With all the behind-the-scenes turmoil during Commander in Chief
’s freshman (and potentially only) season (Thursdays at 10 pm/ET on ABC), you’d think Roseanne
had been named president. For a show to fall from Golden Globe-winning hit to on-the-bubble underdog in a single year is pretty remarkable. But that’s what's happened.
When Commander launched last fall, it was a glossy, entertaining melodrama about the turbulent adjustment to White House life for Mackenzie Allen (Geena Davis) — a glamorously and defiantly Independent vice president — and her young, telegenic family.
The mix of domestic and political drama was just different enough from The West Wing, and there was fun to be had, especially when Mac wrangled with her wily speaker-of-the-House nemesis, Nathan Templeton (a gleefully malevolent Donald Sutherland).
But after ABC removed the show’s creator Rod Lurie, citing production delays, and replaced him with Steven Bochco (who has since stepped down as show runner), it became a second-rate West Wing, complete with international crises of the week. Her husband, Rod (Kyle Secor), was promoted to de facto VP, undermining Mac’s authority. And NYPD Blue’s Mark-Paul Gosselaar made an unwelcome cast addition as boyishly obnoxious adviser Dickie McDonald.
Returning from a long hiatus in a tough Thursday time slot, Chief is struggling to regain momentum. One smart call: moving Rod out of the West Wing, but it may be too little too late.
If it turns out that we hardly knew ye, Mac Allen, that seems a shame.
The chemistry between beguiling Reba McEntire (as nurse Nellie Forbush) and swoon-enducing belter Brian Stokes Mitchell (as Emile de Becque) makes South Pacific in Concert from Carnegie Hall some enchanted evening indeed. This Great Performances special (April 26 on PBS; check listings) is a delight, from stirring overture to tearful bows, with McEntire’s playful “Honey Bun” and Mitchell’s soaring “This Nearly Was Mine” the standouts. Now if only someone could capture on film McEntire’s Broadway triumph in Annie Get Your Gun.