Saturday, December 1, 2012

I Recommend [TV Edition]: 'Commander in Chief,' 'Revolution' & 'American Horror Story'

Jeff Dodge's Recommendations:

TV Shows:
Commander in Chief (on Hulu)

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Commander in Chief is an ABC political drama that aired during the 2005-2006 TV season. It chronicles Mackenzie Allen as she becomes the first female President of the United States. But she doesn't get there through an election. Rather, she's first the Vice President, then the President has an unexpected death. The Constitution states that she's now the President.

But it's much more intriguing than even that because when she was tapped to be the running mate during the election, the guy at the top of the ticket was a Republican and she's an Independent. No one ever thought a situation like this would happen for her to rise to the top position, so why not pick someone like her in order to grab more votes to win the election? (Sounds a little familiar, doesn't it--Sarah Palin, anyone?) On his deathbed, the soon-to-be-deceased President advises her to resign upon his death. Once he dies, she defies the order and becomes President.

But that's just the start of the series. Once she does become President, the series follows her as she has to make some of the toughest decisions anyone can ever make. And along the way, she spars with the Speaker of the House, Nathan Templeton, who's after her job. This is the main rivalry on the show. And it's played up just right, and who better to play this sort of villainous character than Donald Sutherland, right?

You may be wondering, why am I recommending this show six and a half years after it went off the air? Well, it's because the entire series (which only lasted one season) is available to watch for free on Hulu, even to this day. At the time when it first aired, I believe I wanted to watch it, but I don't know why I never did, so I'm thankful for Hulu here.

But back to the show. Geena Davis is brilliant as the first female President. (She even won an Emmy and Golden Globe for Outstanding Lead Actress for her role.) She's tough, determined and strong-willed. Now, keep in mind that I've never seen The West Wing yet (though I do have season 1 on hold at my local library), a show that many have considered to be the epitome of what a political drama should be, so I have nothing to compare CiC to just yet. But I really enjoyed watching Commander in Chief. It's not without some flaws here and there, which I know would have been corrected had it made it to a sophomore season.

There's the First Children who get into all sorts of trouble at times. One of my favorite characters is Kelly Ludlow, the Press Secretary. She seems wholly unprepared for the job when President Allen appoints her to it, and it definitely shows at first when she's overwhelmed when having to deal with the press. What I like about this character is seeing where she starts out at and the progression we see over time.

If you have time to check out this series, then by all means go for it. As I've mentioned on this blog before, I'm a political news junkie (or political nerd, whatever you prefer), so a show like this is right up my alley.

Revolution (Mondays, 10pm, NBC)

(Image courtesy of NBC)

Over the summer when trailers and teasers were being released for the new fall 2012 shows, I watched all that I could and wrote down a list of the new shows that intrigued me. The one I was looking forward to the most was Revolution, which is all about what would happen if all the world's electricity and power shut off. So it's got that post-apocalyptic feel that I was looking forward to. It also is produced by J.J. Abrams, so I knew it was in good hands. But what made me wary leading up to the premiere was the network it airs on: NBC, the network that ruined what was a great show at first--Heroes. (And who knows, maybe that'll happen with Revolution in season 2, but I don't want to think that far ahead just yet.)

But I decided to watch anyway, and what do you know, I absolutely loved it right from the premiere episode. It airs at 10pm, so they can get away with a lot more than an 8pm or 9pm show--mainly, there have been at least a few times where the violence is on a level I wouldn't expect is allowed on network TV. So while surprised, I wasn't bothered by it. There is a lot of action in each episode, so it definitely keeps your attention. And you start to grow attached to these main characters like Charlie and Miles. And it's fascinating to watch what people will resort to when there's no more power. There's militias that rise up and take over. And pretty much nowhere is safe. And it doesn't hurt that you have fantastic actors on the show like Elizabeth Mitchell and Giancarlo Esposito--before Revolution, I was familiar with them from Lost and Once Upon a Time, respectively.

The show just had its fall finale earlier this week. And it's won't return until March so that it can be timed up again to have The Voice as its lead-in. If you're intrigued, I'm sure there's gotta be a way to catch up on the 10 episodes that have aired so far beyond the five most recent on Hulu, whether on iTunes or wherever. It is my favorite new show of the 2012-2013 season, and I highly recommend it.

American Horror Story: Asylum (Wednesdays, 10pm, FX)

(Image courtesy of FX)

Horror is not a genre that I usually am interested in watching. But when Glee creator Ryan Murphy announced a new show he was working on called American Horror Story, he got my attention. This is the guy who's making a show about singing and dancing--can he pull off horror? The short answer is yes, he most certainly can. My eyes were glued to the TV every week last fall when season 1 aired. And it's known now that each season will be completely new: new characters, new storyline, etc.

Season 2 is currently airing with the subtitle of Asylum. And that word says it all: it's set in an insane asylum in the 1960's. Season 1 has nothing on season 2, which takes it up 100 notches and makes the show more disturbing, more gruesome and more violent. But you know what? Doing that works, because even it's beyond disturbing, I literally cannot take my eyes away from the screen.

Some of the actors from last year, most notably Jessica Lange, have returned in completely new roles. And Jessica Lange--well, the word 'brilliant' is not high enough of a word to describe her talent, the way she can embody a character so much in the way that she does. If she doesn't win another Emmy and/or Golden Globe this year, then I don't know what the award voters are even looking for.

I don't know if I would normally do a Recommendation for a returning show. Because if I did, I would of course be discussing Once Upon a Time season 2 here as well. But AHS is nothing like season 1 that we in a way have to consider it a completely different show; that's why I'm listing it here.

TV Watch Online (@TVWatchOnline)
Hillary in 2016

Jeff Dodge Blog:
I Recommend: 'Land of Stories' Book & 'Katy Perry: Part of Me' Film

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The BizzNiz Recaps (My X Factor recaps):
'The X Factor' USA Recap: Top 16 Perform / Top 12 Announced
Top 13 Perform / Top 13 Results
Top 12 Perform / Top 12 Results
Top 10 Perform / Top 10 Results
Top 8 Perform / Top 8 Results

#1 Recommendations: American Horror Story & Revolution

Over the coming weeks, I will have recommendations up for Chely Wright: Wish Me Away, The Casual Vacancy, A Game of Thrones and Ruby Sparks. And since we're nearing the end of the year, later this month I'm planning on compiling all my reviews and creating a definitive 2012 Recommendations list. (Oh, and by the way, I'm probably going to format these Recommendations a little bit differently next years so that these posts aren't as long as they have been.)

Follow me on Twitter @TheJeffDodge. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to tweet me, e-mail me or leave a comment below.

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