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S01.E01: Pilot

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Lower-level cabinet member Tom Kirkman becomes President of the United States after a catastrophic attack on the U.S. Capitol. Kirkman must keep the country and his family safe while leading the search for the those responsible for the attack,

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Plus for me, I guess, given the tone of the article: I haven't seen Keifer in anything since Stand By Me and Flatliners.

Minus: That was on purpose because Keifer is one of those actors who annoys me for no good reason.

I'm intrigued enough by the concept that I'll give it a shot, even though it doesn't sound like it's carried out with any originality or verve. Reviews have been sort of limply positive.

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Haven't seen 24, so no prob seeing Kiefer Sutherland as a beta male, except he doesn't usually come across as nice.

Me either. He does have a very commanding voice, but it was the whole schlubby persona that put me off this show in the first place. In the previews, he comes across like a sleepy middle school gym teacher who wandered away from a White House tour and got Rip Van Winkle'd into being President, not an elected official with presumably years of experience. The result is kind of hilarious, but if he gets his shit together quickly enough instead of stumbling around all "Buh? What? Who, me?" for episodes on end, maybe it might be somewhat watchable.

Also, "Smirking Man with James Spader" is going to make me snicker for days.

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It's kind of a fascinating thing to think about, really. What if our HUD Secretary became our president? Who even is our HUD Secretary?*

*Google tells me it's Julián Castro, whom I have actually heard of.

 

Indeed, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is Julian Castro. Interestingly, Kiefer's real life counterpart has had his name mentioned with regards to the Presidency. A few years ago, Castro was the Democrats answer to Marco Rubio, as in the young Latino politician who people could see in the Oval Office in the future. Thankfully for Castro, he has not flamed out like Rubio. This election year he was talked about as a potential running mate for Hillary. That didn't happen, but whose to say what the future holds.

And I am astonished at the number of people who have essentially missed Kiefer's post-1990 career. No judgment, mind you, just amazed. I cannot begin to think of a world where I haven't seen 24 (at least the first 6 seasons).

Edited by reggiejax
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4 hours ago, withanaich said:

In the previews, he comes across like a sleepy middle school gym teacher who wandered away from a White House tour and got Rip Van Winkle'd into being President, not an elected official with presumably years of experience.

I believe the character was appointed to his position and not elected, so he would be a fish out of water in the Presidential/political arena.

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2 hours ago, reggiejax said:

Indeed, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is Julian Castro. Interestingly, Kiefer's real life counterpart has had his name mentioned with regards to the Presidency. A few years ago, Castro was the Democrats answer to Marco Rubio, as in the young Latino politician who people could see in the Oval Office in the future. Thankfully for Castro, he has not flamed out like Rubio. This election year he was talked about as a potential running mate for Hillary. That didn't happen, but whose to say what the future holds.

And I am astonished at the number of people who have essentially missed Kiefer's post-1990 career. No judgment, mind you, just amazed. I cannot begin to think of a world where I haven't seen 24 (at least the first 6 seasons).

 

My reason to not watch 24 is that it was on FOX and I really don't like FOX all that much.  Plus there were probably other shows I was watching at the time.

 

Love Kiefer though, my favorite vampire ever ( OG Lost Boys rocked)

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I'm a big Kiefer fan so I knew I'd love this show.  Those were some sophisticated bombs and there had to be quite a few of them to take down the Capitol.  I'm hating on the General and I'm getting an Alexander Haig "I'm in control of the White House" vibe from him. He's gonna be trouble.  I'm thinking this will turn out to be domestic terrorism. 

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I never understood in real life why, if the Designated Survivor were taken seriously, it wasn't the Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense instead of the Deputy Assistant Undersecretary  for Public Urinals.

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Excellent pilot, got me hooked in from the jump. Only disappointment: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs who thinks he's on 24 and wants to run a coup before the bodies are even cold.

Pure spec: I'm almost positive this is going to turn out to be domestic terrorism.

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For me it's Battlestar Galactica meets Madam Secretary.

It would be kind of trippy if the current Sec. of HUD runs for Pres. while this show is on the air. Of course, that could mean 8 seasons.

ETA: Did anyone else wonder if he was going to be able to read the speech without his glasses? Or would that be too Seinfeldian?

Edited by shapeshifter
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4 minutes ago, Constantinople said:

I never understood in real life why, if the Designated Survivor were taken seriously, it wasn't the Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense instead of the Deputy Assistant Undersecretary  for Public Urinals.

Sometimes it is; it rotates.

The coup stuff made me roll my eyes (the US Armed Forces would never go along with that), but otherwise it was a solid enough start.

