ABC's new primetime series, Commander in Chief, has an interesting premise: the US accidentally gets a female president for the first time. (The former male president died in office and she was the VP.) The previews were interesting enough to watch the first episode, at least.
I still watch the show every week, but I'm not sure why. I'm DVR-recording it, so it doesn't take much effort. It's having a cup of coffee in the morning: it doesn't provide any health benefits, but it's a mildly pleasant drug that doesn't do much harm and wouldn't be hard to stop using if I had to.
The problem with Commander in Chief is that the entire show and every character in it are completely predictable. Everyone's a flat stereotype. When watching a new episode, I get the feeling that I've seen it a long time ago and just forgot the details.
I'm a powerful, intelligent, independent, good-looking woman with no significant character flaws. Every decision I've made has been The Right Decision, and I cannot be swayed by politics. I also go to sleep and wake up with my hair done and in full makeup.
The First Dude
I have issues with my wife being more successful than me. But since I'm sleeping with the boss, I will grant myself special permissions to the dismay of my coworkers.
I'm not allowed to make any other facial expressions.
The Staff Guy
I don't like The First Dude, but that's OK because I handle everything in the most professional manner possible and I'm very smart. I, too, decided not to have any flaws.
The Secret Service Guy
I'm not a stereotype! I'm just a gay man with HIV. But I think I'm also Middle Eastern, so that increases the show's minority representation.
That Blonde Girl
I look and speak like a disorganized airhead and have sexual tension with the male staff members, but I'm very intelligent and deserve my position. I swear! I'm not a stereotype because I'm smart! Why won't you take me seriously?
The First Son
I stand up to the other sons on my high school sports team by beating them up when they insult my dad. I'm probably a stereotype, but I'll shut out the world by playing loud music on my stereo.
The First Daughter
I'm a high school girl with high school girl issues, including being pressured into sex before I'm ready and getting hot jocks to like me while my brother defends my honor. I won't even try to deny being a stereotype, but I'll shut out the world by playing loud music on my iPod.
The Second Daughter
I'm the same little kid you've seen everywhere else.
I'm Zack Morris!
If you're watching TV on a Tuesday night and you stumble upon Commander in Chief, feel free to watch it. It's a completely formulaic show, and watching it is just as mildly pleasing as watching any other formulaic show.
After watching it, I feel vaguely content, but intellectually empty. I have no emotional bonds with any of the characters, and I don't really care what happens to them. Their White House could be invaded by crazed aliens from Utah, and I wouldn't really care if they all blew up in the process.
Actually, that would make the show a lot more interesting. ABC, are you reading this? Contact me for more ideas. My rates are reasonable.
Without any help from Utah, I doubt that this show will last more than 2 seasons. It's just not enticing enough to get people excited about it. I'm not motivated to watch it live (with the commercials - ABC, are you listening now?) - I'm perfectly content to let it sit on my DVR for a few days. That's just not good enough to be a successful show in 2005.