Monday, September 26, 2016

Pilot Review: Designated Survivor

Designated Survivor (ABC)
Premiered September 21 at 10pm

I’m willing to bet that at least 75% of people who watched this pilot did so for one reason alone: star Kiefer Sutherland. The actor carried “24” long past any sense of coherence with a unique ability to remain energetic against any threat that might emerge and be the only one to able to predict where terrorists would strike next. It’s interesting, therefore, that he chose this as his next major project after a brief return to television on FOX’s “Touch.” ABC’s new drama casts Sutherland as a regular guy who likes to spend time at home cooking for his family and acts in the very safe, action-free position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. A major attack on the entire Congress and Cabinet makes him, the lowest on the totem pole, the next in line to be President, and suddenly this family man not used to acting under pressure has to lead the country. While Sutherland’s acting could get over the top on “24” (“You have to trust me” was his go-to line), here he’s much more focused and very compelling, exhibiting strength and poise despite discerning and disapproving eyes looking down on him as completely unqualified for the job. Sutherland is ably supported by Maggie Q from “Nikita” as an FBI agent intent on figuring out who attacked the country, Kal Penn as a speech writer, and Natasha McElhone from “Californication” as his loyal wife who still doesn’t think it’s a good idea for him to take on this job. This was a strong pilot, and I imagine this could be one of the more exciting new shows of the season.

How will it work as a series? This opening hour was full of action and intrigue, and this show needs to make sure that it rises above standard political drama to be something more since it’s lost that initial surprise element. The shady conversations happening between conniving underlings to get Sutherland’s Tom booted need to be kept under control, while the continued threat of another attack both should not be underestimated or too much in focus.
How long will it last? This show delivered in a major way with its numbers, all but assuring it a very bright future. Positive reviews don’t hurt either, and as long as this show’s ratings don’t plummet in week two and beyond, this show is guaranteed to be renewed for a second season.

Pilot grade: B+

No comments: