ABC Impeaches 'Commander In Chief'

The Allen administration, which started off with such promise, is coming to a rather ignominious end.

ABC has yanked its freshman drama "Commander In Chief" from the schedule for the rest of May sweeps after the show performed poorly in its new, and exceedingly difficult, Thursday time period. Newsmagazine "Primetime" will take its place at 10 p.m. ET Thursdays for the remaining three weeks of the season.

The pulling of "Commander In Chief" probably spells doom for the show's chances of renewal and puts a cap on a remarkable slide that sent it from sparkly new hit to probable lame duck in eight months. The series began life as the most-watched new show of the fall, and star Geena Davis won a Golden Globe in January for her portrayal of Mackenzie Allen, the first female president. Behind-the-scenes upheaval and a steep ratings decline, however, conspired to bring the show down.

The backstage changes came first, with ABC and Touchstone (both of which are owned by Disney) relieving creator Rod Lurie of his showrunner duties a few weeks into the season after production had fallen behind schedule. Steven Bochco ("NYPD Blue") took over the show, bringing in a number of new writers and adding "Blue" alum Mark-Paul Gosselaar to the cast.

Through November, though, the show was still averaging a robust 15.2 million viewers per week, the best of any new series to that point.

"Commander" was off the air until Jan. 10, and on its return its ratings took a hit thanks largely to the return of "American Idol" on FOX. Three episodes in January averaged about 10.8 million viewers, which isn't all that bad, but the younger viewers that advertisers love were dropping away as well.

Another long hiatus followed, during which Bochco also gave up day-to-day running of the show (though he remains an executive producer) to work on an ABC pilot. Dee Johnson, who had been with the show from the start, became the showrunner.

ABC then moved the show from its Tuesday home to 10 p.m. Thursdays, where it would have to face CBS' powerful "Without a Trace" and NBC's still-solid "ER." Ratings have been meager since the switch -- the three episodes that have aired on Thursday have averaged only about 7.5 million viewers, less than half what the show was doing in the fall.

The network says the final three episodes of the season will likely air during the summer, but no dates have been set.