Diana Vacc sees “Designated Survivor”


by Diana Vaccarelli

                   *Be warned – this review may contain spoilers!*

This TV season has a familiar face back on the screen in Designated Survivor – Kiefer Sutherland, also, perhaps better. known as  24′s Jack Bauer

This time around Sutherland is the protagonist of the tale of a low-ranking cabinet member becoming President of the United States after a horrific terrorist attack wipes out most of our government. After which – of course! President Sutherland has to save the day.

The only questions I had as I tuned in were, “Will he be saving our butts Jack Bauer style?” And, “OMG! What if he doesn’t? What will this show do?”


  • The premise is deliciously terrifying.  What would happen if the U.S. government’s most experienced leaders were in fact wiped out? Who would take the reins? And considering this election season, when so many variations of this scenario have seemed close to hand, the concept brings reality to the show, at least for me.
  • Showrunner Amy Harris and her writers bring in topics that are being discussed in our news outlets right now. For example, a scene regarding innocent Muslims being attacked by overzealous police.
  • The cast of supporting characters is brilliant. Natascha McElhone as Sutherland’s wife brings a calm to a drastic situation.  Adan Canto and Italia Ricci as feuding Chiefs of Staff have incredible chemistry. You can see the groundwork for a future romantic relationship building, and I’m looking forward to watching it play out.


  • Welp, here’s the thing. In some ways Sutherland does play his President like Jack Bauer. And in some ways he doesn’t. In Designated Survivor he is more timid and less intense. Which is a real shame because it just doesn’t work. It’s like watching the same old character after he’s been gelded. The performance is, in a word, lackluster. Please excuse the expression but this show would be much more interesting if our hero went either one way – quiet, smart – or the other – buttkicking – balls out.


I love so much of what Designated Survivor is giving us yet feel simultaneously so disappointed that I don’t think I can make a recommendation. Watch it and then tell me in the comments: Is this show a yes or a no?