2016-2017 TV Season Review: DESIGNATED SURVIVOR

neon_0001_largeI’ve only watched one new show so far among the many debuts that are cramming my Tivo… DESIGNATED SURVIVOR. It’s a great idea, but the execution left me cold. it’s a show about a low-level cabinet member, played by Kiefer Sutherland, who becomes president when the U.S. Capitol is bombed during the State of the Union address. You know he’s unprepared to lead because he wears glasses.

I was intrigued by the politics of the concept but the cliche mad general, the network-required family crap (the perfect wife, the adorable daughter, the the drug dealing son, seemingly all computer generated by screenwriting software), pulled me right out of the show. So did the lame stuff with the hero’s chief of staff,a supporting character who couldn’t get into the White House… and then somehow did in the midst of a nightmare terror scenario. Then she couldn’t see the president…then somehow got into the Oval Office. That’s either sloppy writing or sloppy editing — it’s a toss up which is to blame. I won’t be returning for episode two.

On a side note, it seems to me that we now have a record number of shows about the White House on television — HOUSE OF CARDS, SCANDAL, VEEP, MADAM SECRETARY, 24: REBOOTED, and now DESIGNATED SURVIVOR. (Maybe I’ve even overlooked a couple). I think before THE WEST WING came along, the only network show about the White House was Fox’s short-lived MR. PRESIDENT…but I could be wrong about that.

7 thoughts on “2016-2017 TV Season Review: DESIGNATED SURVIVOR”

  1. Lee,

    The Last Ship. Three seasons in, three presidents and a move of the White House to St. Louis. I am going to watch Designated Survivor for a few more episodes. Madame Secretary grew on me (a lot), simply because I LIKED the characters. I LIKE the cast of DS, while acknowledging every single error you listed. The writing has to improve from an originality standpoint of view (don’t you think Madame VP will become Madame President mid-season this year?) to make it stand out and worth the effort of watching. It HAS the cast to pull it off. Now, to see if the will (with the over-under of it being watchable being the week after the election) is there on behalf of the show runners.

  2. Way back before the West Wing, NBC had “Nancy”, a short-lived series centered on the president’s daughter. Way after the West Wing there was “That’s My Bush”, which was not short-lived enough.

  3. Have little confidence with Television portraying the political scene. Such shows are either watered down or worse, utilize a heavy-handed pounding (complete with stereotypes) of the political leanings of the network or production team. One will always be better served to pass on such lame offerings. Television (Hollywood also) has little ability and less credibility to portray such productions.

  4. You, along with probably every other TV viewer, have forgotten Patty Duke’s HAIL TO THE CHIEF which aired about 15 years before THE WEST WING.

    • I do remember HAIL TO THE CHIEF.

      This was when Patty Duke was still married to John Astin, which got her to the front of any alphabetically-ordered cast list.

      The other thing I remember about Hail To The Chief was that everybody in the world was in it:

      Ted Bessell as PDA’s idiot husband.

      Dick Shawn doubling as the Soviet premier and the KGB boss.

      Herschel Bernardi as a Kissinger takeoff.

      Murray Hamilton as a Southern Senator/friend of PDA’s.

      John Vernon as a nitwit military advisor.

      …and Jerry Falwell lookalike Richard Paul as guess what?

      Hail ended its short run with a sort-of cliffhanger in which it was revealed that the Rev.Paul/Falwell was a deep-cover Soviet agent (the last words uttered on the final episode were the Rev’s : “Tovarich, y’all!”)

      … and I’ll bet you’re all wondering why this didn’t catch on …

  5. I tend to agree. In the season finale Hannah was wounded in a car crash and her friend you tubed her recovery. I’m the bed upstairs her shirt was very bloody but coming down the stairs not a drop of blood.


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