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Why ‘Designated Survivor’ Chose a Pandemic Storyline for Season 3



Neal Baer is among the many few individuals on the earth who can record “licensed doctor” and “skilled showrunner” on his resume. With that background, it’s telling that Baer’s most up-to-date TV effort — steering the third season of Kiefer Sutherland drama “Designated Survivor” — revolved across the theme of a pandemic breaking out within the U.S.

The extraordinary world response to the coronavirus menace has appeared to carry viewership and social media visitors on the Leisure One sequence, which premiered its third (and closing) season on Netflix in June 2019, after two seasons on ABC.

Baer, who beforehand labored on “ER” and was showrunner/govt producer of “Regulation & Order: SVU” and “Beneath the Dome,”  knew that the specter of a bio-terror assault and the nation’s lack of preparedness can be meaty topics for a political drama sequence as a result of they’ve been a rising focus for real-life public well being specialists.

“I’m hoping that COVID-19 offers us with a drill,” Baer tells Selection. “Though it’s induced horrible calamity, it’s additionally making ready us for what could possibly be a lot worse. That was my thought in doing it in ‘Designated Survivor.’ “

Within the present, Sutherland performed a cupboard secretary, Tom Kirkman, who’s thrust into the Oval Workplace after a terrorist assault devastates the administration by which he serves.

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By season three, President Kirkman is working for re-election when a mysterious viral outbreak emerges that threatens to focus on individuals of colour for sterilization. That sinister focus fuels conspiracy theories about whether or not the origins of the virus had been politically motivated.

Baer met with specialists from Johns Hopkins College, Harvard and MIT in preparation for writing the season. The pandemic-related considerations he heard had been so pressing that determined to make it the main target of your complete season. The writing course of started in August 2018, whereas taking pictures ran from October 2018 by way of February 2019.

In “Designated Survivor,” Baer sought to focus on the hazard posed by cutting-edge applied sciences contain genetics and instruments that will wind up altering human DNA without end. The system recognized to geneticists as CRISPR has unimaginable potential to assist those that endure from illnesses akin to sickle cell anemia, however within the flawed palms there are considerations it may be the supply of bio-terror havoc.

“It guarantees main cures and it comes with the potential for calamity,” Baer says. “For little or no cash it will possibly create viruses and micro organism the likes of which we’ve by no means seen.”

In a commentary Baer penned for the winter 2020 version of the Johns Hopkins College Press medical journal Views in Biology and Medication, Baer described CRISPR as “an ingenious cut-and-paste system that houses in on a specific DNA gene sequence” focused for restore by way of re-sequencing and the manipulation of cells.

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Baer has pursued a variety of tasks within the months for the reason that curtain fell on “Designated Survivor.” He’s exec producer of the documentary “Welcome to Chechnya” that earned a particular jury award at this 12 months’s Sundance movie pageant and the documentary award on the Berlin Movie Competition. It’s set to premiere on HBO in June.

(Pictured prime: “Designated Survivor.” Pictured above: Neal Baer)

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