ABC’s new political drama Designated Survivor ended with a cliffhanger finale in December, with viewers left wondering what’s next for President Kirkman and his team. When the series didn’t return with other ABC shows following the holiday break, fans were left fearing that the network had axed the freshman show.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, ABC has confirmed that Designated Survivor will return a little later than their other shows on March 8. The network hasn’t confirmed exactly why the return of Designated Survivor has been pushed back. However, it’s likely because of another change in showrunner. Jon Harmon Feldman, who previously replaced Amy B. Harris as showrunner, has himself been replaced by Jeff Melvoin, best known for producing Army Wives, which finished filming in 2013.
Harmon Feldman’s departure from Designated Survivor is believed to have been an amicable split, with the producer set to be attached to multiple new projects on ABC heading into the pilot season. That being said, Melvoin will be the show’s third producer, despite having aired only 10 episodes. For ABC, Designated Survivor is clearly becoming a difficult show for the network to coordinate, especially considering production takes place in Toronto, whilst the show is written in Los Angeles and its creator David Guggenheim is based in New York.
ABC is likely to have rewarded Designated Survivor with a delayed return date because of such a drastic change in leadership at the top of the show, only halfway through its first season. Just eight days after the pilot’s premiere on September 21, 2016, ABC ordered a full 22 episodes for the first season. Whilst the network hasn’t yet confirmed whether or not it plans to renew Designated Survivor for a second season, ABC has invested a lot of time and resources into ensuring the show’s success.
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Designated Survivor sees Kiefer Sutherland, best known for 24, play politically unambitious Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Tom Kirkman. Whilst Kirkman is selected to be the government’s designated survivor, locked away in a safe location, an attack wipes out the president and the entire cabinet. The series follows Sutherland’s character has he finds himself thrown into the most important job on the planet, all whilst dealing with the aftermath of a devastating attack on the country.
Whilst Designated Survivor‘s premiere managed to attract over 17 million viewers, according to Cinema Blend, the show hasn’t been as big of a hit as ABC might have hoped. The show’s Live+ Same Day has been especially low in comparison to the viewing figures that ABC was originally looking to attract with a new show starring Kiefer Sutherland.
ABC President Channing Dungey addressed Designated Survivor’s falling viewing figures and it’s clear that she believes the long-fought election season is to blame for a lack of interest in the show, saying “Look, in terms of the ratings, the show has not performed quite as strongly in the Live/Same Day as we were hoping. I think some of that has to do with White House politics fatigue, because when you look at how we do over [seven days of DVR playback], we’re regularly going up in triple digits.”
The network plans to use the show’s remaining episodes to delve further into the personal relationships of the main characters. The success of those remaining episodes will largely determine the show’s future going forward. Netflix, who airs the series outside of the U.S. and Canada, is yet to confirm how Designated Survivor has performed on their platform, which could also go some way in determining whether or not the show returns for a second season.
Designated Survivor returns for Episode 11 on ABC on March 8.
[Featured Image by ABC]