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Thinking (and Rethinking) ''Commander in Chief''

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 13, 2005

I wasn't much impressed with ''Commander in Chief'' when I saw the pilot, but I saw enough good things that I decided to watch more and on Wednesday checked out two more episodes. In the interim, the show has become a nice hit for ABC and even sparked discussions about the way the show might help a presidential campaign by Hillary Clinton.

I don't buy into that idea. ''The West Wing'' has a caring Democrat in the White House; the two presidential elections during the show's run have both been won by George W. Bush.

Of course, that Democrat and his associates have been allowed to fail, while ''Commander in Chief'' does not consider failure an option for its chief executive. That alone makes me understand why many people would like the show; if you accept Geena Davis's character as the good guy, then the good guy gets to win. A lot.

It's implausible. In fact, the show can be downright unbelievable. But it's reassuring.

Still, I haven't fallen under the show's spell. Yes, there is a terrific supporting cast, including Kyle Secor, Harry Lennix and wily old Donald Sutherland. There is also a problematic leading lady, Geena Davis; am I the only one put off by the way only the lower part of her face moves when she talks?

Yes, there are good dramatic moments (I liked the two children talking in the White House) and ongoing stories (I'm a sucker for political intrigue). But, as I said, there are other things that don't ring true. Big things like the way she's solving problems, little things like reporters applauding at a press briefing, in-between things like the president's inconsistent knowledge about how news media work.

I'm not done looking at ''Commander in Chief.'' But I'm not enjoying it either.

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