31, 2006 (2006-05-31)5.540[18]

Mac has an appendix attack and is hospitalized en route to a west coast trip. Prior to the operation, she invoked the 25th amendment. She assumes that Templeton (Speaker of the House) would decline a short term presidency as it would require him to resign as congressman. Then the President pro tempore of the Senate would assume the temporary position. She assumed incorrectly. Her appendix is removed in Omaha, Nebraska, while Templeton takes the oath of the presidency.

Of course Templeton takes the opportunity to grandstand and forces a mandatory end to the crippling airline strike, undoing Mac's careful negotiations. An actual resolution was looming but is now dashed by Templeton's cheap trick.

Upon her healthy return to the White House, she calls Templeton into her office and gives him an angry piece of her mind. He's not the least repentant and she throws him out with a "Get the hell out of my office."

Dee Johnson replaces Steven Bochco as executive producer after he is fired by ABC. This marks the 3rd and final producer to take over the show in a period of 10 episodes.
16"Happy Birthday, Madam President"Jeff BlecknerStuart Stevens and Steven A. CohenJune 7, 2006 (2006-06-07)5.310[19]
On Mac's birthday, she faces American hostages being taken in Turkey by a militant Kurdish group. Mac is also interviewing candidates to be her new Vice President which Dickie is very opinionated about. Rebecca's new IM buddy is shown to be a very unlikely friend.
17"Unfinished Business"Rick WallaceSteven A. Cohen, Cynthia J. Cohen, and Dee JohnsonJune 14, 2006 (2006-06-14)5.530[20]
Mac's determination to pass the Equal Rights Amendment divides her staff and family over the issue of women's rights. Jim continues to ponder Mac's vice president offer. He tells Mac that he "would be honored to be considered for the Vice-Presidency." Kelly's ex-husband, a journalist, pitches a story to the First Family which Kelly vouches for him on a professional level however is stunned to learn about his new family. Mac fires Dickie because he sabotaged her attempts to get the ERA passed. He then joins Templeton's team. Rebecca is charmed by a new boy she chats with online, who is revealed to be an intern working for Templeton. Templeton announces his presidential bid. The President and Templeton "debate" in a town hall style meeting, and the press and audience widely declare Mac as the winner.

"Little Shop of Horace"[edit]

This episode was scheduled to air on February 21, 2006, after "Wind Beneath My Wings", and a promo was released.[21]

Mac weighs her options on how to deal with a situation in Africa when she learns genocide is taking place in a country there, and it becomes clear there are no easy solutions. Meanwhile, at Dickie's suggestion, Mac considers firing her current Cabinet - many of them holdovers from Teddy Bridges' administration - and bringing in her own in order to start with a clean slate going into her re-election campaign. At the same time, Rod makes a scheduled appearance at a joint U.S.-Cuban children's gymnastics convention, where a freak accident sparks an international situation, and Horace asks Rebecca's friend, Stacey, for help with his homework—but the two end up doing more than just studying.

The episode was written by Tom Szentgyorgyi and directed by Carol Banker.[21]


Commander in Chief received generally positive reviews (Davis' performance was largely praised as being a "successful comeback vehicle"), with an aggregate score of 56/100 (26 reviews) on Metacritic.[22] Critics in major U.S. media, cited on the review site Rotten Tomatoes were generally enthusiastic. Some critics described the series as lacking "credibility," approaching "fantasy," and being less about the presidency than about "gender politics."[23]

Reason magazine charged that the series glorified the "Imperial Presidency"[24] 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.[24]

Negative comparisons were drawn[25] 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.

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."[26] 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.[27] 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."[28]

The episode "Ties That Bind" generated 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 series had good ratings initially, but they waned in subsequent weeks.

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.[29] However, the reality show saw its ratings drop by half and proved to be a weak lead in to Commander in Chief.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[2]


  • 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.
  • Beginning with the episode State of the Unions, Dee Johnson replaced Steven Bochco as head executive producer and showrunner.
  • 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.

Filming locations[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominee Result
2005 Satellite Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Geena Davis Nominated
2006 GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Drama Series Commander in Chief Nominated
2006 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Geena Davis Won[30]
2006 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Donald Sutherland Nominated
2006 Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Drama Commander in Chief Nominated
2006 Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing in Television Short Form Episode: "Pilot" Nominated
2006 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Drama Series Commander in Chief Nominated
2006 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Harry Lennix Nominated
2006 People's Choice Awards Favorite New Television Drama Commander in Chief Nominated
2006 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Geena Davis Nominated
2006 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Geena Davis Nominated
2006 Young Artist Awards Best Young Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Caitlin Wachs Nominated
2006 Young Artist Awards Best Young Actress Age Ten or Younger in a Comedy or Drama Jasmine Jessica Anthony Nominated
2007 Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Supporting Visual Effect in a Broadcast Program Episode: "The Wind Beneath Her Wings" Nominated
2007 Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Model and Miniatures in a Broadcast Program Episode: "Air Force One" Nominated

Home media[edit]

On April 28, 2006, Buena Vista Home Video formally announced the release of Commander In Chief: The Complete First Season.[31] However, following the show's cancellation, it was decided that it should be split into two volumes.[32]

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.[33]

DVD Name Ep # Region 1 Region 2 Description
The Inaugural Edition, Part 1 8 June 27, 2006 N/A Episodes 1–8
The Inaugural Edition, Part 2 9 September 5, 2006 N/A Episodes 9–17, Interview with Geena Davis, Unaired Scenes, Bloopers, Exclusive Creator Commentaries.
The Complete First Season 17 N/A January 29, 2007 Interview with Geena Davis, Unaired Scenes, Bloopers, Exclusive Creator Commentaries.

