Designated Survivor begins well … but will it hold interest?



Face it: We all have our trigger programs. The go-to kinds of programs we love. The actors and actresses we’ll follow no matter what. New science fiction series? You’re there. Reality programming with that outrageous premise? Oh yeah. I could go on and on. And on.

I can’t say without doubt Kiefer Sutherland is one of those actors I’d follow anywhere but I will say I’ve enjoyed quite a few of his vehicles. He’s got some nice films to his credit. Stand By Me. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. A Few Good Men. Phone Booth. Not to mention some spiffy television series as well: 24, naturally, a series I ate up for its popcorn action week after week despite its sometimes fantastical situations. And Touch, a program I really dug, where he played a widowed father with an emotionally challenged son capable of predicting future events. (Touch bowed out too, too early as far as I’m concerned.)

So … here we are once more with another Kiefer drama/thriller I’m more than willing to dive into, Designated Survivor. I’m willing to give it a go for several reasons, Kiefer heading the cast being one of those things.

Sutherland plays a presidential cabinet member, Tom Kirkman, who suddenly finds himself sworn in as President Of The United States after an unknown attack wipes out each and every member of government above him, leaving him the next person in line of succession.

The pilot was engaging enough. It offered a nice little opening to who Kirkman is – loving husband, devoted family man to two kids and employed as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Ironically, we discover early on it was the President’s intent to fire Kirkman, this right as all hell breaks loose and The Capitol is attacked while the State Of The Union address is underway. There’s an immediate rush to action, secret service and other officials bounce off the walls of The White House in getting Kirkman whisked to safety and in front of a judge to be sworn in as Commander In Chief. The 60 minutes of introduction is effective and enticing, complete with all the trappings necessary to instill viewers with a need to find out more. It even ends on a nice little note with newly installed President Kirkman addressing the American public on the crisis: “My fellow Americans …”



So the question is this: Nice opening but … how will the series play out let alone sustain interest? It certainly helps that there’s instant conflict to test Kirkman, both within The White house and internationally. Iran tosses an international power play into the ring, a challenge it appears Kirkman is countering effectively, despite moans and groans from some U.S. military heads. (The conclusion to this little conflict is on-going and has yet to be meted out.) Naturally there’s lots of concern, consternation and dubious talk surrounding Kirkman and his ability to fill the shoes of President, much of which is touched on in the opener. But when all is said and done, it appears Kirkman settles in quickly, regardless of the frantic nature of his appointment.

You can bet things won’t be comfortable, though, much as Kirkman is exuding calm and collectedness in the midst of crisis. There’s tons more right around the corner. It’s the nature of these kinds of shows.

Still, I don’t have a clue how this goes forward. Which is exactly the reason I’m engaged to it. I want to see how the series unfolds and progresses. If it’s anything like other Sutherland dramas, we’re in for a nice ride.

But understand, this is not 24. (Remember, though … the same thing was said about that series and questions were raised as to how long it could survive. Pretty long as it turned out; eight seasons plus several other iterations.)

And Sutherland has said he was intrigued by the script for Designated Survivor. That right there should clue you in to the fact there’s more to it than meets the eye.



Needless to say, this is one of my trigger programs. I’m excited, ready, willing and able to see where it goes.

Designated Survivor also features the rather yummy Natascha McElhone (The Truman Show, Californication), Kal Penn who actually worked as a staff member for the Obama Administration (House, 24, Harold & Kumar films), Maggie Q (Divergent, Insurgent, Nikita) and LaMonica Garrett (The Last Ship, Sons Of Anarchy). It airs Wednesday evenings on ABC.

Does Keifer Sutherland have another hit on his hands? Start a conversation below!

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