So, Dear Reader, how do you satisfy your entertainment urges having completed the excellent Narcos -Season 2? The options to the viewer seem endless nowadays, and yet so few. Decisions, decisions…
A good place to start my friend, is originality. ‘Have you seen it before? Do you want something new, creative, different? A new take on things or a rehash?’
The next criterion is the Freshness. Be honest, we all want to be the first to look into Pandora’s Box! We all want to be the ‘office entertainment aficionado’ at least for a week, don’t we? The cheesy grin, loitering at the watercooler: ‘Hey, have you seen… yet?’
5-star ratings? (Of course!)
Hollywood A-lister in the lead role?
A strange (never heard of this before type strange – not ‘Stranger!’) yet interesting and believable concept?
All of the boxes. Ticked. Almost there. (This, is the clincher!)
And… undeniable relevance for the world we live in today? Check!
In Netflix’s latest political offering, this is exactly what happens to the American political elite. (The drama is only four episodes in, so the ‘freshness-factor’ is top notch. Think loitering at the watercooler!). A devastating explosion raises Capitol Hill to rubble and with it all the souls inside the iconic buildings. Someone has declared war on the US. But who will ‘steer the ship’ in the country’s hour of need?
The Designated Survivor.
And so, the ‘who done it?’, begins.
The expectations of ‘Commander in Chief’ fall on the unlikely, unwitting and humble shoulders of the Secretary for Housing and Urban Development – Tom Kirkman. To say he is thrown in at the deep-end, would be the understatement of understatements. Picture this: one minute you’re having a beer, pop-corn and coercing you’re still-awake six-year old daughter to bed (serious negotiation skills required here!), the next you’re being handed the ‘nuclear football’. No folks, this apparently is the term used for that suitcase styled laptop with all the detonation buttons for the US’s nuclear arsenal. Pressure, what pressure?
Additionally, throw in being the mediator between the remaining ‘doves’ and ‘hawks’ within the US military corridors, the formation of a functioning cabinet from ‘who remains’ and tending to an islamophobic mutiny occurring across the country. Welcome to the Pleasure-dome!
Kiefer Sutherland is in the lead role, and only four episodes in, he provides a stellar performance. You see, Secretary Tom Kirkman, is the quintessential regular ‘everyday’ guy! He’s an unassuming Latte drinker – the Paupau type. At his core, he cares about society and his working brief – he’s helpful! By all accounts, he’s calm and laid-back although the situation he finds himself in soon and consistently examine these personal qualities. His (verbal) confrontations with the trigger happy military hawks are testament to his strength and resolve. (There will be no scattergun approach to retaliation on his watch – remember Iraq in 2003?). His protection of the under fire Muslim community across the nation is admirable. Trumping (definitely, no pun intended!) all personality traits, however, he’s a family man and subplots abound on the horizon which will certainly test the Kirkman family unit, itself.
Designated Survivor asks: ‘what does it take to make a good president?’ More pertinently, it also asks ‘what does it take to remain a good president?’ Two very different questions.
The overriding value for Designated Survivor is the inherent ‘what if it really happened’ thought process bestowed upon the viewer, meandering like a river of concern running through it. Think about it. It’s not that far beyond the realms of possibility, is it? Here’s something to chew on!
• Prior to 2001, nobody could have thought 9-11 possible
• The US has just as many enemies (if not more!) in the wider world than ever before
• There certainly are ‘war games’ being played over (literally) the Syrian desolation
• Paris, Brussels (continually mentioned within the dialogue of Designated Survivor, for powerful effect)
And then, of course we have the ‘scorched-earth’ brutal Race for the White House currently being played out to its ‘gladiatorial’ end across the Atlantic. You see, my friends, the pieces of this Doomsday puzzle are slowly forming. They just have to fall into place, in a certain configuration, an orientation, at a particular time…
People say fiction imitates reality. Perhaps, this time, reality will imitate this fiction.
A great watch, which promises more to come.
Enjoy loitering at the watercooler, folks.