The title says it all: Designated Survivor lives on, despite the show’s cancellation by ABC at the end of season two. Netflix, after arranging a deal to stream reruns of the first two years beginning in the fall, has given the green light for a third season of new episodes.
The premise of the show is that on the night of the State of the Union, everybody in the line of succession is killed from a terrorist explosion — with the exception of Thomas Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland), the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. This unlikely “candidate” suddenly finds himself in the position of President, and must try and pick up the pieces of the country while dealing with dissension from without and within. In Season 3, while continuing his efforts to keep the principles of democracy alive, Kirkman has a new challenge, which Netflix describes as follows: “Campaigning. What does it take to make a leader? What price will he be willing to pay? This season will explore today’s world of campaigning, smear tactics, debates, campaign finance, and ‘fake news.’ Democracy as we know it will hang in balance.”
For his part, Kiefer is pleased to be coming back: “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to play President Kirkman for Season 3 of Designated Survivor with Netflix, eOne, and [showrunner] Neal Baer. I believe this format will allow us to continue to delve deeply into storylines and issues concerning the American electorate that were not previously possible.”
Last season, while appearing on a panel discussion of the show, Kiefer commented on how the show’s events oftentimes happen at about the same time things occur in reality: “I actually had a very similar experience with 24,” he related, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. “We shot seven months of 24 before the terrible day of 9/11. The next year, we decided that we were going to explore domestic terrorism. Three episodes aired, and they caught the guy who was coming into the country through Vancouver with Sarin gas. It was eerie how we were just imagining the worst circumstance possible, create a season of 24 around it, and six months later, it was happening for real.
“We wrote and shot a lot of this stuff before anything ever happened,” he continued. “It’s important to realize that you’re a television show and you’re living in a fantasy. It’s a fantastical world you’re creating. If on some level, the real world starts to encroach upon that? Then that’s what it is. You do have to maintain that you’re creating a world to have a discussion and tell a story. As much as I can’t help but watch the news almost like it’s a NASCAR race, waiting for a crash every day, it’s not something I’m trying to apply to how we can make our show current.”
No word on when the new season will debut.