Friday, September 30, 2005

a night of tivo: 9/29

I got home pretty late last night, but I did have time to watch two shows I had my tivo record. One was the series premiere of "Commander in Chief," and another was the season two finale of "Battlestar Galactica."

Let me just say that "Battlestar Galactica" fucking rocks. Edward James Olmos' Commander Adama is a badass - he's like Jean-Luc Picard's more depressed, smushier-faced Latino counterpart. The show is put together incredibly well - great music and sound, cool special effects (the CGI mimics handheld camera movements) and above all, superb acting and writing.

"Commander in Chief" is equal parts intriguing and ridiculous. In the pilot episode, the nation is unaware that President Teddy Roosevelt Bridges has suffered a stroke and died, technically making Vice President Mackenzie "Mac" Allen (Geena Davis) the titular "Commander in Chief." She doesn't take any sort of oath of office for what seems like two weeks, possibly because her first two names aren't those of a former president (the 25th amendment is unclear as to whether she'll have to change her name to "Chester A. Arthur Mackenzie 'Mac' Allen" before she can assume power).

Bridges made Mac - a former academic and an expert on the middle east - his veep to win the ladies' vote, but the dying president asks her to resign because she's an independent, not a Republican, and also has boobs. Next in line is Speaker of the House Bob Evil, otherwise known as Nathan Templeton (Donald Sutherland), who has a reputation of being just to the right of Genghis Khan (which he earned as a freshman congressman in the early 1200s, leading the Mongol hordes into China). To convince her to resign, Templeton gives her a truncated version of the stump speech which won him the everlasting support of his heartland constituents, affectionately known as "Gimmegimmegimme!" Mac, who had already chosen to resign (oops), says "oh no you di-unh" and decides to take the oath, giving the nation its first-ever president with a closet full of killer pantsuits.

The pilot had its moments - for instance, the conversation between Templeton and Allen about those who seek power and those who don't was intriguing and offered a glimmer of promise. Yet too many other contrived moments and bizarre lines of dialogue gave "CiC" the feel of an airport novel. The obvious comparisons will be made to "The West Wing," the main one being that the "West Wing" is good, whereas "CiC" isn't. But I'll probably give it another hour of space on my tivo to see if things pick up.

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