Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 1
First episode date 27 September 2005
Created by Rod Lurie
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 18 (list of episodes)
|Starring Geena Davis
Network American Broadcasting Company
Nominations Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama
Cast Geena Davis, Donald Sutherland, Matt Lanter, Natasha Henstridge, Harry Lennix
Scene from commander in chief
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.
- Scene from commander in chief
- Commander in chief promo trailer
- Main characters
- Recurring characters
- TV film and second season
- Filming locations
- DVD release
- International broadcasts
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 #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 series was created by American director Rod Lurie, director of the films The Contender and Deterrence, and may have been inspired by The West Wing, a popular political drama on rival NBC.
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.
Commander in chief promo trailer
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.
Negative comparisons were 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.
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 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. 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.
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.
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.
Currently: 7TWO (Encore Screening - 2009)