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DVD Review

DVD cover

Designated Survivor
The Complete Second Season


Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Natascha McElhone, Adan Canto, Italia Ricci, LaMonica Garrett, Kal Penn, Maggie Q, Paulo Costanzo and Zoe McLellan
Distributor: Entertainment One
Certificate: 12
Release Date: 01 October 2018

Following on from the first season – where lower-level cabinet minister and ‘Designated Survivor’ Tom Kirkman, is suddenly appointed President of the United States (POTUS), when a devastating attack on the US Capitol wipes out most of the government – we join the new leader one year into his presidency. With the support of his devoted wife First Lady Alex Kirkman, President Kirkman is starting to find his feet as the most powerful man in the world. The terrorists who took down the Capitol are still at large and the President will stop at nothing to bring justice to the people they killed, even if it means making personal sacrifices. The POTUS must navigate the running of the country and the daily flow of crises inside the West Wing, from airplane hijackers and border disputes to negotiations with infamous warlords and virus outbreaks, with the help of his loyal staff...

The second season of Designated Survivor is a bit of a different beast from season one. It neatly wraps up the previous terrorist story arc early on allowing the show to move forward to see how the new president of the USA manages to govern during a more "normal" administration. But of course this is a heightened reality show with numerous international and internal affairs to navigate.

If you haven't seen the show before... it's a little like a cross between House of Cards and 24. It follows Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) the reluctant President of the United States (POTUS), who never really wanted the job, but is attempting to lead as a truthful, law abiding president who values transparency and honestly above everything. Unfortunately the public don't always want to know the truth and his team need to keep his approval rating high. How can you be honest and true in a job where your competitors fight dirty? That's where his hand picked team of experts come to the fore.

It's not overly important that you've seen the first season - I hadn't before I watched this (I've since been back and viewed season one). It manages to stand on its own two feet as a show in its own right. And, while there's the occasional story arc for most of the characters most of the episodes contain pretty much standalone storylines.

As with all ensemble shows of this kind, the series only works if you can invest in the characters. Sutherland's Kirkman is a likeable character, and you do find yourself rooting for him at every turn. And his advisors and staff all play their important roles as the show progresses. Kal Penn, who plays Seth Wright the White House Press Secretary is actually also an advisor on the show, having been an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement under the Obama administration. But it's probably as his role of Kumar Patel in the Harold & Kumar films that people will know him best.

Paulo Costanzo (playing White House Political Director Lyor Boone) and Zoe McLellan (as White House Counsel Kendra Daynes) are the two new additions to the cast this season. There's one particularly major cast shakeup this season, which helps to give the writers a new angle to play as to Kirkman's ability to lead.

Michael J. Fox guest stars in a number of episodes as Ethan West, a Washington attorney and special prosecutor who, like Kirkman, is more interested in his integrity - following the facts in all his investigations. Fox's character at first appears annoying and weaselly, but as he develops you soon realise that he's actually a man of great integrity.

They also have an amusing dig at the Great British public and their decision to vote for Brexit.

Extras include First Look (4 min, 32 sec interviews with cast and crew about their characters and the show's general direction); New Characters (4 min, 34 sec look at Lyor Boone, Kendra Daynes and Damian Rennett); Whitehouse (3 min, 26 sec look at sets); and The Fans (1 min, 24 sec where cast and crew talk fondly about the show's fans).


Darren Rea

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