The idea for this new ABC drama didn’t feel too original when it was first announced. A political thriller where a terrorist act has the United States looking to Kiefer Sutherland to save the day? It’s surprising that the actor was even on board with a plot so seemingly similar to 24. That being said, Designated Survivor is completely its own beast. The idea behind the show is an interesting one, but its ability to last is still questionable. Check out our review of ABC’s Designated Survivor.
Meet the Cast of Designated Survivor>>>
Designated Survivor looks at the real-life protocol in which a member of the United States cabinet is required not to attend the State of the Union address in the Capitol Building in case of a terror attack. In this instance, this cabinet member becomes the immediate acting President of the United States. In the ABC drama, Kiefer Sutherland plays this cabinet member, Tom Kirkman.
Kirkman was the Secretary for Housing and Urban Development (not exactly the CTU gun-wielding badass we’re used to seeing Sutherland play in 24) who gets put in a situation he (and the rest of the country) aren’t sure he’s equipped for. Kirkman is a family man who has no interest in political games and prioritizes his loved ones far above his career — something the country is going to need him to change. As he prepares for this new responsibility, he doesn’t account for everything that comes with this new territory, including the toll it takes on his family.
It’s Not Jack Bauer in the White House
People going into this show expecting to see Jack Bauer need to turn around. This show is not 24 and it isn’t trying to be. Granted, it’s set in a somewhat similar landscape, but this show feels more like a darker West Wing than anything else, in which the POTUS doesn’t receive the support or respect that Jed Bartlet did.
Tom Kirkman didn’t ask for this much sought-after career, and the people around him aren’t too pleased about it either. As he struggles to figure out what kind of President he’ll be, his staff (including his speechwriter, played by Kal Penn) seriously doubt his ability.
Sutherland is something new in Designated Survivor. The seasoned TV veteran plays a soft, kind-hearted and compassionate man in the new drama. His focus isn’t on any political gain, but to help out the less fortunate who are ill-equipped to help themselves. His good nature is actually what puts him in a bad light with the White House staff, because his priorities don’t match up with their agenda.
Is There Too Much Going On?
While the story may center around Tom Kirkman’s unexpected rise to the presidency, it’s far from the only thing going on in the show. Designated Survivor juggles a lot of storylines just in its pilot episode. Understandably, it’s trying to set up these multiple storylines to explore later on in season 1, but if the pilot is indicative of this upcoming season, every episode is going to be a little busy.
While it’s great to have a lot going on so that no scene feels slow, the pacing in the series feels a little rushed. As a result, there’s not really time for any emotional response from viewers to the situations at hand. You can look at this in two ways — it’s great because it puts you in that situation yourself, as the White House staff doesn’t have time to feel what’s going on either, they just need to react. In that way, you feel like you’re right there in the Oval Office along with them. On the other hand, it means you don’t have the time or desire to get invested in any character because you can’t even keep up with what’s going on in their individual storylines, let alone the overall arc.
The series has excitement, drama and captivating situations. There definitely isn’t a dull moment. However, the longevity of the show may come in to question if the pacing doesn’t straighten out. If you’re a fan of high stakes and fast pace, this is the show for you. If you’re hoping to get emotionally invested in it, you may have to hold out for a few episodes. That being said, it’s worth checking out.
Designated Survivor Series Premiere Photos: An Attack on the US Capitol Leads to a New President>>>
Are you going to tune in to Designated Survivor? Let us know why or why not in the comments below!
Designated Survivor premieres Wednesday, September 21 at 10/9c on ABC. Keep updated by following our Designated Survivor page on Facebook.
(Image courtesy of ABC)