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Designated Survivor, Pilot (2016) – Kiefer Sutherland (aka Jack Bauer) Serves as President

For TV addicts, when worlds collide (even if only as an “ideal” situation), we’re bound to be curious. Such is the case with ABCs latest political drama hopeful. It stars Kiefer Sutherland, who is best known for his super agent character, Jack Bauer.


As a low-level Secretary (of Housing and Development) in the President’s cabinet, Tom Kirkland (Sutherland) isn't always in a position to have his policies taken seriously. Today is one of those days. In fact, today Tom is being asked to resign and is offered an ambassador position as an alternative. His wife (Natasha Mc) argues against this change. Their kids are settled, and they’re settled. A move from D.C. wouldn’t be in anyone’s best interest. All of this seems important and life altering until a horrific attack on the Capitol changes everything.

The worst attack on U.S. soil kills hundreds, including the President of the United States and his entire cabinet. This leaves only the Designated Survivor to succeed him. That man is Tom Kirkland.

As the FBI, including Agent Hannah West (Maggie Q), and military rush to discover who is behind the attack, Tom must decide what his first act as President will say. And more importantly what he will do with his presidency.

From the moment I read Sutherland was going to star in a new series, I knew it’d be one I’d have to check out. As the kick-butt Jack Bauer, Sutherland established himself as TV royalty. But the repetitive hand Jack was dealt time and again was disingenuous ingratitude. No matter the times he took a bullet. No matter how many times he “died.” No matter who he lost, there was always someone (sometimes several “someones”) who doubted, questioned or disavowed him. His loyalty to America and its safety knew no bounds and yet despite this, he was hung out to dry time and again. This is why seeing Sutherland star as the president is a kind of sweet full circle and fitting homage – even though, yes, I realize he is not playing the same character.


Beyond my obvious fangirling over Jack Bauer, I absolutely loved everyone in this cast. I felt like no one really “stood out” as being a breakout because this one, largely, center on Sutherland’s Tom. The emotions he experiences, the fear, the questions, everything is touched on in this mere hour. The set up for Tom’s (presumably) troubled teenage son could be interesting and I thought Maggie Q’s character has the potential to become a major player in this new show. Although I can admit to being biased since the two shows I’ve seen her on, I’ve loved.

Those who enjoy political thrillers may find in Designated Survivor an interesting study in character, and politics, both. For me, I cannot say that this works on every level. It's vastly different than the mindset of 24 and because of this, the message isn't the same. While I suspect this might not be something I keep current with (it already isn’t), I may binge watch it when I’m looking for something to watch. I don’t see this becoming my favorite new show of the seasonal offerings, but I can honestly say, its pilot was good.

(Content: there is some commonplace profanity, and thematic elements that may trouble some viewers. The show is rated TV14.)

2 comments

  1. I agree on all counts! I watched the pilot not long after it aired, but I've made no effort to keep up--even though it was good and I was interested! I imagine that when it comes on Netflix for me to watch at my own pace I'll get more into it. :)

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    Replies
    1. Ditto. This will probably be something I binge once I finish some of my other series, but for now, I'm too wrapped up in others to keep up with this one too! :)

      Thanks, as always, for visiting, Rachel. :)

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