TV: From Jack Bauer to a Position of Power - Kiefer Sutherland is the Designated Survivor

"Boris! This is for the NHS." *bang*

When 24: Live Another Day ended it felt as though we were destined to spend at least one more day with Jack Bauer; after-all why bring him out of hiding just to drop him into a cliffhanger ending with the Russians?  Now, we’re two months out from Designated Survivor, the ABC show Kiefer Sutherland passed on 24: Legacy to do.

For those of us outside the U.S. political know, the designated survivor is someone in the Presidential line of succession who is sequestered to an undisclosed location when there is a State of the Union address or Inauguration.  The logic being that if a large scale terrorist attack, plague or white male exercising his second amendment “right” were to take out all involved, Government would remain intact and the designated survivor would become POTUS.
Kiefer takes the curse of everyone he knows dying from Fox to ABC

That is the premise of the ABC show of the same name starring Sutherland as Tom Kirkman, Secretary of Agriculture, who is suddenly elevated to the top office when a terrorist attack renders the rest of the Government a shade darker than Southern barbecue.

It’s a very different role for Sutherland, and a second bite of the TV apple post 24.  His previous outing Touch though conceptually interesting left many cold as his portrayal of reporter/single dad to a genius child still had performance beats lingering from his time at CTU.  By all accounts, ABC has greenlit the entire first season before even seeing the pilot.  So what can we expect from DS?

Interestingly we can look to another Network TV Presidential succession show to gauge what to expect.  How is that interesting?  Because it starred none other than Sutherland the senior, Donald.  Commander in Chief was a sinfully short-lived ABC (again) show that told the story of Vice President MacKenzie Allen (Geena Davis) and her rise to the Oval Office when the President dies on the table having undergone surgery to remove a brain tumour.  Lambasted by the Right for being inexperienced, unelected, and female; Davis finds herself in a power struggle with Republican Speaker of the House Nathan Templeton (Donald Sutherland) who has everything to gain from her being driven out of office as he would be next in line.
Back before President Snow got all poisony he... well... he was still kinda poisony, just not as literal

What starts as an episodic, “this week’s crisis”, show shifts gear at the mid-season break as Commander in Chief gears up for an epic Season 2 election race between Allen and Templeton only for ABC to never really figure out its time slot, dump it in a gap against American Idol before ultimately cancelling it due to poor ratings.  In Commander in Chief they have the blueprint for what Designated Survivor could be, and as long as ABC have learned a lesson or two about allowing a show to find its audience we may yet get to see an unelected President have to run for a second term.  We might even get to see Donald pop back up, or am I hoping for too much?


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