ABC’s ‘Designated Survivor’: Rejoice! It’s Kiefer!
Buyers adore the former '24' star and think this drama will succeed
August 11, 2016
One in a series of Media Life previews of the new shows debuting this fall. You can find past previews here.
ABC’s “Designated Survivor”
Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
During every State of the Union address or presidential inauguration, one member of the Cabinet is chosen to stay at an undisclosed location far from the hoopla. Should something happen to the president, vice president and rest of the line of succession, this “designated survivor” will become president.
Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) is the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, whose life turns upside down when he becomes the designated survivor following a terrorist attack.
He has doubts about his ability to lead – in fact, it turns out he may have been fired right before the attack occurred. And many in his new staff have doubts, too.
But it turns out he has no choice, since the terrorist attack may just be the start of an assault on the nation.
This is one of fall’s few shows that could become a hit.
It has three big things going for it. First, there’s Sutherland. He became a TV superstar on “24” and remains popular, which should at least lead to high awareness of the show.
Second, the show itself sounds promising. Buyers liked the pilot, and they love the political timeliness of its plotline.
Third, it’s got a favorable spot on the ABC schedule.
The network has a strong comedy lineup from 8 to 10 p.m. Its former 10 p.m. show, “Nashville,” had been losing a lot of that audience in recent years.
“Designated” has broader appeal. As an action-thriller, it should appeal to a broader demographic than the country soap opera.
Plus, the 10 p.m. competition is manageable. “Designated” faces CBS’s “Code Black,” which drew mediocre numbers in season one, and NBC’s “Chicago P.D.” While the latter will likely win the slot, there’s room for more than one successful show in this timeslot.
What media people say
There are just some actors media buyers love. Sutherland is one of them.
They adored “24” because it was a smart show with wide appeal. They’re hoping “Designated” will be the same.
“It’s Kiefer Sutherland in a conspiracy drama that sounds way better than the ‘24’ reboot,” notes one buyer. “ABC is strengthening the 10 p.m. hour.”
During the recently completed upfront, buyers say “Designated” attracted a great deal of advertising activity.
What our readers say
In a recent Media Life poll inviting readers to weigh in on the new season, they voted “Designated” not just ABC’s most promising new show but the most promising new show on any network this fall.
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