Fall TV Preview
Designated Survivor Pilot Preview

Fall TV First Impression: Designated Survivor

The broadcast networks have nearly 20 shows debuting this fall, including Michael Weatherly’s NCIS follow-up, new sitcoms from Kevin James and Matt LeBlanc, and the story of MLB’s first female player. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.

Next up on our list….

RELATED Get First Impressions of NBC’s Timeless, CBS’ Bull and ABC’s Notorious

THE SHOW | ABC’s Designated Survivor (Wednesdays at 10/9c, premiere date TBA)

THE COMPETITION | NBC’s Chicago P.D. and CBS’ Code Black

THE CAST | Kiefer Sutherland (24), Natascha McElhone (Californication), Maggie Q (Nikita), Kal Penn (House), Adan Canto (The Following), Italia Ricci (Chasing Life), LaMonica Garrett (Sons of Anarchy) and Tanner Buchanan (The Fosters)

THE SET-UP | Following a catastrophic attack on Washington, D.C., low-level (and about-to-be-fired) HUD Secretary Tom Kirkman becomes President of the United States.

RELATED Fall TV Schedule 2016: What’s on When? And Versus What?

THE FIRST IMPRESSION | I’m a longtime 24 fan and a sucker for White House dramas on screens big and smaller. So damn, Designated Survivor is right in my sweet spot. But on its own merits, this pilot is loaded with promise, laying the foundation for the engaging, sometimes Dave-like story of a Regular-ish Joe learning the ropes as leader of the free world. Yes, Sutherland’s 24 legacy will have you wishing he’d just pistol-whip the condescending Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but it also imbues Kirkman with an instant root-for quality. Penn (who’s also a consultant on the series) gets some nice moments as the speech writer who ultimately helps steer his new POTUS in the direction of greatness not-awfulness, while Maggie Q takes charge of the FBI side of things, investigating the terrorist attack that turned D.C. on its ear.

Yeah, the West Wing fan in me would prefer John Amos as the CJCS, and be forewarned, Tom and wife Alex (a warm McElhone) do have a Teenage TV Son, and he’s harboring all kinds of secrets. Side note: If Episode 2 doesn’t pick up precisely where the pilot leaves off, I will throw things.

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | Sutherland is a draw, but those tuning in to see “President Jack Bauer” may come away a bit disappointed. (That said, I’m pretty sure Kirkman at one point makes the Iranian ambassador piddle himself.) Still, the premise is innately noisy and sell-able, and with the barely renewed Code Black undergoing significant cast transplants, there’s opportunity here to grab some easy 10 o’clock eyeballs opposite P.D.

RELATED Fall TV Poll: Which New Shows Are You Most Looking Forward To?

Watch a trailer for Designated Survivor, then vote in our poll below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Miss Ellys says:

    “a teenager”. Sigh. Back to reading Timeless buzz.

  2. James D says:

    This one is probably at the top of my list of must watch new shows. the 24 thing doesn’t bother me as I’ve been a fan of Keifer’s since the 80’s (jeez when did i get so old) even if i wasn’t the premise intrigues me. really looking forward to it.

  3. Shaun says:

    This cast is too cool.Gotta watch it now!

  4. Kevin K says:

    WATCH IT. This should be one of the best new dramas of the Fall TV season and as a longtime 24 fan, it’s great to see Kiefer Sutherland back on TV (from Jack Bauer to POTUS).

  5. N says:

    No politics for me

  6. Nerdbot says:

    This is the show I’m most excited about! Nikita and Jack Bauer on the same show? Count me in!

    • mrdoubleb says:

      Exactly! When i first read about the cast my mind was blown. These two could read the phone book and I’d watch it. And the pilot trailer looked awesome.

      Ps: i remember the kid from The Fosters and he wasn’t bad… there is hope.

  7. Gospino says:

    Reminds me a little of BSG, where Roslin was low-ranking and became president. I thought it was a very interesting aspect of that show. Designated Survivor seems likely to be one of this year’s best new series

  8. I’m not a Kiefer fan. Or a 24 fan. But I’m looking forward to this one.

  9. dan says:

    Very muchly looking forward to this show! How much of that is my love for all things Keifer and how much of it is that little part of me that kinda wishes it was based on a true story? Well….. :P

  10. Abby says:

    This is the only new show I’m even remotely interested in.

  11. Mare says:

    Really looking forward to this one!

  12. Ray says:

    All the new fall shows look pretty meh. I don’t see the appeal here.

  13. Iris says:

    Eyeballs up for grabs because of cast transplants? I hear you. Love Kiefer S., love Maggie Q, will definitely check this one out.

  14. cuius says:

    So it’s a bit like getting rid of President Trump and ending up with Chris Christie – let me think about it

  15. Luis says:

    I am looking forward to this. I want to see how Keifer can distinguish this character from Jack Bauer and what sounds like a very interesting premise.

  16. Ally Oop says:

    The trailer completely surprised me. I didnt expect this to look so good but after watching thr trailer, this show shot to the top of my list of new fall shows to check out.

  17. mike says:

    Teenage tv kids are one of many reasons I never watch tv live anymore. Everything is DVRed so I can FF through all the awful or boring parts. I’ll check out the first couple eps but if they make this kid somehow connected to those who made the attack, im done. Far to cliché a move

  18. JScout says:

    Looks good. I’m definitely in. But, I did hear one kind of silly line. Someone, perhaps a reporter said, “This is the worst attack on the U.S. since 9/11”, or something like that. If there’s an attack at the State of the Union address and the Pres, VP., cabinet (except one), Senators, Congress, Supreme Court, etc are all gone, it is WAY worse than 9/11 or any other attack on the U.S. That line just sounded silly to me.

  19. Rene says:

    I CAN’T wait for this show! It is the best new show of the season. I agree that TVTeenagers can be annoying but from what we see in the trailer so far the kid seems reasonable and he shouldn’t be in it THAT much anyway despite his SECRETS. Anyway I am just so glad to have Kiefer Sutherland and Maggie Q back on tv that I’ll be there with bells on. PS James D you’re not the only one who’s been following Kiefer since the Eighties so I guess you’re not alone in getting old.*Sigh*.

  20. meatwad says:

    I’m all in on this. I also love the political dramas plus Sutherland as a fish out of water politician becoming president. Yes Yes Yes

  21. Aaahhh he’s still my Jack.