Tom Shales Fawns Over Faux POTUS Geena Davis

September 27th, 2005 12:07 PM
The Washington Post's Tom Shales takes the opportunity, not once, but twice in today's Style section review of "Commander in Chief" to take a swipe at the current real-life occupant of the Oval Office. What's more, Shales praises in Geena Davis's character, President Mackenzie Allen, what many of George W. Bush's admirers, and even some detractors, see as an admirable leadership quality, the aim "to do the job first and worry about history's verdicts second."

Shales begins gushing from the first sentence of the lead paragraph, opening with a cheesy one-liner I'd expect from Family Guy's Quagmire, not a professional TV critic:

Geena Davis can veto my legislation anytime. Starring as the first woman to hold the highest office in the land, Davis reminds us what we have missed in most of our past, real-life presidents: cuteness. She's got a twinkle in her eye, a twinkle in her smile, a twinkle everywhere. She's President Twinkle -- just what we need to tame the extreme, charm the militant, inspire the troops.

Shales continues, saying the show itself is one big gimmick but that Davis is a pleasure to watch:

Unfortunately, "Commander in Chief," the new ABC drama series premiering at 9 tonight on Channel 7, never gets much beyond its gimmicky premise, and that results in a good deal of wasted time. Can you imagine?! A woman as president of the United States?! Well, yes, we can imagine it, so let's get on with some good stories and knotty controversies and horns of dilemmas.


The fact is, "Commander in Chief" starts out a little too bland but still tantalizing, and Davis is the tantalizer all sublime. Maybe the presidency should be a beauty pageant; it's hard to imagine that the results would really be that much worse than we get already.

Shales then goes on to describe the plot of the season premiere, including a subplot where President Allen orders a military rescue incursion into Nigeria to save a woman from a death sentence for adultery. After critiquing other elements of the premiere, including the cast of characters, Shales caps his piece admiring the fictional president's strong leadership:

Maybe we already have too many artificial presidents in prime-time series, stretching the limits of credibility beyond even the usual television standards. But if other fake presidents fall by the wayside, Davis deserves to hang around. Her presidency can't help being a statement, and it's already clear that as president she is going to do the job first and worry about history's verdicts second. One can sense the intense and particular pressure that would accompany such a transformation, and Davis imparts that with subtlety and smarts.

We could do a lot worse than have Geena Davis serving as president of the United States. Indeed, we already have.

See also: "What's a Little Stoning Among Friends?"