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THE TINY SCREEN: Commander-in-Chief or Delta Dawn?:

When it was announced, amid much pomp and circumstance, that the next political TV show about the president was going to be “Commander-in-Chief,” and the hook? That “this Fall a woman would become president.” Immediately, conservatives reacted – it was practically a daily thread on the Drudge Report: it’s an underhanded attempt to get the public acclimated to a woman in the White House.

Liberals responded with their usual talking points – it’s art, not life, etc. Creator and writer Rod Lurie told TV Guide that he hated both parties and had no hidden agenda at all other than to portray a woman juggling work and kids. His female president (as played by Geena Davis) is deliberately “independent,” standing up for what she believes in rather than playing patsy for any particular party. Uh, yeah, right.

If Rod Lurie’s political perspective is independent you’d never know it. No, of course she isn’t perhaps liberal the way, say, Bill Clinton or John Kerry or Ted Kennedy are liberal, but make no mistake, she is staunchly residing on the left side of politics. If you have any doubts as to Lurie’s political leanings, you need only watch “The Contender,” starring Joan Allen, wherein Lurie explored the idea of a potential female Vice-President being squashed by the opposition digging up and manufacturing dirt on her.

In that film, much was made of how Lurie (speaking through Allen) lambasted Bill Clinton for his behavior during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but he also made his beliefs about abortion obvious. He played it as he’s playing it now – on the left but not the left of this generation.

So, let’s call a spade a spade before we start dancing around the facts in order to appeal to the fly-over states. Anyone can smell the agenda in “Commander-in-Chief” from a mile away. On the other hand, none of this would matter if the show was good. Alas, it is all but unwatchable.

Because the show was such a turkey – it seems ridiculous to watch this woman juggle children and running the country. Hell, I’m all for a woman president but perhaps not one who has an even more important job to do at home. She doesn’t want to come off as a woman who has fobbed off her mommy duties to the husband or other workers but to come off as a woman who wants to be actively engaged in her children’s lives while also running the country. The way it’s presented in the show simply doesn’t work. Our sympathies lie with the children and not with the Pres.

Meanwhile, Rod Lurie’s been dumped from the show, some nonsense about his not being able to handle the fast-paced workload of network TV. And they’re bringing in “Macho Bochco,” Stephen Bochco of “NYPD Blue” among other things. While he claimed he was planning on keeping the show’s theme as Lurie had it laid out (more about a working mom than a president) but since he’s fired most of the writers it looks more like he’s cleaning house big time.

What will Bochco do to fix the ailing show? Hopefully, he’ll make it anything BUT an embarrassment to all involved. The Democrats need another embarrassment like President Bush needs another appointee blunder.

While we await the fate of “Commander-in-Chief” we are also being called upon to decide whether or not we can deal with a woman in the White House, okay, fine, make me say it: Hillary Clinton – the object of all of the conservatives’ hatred. But it chafes for me as a woman to even compare the Davis character with Clinton when they couldn’t be farther apart. Hillary Clinton, first off, has no young children to raise, and was probably more qualified to run the country than Bill when they first got there.

Though we’d all like to say that it doesn’t matter whether a woman has children to raise or not, it really does. And whether Bill Clinton is in the White House as president with a young Chelsea, or Bush with the Bush twins, what these men did to engage with the children was optional; you can bet that where the women were concerned, it wasn’t optional. I’m sorry to be the one to say it, but it’s a plain truth.

“Commander-in-Chief,” no matter its noble intent, doesn’t do its job convincing us that the right man for the job is a woman, even if that’s the truth. Perhaps that’s because it would take a certain kind of woman and not just any old mom. In an ideal world, the hand that rocks the cradle would rule the world – but we don’t yet live in that kind of world. Wake me up when the show gets better.

Notable TV This Week

Thursday, October 27

Inside the Actors Studio: Rosie O’Donnell, 8 p.m., BRAVO.

Kissing Jessica Stein (**), 9 p.m., OXYGEN.

The Story of Us (*), sentimental pap starring Michelle Pfeiffer, 9 p.m., USA.

The Shawshank Redemption (****), 9:30 p.m., TNT.

Friday, October 28

Ever After (**), 8 p.m., OXYGEN.

The Fly (***), 8 p.m., BRAVO.

Runaway Bride (**), 8 p.m., TNT.

The Sixth Sense (***), 8 p.m., FAMILY.

Saturday, October 29

The Blair Witch Project (***), 8 p.m., FX.

Monsters, Inc. (***), 8 p.m., ABC.

The Shining (****), 8 p.m., A&E.

Jesse James: Legend, Outlaw, Terrorist, 9 p.m., DISCOVERY.

Sunday, October 30

The Silence of the Lambs (****), 7:30 p.m., OXYGEN.

Masterpiece Theater: Kidnapped, 9 p.m., KCET.

Vampire Bats, 9 p.m., CBS.

Twisted History: Vampires, 10 p.m., DISCOVERY.

Monday, October 31

The Uninvited (***), 7:30 p.m., TCM.

Scariest Places on Earth, 8 p.m., FAMILY.

A Medium marathon, for those who missed the first amazing season, 8 – 10 p.m., NBC.

A Cemetery Special, 10 p.m., KCET.

Tuesday, November 1

Grease (***), 7:30 p.m., VH1.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (****), 7:30 p.m., TCM.

Indecent Proposal (*), 8:30 p.m., OXYGEN.

Traffic (****), 9 p.m., USA.

Wednesday, November 2

Julia (***), 6 p.m., AMC.

Sunset Boulevard (****), 6 p.m., TCM.

Insomnia (***), 9 p.m., AMC.

Criminal Minds, 10 p.m., CBS.

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