Plot: What’s it about?
Mackenzie Spencer Allen (Geena Davis) is the Vice President of Republican President of the United States Teddy Roosevelt Bridges (Will Lyman), but she is an Independent. When Bridges undergoes emergency brain surgery after a vicious stroke, the Republican advisors to the Oval Office become nervous. She is told that if the President loses his life, they do not wish her to succeed him as President. She is asked that if the time arises, if she will step aside and allow the Republican Speaker of the House to take office. She is told these were the wishes of the President himself and while she has doubts, he confirms his request when they meet in person. Soon after, Bridges does indeed pass on, but even as she has her resignation letter in hand, Mac decides that Speaker of the House Nathan Templeton (Donald Sutherland) can’t be allowed to take the Oval Office. The trials and tribulations will be immense, both personal and professional, but Mac is dedicated to her decision. But as pressures mount from all sides and she faces challenges unlike those endured by any former Presidents, can Mac prove she deserves to be in the Oval Office?
The premise here offers a lot of potential and you have a great cast on deck, so I looked forward to the first volume of Commander of Chief. This cast is impressive, with Geena Davis in the lead and folks like Donald Sutherland, Harry J. Lennix, Ever Carradine, and Caitlin Wachs as support. Not an all star assortment, but a well chosen and gifted selection of performers. Commander in Chief is an intelligent, enjoyable series and I breezed through these first ten episodes. Rod Lurie created the series, but was replaced by Steven Bochco mid run and there is a transition evident. Lurie is a great political writer, but was unable to keep pace, so the show’s scripts were behind, which is why Bochco was brought in. He is capable of course, but changes the tone a little too much, which throws the later episodes off track, in the grand scheme of things. Even so, there is a definite change and while good, these final eight episodes aren’t up to snuff with the others. A couple of episodes stand out, but on the whole, the show takes a dip in quality. Touchstone’s double disc release includes the final eight episodes, plus the pilot episode again, this time with Rod Lurie’s audio comments available. In the end, the show doesn’t close as well as it opens, but it is still decent entertainment. I just wish we could have seen Lurie’s full vision realized, instead of this compromised version.
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. I found these episodes to look as good, if not better than you’d find on broadcast. The image is clean and sharp, with no real flaws that jumped out, so the episodes look impressive. The detail is high throughout, though not quite as much depth as the elite transfers out there, but still well above average. I found colors to be warm and natural, with no errors to mention, while contrast remains consistent at all times. This is a terrific overall presentation and fans are sure to be pleased, as Disney’s work here is solid in all aspects.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio here is basic, thanks to the included stereo surround soundtracks, but all the bases seem to be covered. The nature of the series is one of a natural, subtle audio presence too, so its not like the material screams for dynamic presence. A few scenes could have been boosted a shade, but even then, the experience wouldn’t have been enhanced that much. The sound effects come across in fine form, with the same kind of audio presence you’d expect from a television show, though these days, some do provide a more immersive texture. No troubles with dialogue either, as vocals are clear and crisp throughout the episodes. Not the kind of audio to show off your system with, but I have no complaints about the results.
Supplements: What are the extras?
While the first volume was barren of supplements, this second installment has a few, including the pilot episode with optional audio comments, as I mentioned above. I have no idea why the audio track wasn’t put on the first volume, but better late than never, I suppose. Dee Johnson, a writer and producer provides comments on the best episode of the lot, Elephant in the Room, but don’t expect to be dazzled. The track is passable, but dull and has minimal in depth information. This release also includes some outtakes, a wealth of deleted scenes, and a brief interview with Geena Davis.