September 27, 2005 – The drama series Commander-in-Chief Premieres on ABC
“Wife. Mother. Leader of the Free World.”
On September 27, 2005, the drama series Commander-in-Chief premiered on ABC. The series focuses on the character of Vice President Mackenzie Allen, who becomes the President of the United States after the President died from a cerebral aneurysm. The show was highly successful on its premiere, but soon after, ratings began to steadily decline, leading to the show’s cancellation after its first season, with 18 episodes in total. Geena Davis, however, won a Golden Globe for Best Actress – Television Series Drama for her work as Mackenzie. The series was created by Rod Lurie, and starred Geena Davis as Mackenzie Allen, Kyle Secor as Rod Calloway, Donald Sutherland as Nathan Templeton, Harry Lennix as Jim Gardner, Ever Carradine as Kelly Ludlow, Matt Lanter as Horace Calloway, Caitlin Wachs as Rebecca Calloway, and Jasmine Jessica Anthony as Amy Calloway.
The pilot episode begins in Paris, where Vice President Mackenzie “Mac” Allen is pulled out of an event by the White House Chief of Staff Jim Gardner, and is informed that the President of the United States suffered a massive stroke due to a cerebral aneurysm. He is in surgery, and it might be months before he is able to be back in office. While Mac is willing to step forward and assume the presidency, she is told by Gardner and U.S. Attorney General Melanie Blackston that she needs to resign so Speaker of the House Nathan Templeton will move into office. The President and his advisors doesn’t want to bring Mac into office as she’s an Independent, and a woman. Mac soon heads back to Washington, but wishes to speak to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Back in the states, her kids are pulled from school and taken back home, although they are not told why. Back on Air Force II, Mac talks to the Chairman, and starts making her move, putting the Navy on high alert and placing several forces in place. Gardner warns Rod Calloway, Mac’s vice presidential chief of staff and husband, about Mac’s taking control, but Calloway won’t hear of it.
At home, Mac tells her kids the news, and her daughter Becca tells Mac that if she can’t deliver the previous President’s promises, then she should step aside. She heads back to work, and works on focusing on Nigeria, as they have a woman hostage. Calloway gets a call that the President is awake and wants to see her, so she heads to the hospital. President Bridges isn’t going very well, as he’s going to need at least a year of rehab to recover. He then tells her that he needs her to resign, we they share different views on the country, and he will not resign until she does. Afterwards, she goes to pick up Kelly Ludlow, her head of communications, who needs to write a resignation speech for Mac. Mac isn’t happy about doing this, but is only resigning because Bridges asked her. Later that evening, Bridges passes away from complications due to his stroke. When Mac is delivered the news, Nathan Templeton also stops by. Technically, Mac is now the President, and Templeton is lying in wait to take the role of the President.
Templeton doesn’t believe in her ability, saying that her role as Vice President was a publicity stunt. He lectures her on her work with rescuing a woman in Nigeria, revealing his heavy prejudices against several groups; this lecture only pushes her to take the office of the presidency, and she soon takes the oath. The next day, Mac is taken to the White House, and steps into her new office. In a private moment with Calloway, she admits that she’s afraid. She tries to keep several people from Bridges’ office with her, but many refuse, as they know Bridges wished for her to resign. Mac soon heads to her cabinet meeting, and closes it to everyone but the cabinet members. The Secretary of Labor has resigned, and she offers the chance for anyone else to resign now, or never. Calloway heads to his office as the First Gentleman with the head of the “First Lady’s” staff, only to find that the role is somewhat lacking. After the meeting, Mac asks that Gardner be her Chief of Staff, much to his surprise, but he accepts. Mac is soon greeted by Bridges’ widow, and she is happy that Mac agreed to be President rather than resign. Mac offers to let her stay in the White House as long as she needs. Soon after, the Nigerian Ambassador tries to stop Mac’s rescue attempt, but he soon hears the Generals’ plan to save the woman. She refuses to let a woman be stoned to death for having sex, and the Ambassador reluctantly accepts her decision.
Later, Calloway is angry that Mac doesn’t choose him as the Chief of Staff, but he decides to get over it for the sake of appearances. Becca refuses to go to her mother’s speech, as she doesn’t believe in her mother’s decision to be the President, but her brother Horace tells her that she needs to go to be there for her mother. Mac prepares for her speech, and Calloway tells her to “go win the country.” With confidence, Mac enters the room to give her address to Congress, but soon loses it when her teleprompter goes out, no doubt an act of malice by Templeton. However, she is able to continue her speech, and she promises to continue the legacy of a nation, not the legacy of a man. While she gives her speech, the American troops head in to rescue the woman from Nigeria, and successfully get her out.