Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"West Wing", "Commander in Chief" Side-by-Side

USA Today has a side-by-side comparison of the two shows:


'The West Wing': President Josiah Bartlet 'Commander in Chief': President Mackenzie Allen
Official biography
Democrat in his early 60s; two-term New Hampshire governor; Nobel laureate in economics. Survived assassination attempt; kept multiple sclerosis a secret, causing scandal. Father of three grown daughters. Finishing second term; Republican Arnold Vinick and Democrat Matt Santos campaign to succeed him. (A live debate airs Sunday.) 45-year-old Independent; former University of Richmond chancellor; served in Congress from Connecticut; former prosecutor. Mother of 16-year-old twins (a boy and a girl) and a younger daughter. Vice president who takes over presidency after death of Republican Teddy Roosevelt Bridges, two years into his term.
Averages 8.1 million viewers in its seventh season; ranks 52nd. Averages 16.5 million viewers in its first season; ranks 8th.
Non-traditional first lady role
Abigail Bartlet (Stockard Channing): M.D. (Channing has taken her medical degree to CBS' Out of Practice.) Rod Calloway (Kyle Secor): Man (and possibly commissioner of baseball).
Notable firings
White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff), for leaking the existence of a secret space shuttle to The New York Times. Attorney General Melanie Blackston (Leslie Hope), for allowing the torture of a terrorism suspect and suspicion of being in cahoots with Republican Speaker of the House and resident villain, Nathan Templeton (Donald Sutherland).
International crises
Deals diplomatically with Russians over fire in missile silo; carefully negotiates status of illegal Chinese immigrants; OKs assassination of suspected terrorist leader; arranges summit after terrorist attack in Middle East. Negotiates with Russians to protect dissident journalists; sends military to rescue African woman from stoning; threatens military strike to rouse Latin American country to overthrow dictator; orders military to attack terrorist camp in Lebanon.
Domestic issues
Makes Supreme Court nomination; travels to tornado site to show support; tries to rally support for appropriations bill; temporarily resigns to focus on the search for kidnapped daughter. Catches teen daughter making out with boy; oversees search for daughter's diary before it falls into tabloid hands; raises terror alert, affecting younger daughter's Halloween plans.
Changing leaders behind the scenes
Creative power with deadline issues (Aaron Sorkin) leaves after four seasons, turning over reins to veteran producer (John Wells, ER) Creative power with deadline issues (Rod Lurie) leaves after two episodes, turning over reins to veteran producer (Steven Bochco, NYPD Blue)
Presidential analysis
"The West Wing is infinitely more complicated in its discussion of world and national events," says Joe Saltzman, professor of journalism at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication. Issues are shaded and often not resolved quickly. "Up to now, Commander in Chief focuses (more) on the family," Saltzman says. Issues often are resolved neatly in the same episode. Bochco may "bring a harder edge.

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