By John Maynard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 30, 2006
President Mackenzie Allen is back in office next month after a lengthy vacation that would make real-life presidents blush.
ABC's "Commander in Chief," starring Geena Davis as the nation's first woman president, will return to the lineup in a new time slot (10 p.m. Thursdays) beginning April 13, the network announced yesterday. The show bumps the newsmagazine "Primetime" to Fridays at 9 p.m.
The embattled "Commander," which has not aired since Jan. 24, has had its share of backstage drama since debuting in the fall to initially strong ratings and mostly critical acclaim.
In October, veteran television producer Steven Bochco took over as the "show runner" -- overseeing the day-to-day operations -- replacing creator Rod Lurie, who reportedly had fallen behind in delivering scripts to the network.
Bochco was removed as the show's supervisor last month after ratings dipped and he became more involved with developing the pilot for a crime drama, "Hollis and Rae." Dee Johnson, an original executive producer with the show, becomes "Commander's" third show runner; Bochco and Lurie remain executive producers.
"Commander" debuted Sept. 27 with 16.4 million viewers and peaked the next week with nearly 17 million. Ratings declined steadily, though, and the last two episodes in January -- going head-to-head with the returning "American Idol" -- averaged 10.5 million viewers.
In its new time slot, "Commander" will face stiff competition against the CBS crime drama "Without a Trace," which is averaging nearly 19 million viewers and is ranked sixth in the Nielsens, and NBC's aging "ER," which still draws about 13 million.
"Commander" will get a decent lead-in from "American Inventor," a reality show produced by "American Idol's" Simon Cowell that is averaging nearly 14 million after two weeks.
ABC also announced yesterday that beginning April 18, the office sitcom "Less Than Perfect" will return to the lineup Tuesdays at 9:30.