I thought this show was going to be bloody awful. I had the lowest of expectations and I’m not really sure why. Keifer Sutherland is awesome and I absolutely loved most of 24. I didn’t know much about it to be honest and, at first glance, the idea seemed a bit weak. Tom Kirkman (Keifer Sutherland), the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development – a White House nobody – becomes the President of the United States following an attack on the Capitol Building that leaves over 100 dead. Kirkman has been listed as the eponymous Desinated Survivor meaning that by sheer unfortunate chance, he now holds the mantle of the most important person in the world.
The show is quite interesting because it not only shows a Country in mourning and panic and a White House in meltdown but also a family in crisis, thrust into a life that none of them had asked for or expected overnight. The first few episodes focus heavily on this but it sort of fades out as the series progresses. It’s shame, as these were some of my favourite scenes. The relationship between Kirkman and his wife, Alex (Natascha McElhone) seems a little forced and this isn’t helped by Sutherland and McElhone having very little chemistry.
Along with the President, we also follow FBI agents Hannah Wells (Maggie Q) and Jason Atwood (Malik Yoba) who are trying to find out who launched the attack on the Capitol Building. We soon discover that the perpetrators aren’t who they seem and that perhaps they are from a place far closer to home. It’s quite interesting to have two plots that interlink with each other and often cross over. The writing is good enough to carry these two stories and it’s exciting to see how they overlap and effect each other.
The show is pretty cheesy. In places it seems to try and replicate The West Wing and in others Olympus Has Fallen and it does fall flat on both counts but, for what it is, the show is enjoyable. There are some interesting ideas being thrown about and generally, the performances are of a good quality. Sutherland is great at being a naive and untrained President, learning his role ‘on the job’. His team, Seth Wright (Kal Penn), Emily Rhodes (Italia Ricci) and Aaron Shore (Adan Canto) are all played brilliantly and do work extremely well together. Rather than just being generic White House staff, we see their lives outside of the office and realise that their jobs take up a big emotional chunk of their lives.
There is humour in the show and, although often misplaced, it does make it an easy show to watch. I think, overall, that’s what this show is – easy to watch. You don’t really need to know much about American politics to follow it and if you like shows like CSI or Criminal Minds than you’re in for something kind of similar, albeit in a different setting.