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TIT

'Commander In Chief:The Inaugural Edition, Part 1'
(Geena Davis, Donald Sutherland, et al / 2-Disc DVD / PG / (2005) 2006 / Touchstone)

Overview: MacKenzie Allen becomes the first woman American president after she ascends to the job following the death of president Teddy Bridges.

DVD Verdict: When President Teddy Bridges (Will Lyman) has a stroke, independent Vice President Mackenzie Allen (Geena Davis) finds herself being politely asked to turn in a resignation letter. After all, she was only picked to increase Bridges's support with women voters. Bridges administration personnel did not actually expect her to assume the presidency. Instead, Allen decides that she will take the oath of office and become America's first woman president. For creator Rod Lurie, having a woman president was not enough; he wanted to examine how the chief executive of America balanced her work and family obligations. Because this change in American women's political status also affects men, 'Commander' also examined how husband Rod Calloway (Kyle Secor) adapts to being the 'first' First Gentleman. Claiming to be comfortable, Rod subsequently expresses obvious discomfort with some aspects of his own new public image ("First...Do No Harm"). A major strength of this series was that it also gives serious airtime to the challenges a First Gentleman could face. Rod briefly considers becoming commissioner of baseball before deciding that it would pose a conflict of interest ("First Disaster"). Later on, the Allen-Calloway marriage gets challenged when he is discovered with an intern ("The State of the Unions"). "Rubie Dubidoux and the Brown Bound Express" makes another inevitable comparison with the Clinton administration. Since he is unofficially her closest advisor, Mackenzie subsequently decides that appointing Rod to an official position only makes sense. However gender politics in 21st Century America doesn't have that decision being perceived as smoothly as this first couple would like. Is Mackenzie a strong leader or is Rod ultimately controlling her? Is this nepotisim or is he really the most qualified person for the job? "Commander" is also special because Polly Bergen guest stars as Mackenzie's mom, Kate Allen. Bergen had ironically stared in "Kisses for my President" (1964) Hollywood's earlier take on what having a female Chief Executive would be like. That president had to resign when she got pregnant! "The Mom Who Came to Dinner" also marks the addition of Mark-Paul Gosselaar to the cast as Richard "Dickie" McDonald, a young but very sharp media advisor. Of course, having a good drama would have been remotely impossible without a good arch nemesis on hand to keep things heated up. He's still a 'Hollywood liberal' but Donald Sutherland plays conservative Republican Speaker of the House Nathan Templeton with gleeful abandon. Templeton is continually a thorn in Allen's side - he does not like her on either a political or a personal level. 10 episodes are included in this release. Extras include unaired scenes (mmm...!), an exclusive interview with Geena Davis, and insights into the show itself from the creator - replete with commentary. I am upset "Commander" has been cancelled, but am happy that it got scheduled for DVD release so soon afterward. I'll always have my memories. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of just all 10 episodes on 2 discs.

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