Friday, October 28, 2005

"Commander - in - Chief" vs "West Wing" Continued

From the Boston Globe:
"Not long ago, the crash of ''The West Wing" might have merited an indifferent shrug. So brilliantly charged in its early days, the drama underwent serious creative lows, both from creator Aaron Sorkin's excessive idealism and braininess and then from replacement producer John Wells's ill-advised character futzing. All the smarty-pants talk could be mind-numbing, despite the steadicam struts; and all the character nobility could be cringingly all-for-one-and-one-for-all. How about a few scoops of deep-seated cynicism on that pie in the sky?

But recently ''The West Wing" has reemerged creatively as a sharp epic about campaign chess gaming, with a fierce presidential contest between Alan Alda's liberal Republican and Jimmy Smits's unpolished Democrat. Now in its seventh season, the show is also profiling a two-term presidency as it awkwardly disbands. And it has cleverly enacted a timely plot about a White House leak to a now-jailed New York Times reporter.

Some longtime ''West Wing" watchers were disappointed that Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) was responsible for the leak, and not someone more flagrantly villainous. But it was more interesting to see the grim but loyal face of ''The West Wing" exposed for all his arrogance. With an almost violent suddenness, Allison Janney's C.J. Cregg stops talking to him, he is sequestered by lawyers, and Martin Sheen's Jed Bartlet refuses to offer even a morsel of support. In a scene on Sunday that played like a funeral for the show's residual giddy idealism, Bartlet coldly refuses to acknowledge any of Toby's moral reasoning for leaking information. He also refuses to accept Toby's resignation, preferring to terminate him.

So far in its run, ''Commander in Chief" is showing us it will not pursue this kind of moral layering and character depth."

From the NY Daily News:
"It was suggested here last week that so far Martin Sheen's President Jed Bartlet of "West Wing" has an advantage over Geena Davis' President MacKenzie Allen of "Commander," largely because "West Wing" digs deeper into the complexities of the presidency.

Janet and Ken Trapp disagree:

"To compare 'Commander in Chief' to 'West Wing' is like comparing apples to oranges. Completely diverse story lines. ... 'Commander in Chief' is a very interesting show, well-written, and we look forward to seeing how [it] progresses. Geena Davis, Donald Sutherland and the rest of the cast are doing an excellent job."

Rob Gori isn't so sure about that last point:

"What's up with Donald Sutherland? You might as well put him in a hat, cape and twirling black mustache, he's that cartoonish....I am a longtime fan of 'The West Wing' and after 1-1/2 episodes of 'Commander in Chief,' I felt it was really lacking. Even at its worst (and there have been silly moments), 'The West Wing' would never let itself get bogged down in WB-type family angst such as having Geena Davis deal with teen kids and their romance issues."

Elizabeth Bogren just thinks the TV presidential field should be opened up a little:

"I want to know why both Bartlet and Allen aren't being compared with my personal favorite, President Palmer '24' [played by Dennis Haysbert]. He survived the flesh-eating virus and, more impressive, he survived being married to and divorced from the scheming Mrs. Palmer. Her efforts 'on his behalf' remind me of Jed Clampett's admonition to nephew Jethro Bodine: 'You're helping me, boy. Don't help me!'"

Domenic Siclari says give the new show a chance:

"Listen, sugar, you 'guys' lament bad shows, call on the networks to bring it on, do something good, something different. ABC has delivered a few times in the last two years and recently gave us 'Commander in Chief.' Instead of saying, 'Good job, good show,' you feel the need to compare it to another series in its heyday and then attack. Just enjoy it. It's good. Why is that not enough?

"I'd hate to be your wife or significant other. 'Yeah, honey, this dinner is good, but you remember that dinner we had at Bianculli's last week? That was a great dinner.'"

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