Hail to the Return of "Commander In Chief"
It’s nice to see ABC promoting the return of “Commander In Chief” during shows like “Desperate Housewives.” It makes me think that maybe ABC hasn’t completely given up on the show.
Those of you who are fans of “Commander” have probably been wondering where it’s been. The answer to that question is one of the juiciest stories of the entire TV season.
First, “Commander” premiered and became the highest rated new show of the season. But behind the scenes, creator and Executive Producer Rod Lurie was late with shows and causing problems for the network. So, ABC replaced him with a producer it already had on the payroll—Steven Bochco (“NYPD Blue,” “Hill Street Blues”). But these were characters that Bochco didn’t create which made him end storylines quickly causing some characters to take total 180 degree turns that didn’t make sense. Then, to give Bochco time to play catch-up, the show went on hiatus. By the time it returned, the ratings were nowhere near what they had been.
Bochco tried to add his own touches, making the show more of a political drama than a family one. But apparently, ABC didn’t agree with the changes and continued to make suggestions Bochco ignored.
Finally, ABC decided to pull “Commander” off the schedule again. During this hiatus, Bochco was replaced as Executive Producer by the only remaining member of Lurie’s staff, Dee Dee Johnson, who has been given total control of the show by ABC. Johnson has reportedly reworked some of the completed episodes and has turned the show back into the family drama it was.
This little saga opens up a whole host of questions. Like, if the family drama was what ABC wanted, why did they bring in Bochco, knowing that wasn’t his style? Why didn’t they just go with Johnson originally?
So now we will probably say goodbye to some of the stories Bochco had planned—and maybe some of the characters too. It was Bochco that changed Rod from the First Gentleman to a political adviser and put Mack’s mother in charge of White House social matters—a move many critics have cited as the beginning of the show’s downfall. And we can probably say goodbye to Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s Dickie (Boo Hiss!) since Gosselaar was a Bochco hire.
But what I really hope we’ll say goodbye to is the nice Nathan Templeton. When the show premiered, he was the best TV villain since J.R. Ewing. But in the last few episodes, I kept waiting for him to hold hands with President Allen and sing “Cumbaya.” Donald Sutherland deserves better and I hope Johnson gives it to him.
However, the truth is that any changes could come too late. Fans have moved on to other shows and they may not come back. And the tough timeslot ABC has given it doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.
“Commander In Chief” returns Thursday at 10 p.m. on ABC.