Designated Survivor: The Traitor – Double Trouble (Recap/Review)


President Kirkman manages to survive the mini revolt of the nation’s governors in last week’s episode. Designated Survivor this week follows the death of Nassar in captivity.  The question still remains as to who killed the man and the FBI are struggling to vet the new vice president nominee and find who poisoned Nassar.

After a press conference where he honor’s national hero Brad Weston, Deputy Director Atwood goes to brief the president on MacLeish. The briefing stops before it begins as MacLeish is in the room. Ritter changes tact when he sees Macleish in the room.

He tries to signal to the president that he cannot speak with the congressman in the room but Kirkman misses it.  The FBI have information that links MacLeish with the bomb blast.

Coach Brad Weston has been arrested by the Russians on charges of smuggling drugs into their country.  This news comes on the heels of Alex Kirkman’s ex claiming that he is Leo’s biological father.   The president has double the headache with journalist Lisa Jordan asking for a comment on the paternity issues and Weston being held by the Russians.

The president then learns that the coach is a CIA asset. Kirkman manages to pull off a three-way deal with the Russians and the Saudi Arabian ambassador.

Meanwhile, Wells hunts down a CIA pal and asks about Catalan, the name given up by Nassar before he died.  The only thing she can find out from her contact is that Catalan is an American mercenary.

Alex meets with her ex, Jeffery, who is in prison.  She tells him to stay away from Leo and the convict tells her he wants the new president to let him out with “time served.”

MacLeish drops off a load of files to Atwood to help with the background check needed before he can take the position of vice president. After the congressman’s visit Atwood’s son goes missing. Atwood goes to search for his son.

Alex tells Tom what Jefferey wants and it upsets him that Leo could be hurt by all this.

After Kirkman pulls off the three-way deal, Weston is a no-show.  After checking, the CIA find that Weston never got on the plane. The coach, and national hero, is a double agent.  Kirkman has a word with the Russian ambassador and lets him know the next time he will not be fooled so easily.

Seth Wright speaks with Jordan about not printing the story about Leo. He offers up the story of Brad Weston being a double agent for the Russians.

Atwood is approached by a woman in black who shows him a video of his son eating an ice cream.  She tells him he knows what to do. It is obvious that she works for MacLeish.

Hannah Wells meets with her CIA contact again and this time he offers to help her. Later, when she goes to her car, she finds the door open and a CIA file on Catalan on the driver’s seat.

The main problem with Designated Survivor is that Kirkman is, for all intents and purposes, an “everyman” who is clearly out of his depth. He is struggling to take charge and he has plenty of help from those around him.

Kirkman is the fictional version of former president Gerald Ford, without the innate klutziness that Ford exhibited.  President Ford was a leader who came across as an “everyman” also. He inherited the presidential mantle when President Nixon resigned his presidency rather than be impeached.

So Ford and Kirkman share having the presidency thrust upon them.

Designated Survivor benefits from having Sutherland play the new president. The storyline, so far, has a vice president hopeful who is not at all what he seems, sort of like the double agent coach.

The series airs Wednesdays on ABC.


Designated Survivor: The Interrogation – Bad Timing (Review)


Perhaps it is the timing of real world events that makes this episode of Designated Survivor so unpalatable. “The Interrogation” follows a triple plot line. A planeload of Syrian refugees are trapped on the Florida tarmac after the governor of that state refuses to let them disembark. A terrorist is questioned about the bombing that put Kirkman in the hot seat and the new president is put on the spot by all the state governors.

It has already been pointed out by at least one critic that Kirkman’s being an “independent” reeks of Hollywood machinations. The show, after an interesting open, seems to be floundering a bit.

Kirkman is having a crisis of faith while dealing with two governors who want him to justify why he should be president. Would this really happen? The answer is, it might but not as cleanly orchestrated as it occurs in this episode.

Designated Survivor may be dealing with an extreme situation but in the real world, the country is reeling from an election that could well be as traumatic as this series premise means to be.

So perhaps state governor’s would question the designated survivor’s legitimacy and right to hold the office of president. In reality the person given that position is usually in the political doghouse, so to speak, someone who is on the way out, for whatever reason.

But if this years election has taught us anything it is that politics is a madhouse. This country’s new president elect is a reality TV star no more qualified to run the country than I am.

The United States government, before this election spent eight years in a stalemate because one party could not and would not cooperate with a black democratic president.  How on earth could they manage to see eye to eye long enough to deal with a president foisted  upon them by means of a huge tragedy.

Designated Survivor started out with an interesting premise. Kiefer Sutherland is spot on as President Kirkman, a man outside the circle of trust when the president and his cabinet were blown to bits by terrorists.

However, when watching this latest episode of the series it was more interesting to spot who the new cast members were. Melanie Scrofano from Wynonna Earp appeared in The Interrogation as member of the press, which was a pleasant surprise but not really what the episode was all about.

