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maryann johanson | takeaway only

Commander in Chief: Part 1 (review)

Make no mistake: this is fantasy. Not a woman as president of the United States — that’s bound to happen, and soon. No, it’s the powerful, inspiring vision of principled, progressive leadership free of political machination that is so outside the realm of our experience that it near to makes you wanna weep for joy at what could be, and in sorrow for what isn’t. When President Mackenzie Allen (the brilliant Geena Davis [Stuart Little 2], justly nominated for a Golden Globe) is interrupted by her chief of staff while reading a storybook to a group of children at a public event so that he can notify her of a disaster, her response is such a pointed criticism of the current president’s behavior on the morning of 9/11/01 that you can’t help but gasp at the show’s audacity. Moments like that one punctuate these ten episodes, riffs on recent current events that create a window onto an alternate universe where honesty and integrity matter more among those elected to lead us than cronyism, gamesmanship, and coddling lobbyists, as embodied here by the villain, Speaker of the House Nathan Templeton (Donald Sutherland [Ask the Dust], having fun as a bad guy), who does his best to trip up the president at every juncture. Like I said: fantasy. Weirdly, this set contains only half the episodes in the now-cancelled series, and no extras of any kind — why the whole complement wasn’t released in one package is a bit of a mystery. Still, this is highly recommended.

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