Ever since his days as Jack Bauer on 24, fans of the Fox series have been waiting for Kiefer Sutherland's return to TV. That finally happened Wednesday night with ABC's premiere of Designated Survivor.
The drama follows Sutherland's character, Tom Kirkman, the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C. His lower-level cabinet, mundane and easy-going job (compared to POTUS and pretty much everyone else in government) quickly takes a turn when the president, Congress members and a massive amount of other people are killed during the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol where a bomb goes off.
Before the bombing, Tom gets a phone call alerting him that he has been chosen as the "Designated Survivor," aka an individual in the presidential line of succession who is taken to an undisclosed location when the president and the country's other top leaders are gathered somewhere else, like for the State of the Union. The Designated Survivor will become the next leader of the country if or when the president and those above the Designated Survivor who are also part of the presidential line of succession are killed or unable to perform their duties.
That's exactly what happens, and before he knows it, Tom is now the POTUS. One would think that Sutherland's character would channel Jack Bauer and become this badass president. Wrong, because this time around Sutherland is not playing a Jack Bauer-type character, but a more gentle, calmer and kinder man. Let's just say adjusting to running a country during a stressful time is going to take a while for Tom.
As much as Sutherland does a great job as Tom (so far, at least), his character isn't the one who stands out — it's the women characters. There is a core group of women at the forefront and they are all strong, intelligent and successful. It's always wonderful to see these kinds of female characters on television and it's going to make Designated Survivor a success if it continues in this direction.
First, there is Italia Ricci's (Chasing Life, Supergirl) character, Emily, who is Tom's chief of staff. As soon as she comes onscreen, she is a force. Emily is a powerhouse, great at her job and doesn't back down to any of the men around her. I know she is going to do great things and I can't wait to see what else Ricci brings to the character.
Then, there is Tom's wife, Alex Kirkman, played by Natascha McElhone (Californication). She is so much more than a wife and a mother, but also a lawyer. By the end of the first episode, she also becomes the first lady, so it will be interesting to see what she does with that.
Finally, there is Maggie Q's (Nikita, Stalker) FBI agent Hannah. Maggie Q as an FBI agent? She totally pulls it off. She also isn't the one taking orders, but giving them. Yeah, there was that one moment where her superior told her she shouldn't be at the bombing site, but did she listen? No, and she gave a powerful speech telling him exactly why she is needed there.
If that isn't enough, viewers still have Virginia Madsen's (American Gothic) character to look forward to. She is playing the major recurring role of Kimble Hookstraten, the "other" Designated Survivor during the State of the Union for the other political party. She is said to be a "chief political rival" to Kirkman, which will surely make for some great scenes between Madsen and Sutherland.
Overall, Designated Survivor is going to keep me coming back and mainly thanks to the empowering women.
Designated Survivor airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC.
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