I do kind of wonder about Maggie Q's character, though, as far as what her long-term story potential is supposed to be.

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2 hours ago, marinw said:

Can we talk about the actual episode now?

How can he read the teleprompter without his glasses, is my question.

Okay, that wasn't very deep. But I still want to wrap Kiefer in a blanket.

I had the same thought about the teleprompter. I was worried he wouldn't be able to see and have to adlib.

13 minutes ago, Constantinople said:

I never understood in real life why, if the Designated Survivor were taken seriously, it wasn't the Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense instead of the Deputy Assistant Undersecretary  for Public Urinals.

I think no one actually believes something would happen and the Designated Survivor is just a traditional/process thing. That is a pretty big security breach to get a bomb that big (or multiple bombs) into the capitol. No survivors? That's a huge attack. I feel like there had to be an insider involved to pull that off. 

I wonder if we'll find out some congress people weren't there and are still alive. Having no one in congress is also a pretty big problem, and there is no line succession for them. They didn't really mention that, but I assume it will become a plot point.

I really liked this, I thought it was pretty intense and I like all the characters except that general guy.

Edited by KaveDweller
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I haven't watched a political show since West Wing and I kept thinking that A) the Situation Room looked wrong B) Fitz and Leo would know what to do and C) I never want to see that image of the Capitol destroyed and in flames again. That hit *way* too close to home.

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I'm getting a feeling of deja vu here.... Wasn't there a show where POTUS dies (or something) and his VP steps up, and half the gov't spends all their time trying to get rid of her because she's -gasp- a woman? 

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Just now, janeta said:

I'm getting a feeling of deja vu here.... Wasn't there a show where POTUS dies (or something) and his VP steps up, and half the gov't spends all their time trying to get rid of her because she's -gasp- a woman? 

Yes, there was, with Gina Davis.

But that was just a heart attack or something, there wasn't a huge national disaster going on in the background.

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4 minutes ago, SimoneS said:

I thought this would be better. It was just okay. 

I spent the entire time thinking "I watched this whole pilot in the previews for the show." 

I'm still hooked. I want to see the aftermath, I love the idea of all these different people having to step-up in such moments of tragic circumstances.

I wonder if by the end of the series, Tom and the General will have a mutual respect for each other. I feel that if the General is the "villian" its too obvious and frankly, the General is Gibbs from Pirates of the Caribbean movies and I'm struggling seeing him as a General. I'm hoping more of shades of gray than good guy versus bad guy.  The, I think, Chief of Staff looked like he wasn't completely on the General's side when he talked about the Coup. The Coup, by the way, is a horrible idea. Please, show your enemies when you're already down that you're divided as well.

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3 hours ago, chitowngirl said:

I believe the character was appointed to his position and not elected, so he would be a fish out of water in the Presidential/political arena.

No Cabinet member is elected. They are confirmed by the Senate.

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First Son is a minor league pusher? Say it ain't so!

The notion that some destroyers in the Strait of Hormuz is an instantaneous existential threat is preposterous. I'm not convinced that threatening war in three hours isn't more a sign of panic than strength. The general at least has lost it, he only seems calm.

It would seem logical for the new president to ask the governors to undertake whatever in place procedures each state has for replacing any representatives and senators who die. They have died, after all. Appoint a new cabinet and advance the chief justices of each federal circuit to make up the new Supreme Court. Then, after you've bombed somebody to make the media happy, go home with a job well done.

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Realistically, there are 5-20 legislators floating now under protection of local law enforcement at that point because they decided to go back to the district for their kid's high school basketball senior night instead of staying in town for the speech. Or are in an apartment in the DC burbs because they were out sick passing a kidney stone. 

But then realism isn't this kind of show's strong point. I'm assuming this is 24 version 2.0, and that one expected you to be able to go between any two points in greater Los Angeles in 20 minutes or less during rush hour. And I know there's a rollicking story here. 

I'm just having some suspension of disbelief issues about the president presumptive being allowed to just (briefly) hang out in the open of the front porch of the White House when everything's blowing up and the situation is far from being controlled. 

Or that a guy who has been a cabinet level guy for presumably three years has so little clue about What Happens When Stuff Blows Up. 

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I haven't watched a political show since West Wing and I kept thinking that A) the Situation Room looked wrong B) Fitz and Leo would know what to do and C) I never want to see that image of the Capitol destroyed and in flames again. That hit *way* too close to home.

The image of the Capitol really affected me too. I actually got choked up.

I'm really hoping that this ends up being a West Wing-ish political show.

