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Regime Change at ABC's Commander In Chief a spectacular failure.

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Word around town is that ABC's much-hyped series Commander In Chief isn't going to be renewed for a second season, which is of little surprise given it's continual fall in the ratings, and ABC's inability to properly manage the shows production staff. Viewership for the last episode that aired before the show went on an unplanned hiatus in January was down almost 40% from it's debut of 17 million. ABC's revolving-showrunner mentality coupled with their total lack of guts killed any chance the drama ever had at success.

Series creator Rod Lurie was demoted by ABC in October -- after just two episodes had aired -- for supposedly falling seriously behind on the production schedule, and as lead writer for the series, he was directly blamed for the problems. Other writers with knowledge of the situation say however, that the real reason for Lurie's demotion was his insistence on having a controversial scene depicting a Secret Service agent and the Presidents daughter having rough sex in the back of a limo. Despite ABC's apparent lack of confidence in Lurie's executive producing abilities, Touchstone immediately signed Lurie to a new production contract to continue developing new projects for the studio. It's also been speculated that Lurie's vision for the show was too political. Unfortunately, ABC's stupidity did not end there.

Steven Bochco, fresh off the cancellation of the miserable series "Over There", was subsequently hired to take over the showrunner duties. Bochco immediately fired the entire writing staff for Chief and brought it an entirely new writing team. In one fell swoop, ABC and Bochco had replaced virtually every single person responsible for creating a series that ABC was very high on, a real ratings-getter and potential tent pole series for countless seasons to come. The result came of little surprise, with everyone responsible for the enormously successful first few episodes fired, the shows vision became dangerously unstable, and the ratings began a free fall from which Bochco and ABC could not seem to recover.

With ratings down and no one ABC could blame but itself, Chief was was put on hiatus, meaning all production on new episodes had ceased; a situation that ironically would have resulted anyway from the supposed production slowdown. While it had been rumored that Steven Bochco had developed creative differences with ABC, it has never been clear what the real issue may be. Regardless of the ambiguity, Bochco is no longer Chief's showrunner, a job which has now fallen on the shoulders of writier/executive producer Dee Johnson.

ABC plans to bring Commander in Chief back sometime this month in a new timeslot on a new night, and it's fairly certain at this point that if ratings do not improve, Chief will join the 34 other series cancelled this year in the TV graveyard.

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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.