It may well be down to the sour taste of the election in the real world that made this series suddenly seem less entertaining.  This could just be a case of really bad timing but the plot line of immigration, in the show, mirrors a stance taken by the new president elect.

Trying to watch a show about politics and an American president that no one voted seemed… Off somehow. As nice as it is to see Kiefer Sutherland as an “everyman” sort of president, reminiscent of  a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington type,  the state of the US after the real world elections makes the show almost unbearable to watch.

Sutherland does very well in a show full of familiar faces like Maggie Q Natascha McElhone and Kal Penn but ultimately “The Interrogation” felt flat. Perhaps the episode or even the series should have been given a rest, a short hiatus, while the country calmed down after the recent election results. 

Nothing against the series or the splendid actors in it, but with things as they are right now in American politics, Designated Survivor may not last an entire season.

The series airs Wednesdays on ABC.

Jimmy Kimmel Live! Bob Odenkirk, Kendall Jenner & Kiefer Sutherland


Jimmy Kimmel Live! started, as per usual, with a monologue. First Jimmy introduced his guests: Bob Odenkirk, Kendall Jenner and “musical” guest Kiefer Sutherland.  The  guest musician was, once again, Robert Randolph who sat in with Cleto and the Cletones.

The monologue included “drunk” Donald Trump, Fox “news” reporting on the many illnesses of Hilary Clinton (Did they not see the pickle jar?) and HBO’s 11th season of Hard Knocks. The HBO series is narrated by Liev Schreiber, who was mentioned by Odenkirk later. Schreiber is another Emmy nominee for his Showtime series Ray Donovan.

This was followed by Jimmy doing an advertisement (in the future) for “Death Alert.”

Next up was  Miles Brown from  Black-ish  who taught Jimmy’s  77-year-old Aunt Chippy about the intricacies of Pokemon Go.  It was funny and cute.  Chippy did use a lot of expletives in her speech, making it quite colorful and Miles actually comments on it at one point.

There was even some “Pokemon Go Bullying” and a smart phone theft.

Bob Odenkirk was first up and they talked Emmys. Odenkirk is up for an Emmy for Better Call Saul the highly successful spin off of Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad. Bob won an Emmy years before for his work on Saturday Night Live.

The Better Call Saul star did a comedy riff about the “Emmy Village” and how all the nominees are staying there. It was quite funny although the audience was a bit slow to catch on to some bits. The Liev Schreiber gag was funny as was the Kevin Spacey one. Odenkirk managed to give Tim Conway a mention.

Jimmy gave Odenkirk a Kardashian quiz, which he failed abysmally. Clearly Bob is not bothered nor impressed by the reality TV stars. Thankfully, he was off stage when Kendall Jenner arrived for her time with Jimmy.

Jenner was there to talk about scoring the September cover of Vogue, quite a big thing actually, and we learned that she lives across the street from Kimmel. He asked her to babysit and she invited herself over for a meal.

Kendall Jenner

Kendall came out looking beautiful in a gold camisole, no bra, and a black skirt. They spoke about the Vogue shoot and how “sick” she felt in the Gucci outfit that is featured on the cover. Kendall revealed that she is a compulsive cleaner and Jimmy asked her to clean his house.

(It is interesting that in her childhood memories of running track, in middle school, Jenner still refers to Kaitlyn as her father.)

Kiefer Sutherland was the final guest. There was no interview, Sutherland performed the single “Can’t Stay Away” from his album “Down In A Hole.” More “rock-a-billy” than country the song was good, if not a little short on vocals, and the performance was a bit too busy.

Still, the Designated Survivor star clearly enjoyed what he was doing and the band was impressive. Sutherland can sing but he needs to be less athletic and focus on the lyrics and wowing the audience with his charm.

Overall, his performance was a five star win just for his enthusiasm alone. It will be interesting to hear more songs from the album.

Jimmy Kimmel Live! airs on ABC.

Designated Survivor: Kiefer Sutherland & the White House

Kiefer Sutherland

“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 (SolarisCalifornication) 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.

Pompeii 3D Ashes to Ashes on February 21 (Review & Trailer)

Pompeii 3D Ashes to Ashes on February 21 (Review & Trailer)

Paul W.S. Anderson has taken a break from the Resident Evil franchise to dabble in one of the world’s most cataclysmic event in history; Pompeii 3D, released in 2014 and spewing ashes to ashes on February 21. The feature is being shown in IMAX with the added bonus of “real” 3D. It is debatable whether or not this manner of distribution is really necessary. After all, everyone knows what happened to Pompeii in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius finally quit messing around and blew its top spectacularly. You can see the trailer for the film at the end of this review although it could be seen as a huge spoiler.

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