With an extensive resume of movie roles to his credit, Kiefer Sutherland is probably best known as the thoughtful, yet uber-violent, anti-terrorist officer Jack Bauer for Fox Television’s series 24. He returns to the small screen in the new ABC drama, Designated Survivor. The premise is very “24” like: while the capitol building is full with our entire government to witness the POTUS deliver the State of the Union address, a low ranking official is secreted away to ensure that, in the event of a terrorist attack on the capitol, our government continues it’s line of succession. Sutherland’s character Tom Kirkman is that low ranking official. What happens next….well, you get the jist.
The pilot episode was effectively paced, starting with the immediate conflict of the attack and then switching to a flashback to that morning. The plot device gives the audience a chance to see Kirkman start his day as a loving husband and father, then going to work as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who is trying to get his agenda highlighted in the Presidents speech. He soon finds out that not only has his talking points been removed, so has he. It has been decided to replace Kirkman and reassign him to Canada as an embassador. But soon he finds himself the leader of the free world, butting heads with the military in regards to response and addressing a nation that is stricken with fear and clueless as to who the new guy is. Subplots are established with Maggie Q portraying a FBI agent who has someone close to her missing in the ruins and another that shows Kirkman’s son dealing drugs at a nightclub, which is sure to bring about complications to his fathers presidency. Kal Penn was solid as a speech writer who is probably going to be a much needed ally for Kirkman.
The premiere episode was packaged very tightly to be a ratings hit, although it was a bit by the numbers. If you knew the premise going in, there weren’t a ton of surprises. It was interesting to see Sutherland take on this role where he is no Jack Bauer, but rather someone more ordinary that has extraordinary thrust upon them. It should be a fun season.
4 talking points out of 5