Commander in Chief (TV series)

Commander in Chief (TV series)
Commander in Chief
Commander logo.jpg
Title card
Format Political drama
Created by Rod Lurie
Starring Geena Davis
Kyle Secor
Donald Sutherland
Harry J. Lennix
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 18 (List of episodes)
Running time 42 minutes
Original channel ABC
Original run September 27, 2005 (2005-09-27) – June 14, 2006 (2006-06-14)

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 role 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. It garnered the highest ratings for a series debut on a Tuesday night.

The show was #1 on Tuesday nights until FOX's American Idol took this honor. 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,[1] but declining ratings brought about a hiatus, a timeslot change, and ultimately cancellation.



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.[citation needed]

Main characters

Other characters

Actor/Actress Character Position
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 other Americans 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 becomes 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[2] 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 via the 25th Amendment after 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 her gender and more on the fact that she was an independent, especially when she would have run for election.

The April 27 episode generated further controversy and negative press in its fictional depiction of the bordering suburb of Hyattsville, Maryland, as having the highest murder rate 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.[citation needed] This charge has been denied by Lurie, Davis and ABC.


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.[3] 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 April 13 was met by low ratings in its new time slot. Preliminary ratings available 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.


No. Prod. Title Airdate
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.[4] 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.[5]


  • 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.

Filming locations

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Recipient
2005 Satellite Awards Nominated Outstanding Actress in a Series, Drama Geena Davis
2006 Emmy Award Nominated Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Geena Davis
GLAAD Media Awards Nominated Outstanding Drama Series
Golden Globe Award Nominated Best Television Series - Drama
Nominated Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television Donald Sutherland
Won Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama Geena Davis
NAACP Image Awards Nominated Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Harry Lennix
Nominated Outstanding Drama Series
Golden Reel Awards Nominated Best Sound Editing in Television Short Form - Dialogue and Automated Dialogue Replacement David Beadle, Fred Judkins, Thomas Kearney, Marla McGuire, Vic Radulich, and Ray Spiess (For pilot episode)
People's Choice Awards Nominated Favorite New Television Drama
Screen Actors Guild Awards Nominated Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Geena Davis
Young Artist Award Nominated Best Performance in a TV Series (Drama) - Supporting Young Actress Caitlin Wachs
Nominated Best Performance in a TV Series (Comedy or Drama) - Young Actress Age Ten or Younger Jasmine Jessica Anthony
2007 Visual Effects Society Awards Nominated Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program Adam Ealovega, Michael Enriquez, Mark Kolpack, and Mark Spatny (For episode "The Wind Beneath Her Wings")
Nominated Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Broadcast Program Michael Enriquez (For episode "Air Force One")

Upon winning a Golden Globe for her performance, Davis gave a memorable acceptance speech in which she told of encountering an 8 year old girl "in her first party dress" who told Davis "Because of you, I want to be president when I grow up." Eliciting a heartfelt reaction from the audience, Davis then revealed "Okay, that didn't really happen...but it very well could have!"

DVD release

On April 28, 2006, Buena Vista Home Video formally announced the release of Commander In Chief: The Complete First Season.[6] However, following the show's cancellation, it was decided that it should be split into two volumes.[7]

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.[8]

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.

International broadcasts

  • 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)
  • 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 TV 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
  • 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) [1]
  • 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


External links

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