Fall TV Preview

Designated Survivor: How Three Showrunner Changes Have Led to 'Very Grounded,' Less Twisty Season 2


How different will ABC’s Designated Survivor look as it heads into Season 2 with its fourth showrunner to date?

TVLine invited ABC president Channing Dungey to revisit the drama’s path to this point, and how the latest showrunner change will shape its sophomore run.

“One of the things we realized is it is a very high-concept show, and we had to get the audience past that concept and get [Kiefer Sutherland’s Tom] Kirkman into the White House and all the rest of it,” Dungey said. “And as much as we love the twists and turns and the cliffhangers, what we’re really looking forward to exploring in Season 2 is some of the character relationships and some of the interpersonal dynamics in the White House.”

To recap: Amy B. Harris (Wicked City) originally served as showrunner on the series (which was created by David Guggenheim), only to be replaced in May 2016 upon its official pickup, with Jon Harmon Feldman (Blood & Oil). Feldman left in December, and was succeeded by Jeff Melvoin (Army Wives). This May, it was announced that The Good Wife grad Keith Eisner would seize the reins for Season 2.

“I do feel great about what Keith has brought to the table,” Dungey said. “The take that he has on the season feels very grounded, feels very timely and is very character-driven, which is [ABC’s] sweet spot.”

So, Season 2 will be more West Wing than 24…? More about what Kirkman does as POTUS than how (and at the hand of what ominous forces) he improbably came to hold the highest office in the land?

“I hesitate to compare the shows,” Dungey answered. “But I do think that we’re going to focus a little bit less on huge cliffhangers and a little bit more on the intimate character stories.”

Want more scoop on Designated Survivor, or for any other show? Email InsideLine@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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