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Published:May 9th, 2006 10:44 EST
No Female President For U.S.

No Female President For U.S.

By Maria Grella

It looks like the United States is not ready for a female president yet, even in fiction form.  ABC’s Commander in Chief has been assassinated from the air.  The drama’s downfall was inevitable as the ratings continued to go south despite a strong showing early in the series debut. 

For the second time this season, the ABC network has pulled Commander from its regular schedule, this time during sweeps.  May sweeps is a time when shows rake in the ratings and advertising dollars with the big season finale.  In its place, Thursdays at 10pm, will be the news program Primetime.  The remaining unaired episodes of the presidential drama may air next month, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Co-star Donald Sutherland told the UPI news service that though there was no final, official word from the network, “Commander in Chief is over,” adding that when discussing the show’s future with the people at ABC, “they said, ‘What is the word beyond miracle?’”  When the new fall line up is announced on May 16th, Commander isn’t expected to be revived.

The latest Nielsen ratings showed President Mackenzie Allen leading the series into 64th place, with a low viewing of 6.5 million.  When the show first premiered on Tuesday nights in late September, it became a Top 10 hit.  The debut episode was watched by 16.4 million people.  The following month had proven successful, as ABC ordered a full season.  By January, Geena Davis, already an Oscar winner, had captured the Golden Globe for her portrayal of the first woman President of the United States.

As in any administration, trouble appeared and shifting took place.  Rod Lurie, the series creator, was taken out by NYPD Blue’s Steven Bochco, who himself was later replaced.  The ratings downward spiral began when FOX’s competing medical drama, House, came back from its November hiatus, following baseball coverage.  From the onset, viewers cared more about Dr. House, than the female-run White House; beginning with a 300,000 lead, House grew to more than a 3 million viewership over Commander.  With February’s return of the unstoppable ratings grabber, American Idol, as its lead-in show to House, ABC removed Commander In Chief from the air and when it returned April 13th, it was stuck on Thursday nights.

President Allen isn’t the only leader to face difficult times.  The West Wing’s President Bartlet and newly elected President Santos have also shared in weak ratings; later this month the series finale of the West Wing will air.  Despite poor ratings and cancellation rumors, Davis is handling it very well.  In an event with the United Nations, where members honored her work as the fictitious female head of state, she was in high spirits.  “If elected to another season – uh, term,” Davis joked, “whatever I can do to make change happen quicker in the fake world, I promise to do.”