Friday, 18 November 2016

Commander In Chief: Fictional US Politics More Reassuring Than Reality

I admit it. I remain very, very bitter. It's been a long enough time to digest the result and I should've come to terms with it, I know. So why do I still feel the need to grab some picket signs and get my protest on?

No, no, no. I'm not talking about any post-Trump depression. I'm bitter because 10 years ago the glorious Commander in Chief was cancelled.

In case you missed this short but perfectly formed series, it was about a Vice-President, Mackenzie Allen, who found herself pushed into the Presidency by the death of a President (who, on his deathbed, asked her to resign). As an independent in a Republican administration she faces an uphill battle to govern the country, whilst Speaker Templeton (the late President's preferred choice) does everything he can to undermine her. At the same time she has a husband reluctant to take on the role of First Gentleman, a gorgeous son, a rebellious Republican daughter and a charming little girl.

I've started watching it again in this brave new era of Trump that we're entering to cheer myself up. Here's a President with morals, integrity and the sort of brutal ruthlessness in getting her way that is breathtaking to behold. While setting up her team she worries about candidates due to them lacking experience (no way they'd get near a Cabinet position she ponders) and even one with rumours swirling about a sexual assault (she's pretty clear the American people would never stand for that). Mistakes happen, events happen, but in this world the President is competent, the American military skilled and honourable and where President's sons look like this:

It's a very pleasant world with interesting characters. Templeton, played by Donald Sutherland, is a layered and interesting opposite to Geena Davis' Allen who is just as interested. The biggest let-down in this whole show is the First Gentleman who, upon seeing his wife take over the most stressful job in the world, spends most of the series moaning about how HE wants a better position, more influence, baseball, attention, yadder, yadder. His character is so utterly obnoxious I'm appalled Mackenzie Allen didn't send him to be the Ambassador to Benin.

Other than that though, it is delightful to watch. What an antidote to the poor show of candidates in the last US election.

However, there's good news. Netflix's new "Designated Survivor" series is a series about a Cabinet member who is asked to resign just before a President's death and unexpectedly finds himself and his family flung into the world of the White House as an independent. There's a tough, complicated Congresswoman who's loyalty is suspect. There's child drama. There's a far better First Spouse. And the main character is played by Donald Sutherland's son Kiefer. It is basically the spiritual successor to Commander in Chief and will, at the very least, manage 4 more episodes as it has received a full season 22 episode order!! Here we can watch an inexperienced by surprisingly competent President with barely anyone to guide him tackle the world's problems.

It may give us some hope for the next 4 years...

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