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I think there was a scene missing -- the wife was upset about moving to Canada but was in a good mood in the bunker before the bomb. Did I miss something? Also, why would everyone stop to swear in Kief- uh, Jack, er, Tom in a vulnerable White House hallway after a bomb took out an entire DC block? Can't they do that in a bunker? Overall, not a bad start. It's cheesy but compelling. I like Natasha McElhone and Maggie Q. Kal Penn's voice annoys me for some reason.

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5 minutes ago, selkie said:

I'm just having some suspension of disbelief issues about the president presumptive being allowed to just (briefly) hang out in the open of the front porch of the White House when everything's blowing up and the situation is far from being controlled. 

I don't think that was the front porch, I think it was the back portico that was often showed on The West Wing. But yeah, that gave me a moment of pause.

I liked this. Will I plan my life around it? No, but so far, I'm finding the story interesting, and I like most of the cast. A few, well, we'll see...

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2 minutes ago, Zazoo said:

The image of the Capitol really affected me too. I actually got choked up.

I'm really hoping that this ends up being a West Wing-ish political show.

I think what got me was the context. We've all see the movies blow up DC because of aliens or asteroids or whatever. No big deal, Hollywood magic and President Morgan Freeman deals with it.

The terrorism context on the other hand is downright terrifying.

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Just now, saoirse said:

I don't think that was the front porch, I think it was the back portico that was often showed on The West Wing. But yeah, that gave me a moment of pause.

I liked this. Will I plan my life around it? No, but so far, I'm finding the story interesting, and I like most of the cast. A few, well, we'll see...

That was the portico adjacent to the Oval Office and is a highly protected outdoor area at the White House.

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I liked it have always been intrigued by the designated survivor. I always listen for who was picked each state of the union.

 

But can already tell I do not care about the teen age  boy and his problems.

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I never understood in real life why, if the Designated Survivor were taken seriously, it wasn't the Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense instead of the Deputy Assistant Undersecretary  for Public Urinals.

It would never be a Deputy Assistant Secretary of anything. Never.

It's always a full cabinet member: Mr. or Madame Secretary of some cabinet department and the reason they usually don't pick Defense or State to sit out the speech is that they don't expect this type of thing to happen. So, it's usually someone not #1 or #2 among the secretaries. Remember, the first people to take over the job of President is Vice-President, Speaker of the House, and President Pro Tempore of the Senate. All elected. THEN, they go to the cabinet, who are unelected. First up is Secretary of State. (Currently that is John Kerry and used to be Hillary Clinton. ;-)

As for the actual attack in the show, I noticed that the Secret Service agent stopped Kirkman from using his cell phone, which makes me think that cell phones were utilized in this attack to kill everyone in the House (where they meet) during the State of the Union ... somehow.

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Well...in short, it worked.

There still are a lot of wonky elements, and, like a true pilot, a lot of things crammed in that can be easy to miss...but there's ingredients here to suggest it can be a long-runner.

I start with Kiefer Sutherland. He nailed the fish-out-of-water type in Tom Kirkman, as he brought enough self-doubt and vulnerability to the role without appearing weak. He definitely showed that he can be the measured but strong leader we'd expect the President to be, and I like that there will be hints that it will be a slow process- as that's what it should be.

Then I get to Maggie Q. It's nice to see her come back from a show that was a dud (Stalker), and I thought she brought a nice balance to Hannah Wells. I think it could be interesting seeing Wells lead side stories to investigate crimes related to Kirkman, with the two of them mixing every now and then. Only issue I have is that since Wells is very much the "B" character the writers might lose interest in her, but so far, the potential for interesting "B" plotlines has a promising start.

Other stuff I liked:

-Kal Penn. Always great to see him on TV and I think if he's given something to do, he could be a breakout character, since he did comic relief pretty well. He just didn't have much to do.

-Even though Natascha McElhonne didn't have too much to do as Mrs. Kirkman, at least she's got chemistry with Sutherland, as do the kids. Even though the "family scenes" were pretty rote, at least they had some energy.

-"We pinged your phone. You're not a criminal mastermind."

-Although I fear that Emily Rhodes is going to fade into "love rival for Tom" territory, Italia Ricci was fun to watch.

As for what didn't work:

-I grant that I'm not aware of the actual "designated survivor" protocol, but something tells me Tom would be taken somewhere far from Washington to some secret bunker that not even his family would be aware of, and that he wouldn't have his cell phone with him. I know...then we couldn't have that cute scene where he gets his daughter to go to bed, but, seriously...if he's "next in line" to be President, you'd think the CIA would take no chances and take away his normal avenues of communication and at least advise him not to contact his family. Wireless transmissions are already suspect...why would the CIA risk them being intercepted?

