Fall TV Preview

Kiefer Sutherland's New ABC Serial Thriller Designated Survivor Blends 'West Wing, House of Cards, Homeland'

Kiefer Sutherland‘s new ABC thriller Designated Survivor is the ultimate marquee drama series mashup. “There are a few tones at play in the show,” explained exec producer Jon Harmon Feldman at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Thursday. “There is a West Wing component of a man and his team governing our nation in this time. There’s also the Homeland aspect of an investigation and the conspiracy. And it’s also got a House of Cards component, which is the characters and the business of government through the eyes of these characters and political dealings and dealmakers.”

The drama finds Sutherland playing a low-level (and about-to-be-fired) HUD Secretary who becomes an unlikely President of the United States following a catastrophic attack on Washington, D.C. The 24 vet confesses he “had no intention of doing a television show” when the project first came to him. “But I felt I needed to give this script a cursory read and explain why I couldn’t do it,” he recalled. “And I remember getting to the end of the script and thinking I was potentially holding the next 10 years of my life in my hands.

“I felt the script was so beautifully structured,” Sutherland added. “It had the thriller aspect, a family drama, and then it also allowed itself on a political level to [trigger] discussions that I think we need to have in a rational way.”

Asked by TVLine how his Designated character Tom Kirkman would react to the likes of Jack Bauer, Sutherland joked, “‘Good-looking guy. I really should lose the glasses,'” before adding, “I think Jack Bauer had incredible conviction and had a real moral compass for that circumstance, so I have to believe that he would trust him.”

Designated Survivor premieres Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 10/9c.

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15 Comments
  1. Rob says:

    Without a doubt my most anticipated show of the fall! 24 is my favorite show of all time (I own all seasons) and Jack Bauer is my favorite TV character of all time. Chloe OBrian a close 2nd. Glad to have him back on TV!

  2. Alicia says:

    Basically that character needs to find his own Jack Bauer.

  3. Kevin K says:

    Designated Survivor is hands down the best new show of the season. Always a huge 24 fan and Kiefer Sutherland has gone from Jack Bauer (DAMMIT) to POTUS. Have to admit the series is West Wing meets House of Cards meets Homeland but does it have a mix of 24 there as well?

  4. Bella says:

    The one new show out of all those I’ve heard about that I’m most looking forward to!

  5. Iris says:

    The more I’m reading about it, the more I’m looking forward to this show.

  6. Jared says:

    The cast alone will atleast make me sample this. I’m not a huge fan of political thriller type of shows but who knows? Maybe this will surprise me.

  7. Luis says:

    Once they start describing a show as a mash-up of other beloved shows, I see a show that has no identity

  8. meatwad says:

    Looking forward to this show so much!!!!!

  9. iceblast says:

    Wow!, next ten years! Maybe this is even a better show then I thought it already was. :)

  10. Cat says:

    This is Jack Bauer in his “Superman” disguise…the horn-rimmed glasses. Can’t wait to see the show!

  11. Cat says:

    Sorry, meant his “Clark Kent” disguise!

  12. HAP says:

    Both the president and first lady are being portrayed by actors born in the UK, and the show is being shot in Toronto. Anything wrong with this picture?