TV Review - The Blacklist

James Spader clearly impressed the powers-that-be at the peacock network during his stint on The Office as Robert California that they decided to give him his own series. His performance moves back toward his role on Boston Legal where he's again the smartest guy in the room. In that regard, his character here of Raymond Reddington is not that much removed from the myriad of TV series from Elementary, The Mentalist, Castle or Law & Order: Criminal Intent that's all about a male lead who is always and consistently the smartest guy in the room who figures everything out, who is always one step ahead of everyone else and always catches the bad guy. It's become so formulaic and hackneyed at this point.

What perhaps sets this series apart from the aforementioned shows is the fact that Reddington or Red isn't just catching bad guys, he's a bad guy himself. Unlike Dexter, everyone knows it. He's not a serial killer like in the Showtime series or Hannibal, despite similar iconography used here. Red is instead a traitor to the United States, having sold weapons to the enemy, to terrorists.

His doing so made him aware and knowledgeable to a wealth of terrorists. Therefore, after being on the lamb for years, he walks into the FBI and turns himself in like Kevin Spacey-style in Seven, and demands to use his awareness and knowledge to help catch that wealth of terrorists.

Through clever but still ridiculous maneuvering, Red is able to get the FBI, as represented in authority by Harry Lennix, to agree to let him work with them. He even gets a luxury hotel suite on the government's dime. His only major condition is that a rookie FBI profiler named Elizabeth Keen or Lizzie, played by Megan Boone, be his partner and in fact the only one to whom he speaks.

Lizzie has a husband. His name is Tom. The two are planning an adoption. Somehow, Red knows this as well as many other details about her life. She's curious as to how and why her. When she goes to meet Red, it's in a moveable glass cage. With the sexy Diego Klattenhoff running around as a fellow if skeptical FBI agent, this show feels like Homeland meets The Silence of the Lambs.

Created by Jon Bokenkamp and directed by Joe Carnahan, the pilot episode is actually very good. Some of the twists and turns are very predictable, but there were some surprises and the action set pieces are very well done. It seems as if the show was shot on the actual streets of Washington, DC. If so, the city as a location was well used, even a crazy use of the city's Newseum. Subsequent episodes don't inspire much confidence.

Much like My Name Is Earl and Arrow, the man who has a list of names he's going to check off isn't a very sustainable premise. I'm curious to see where it goes though.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Mondays at 10PM on NBC.


Popular Posts