The canceled ABC prime-time show Designated Survivor lived up to its name when the series was picked up this week by Netflix, which ordered a truncated third season of 10 episodes starting in 2019.
Conservative viewers had hoped that the participation of Kiefer Sutherland – the actor and producer who portrayed heroic counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer for eight seasons on the popular Fox program 24 – would give the audience a fair representation of both conservative and liberal political views.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. It wasn’t long before lead character Thomas Kirkman, the “designated survivor” and a Cabinet-level official who ascended to the White House after everyone else in the line of succession was killed during a terrorist attack, began touting liberal views on a variety of issues, which caused many people to change the channel during the show’s second season.
Of course, Designated Survivor was one among many shows canceled by ABC over poor ratings at the end of the previous television season in May.
However, none of that was mentioned on Wednesday in an article written by Leslie Goldberg, who covers media news for The Hollywood Reporter, announced: “It's official: Netflix has revived yet another canceled broadcast network show.”
(The channel also brought back other terminated programs, including Lucifer, which stars the devil solving murders in current-day Los Angeles.)
Goldberg added: “The first two seasons will be available to Netflix subscribers in the U.S. and Canada in the fall as season three is being billed as a global original series.
“However,” he said, “the third season will consist of 10 episodes, less than half the order for its first two runs on the Disney-owned broadcast network. The series will be produced as a Netflix original, meaning ABC Studios is no longer involved as a producer alongside eOne.
Also on Wednesday, Netflix vice president for content Bela Bajaria stated:
Timely and gripping, Designated Survivor has quickened the pulses of our Netflix members outside the U.S. and Canada in its first two seasons.
The international audience for the show drove our interest to bring the show to the world.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to play President Kirkman for season three of Designated Survivor,” Sutherland said.
“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,” he added.
Goldberg then stated: “While not a ratings or critical breakout, Designated Survivor was a profitable show for ABC thanks in part to a lucrative Netflix SVOD deal and strong international sales. The cancellation was among this past upfront season's biggest surprises.”
“The continuation of the show via Netflix is a win-win for all involved,” producer Mark Gordon noted. “The story of President Kirkman and those around him has not been fully told, and we look forward to working with our new partner in continuing the show for a global audience.”
Of course, the celebration got hit with some cold water when producer Mark Goldberg noted: “Season three will see Sutherland's President Kirkman explores today's world of campaigning, smear tactics, debate, campaign finance and "fake news.”
As NewsBusters previously reported, the show began with high ratings, but those numbers dropped when Designated Survivor veered to the political left, one of the reasons ABC canceled the show months ago.
While taking advantage of a trend in which online companies pick up canceled programs, it’s doubtful that the series can survive the deadly combination of liberal scripts and an obscure online presence. Perhaps Jack Bauer is still waiting in the wings after all.