Thomas Kirkman, played by Kiefer Sutherland, is an American politician who on the day of the State of the Union address is told he is the ‘designated survivor'. This essentially means that should anything happen to those in the line of succession he will automatically become President of the United States. Though he's never even heard of the term, he dutifully goes into lock-down to watch the address on tv during which a massive explosion takes out the Capitol Building and everybody in it and suddenly a very inexperienced Kirkman must rise to the challenge and step in as the new President while trying to uncover the truth behind the attack.
Of course it is as far fetched as it sounds but somehow the show creators made it seem slightly plausible that every single senator and congressman could be wiped out in one swoop so if you can buy into it then you're at least half way there. Next you have to wrap your head around the fact that the one of the most important jobs in the world has just been given to the Secretary of Housing – then again there's a reality star currently occupying the White House so maybe it's not that much of a stretch. And even if you accept that premise, you now have to believe that he is also the most moral human being on the earth who in the face of even more potential attacks refuses to take action with anything less than a squeaky clean approach.
Honestly, the character of Thomas Kirkman drove me bonkers. Oozing the moral high ground, the episodes are only saved by Maqqie Q and the investigation team which is hunting down a previously unknown home grown terror cell. That aspect of it is fine but the problem is that because the story arcs over all 22 episodes of season one, if you want to know ‘who done it' you have to keep watching. There's clearly an audience for this as it has two seasons but ABC in America didn't pick it up for a third season though talks are on going with other networks.