I love the show Commander In Chief. Really, I do. Despite how badly it’s sucking. Unfortunately, ABC has so badly handled the show, and the writers have so badly mangled the stories, that it’s getting harder and harder to watch. And now the stupidity of the writers has gotten the show accused of racism.
First, they managed to assemble a great cast. It took a little while to warm up to everybody, but the quality of the acting talent on the show is first-rate. The doe-eyed naïveté of some of the characters — who apparently fell off turnip trucks and bounced into the highest levels of government — has quickly passed. The battles between the Speaker and the President are pretty contrived, and the idea that everything is happily resolved in each show is awfully trite. But these are some of the problems that The West Wing had in its first season, so I’ve been willing to give it some room to grow.
It’s also great to see Matt Lanter — my choice to be winner of Manhunt — doing some big-time Hollywood acting. His character needs much more development, as does that of his whiny twin sister, but that too is the fault of the idiot writers. Still, he’s pretty to look at. =P~
My biggest problem comes with the morons at ABC who pushed CIC into hiatus just as it was hitting its stride. These are the same nitwits who apparently squandered the fan base of Lost by putting it in endless summer reruns just when people were hungering for more. (I must admit, I’ve only seen a couple episodes of Lost and didn’t find it at all engaging.)
My next problem comes with the dumb-ass writers who not only don’t appear to know anything about politics, but couldn’t be bothered to get basic facts correct about Washington, DC geography, much less the mechanics of how the White House works. The show’s directors, producers, and editors are to blame on this score as well. For example, they keep showing scenes clearly shot in LA, not realizing that there are no skyscrapers in DC. They also make many references to streets and places in DC that are glaringly inaccurate to anyone who has spent any time in DC.
In one recent episode, they showed what was supposed to be Air Force One taking off over DC! and didn’t bother to care that, a) the plane shown had the unmistakable T-tail of an MD-80, a plane about one-third the size of the president’s 747; b) “Air Force One” is stationed at Andrews AFB, about 15 miles to the southeast of DC, so far away that takeoffs DO NOT climb over the Lincoln Memorial; and c) National Airport (which I refuse to call “Reagan”, but that’s another rant), where the MD-80 stock footage was shot, probably couldn’t launch the president’s 747 if it had to! Speaking of stock footage, if I have to see another establishing shot of DC with the Washington Monument surrounded in scaffolding, circa 1997?, I’m going to vomit.
For what it’s worth, The West Wing has almost always gotten the geography and imagery of DC much better. Most of the time they’re careful to not show skyscrapers, mountains, or other clearly inappropriate backdrops in scenes. And because they have people with actual political, foreign policy, and military knowledge advising them, their story lines are actually plausible in many cases, rather than grating on the nerves of anyone who, for example, ever watched C-SPAN.
But then again, West Wing’s creator Aaron Sorkin did a pretty decent job even in the movie The American President — except for one notable howler that still makes me cringe. (“You got caught in traffic at Dupont Circle? What were you doing up on the Hill?”) Aiiigh!!!!
But now the lack of attention to detail and accuracy has come back to bite the CIC writers but good. In a recent episode, they portrayed Prince George’s County, which borders DC to the east, as a chitlin’ lovin’ drug-infested African-American ghetto. The reality, of course, is that PG County is one of the many affluent suburbs of DC, containing many beautiful and expensive neighborhoods and having little of the squalor that was featured in the story line.
Message for the writers and producers of Commander in Chief: try learning something about your subject before you put pen to paper or film to camera. You might actually produce a better product, and embarrass yourselves a tad less. That is if your brain-dead masters at ABC don’t smother the show through their own stupidity first.