TV Review: Designated Survivor


Airs: Wednesdays 10/9c on ABC

Review: Pilot

I admit I was surprised to see that someone called Designated Survivor disappointing. I am not sure what they were expecting since this is easily the best premiere since Mr. Robot. I am not sure what made it disappointing in their eyes; I thought the show was intense, with outstanding acting. I know some were hoping for a 24-type show, but I didn’t expect that so perhaps my expectations weren’t let down.

Kiefer Sutherland plays a low-level cabinet member on the outs with the president – Tom Kirkman (i.e. not Jack Bauer). When a bomb destroys the capitol during the State of the Union, Kirkman is the designated survivor and becomes the new president of the United States. In over his head, he has to deal with an overly-hawkish general, a remaining staff that doesn’t believe in him, a government now in shambles, and a crisis to overcome. It is one hell of a set up for a show.

I thought Natascha McElhone was fantastic, as was the rest of the cast. On the downside, I did roll my eyes a bit about the son dealing drugs. That feels like an unnecessary plotline. I also doubted that they would bring Kirkman straight to the White House after the bombing – I would think they would scour the White House to make sure that there isn’t another bomb, not bring the only surviving government straight there.

Others may have been disappointed by Designated Survivor, but I was intrigued. I hope that the son storyline dries up quickly. The other concerning item is that the show was handed over to whoever did Blood & Oil after a couple episodes. It could take a sharp nose dive in quality when that happens, until then it is the best new show of the season.

WWYT Rating: 8.4

Nielsen Rating: 2.2 Doubling the ratings of the previous owner of the timeslot, has to be pleasing. Given the highly anticipated nature of the show, and some calling it disappointing, I imagine that ABC isn’t completely jumping up and down. Still over 2.0 on a 10 p.m. show is extremely successful. We’ll see if it can hang on. Chance of renewal 75% (unchanged)


One thought on “TV Review: Designated Survivor

  1. Holy crap was that show laughable. I’m all for suspending disbelief when watching TV shows, but this one takes the cake. Everything about it, I mean every single plot element of the debut was farcical in nature. The characters, the setup, the acting….Godawful. The freaking time travel show that’s coming up later in the season will be asking me to suspend less common sense than this show.

    Yes, I’ll give it a few more chances, but I had high hopes and spent the hour laughing at this piece of drivel.


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