You know me -- I LOVE political movies and television. So I guess it was inevitable that I, in a fit of curiosity, would turn in to see "Commander In Chief" again. The announcement that ABC had hired Sandy (oops-I-inadvertently-hid-secret-National-Archives-documents-in-my-pants-and-lost-them-when-I-got-home) Berger as an advisor cast a ray of hope, so I tried again.
I suppose it's too early to see a change because last night's episode was worse than the first one. And I would have bet that wasn't possible!
So let's look at some of the more blatant errors of their ways:
First: the Attorney General deals with an international incident that definitely should have been on the level of Secretary of Defense. She locks horns with the President on the issue of prisoner abuse and she uses semantics to put one over on the Pres. Any mother of a third grader would have recognized the semantic manipulation but it goes right over the head of the President.
Second: The President's teen-aged son gets involved in a schoolyard brawl without a secret service man in sight.
Third: The President spends a lot of time standing in a portico of the White House waving goodbye or in the residence dealing with childrens' problems.
Fourth: The use of deux ex machina: The Crisis-of-the-Day is quite conveniently wrapped up by the end of the episode. It was so predictable that it was downright sickening.
Fifth: Characters are black and white. The Attorney General disagrees with the President and manipulates her. The President fires the AG but not because she recognizes the manipulation but because the result was achieved by means she didn't like. A complicated issue (prisoner abuse) was addressed on one level only. That issue has many levels that need to be addressed.
Sixth: The Speaker of the House is the obvious week-to-week villain of the piece and is utterly transparent in his opposition. The President keeps giving him wide-eyed, uncomprehending looks.
Seventh: The dialogue is straight out of soap operaville. One thing that distinguishes the West Wing from all other television is the use of rapid-fire comebacks and double-sided discussions of issues. The dialogue style is straight out of old 1930s and 1940s movies and an absolute delight. It keeps watchers coming back to re-runs to pick up subtleties they might have missed in earlier viewings.
Eighth: White House staffers are obviously second- and third- string players. There's no particular respect paid to the President (the Chief of Staff never says "Thank you, Madam President," for example) and President MacKensie comes off like a cardboard figure playing a role. Which, of course, she is.
Ninth: No sense of reality to the show. It's entertainment and the viewer doesn't get involved like in the West Wing.
Tenth: The portrayal of the First Man is downright sickening. He doesn't tell his wife he has been offered the position of Baseball Commissioner. Why? Is he afraid she'll say no? What kind of man is that? What kind of woman is that?
Eleventh: There's no explanation of who is handling the First Lady's traditional jobs -- speeches, charities, entertaining, campaigning, appearances as representative of the US government, etc.
Twelfth: Funny the only time they mention a previous President or family, it's a Democrat. Republicans have been in that office more than twice the time since FDR's day.
Thirteenth: The set of the Oval Office and the hallways are straight out of the West Wing, including paintings on the wall. Couldn't ABC afford their own set?
Fourteenth: The characters aren't distinctive and defined. There's little interplay between them and no sense of respect for history like we get from the West Wing. One thing the West Wing does is portray the sense of awe and respect most Americans feel for the office of the President. You don't get that from CIC.
Face it, ABC. CIC is a BAD show -- the writers don't have the intellect, the researchers don't have the skill and the actors don't have the sensitivity to pull off a good, thought-provoking television program.
You may get TV "critics" pandering to Hillary and the network trying to convince the public the show is worth their time but it isn't. Even replacing Geena Davis with someone with more intellectual credibility like Allison Janney wouldn't fix it. Commander in Chief is a real loser.
It portrays everyone's nightmare of having a woman President: half-hearted interest and limited understanding in foreign affairs, emotional administration, even a family gone amuk because of confusion about parental roles. This show does more harm than good when it comes to promoting the idea of a woman President.
The professional "critics" may love it (but hey, look what else they love!) but I believe the American people have the intellect, the respect for the office and the concern for the country to see "Commander in Chief" for the fourth rate sham that it is.