Considering all the new television headed your way, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. Well, allow us to underwhelm you! Err, I mean, make you less whelmed? Take you more toward averagewhelmed? Whatever, what I mean is, whatever it takes to make things easier, that's what we aim to do with these of bite-sized advice columns for all the new shows of the fall season. Today we're talking The Blacklist—one of NBC's heavy hitters for fall—in another edition of Hey TV.com, Should I Watch Whatever Show You're Talking About?
Ahhhh, The Blacklist! Wait, what's The Blacklist?
It's an FBI drama... with a twist! Well, more of a slight bend. One of the country's most-wanted criminals, a man named Red Reddington, walks into FBI HQ and turns himself in without a fight! He offers to help the feds catch a bunch of other baddies—other most-wanted dudes who are all on his "blacklist"—but only if he gets to work exclusively with a sexy new FBI agent who coincidentally just started her first day on the job. Got all that? Don't worry, most of it is re-explained in the first four minutes of the pilot.
Who's in this, and who created it?
It's the return of James Spader to television! Spader plays the big bad guy, and Law & Order: Los Angeles' Megan Boone (who, btw, is one of our "unfamiliar faces to keep an eye on this fall") plays the attractive fresh-faced agent. Harry Lennix, Diego Klattenhoff, and Ryan Eggold also star. Jon Bokenkamp wrote and created the show, John Eisendrath (K-Ville) will run it, and it's worth noting that Joe Carnahan (Narc, The Grey) directed the pilot.
When does The Blacklist premiere?
The Blacklist starts on Monday, September 23 at 10pm, where it will follow The Voice. It will air opposite some tough competition—CBS's new drama Hostages and ABC's Castle—which should make for one of the more interesting battles of the early season.
What other shows are kind of like The Blacklist?
So far, it's something like a less gory The Following or a more procedural-y Silence of the Lambs, I guess.
What’s good about The Blacklist?
Spader loads this role with relish and scarfs it down. He embraces every single verbal jab Red throws, and he looks awfully comfortable doing it in the character's dapper wardrobe. The series seems to have a very solid sense of itself, even in the pilot. Similar to the way that Earl of My Name Is Earl had a list of mistakes he planned to make up for, Red has a list of people to catch; expect one bad guy per episode. The action is pretty satisfying, and there's a scale to the pilot that's pretty impressive. Carnahan sure knows how to direct, even if he can't use all of his talents for network television. But the main attraction here will be Spader and the question of his character's baffling motivations.
And what isn't so good about The Blacklist?
I mean... despite all the bells and whistles and awesome car crashes, it's still an FBI procedural. It's not going to revolutionize the genre or anything. And maybe I'm dumb, but some parts of the pilot didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, and the fast pace seemed designed to distract me so I wouldn't dwell on the plot holes. It's a really busy first hour—too busy, in fact—and a few elements (particularly the final reveal) should've been saved for Episode 2.
Give me a definitive answer: Should I watch it?
If you're into the genre and/or you're a big James Spader fan, then I'd say you should definitely proceed. If the sound of a procedural in a different outfit doesn't do it for you, don't bother—at least for now.
Let's see a trailer, please?
The Blacklist premieres Monday, September 23 at 10pm on NBC.