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Commander in Chief



Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 27, 2005 (Touchstone Television)
Network: ABC
Time: Tuesdys at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT / 8:00 p.m. CT
Cast: Geena Davis, Donald Sutherland, Harry Lennix, Ever Carradine, Kyle Secor, Julie Ann Emery, Matt Lanter, Caitlin Wachs, Jasmine Anthony, and Natasha Henstridge


Mackenzie Allen has a lot on her plate… She has twin teenagers and a six-year-old at home, an ambitious husband at the office, and she is about to become the first female President of the United States.

Before that happens, Mackenzie, who serves as Vice President, has to decide whether or not to go against the dying wishes of the current President, who has asked her to step down and let someone "more appropriate" fill his shoes in the Oval Office. Not only does the President want her to resign, so does the entire party that elected Mackenzie in the first place.

But when the moment of truth arrives, Mackenzie isn't willing to be a mere footnote in history. Instead of allowing her detractors to keep her down, she decides to trust her instincts and accept the most powerful job in the world.

From Rod Lurie, acclaimed Writer/Director of the Oscar-nominated film The Contender and creator of the critically acclaimed ABC series Line of Fire, comes a political dramedy centering on the first female president, played by Academy Award®-winner Geena Davis.

Cast Details:

"Commander-in-Chief" stars Geena Davis as President Mackenzie Allen, Donald Sutherland as Nathan Templeton, Harry Lennix as Jim Gardner, Ever Carradine as Kelly Ludlow, Kyle Secor as Rod Allen, Julie Ann Emery as Joan Greer, Matt Lanter as Horance Allen, Caitlin Wachs as Rebecca Allen, Jasmine Anthony as Amy Allen, and Natasha Henstridge as Jayne Murray.

Pilot Plot:

Mackenzie Allen, who serves as Vice President of the United States, has a tough decision to make, whether or not to go against the wishes of the dying current President, Teddy Roosevelt Bridges. Bridges asked her to step down and let someone a little more appropriate take his place in the Oval Office right before his passing. However, it's not only the President that is calling for her resignation; it's her entire party which elected her as the Vice President to start with. As a subplot, (Vice) President Allen coordinates the extraction of a woman who was scheduled to be executed for having a child out of wedlock in Nigeria.

Writer: Rod Lurie
Director: Rod Lurie
Guest stars: Will Lyman (President Bridges), Dean Shelton (Sam), Ato Essandoh (Manute Obama), Sherman T. Edwards Junior (Wealthy Frenchman), Anthony Azizi (Vince Taylor), Schuster Vance (Secret Service Agent), Joseph T. Lee (Secret Service Agent), Stan Kelly (Roman Wolfe), John Thompson Hopkins (Congressman), Todd A. Langenfeld (Air Force One Honor Guard), Priscilla Hopkins (Congresswoman)


There are some problems in the pilot -­ some scenes drag out too long, while others seem to cut away before their logical terminus…In some places, the writing seems weak, while in other places it’s amazing. The show needs work. ­ It’s that simple. One memorable touch of humor worked into the show was the working in of Hilary Clinton jokes in every First Gentleman-related scene. I really, really, didn’t care for some of the family-related scenes ­ particularly the ones relating to the oldest daughter, Rebecca (Caitlin Wachs). I know one sub-point of the show is to show her life away from the Presidency, but I’d much ­ MUCH ­ rather have a political drama focus on…say…the White House…of course, this is coming from someone who is a fan of shows like The West Wing, 24, etc…so a more traditional drama in which the central character “just happens” to be President doesn’t quite fly as well with me. Hopefully once they get the establishment out of the way in the first few shows, they can move on to real, quality, content. One thing that should provide for fascinating television is the HUGE conflict between Speaker of the House Nathan Templeton (Donald Sutherland) and President Allen. In the pilot, the Speaker actually had Allen’s Teleprompter disabled during her speech to Congress ­ luckily she’d memorized the speech.


What else can I say that I didn’t say before? The show has problems in choosing to run certain scenes long, while cutting others at points they shouldn’t be cut at. It also seems to suffer from an identity crisis, in that it’s unsure whether it wants to be a West-Wing style political drama, or whether it wants to be a drama centered on the life of the President Allen character…The result of this identity crisis will ultimately determine whether I watch the show long-term, or whether I find something else to watch at time ­ with how promising My Name is Earl looks based on the pilot, if Commander-in-Chief doesn’t pick up the pace, I’ll probably flip over to it…ultimately, I’d recommend that everyone watch the first few shows to see which path the series takes…after that, it’s really up to personal tastes.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3.5/5
Appealing: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 09/26/2005.

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