International broadcasts[edit]


  1. ^ Gay, Verne."He's not blue about leaving network TV". The Boston Globe, September 5, 2007. Accessed 2 July 2009.
  2. ^ a b c "A Final 'Commander' Performance?" May 16, 2006, The Baltimore Sun retrieved June 15, 2020
  3. ^ "WEEKLY PROGRAM RANKINGS FROM 09/26/05 THROUGH 10/02/05" (Press release). ABC Medianet. October 4, 2005. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  4. ^ "WEEKLY PROGRAM RANKINGS FROM 10/03/05 THROUGH 10/09/05" (Press release). ABC Medianet. October 11, 2005. Archived from the original on March 11, 2015. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
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  9. ^ "WEEKLY PROGRAM RANKINGS FROM 11/07/05 THROUGH 11/13/05" (Press release). ABC Medianet. November 15, 2005. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  10. ^ "WEEKLY PROGRAM RANKINGS FROM 11/14/05 THROUGH 11/20/05" (Press release). ABC Medianet. November 22, 2005. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  11. ^ Bergen played the first female president in the 1964 film Kisses for My President.
  12. ^ "WEEKLY PROGRAM RANKINGS FROM 11/28/05 THROUGH 12/04/05" (Press release). ABC Medianet. November 29, 2005. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  13. ^ "WEEKLY PROGRAM RANKINGS FROM 01/09/06 THROUGH 01/15/06" (Press release). ABC Medianet. January 18, 2006. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  14. ^ "WEEKLY PROGRAM RANKINGS FROM 01/23/06 THROUGH 01/29/06" (Press release). ABC Medianet. January 31, 2006. Archived from the original on July 28, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  15. ^ "WEEKLY PROGRAM RANKINGS FROM 04/10/06 THROUGH 04/16/06" (Press release). ABC Medianet. April 18, 2006. Archived from the original on May 28, 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  16. ^ "WEEKLY PROGRAM RANKINGS FROM 04/17/06 THROUGH 04/23/06" (Press release). ABC Medianet. April 25, 2006. Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  17. ^ "WEEKLY PROGRAM RANKINGS FROM 04/24/06 THROUGH 04/30/06" (Press release). ABC Medianet. May 2, 2006. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  18. ^ "WEEKLY PROGRAM RANKINGS FROM 05/29/06 THROUGH 06/04/06" (Press release). ABC Medianet. June 6, 2006. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  19. ^ "WEEKLY PROGRAM RANKINGS FROM 06/05/06 THROUGH 06/11/06" (Press release). ABC Medianet. June 13, 2006. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  20. ^ "WEEKLY PROGRAM RANKINGS FROM 06/12/06 THROUGH 06/18/06" (Press release). ABC Medianet. June 20, 2006. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  21. ^ a b "COMMANDER IN CHIEF (2/21)" (Press release). ABC Medianet. February 6, 2006. Archived from the original on April 28, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2011.{{cite press release}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  22. ^ "Commander in Chief Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  23. ^ Dana Stevens (Slate (magazine)), Matthew Gilbert (The Boston Globe), Heather Havrilesky (,, cited in: "Commander in Chief Season 1," on Rotten Tomatoes, retrieved June 1, 2020
  24. ^ a b Healy, Gene (October 18, 2005). "Geena Davis Is Not My President". Reason.
  25. ^ Alston, Joshua (2008-02-11). "Diversity Training". Newsweek.
  26. ^ Jay Bobbin (Zap2it), "Geena Davis becomes ABC's 'Commander in Chief'," Albany Times Union, On TV section, p. 3, September 25, 2005.
  27. ^ Keveney, Bill (November 1, 2005). "Study in leadership styles". USA Today.
  28. ^ McDonough, Kevin (September 26, 2005). "Davis begins term as President". United Features Syndicate. Albany Times Union. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  29. ^ Maynard, John (2006-03-30). "Pulled After Approval Ratings Fell, 'Commander in Chief' Returning". The Washington Post.
  30. ^ "Fall TV schedule has Geena Davis, Damon Wayans and other stars you haven't seen in a while," September 15, 2016 The Washington Post retrieved June 15, 2020
  31. ^ Lacey, Gord (2006-04-28). "Commander in Chief - David Takes Office in October". Archived from the original on 2008-10-22.
  32. ^ Lacey, Gord (2006-05-25). "Commander in Chief - One Set Become Two Volumes". Archived from the original on 2008-10-22.
  33. ^ "Una Donna Alla Casa Bianca Stagione 1". Archived from the original on 2007-05-02. Retrieved 2006-12-31.

External links[edit]