-Seeing the guy take pictures of Kirkman on his Blackberry telegraphed a bit too much that he's going to be some kind of bad dude. Seriously, establish the characters first before showing us the untrustworthy ones.

-Kind of rolled my eyes at seeing the General want to attack the President so soon. Yeah, I get that it's plausible, and I fully expect him to behind the attack on Congress, but it feels too much like a cliche. Can't we at least see "diplomacy vs. militarism" play out and at least try to work together for a few months before calling it a day? Also, why does every General have to be some trigger-happy warmonger? I'm sure there are at least a few Generals that would at least appreciate showing some restraint.

-Too many dull, flat characters that feel like "filler", like Mike, the Secret Service agent. They'll need things to do or else this show should consider trimming its cast.

Episode Grade: B. Not stellar by any stretch of the imagination, but there's potential, so I'll at least give it a few more looks.

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8 minutes ago, suddenlyforever said:

I'm calling it now - Maggie Q's character is having an affair with Keifer Sutherland. They took away his phone at the very beginning, hence why he's been unreachable. 

Except Kiefer's character is Tom and she kept calling Scott.

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8 hours ago, lordonia said:

Plus for me, I guess, given the tone of the article: I haven't seen Keifer in anything since Stand By Me and Flatliners.

Minus: That was on purpose because Keifer is one of those actors who annoys me for no good reason.

I never liked Kiefer until I watched 24 and now I can't get enough of him.  Just that one role completely changed my opinion on him.

Someone upthread mentioned that this might be more 24 than West Wing, I agree and hope that is the case.  The West Wing is my all-time favorite show and I do NOT want anything trying to copy it.  Besides, the action is more suited to a 24 type show.

Anyway, I really liked it and am all in!  I'm interested in how they will rebuild the government, while also dealing with terrorism.  

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9 minutes ago, selkie said:

That actually worked for me. Regardless of how awful everything around is, there needs to be a record of the swearing in to share with media and historians when things calm down. It made me think of the photos of LBJ being sworn in on Air Force One after JFK's death. 

My brother made the same comment too, and I can see that angle too. I just felt the way it was staged seemed to say it's "shady".

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1 hour ago, Constantinople said:

I never understood in real life why, if the Designated Survivor were taken seriously, it wasn't the Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense instead of the Deputy Assistant Undersecretary  for Public Urinals.

First of all it should be pointed out that the Designated Survivor doesn't supplant the Presidential Line of Succession, he/she merely is someone whose survival is specially insured.  This particular attack must have killed the President, the VP, the Speaker of the House, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Attorney General, and the Secretaries of State, the Treasury, Defense, the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, and Health and Human Services. If even one of those people had survived (and was constitutionally eligible) they would've taken the presidency ahead of Kirkman. The very fact that all those people died makes this a massive attack whose scope is almost impossible (if not completely impossible) in a place as highly guarded as the Capitol.

In most cases, especially in peace time, The Designated Survivor is merely a contingency plan for a very unlikely scenario. With no visible present threat, it doesn't make sense for an important cabinet member to miss a presidential address. In fact the President would specifically want the pertinent cabinet members in attendance so he could thank/congratulate him/her and let them get the acknowledgment (and also congratulate himself for appointing them to the cabinet.)

Now, if there was a clear and present danger to the Presidency, then it might make sense for the Designated Survivor to be the VP, Speaker of the House, or Secretary of State. For instance when President Bush delivered the Presidential Address to the Joint Session of Congress following the September 11th attacks, Dick Cheney, then the VP, was the Designated Survivor, because there was a higher then normal possibility that another attack could be coming. 

38 minutes ago, Constantinople said:

In the morning Kirkman was out of a job.  Now the President is dead and Kirkman is the Preident.   Seems fishy.

As mentioned above, this actually does make sense.

Typically the Designated Survivor is the Cabinet Member with the least reason to attend the event. The President had taken all of Kirkman's initiatives out of his State of the Union address and was about to fire him. He wasn't going to be mentioned in the address, and he had no agenda to push. He literally has zero reason to be at the State of the Union.

Edited by Maximum Taco
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Having lived through too many assassinations, one criticism of crowd scene at bar (?) early on - there would be a lot more crying. (Even in DC)

General really was Haig and the Generals during the Cuban missile crisis.  His character rang true to me.

Sutherland is fabulous.  He certainly didn't look so small and fragile when he was running around being Jack Bauer.

Hope it is domestic, nonislamic terrorism.  

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24 minutes ago, Danielg342 said:

Well...in short, it worked.

There still are a lot of wonky elements, and, like a true pilot, a lot of things crammed in that can be easy to miss...but there's ingredients here to suggest it can be a long-runner.

