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Fall TV: ‘Designated Survivor’ gets our vote as one of fall’s best shows

Kiefer Sutherland’s Tom Kirkman in ‘Designated Survivor’ is a far cry from his former ‘24’ role of Jack Bauer.
Kiefer Sutherland’s Tom Kirkman in ‘Designated Survivor’ is a far cry from his former ‘24’ role of Jack Bauer. ABC

New show: “Designated Survivor”

When: 10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, ABC

Cast: Keifer Sutherland, Natasha McElhone, Adan Canto

Premise: Low-level Cabinet secretary Tom Kirkman, designated to sit out the State of the Union Address, suddenly finds himself president after an explosion wipes out the Capitol building and all the other government leaders inside.

Verdict: In an election year in which many voters aren’t happy with their presidential choices, Sutherland’s Kirkman is going to prove to be very popular. Called “as straight a shooter as you’re gonna find in Washington,” he’s a far cry from Sutherland’s most famous role, Jack Bauer of “24.” And that’s a good thing. It’s his decency and his smarts that will likely carry the day in this compelling drama with echoes of “The West Wing” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” The premise – and Sutherland’s performance – easily won me over. Just one quibble, producers: please don’t dwell too much on the new president’s dopey teenage son, whose misadventures in the pilot brought back unpleasant memories of Jack Bauer’s eternally dumb daughter, Kim, on “24.”

Read our complete guide to what to watch and what to skip for the 2016 Fall TV season.

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