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Designated Survivor or Nah?

Or Nah? is a feature where we watch and review the first episode of a new TV show. We’ll let you know if it’s worth checking out. As always, these reviews are the opinion of the reviewer, but we’ll try to adequately explain why you should or shouldn’t give the show a chance and provide shows for comparison.

Designated Survivor S1E1 “Pilot” | Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Natascha McElhone, Adan Canto, Italia Ricci, LaMonica Garrett, Kal Penn, Maggie Q., Malik Yoba, Tanner Buchanan, McKenna Grace

What’s It About?

Don’t you hate when you wake up the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and go to bed the President of the United States? That’s the kind of day Tom Kirkman (Sutherland) is having when he’s tagged to the designated survivor (a cabinet member kept at a secret location during the State of the Union address), and a bomb destroys the Capital, killing everyone inside.

Images: ABC

Images: ABC

What’s Good?

It’s great seeing Kiefer Sutherland in another dramatic role that’s not 24. Although, every time someone tried to give him lip I was waiting for him to crack skulls. Still, we did learn there’s more to mild-mannered Tom Kirkman when his first act as Commander-in-Chief is laying down a presidential smackdown to Iran when they try to get slick while America mourns.

And just because Sutherland won’t be running around gripping up bad guys and torturing information out of folks, that doesn’t mean Designated Survivor will lack action. Maggie Q’s FBI agent, Hannah Wells, is on the case, and from the little we see of her in the pilot, she appears to be smart and focused. She also may have a personal interest in bringing the terrorists to justice.

Kal Penn as presidential speech writer Ethan Wright had a hilarious foot-in-mouth moment with his new boss.

There’s an added twist: the morning of the address, the President had “fired” Tom, reassigning him to a lower position outside of Washington, D.C. So, not only does he have the issue of gaining the nation’s confidence when he was on one of the lowest rungs of the political ladder and not elected into office, but his last dealing with the president may make him a suspect.

What’s Bad?

With a premise like this it’s almost always an inside job, which means the storyline might feel a bit predictable. Think: Each season of 24 where you tried to figure out the identity of the CTU mole. There was always a mole.

I’m not really interested in the Kirkman’s children. Their teenage son is dealing drugs, so we already know he’s going to be a problem.


The Verdict

I’ll be watching. Kiefer Sutherland is always great, this has a bit of 24’s flavor, and the conspiracy brewing is enough to keep me tuning in each week.

Watch this if: You liked 24, Colony, Scandal

Don’t watch if: You like your political dramas a bit darker.

About Nina Perez (1391 Articles)
Nina Perez is the founder of Project Fandom. She is also the author of a YA series of books, "The Twin Prophecies," and a collection of essays titled, "Blog It Out, B*tch." Her latest books, a contemporary romance 6-book series titled Sharing Space, are now available on for Kindle download. She has a degree in journalism, works in social media, lives in Portland, Oregon, and loves Idris Elba. When not watching massive amounts of British television or writing, she is sketching plans to build her very own TARDIS. She watches more television than anyone you know and she's totally fine with that.

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