I start with Kiefer Sutherland. He nailed the fish-out-of-water type in Tom Kirkman, as he brought enough self-doubt and vulnerability to the role without appearing weak. He definitely showed that he can be the measured but strong leader we'd expect the President to be, and I like that there will be hints that it will be a slow process- as that's what it should be.

Yes, it was pilot, and yes it had some kinks, but this one worked for me. I agree with your assessment of Kiefer Sutherland. I like that he didn't step into the Presidency as a cool, confident badass who knew exactly what to do. His vulnerability makes him more likable and relatable, IMO. Even after Kirkman's big speech with the Iranian Ambassador, his right hand was shaking, and he had to take a few cleansing breaths. Nice work.

I thought everyone in the cast gave strong, compelling performances except... 

29 minutes ago, Danielg342 said:

-Even though Natascha McElhonne didn't have too much to do as Mrs. Kirkman, at least she's got chemistry with Sutherland, as do the kids. Even though the "family scenes" were pretty rote, at least they had some energy.

Natascha McElhonne. I don't know, for someone reason she was the one person who didn't work for me. She was pleasant enough, I guess, and she was portrayed as a smart, loving mother and wife. But her character fell flat for me. There was nothing about her that engaged me or even really interested me. 

1 hour ago, Frozendiva said:

At least right now, I also suspect domestic terrorism.

Me three. And it seems like Maggi Q is going to be the one to figure it out. I wonder when the FBI will start to communicate with the President.. 

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Add me to the list of people who never watched 24. Saw a few minutes of an early season while at a friend's house, I had no idea what was going on and no interest in finding out. I'm hoping for more of a West Wing show, but it probably won't be. I was distracted by family issues, so I missed the Capitol Bldg exploding, I'm ok with that, spent my early adulthood living across the street from one of the Senate Office Buildings, so that would probably hit too close for me. But if the Capitol Building exploded like the glimpses I saw, the Supreme Court Building, the Library of Congress and office buildings for both houses would probably be leveled too. I've been away from DC since the mid 1980s, but I seem to remember that there was very little traffic between the White House and the Capitol during the State of the Union. And it's a walk that can be done in less than 30 minutes by out of shape people. 

Since I moved to DC right after Watergate occurred and worked at the Federal Triangle, lived on Capitol Hill during the trials, I thought the General was an Alexander Haig type - btw, I worked briefly with his son, whom I remember as a pleasant, nice young man. 

I've kind of always thought of the Designated Survivor as an interesting idea and I'm under the impression it is usually a down the list Cabinet Member. I think most states have some sort of replacement plans for their Congressmen/women and Senators, most are appointed by the Governors and probably not all 535 would be in attendance for whatever reasons and I doubt that all states would have appointments ready to go immediately, some states have a lot of representation. And it seems like this year the entire Supreme Court was not in attendance. It will take a while to get the government back up and running after that kind of catastrophe. I want to see the President take a couple of hours to get his feet wet before declaring war. And the person recording the event, I agree with someone above that there would need to be an official record of the swearing-in, like President Johnson on Air Force One. But I don't know that the almost President would have been taken straight to the White House, more likely somewhere else until safety could be assured.

I liked the show, it's going on my new season watching.

Edited by friendperidot
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Now, if there was a clear and present danger to the Presidency, then it might make sense for the Designated Survivor to be the VP, Speaker of the House, or Secretary of State. For instance when President Bush delivered the Presidential Address to the Joint Session of Congress following the September 11th attacks, Dick Cheney, then the VP, was the Designated Survivor, because there was a higher then normal possibility that another attack could be coming. 

No he wasn't. Cheney was in the Capitol during the 2002 State of the Union which was the first after September 2001.

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1 hour ago, janeta said:

I'm getting a feeling of deja vu here.... Wasn't there a show where POTUS dies (or something) and his VP steps up, and half the gov't spends all their time trying to get rid of her because she's -gasp- a woman? 

Yes, there was a show.  & Kiefer's  dad was the evil Speaker of the House. The VP was an independent. She is a well known actress who's name escapes me, Geena Davis?

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13 minutes ago, pcta said:

Having lived through too many assassinations, one criticism of crowd scene at bar (?) early on - there would be a lot more crying. (Even in DC)

General really was Haig and the Generals during the Cuban missile crisis.  His character rang true to me.

Sutherland is fabulous.  He certainly didn't look so small and fragile when he was running around being Jack Bauer.

Hope it is domestic, nonislamic terrorism.  

I do remember Haig holding a press conference saying he was in charge. He forgot about VP George Bush & the Speaker of the House being higher in the line of succession.

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