Imagine watching TV and suddenly having armed Secret Service agents bursting through your door, grabbing you and your family, and being whisked away in the middle of the night. That’s what happens to Tom Kirkman (played by Keifer Sutherland) in the ABC drama Designated Survivor. Expertly acted, well-written, and with wonderful casting, this show will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Show: Designated Survivor
Starring: Keifer Sutherland, Natasha McElhone and featuring Kai Penn and Maggie Q
Series Air Date: Wednesdays at 10-11pm on ABC (Series Premiere on 9/21)
In situations that require the leading figures of government to be gathered together, there is always someone who is the designated survivor. If a fatal incident occurs and causes the death of our nation’s leaders, there will be at least one member of the government sure to survive. In this case, that person is Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Tom Kirkman. Watching the State of the Union address from the safety of a private location, suddenly Tom and his family have their world thrown into chaos as a result of a bomb being set off in the nation’s capital.
This new series is a timely one considering the current international environment. It’s a wonderful political thriller with some real action and suspense but I’m curious to see where it goes. I’m hoping that it won’t fan the flames of fear and xenophobia that are an undercurrent in our country today. The show quickly develops an attachment to its key characters and the writing has been very deft at handling a tricky topic so I’m keeping optimistic about the future direction of the show.
Very different than Jack Bauer, it’s great to see Kiefer Sutherland play this ordinary Joe thrust into an extraordinary situation. He is somewhat timid and frightened by the enormity of his new role, but the previews hint that a stronger man lies within. Kai Penn approaches his role with both boldness and respect. Maggie Q plays a more than capable FBI agent with her own personal attachment to the tragedy. And Natasha McElhone is a strong, supportive wife, but also an accomplished attorney who lends her strength and gusto to her husband. I really enjoyed the performances of Adan Kanto (Chief of Staff. Aaron Shore) and LaMonica Garrett (Secret Service Agent Mike Ritter) as well as the Kirkman kids (Tanner Buchanan and McKenna Grace). The only character I had a hard time connecting with was General Cochrane who takes on the persona of a belligerent, disrespectful military man bent on using force to resolve conflict.
With shades of The West Wing in only the best of ways, this thoughtful and serious action thriller still pays deference and respect to the government in which it takes place. Definitely one of the most promising shows this fall.