Not exactly a movie, a new TV series, but it's interesting nonetheless and you don't have to wait a year for the sequel.

Last night, Carol and I sat down and watched the second episode of Commander in Chief (IMDB link), the new drama on ABC centered around the first woman President (played by Geena Davis) and the various political intrigues that surround her surprise Presidency.

Since I screwed up the UltimateTV (no link, since it's not sold anymore) we missed the pilot episode, but here's what we were able to pick out about the set-up:

  • Mackenzie is elected Vice President as an Independent added to the ticket by the Republicans in order to grab votes
  • The top of the ticket topples over about 2 years in (uncertain whether it's the magic 2 years, 1 day that would allow the series to theoretically go for 10 years because she could be re-elected twice).
  • She assumes the presidency in the midst of calls for her to step down and hand the reigns over to somebody who's more to the Republican's liking (it's unclear if the bias is because she's an uncontrollable Independent or because she's a woman).
  • The Republican Speaker of the House (played by Donald Sutherland), is scheming to run the country, so that he can become president at the next election

Enough about what we've been able to dig up the premise. If you want more details, ABC has a web site (which looks like it should be an active blog with content complementing the series, but it isn't) called MackenzieWatch.

The show itself is played wonderfully by a cast headed by Davis (talking like she's got a mouth full of marbles, I can't quite get used to that) and Sutherland (acting like the conniving little such-and-such that he does so well), with a host of supporting players that I should be able to name and recognize, but can't off the bat.

The "First Gentleman" is a bit weak and I fear he's going to get the foil treatment, as opposed to the dignified and strong treatment that Stockard Channing has received on West Wing, but we'll have to see.

The interesting difference between this show and West Wing is that it puts at the center of the drama a fight between the President and her want to achieve something and the Speaker who is out to run the country to his own ends. One potential problem with the series (and we'll see as it goes along) is that it could over-simplify the motivations of the Speaker. If he's just a power-hungry person bent on world domination for himself, then it becomes a kind of James Bond every week, where James (Geena) fights the evil head of SPECTRE (the Republican party) for the good of the world.

More intriguing, will be the possibility that both sides will be treated as if they have the best interests of the country at heart, but that the Speaker represents how that gets corrupted over time by the political system, and how that system also works to get things done.

Time will tell, but I think it's worth watching to find out.