Saturday, August 28, 2004


Thanks to The WB and Entertainment Weekly, I received a preview DVD of the entire first episode for 'Jack & Bobby' (one of the two new series I'm most eager to see).

Here's the official party line about the show:

From master storytellers Greg Berlanti (Everwood, Dawson's Creek) and Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing, Ally McBeal) comes a powerful and poignant new drama directed by the incomparable David Nutter (Smallville, Without a Trace).

If "greatness is thrust upon us," as Winston Churchill once said, then it's equally true that those who are destined for greatness are rarely aware of it. Take Jack and Bobby McCallister, for example: two bright young brothers growing up under the watchful eye of their eccentric single mother (Academy Award, Emmy, and Golden Globe winner Christine Lahti).

Her personality is a force of nature destined to shape both of these young men's lives and secure one a place in the history books - as future President of the United States.

Set in present day, with flash-forward interviews of future-President McCallister's White House staffers and first lady, it's a snapshot of a young man being molded to beat the odds and become the mid-century's greatest presidential leader. ~~

As the show's poster states: "In 2041, one of them will be President." (At the end of the debut episode, you find out which one.)

The show's "present" will be in 2049, when former members of President McCallister's staff, his family, and historians are interviewed about him.

Now, 37 years may seem like a long way off - I'm fairly certain I won't be around to see it arrive! - but in the grand scale of the Universe, 2041 will be here before you know it.

Just ask the creators of '1984', 'Space: 1999', and 'The Jetsons (which was set in 2001): perceived futures arrive and the promises (or threats) don't play out. So I'm fairly certain that there will not be a President McCallister; at least, not in our world. And that means there won't be one in Toobworld either.

At least... not on Earth Prime-Time.

But why not place the show in one of the alternate TV Earths? My personal choice would be the TV Earth in which Jed Bartlet is currently President. But it could just as easily be the world of President Palmer, or President Hayes, or any one of Presidents to be found in the 'Slider' worlds found in 'The Outer Limits' and other anthology shows.

The only sticking point to exclude the universe of 'The West Wing' would be if there are any references to our current political situations during the flashback sequences set in the "past" of 2004. If so, it definitely can't be the West Wing World. They broke away from sharing our history and our line of presidential succession since at least the mid-1980s. The divergence may have even occurred as far back as Nixon's term. (Maybe their Tricky Dick never resigned?)

In the West Wing World, which is definitely set in the present (They did an episode in 1999 regarding the coming millennium.), there would have been no Reagan (at least as President, that is), no Bush I or II, no Clinton, probably no Carter as well.

This has been their line of succession so far:
D. Wire Newman
Owen Lassiter
Josiah "Jed" Bartlet
Glenallen Walken
Josiah "Jed" Bartlet

But should 'Jack & Bobby' make reference to say, the election of 2000, or Ralph Nader's campaigns, or to the possibility that Hillary Clinton might one day run, then it's inclusion in the West Wing World has to be nullified.

No matter. The TV Universe is nothing if not flexible. We'll tuck it away in some other dimension. And if that alternate proves untenable, we'll just keep at it until we find its proper berth in the TV multiverse; even if we have to give the McCallister boys their own dimension.

But we'll have to figure it out long before 2041, though. Because sometime between now and then, we'll have at least five more presidents (as seen in an opening montage of photographs in that first episode of 'Jack & Bobby').

Among them will be one black president and one female president. It could be that the black president is Spencer Harvey, who will resign after a corporate scandal. (Although at the same time they showed a photo of the black president, they also showed a photo of a future white president, very downcast and troubled, who was seemingly making a heart-wrenching public announcement. The narration did not make the distinction between the two.)

As for the woman who will one day be the Commander-in-Chief of this particular TV dimension, she appears to be President Hellman - who was the first president to visit Africa after the plague of 2018. (It could be my imagination, but I could have sworn that we saw Jan Hooks as President Hellman in that particular photograph.)

And then there's Paul Sorvino as President Lorio. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Lorio is a seasoned politician who serves as president from 2037-41. So he would be McCallister's immediate predecessor in the job.

So that brings the total up to six presidents before McCallister, and I would like to add the seventh: the president who will succeed Jed Bartlet.

According to recent news sources, these three men will be the leading candidates for the job:
•Alan Vinick (Alan Alda), “a socially moderate and fiscally conservative Republican from California in the same political vein as Arnold Schwazenegger.”
•Matthew Santos (Jimmy Smits, in his first TV series role since leaving NYPD Blue in 1998), “a three-term congressman from Houston who came up by the bootstraps out of the barrio and made something of himself.”
•VP Bob Russell (Gary Cole), whose campaign will be managed by Will Bailey (Josh Malina).

Like I said, 37 years isn't so long off. If 'Jack & Bobby' is to share the same universe as 'The West Wing', then that world can expect a lot of one-termers!

From the pilot episode, here's a quote by the mother of 'Jack & Bobby', Grace McCallister:

"All the best people were geeks. George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, Kafka, Yours Truly....."


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