Commander in Chief (TV series): Wikis


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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 ascended to the role after the previous chief executive, Teddy Bridges (played by Will Lyman), died in office 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 Stephen Bochco as show runner,[1] but declining ratings brought about a hiatus, a timeslot change, and 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.


Main characters

Other characters

Actor/Actress Character Position
Peter Coyote Warren Keaton Vice President of the United States and President of the United States Senate (Resigns in Episode 15)
Polly Bergen Kate Allen President Allen's mother and White House hostess
Mark-Paul Gosselaar Richard "Dickie" McDonald Campaign Advisor
Anthony Azizi Vince Taylor Special Aide to the President
Natasha Henstridge Jayne Murray Speaker's chief of staff

The Commander in Chief universe

The universe of Commander in Chief shares a great deal of recent history with that of the real world: in the first episode, Vice Presidents Al Gore and Dick Cheney are mentioned, as well as the Clintons in particular Mrs Clinton (Hillary Clinton) suggesting that the show's universe took place sometime in the near future. As the first episode states that Teddy Bridges served four years as Vice President and the show begins two years into his first Presidential term, some viewers assume that, in the universe of the series, either President George W. Bush served only one term (2001–2005) or that Teddy Bridges was his Vice President for the second term (2005–2009). This would place Bridges' election to the Presidency in 2008 and the show around the year 2011. It is also possible that the show takes place more than a decade from now. However, in the episode First Dance, Russia is described as having been a democracy for only 15 years, placing the first season around 2006, assuming a parallel unfolding of history. Another possibility is that the writers have simply disregarded statements made in the first few episodes and set the series in the present (in an alternate timeline).

The placement of the series within the federal election cycle is also in question. Although early episodes refer to Bridges' death occurring prior to the midterm elections, later episodes e.g. The Mom Who Came To Dinner refer to two years remaining in the Presidential term. This is inconsistent with First Strike, which places Bridges' death months after the midterm elections. As the series' episodes have paralleled their actual air dates, including events such as the Atlantic hurricane season, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, it would make sense that Bridges' death occurred during his third year in office, which would mean a Presidential election due shortly thereafter.

According to the rules of Presidential succession, if Allen began serving out Bridges' term less than two full years after he was sworn in, she can only run as a candidate in one Presidential election. However, if Bridges' time in office was more than two full years (even by a matter of a week or two) Allen would be allowed to run in two Presidential elections, and thus could potentially be president for almost ten years (See Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution).

As on the political drama The West Wing, the world of Commander in Chief includes both real countries (such as Nigeria, North Korea and Iraq), as well as fictitious ones (such as the South American country of San Pasquale). However, there are apparent errors in the portrayal of Nigeria's judicial system and governance. First, there are no Sharia law in Lagos where the rescued woman was held; therefore, there will be no jurisdiction for her detainment in Kirikiri prison. Also, Nigeria does not have a parliamentary system of government, so the Nigerian Ambassador should be reporting to the Nigerian President and not a Prime Minister as portrayed in the first episode.

There are subtle hints that the show may be taking place in a post-9/11 world, but in Commander In Chief's universe 9/11 may have taken place during Bridges' Presidency. The Department of Homeland Security, created in the wake of 9/11 in the real world, has been mentioned. In the episode No Nukes is Good Nukes, Templeton mentioned that President Bridges launched a raid on the Khyber Pass, an area in Pakistan, so an invasion of Pakistan may have taken place in the Commander in Chief universe. And in the episode First...Do No Harm, President Allen faced a crisis when a terrorist group resembling Al-Qaeda attempts to launch an attack in the United States.


Though specific dates are not given, many events are assigned relative to the present (i.e. at the time of production) with considerable detail due to the show's use of flashbacks. The following is a list of notable events and their relative time.

Nathan Templeton is a Democratic candidate for office. It is unclear whether Templeton is publicly a segregationist, however he is taped privately during this time making very extreme segregationist statements.
Nathan Templeton is elected to Congress
Templeton becomes a Republican
Approximately 22 years before the first season
Teddy Bridges is elected Governor of his home state, he is re-elected at every election until his election to the Vice Presidency 16 years later.
Nathan Templeton becomes Speaker of the House
10 years before "First... Do No Harm"
Mackenzie Allen, a Republican, is approached by a group of moderate Republicans in her district to run as an Independent for Congress as a far right Republican is expected to easily win the primary.
8 years before "First Disaster"
First-term Congresswoman Mackenzie Allen defies the will of Speaker Nathan Templeton when she is left with the deciding vote for a piece of legislation. Templeton reminds her of her Republican heritage and the wide Republican support for the bill, however she refuses to support it as she views it as wasteful spending.
Approximately 6 years before the first season
Teddy Bridges is elected Vice President of the United States on a Republican ticket.
2 and a half years before "Pilot"
Vice President Teddy Bridges approaches Mackenzie Allen, a former two-term Independent Congresswoman, to be his running mate.
8 months before "First Strike"
While campaigning during the midterm elections, President Teddy Bridges asks Nathan Templeton to agree to become his Vice President, Bridges suggested he could create a vacancy in the office by appointing Vice President Mackenzie Allen to the Supreme Court of the United States. Templeton declines, saying the Vice Presidency would be a demotion from his current office as Speaker.


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, as well as 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 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 a technicality 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. 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.

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.

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

  • City Hall - 200 N. Spring St., Downtown, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Oriole Park at Camden Yards - 333 W. Camden Street, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  • Raleigh Studios - 5300 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA (studio)
  • University of Richmond - 28 Westhampton Way, Richmond, Virginia, USA
  • Washington, District of Columbia, USA

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


External links


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