“Designated Survivor,” a title that evokes a reality based show with swimsuit clad 20 somethings competing to live on a deserted island, stars Kiefer Sutherland, aka Jack Bauer, as recently fired cabinet member Tom Kirkman. Brit actress Natascha McElhone (Solaris, Californication) plays Tom’s wife Jessica and the pilot features Maggie Q and Kal Penn.
The show solemnly informs that viewer that during any State of the Union speech a cabinet member is placed in a secret and safe place in case of a catastrophic event or a successful attack against the president. This is known as the “Designated Survivor” program, where the “survivor” is picked at random and ensconced in a bunker or similar blast proof device.
Tom Kirkman is the survivor (possibly picked as an exercise in bad taste since the president just fired him that morning) who is shockingly thrust into the limelight as the new commander-in-chief of the United States. Things move so quickly that his swearing in ceremony is captured on a Blackberry.
“Designated Survivor” is an interesting concept for a number of reasons. For starters, the idea is pretty fascinating; picking a volunteer to take charge if anything happens to the proper “chain of command” and then there is the fighting off of military generals who are more than ready to “take over” in case of an emergency.
(It seems that the role model for the aggressive general who braces the new president may be based upon Gen. Alexander Haig and his Reagan assassination attempt faux pas.)
The timing for this series could not be better, it starts this fall, and there cannot be many who do not see the irony in this show appearing on American television this year.
Watching the pilot episode one feels there was a real push to keep Sutherland’s character as far away from his “24” persona as possible. Kiefer can act, however, and there are moments that leap off the screen where the look in his eyes convey emotional ranges that impress and make the viewer forget all about Jack Bauer.
It will be interesting to see where the series goes. The idea of a low-level politico who has no real experience wading the stinking waters of the capital suddenly being made president opens up all sorts of possibilities.
The program is real (the Designated Survivor/Successor) and this is a fascinating look at just what could happen if the entire upper echelon were wiped out via a bomb or nuclear device.
Regardless of where the show heads or how long it will last, it is nice to see Kiefer Sutherland back on our small screens. This actor consistently knocks it out of the park in what ever project he works on.
With an impressive supporting cast, this should be one to watch, although it could be seen as pretty tame stuff compared to “24.” Until the show airs, have a look at the trailer below and see what you think.