Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Natascha McElhone, Adan Canto, Italia Ricci, LaMonica Garrett, Tanner Buchanan, with Kal Penn, and Maggie Q
Created by David Guggenheim
Written by David Guggenheim, Directed by Paul McGuigan
One of my favorite moments in The West Wing is when President Bartlett talks to a low level cabinet member about his role as the "designated survivor" during the State of the Union address, educating both him and us. That was the first I had ever heard of such a thing and I thought it was very interesting. I wish I had been the one to think of making it into a TV show but props to David Guggenheim for creating one of the most original new shows of the fall season. Designated Survivor has an incredibly gripping premise: the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) suddenly becomes president when a devastating attack kills the President and the rest of the federal government. The pilot is uneven at times but there are some great performances to go with the great premise, which makes for a promising show.
While I continue to have high hopes for this show, I felt like it wasn't quite as strong or as sure of itself of my other favorites this week (Speechless and This is Us). For example, there was a longer than necessary flashback to earlier in the day and ultimately, did much happen in this episode beyond the first couple minutes? I kept waiting for a major plot turn to catapult the pilot forward after its intense and captivating opening but I felt like that never came. Sure, there was uncertainty about the attack and members close to Kirkman trying to undermine him, but those sorts of questions and conspiracies were completely expected. I am not one who needs a major twist at the end of every pilot, but I felt like this one needed it. Or if not a twist, at least something to lure viewers back to week two. This is Us, a relationship drama, was far better at doing so than this, an action packed conspiracy thriller. That just isn't right.
WILL I WATCH IT AGAIN?
Definitely. But as much out of curiosity about what this show is going to become as anything else.