"The theme of “Commander in Chief” is not merely that Allen is capable but that she is Superwoman -- smarter, more politically adept and tougher than the men who hover around and warn her to slow down and listen to their better judgments. That she rejects their advice has made her a feminist hero to Nation columnist Katha Pollitt, who writes that this “feminist fantasy” gives her a thrill. She loves Geena Davis, who is “so unflappable and warm and confident and kind and clever, to say nothing of gorgeous and six feet tall.”
The plots however are more soap opera or “Sherlock Holmes” than “The West Wing.” The great detective waits in his Baker Street apartment, a petitioner brings a mystery. Holmes spies the archcriminal Professor Moriarty’s hand at work. Here Moriarty is the malevolent Templeton, determined to become president himself, smiling in Allen’s face but sabotaging her at every turn."
From Cox News Service "10 Reasons to Watch 'Commander in Chief'" :
"7. The characters don't talk at warp-speed and sound like brainy Rhodes scholars: No, those would be the characters on that other White House drama. "We're not really as wonkish as 'The West Wing,' " Johnson says. "We're a little more accessible."
9. "Commander in Chief" doesn't waste time showing viewers how a bill becomes a law: You can see that on C-SPAN. Or old episodes of "The West Wing." "We're focusing on the president," Johnson says. "It's not about pushing legislation through."
From the Kansas City Star:
"“Commander in Chief” (8 tonight, ABC, KMBC-9). We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: In television, what counts isn’t always how good your work is but who sees it.
“Commander in Chief” is one of the highest-rated shows on TV, with about 15 million people tuning in most weeks. That’s almost double the audience for “The West Wing,” the original presidential fantasy, which was No. 52 in the Nielsens, last I checked.
So, is “Commander in Chief” twice as good as “West Wing”? It’s an absurd question. “The West Wing” is the victim of a struggling network (NBC) whose genius executives decided to move it to Sunday nights for a weekly pummeling at the hands of “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” and “Cold Case,” both top-20 shows.
“Commander,” meanwhile, has benefited from the ABC juggernaut. The network scheduled the show against “The Amazing Race,” “House” and “My Name Is Earl” and then proceeded to promote the heck out of it. Now, like Dr. Grey and the ladies of Wisteria Lane, President Mac Allen (Geena Davis) is kicking tush and taking names.
“West Wing” has never quite regained its lightly comic touch that it had for four seasons under writer-creator Aaron Sorkin. I suspect that made it a sitting duck for a show like “Commander in Chief,” which clearly wooed away “West Wing” viewers by offering the same scripts packed with the same self-important political mumbo-jumbo, but with an appealing variation on the theme. Like, more estrogen.
I still think “West Wing’s” Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) looks and sounds more presidential than Allen. Yet “Commander” seems fresher and more compelling, thanks to a lively competition going on between Allen and her congressional nemesis, Nathan Templeton (Donald Sutherland)."
From the Calgary Sun:
"COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF (ABC): If you lobotomized The West Wing, you’d have this Geena Davis drama which has inexplicably catapulted into the top 10. Still, despite its early election victory, ABC clearly knew the show needed improvement — perhaps explaining why it removed creator Rod Lurie in favour of Steven Bochco. "
From the Mobile Register:
"In the 8 p.m. hour on Tuesdays, ABC's "Commander in Chief," the first-rate new drama starring Geena Davis as America's first woman president, has been winning its hour in total viewers.
Pretty good, right? You'd think so, but then that's only if you didn't realize that competitor Fox is actually doing better in the same hour among the advertiser-loved subset of viewers who are ages 18 to 49. The show on Fox is "House," which stars Hugh Laurie as a doctor with a bad bedside manner but a brilliance when it comes to diagnosing what ails his patients.
Last time, "Commander in Chief" had 14.78 million total viewers, but was fourth place among adults aged 18-49, according to Nielsen. "House," meanwhile, was in second place overall for the hour with 14.15 million viewers, but that show finished first in the 18-49 subset of viewers.
So "Commander" is committing the cardinal sin of appealing to -- gasp! -- older viewers.
Nevertheless, "Commander" has been appealing to me since its debut, and I've still got one foot in the 18-49 group. It's nowhere as richly detailed a political drama as NBC's "The West Wing" has been, but it is fun -- with Donald Sutherland's Speaker Nathan Templeton character the perfect political foil for Davis' President Mackenzie Allen. One thing "The West Wing" has lacked over its run has been a consistent political adversary for its fantasy administration, which could have heightened its drama here and there.
'll bet No. 1 on Bochco's agenda is making the show more appealing to younger viewers. We'll have to stay tuned, I suppose, to learn what that may actually mean to a show whose most ardent fans -- "old" as they may be -- don't see much that needs fixing."
From the Virginia Times Dispatch:
"Is it possible to be a fan of both "The West Wing" and "Commander in Chief"?
This born-again "West Wing" fan (the additions of Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda brought me back into the fold) says no.
You've got your similarities: Being president is not a fun job - just ask the people who work for you. But the tone is too different to grab the same audience.
Geena Davis' character on "Commander in Chief" is all too morally, ethically, spiritually and physically a goddess in her pursuit of justice to be believed. Or at least believed by viewers who prefer the in-the-trenches approach of "West Wing."
Read reviews and comparisons of "Commander in Chief" with "West Wing":
IMDB Poll Results
USA Today Comparison
October Review Collection 2
October Review Collection 1
Commander in Chief Follow Up