Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"Turn back the crop dusters"

I never intended to blog on a TV show, prefering to concentrate on books, libraries, politics, and other sundry topics. But I just cannot resist saying something about the brain damage I incurred last night while viewing COMMANDER IN CHIEF, a show that puts Geena Davis in the Oval Office.

President Davis (I cannot remember her character's name) got the job of VP after the real VP died. Then the President died, so she got the top slot. SOME people question whether she is up to the task. Because she's inexperienced? Because she got the job after two legitimate politicians spontaneously combusted? No, because of...sexism. (You know, the REAL reason why some of us question Harriet Mier's nomination).

One staffer talking to another staffer: "She's not a woman, she's the president."

Well, that's half right.

She won't let her kids attend private school (even though they obviously did before she became Pres.) because "Your father and I went to public school."

Mother of God! Even Bill Clinton knew better than to subject his daughter to the hellish underworld of the District of Criminals publik skool sistem.

In last night's scintillating tale, nine DEA agents are murdered by the dictator of San Pasquali (or something like that), a Latin American country which, until recently, had a democratically-elected president (who now conveniently lives in the DC area).

President Davis wants El Dictator arrested. Unable to do that without an indictment (I'm sure Austin, Texas DA Ronnie Earle would have obliged), Davis decides to eliminate the crops that are the source of dictator's drug-fueled tyranny. So she goes on TV and tells the American people of her intent to eradicate San Pasquali's chief export if the murderers of the DEA agents aren't brought to justice. Since everyone believes that the El Dictator is responsible, I'm not sure how this is supposed to work.

But then, in a dramatic move that defines this cutting edge drama, President Davis departs from her scripted remarks and calls upon the people of San Pasquali to rise up and arrest their dictator. It may seem to you utterly ridiculous that an American President would think her pleas could mobilize a country to do something extremely dangerous that they heretofore had shown no interest in doing. I certainly felt that way as my jaw continued in its free-fall.

Off go the planes to CROP DUST San Pasquali (bombers are actually engaged in such a situation, but this Pres practices non-violent military intervention). But before the pacifist crop dusters can arrive, the people of San Pasquali rise up, march on the capital city, and demand El Dictator's arrest (I'm imagining Dora the Explorer's "We did it!" dance).

President Davis, breathless with love for all of humanity, turns to her advisor, and says, "Turn back the crop dusters."

I was laughing so hard I fell off the couch.

Like its (much better written) predecessor, WEST WING, COMMANDER IN CHIEF is basically political pornography. It creates a fantasy world in which certain ideas and policies prevail, independent of their failure in real life. I was most astonished by the consequence-free policy: Female, independent (read:liberal) Pres locks horns with dictator, stands fast against tyranny, and never has to fire a shot in anger (or drop a bomb). Is this how creator Rod Lurie envisioned a Kerry or Gore presidency? He might want to confer with ex-pres Bill Clinton on that. Or perhaps ask anyone within ear-shot of that aspirin factory in the Sudan that Clinton bombed. Should Clinton have sent crop dusters to Somalia?

Rumor has it that creator/producer Lurie has been replaced by Steven Bochco (NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues, Over There). This is virtually unheard of, as the creator of a certified hit is rarely given the shove. Bochco would certainly be the one to purge this show of its laughable storylines.

But then again, if millions of Americans are watching and enjoying this drek, why should they change it?

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