Let’s be honest, NBC is in the middle of a rebuilding project that former president Ben Silverman left in shambles. Shows like The Cape, Knight Rider, Bionic Woman, and Whitney come to mind. Shows like The Blacklist is making me start trusting in the brand of NBC, in fact it’s the best new drama of the fall season.
Going into this, I had the level of excitement as I had for 24 and Person of Interest. However, Jon Bokenkamp was the writer of blunders such as the Halle Berry double disasters Perfect Stranger and this year’s The Call that has been on every critic’s worst film list (including mine) but it’s the help of Joe Carnahan who loves to create outlandish grit but with a sense of realism within his projects like Smokin’ Aces and The Grey that keeps me coming back for more.
Intrigue is what makes turns a drama into must-see-TV and if done right, it’s a hit. Meet Raymond “Red” Reddington, a government renegade who believes in mind over muscle philosophy who mysteriously turns himself in to the FBI and wishes to talk to one FBI agent, a rookie FBI profiler named Elizabeth Keen. A no-nonsense, intelligent brunette that has had a history of going off-the-books with her attitude.
Can you be trusted? Of course not (hahaha), I’m a criminal. – Red Reddington to Elizabeth Keen
However, it’s the cast that needs to deliver with this procedural concept. Enter the Emmy-winning James Spader who fits Reddington’s persona like a glove. He’s confident, egotistical and well-read and intelligent, but he’s a criminal as he cheerfully admits in a meeting with Keen. Keen is played by Megan Boone, obviously impressed NBC execs with her performance as Deputy D.A. Lauren Stanton on the short-lived Law & Order: LA. Boone fits the bill and shows that she’s not just another pretty face like another show (cough, Skye from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D), bringing intensity and independence to the character and playing a character that can match with Reddington’s intelligence. Solid work from Diego Klattenhoff as FBI agent Donald Ressler who is given plenty to do including getting the job done with hand to hand combat and Harry Lennix who brings a intense but compassionate solidarity to the Assistant Director of the FBIs’ Counterterrorism Division, Harold Cooper. Keep in mind, she remains on her toes not because she’s teamed up with a criminal, but with the unraveling of a mystery involving her husband, Tom (played by Ryan Eggold) which brings the question up to both, “Can we trust him?”
I’m not just another pretty face, ever been to Quantico?
What I appreciated about the show is how they are not giving away too much, too soon, or piling on sub-storylines like another show foolishly did (CBS’ Hostages). When you watch the pilot, your brain will be put to work because we don’t find out what the Blacklist is until the last 10 min. Once it’s revealed, the show has already planted enough edge-of-your-seat action and slows it down for solid character exchanges and tosses a cliffhanger that will leave the audience wanting more. It may be a terrorist-of-the-week kind of show but that’s what makes it work. This list makes the Top 10 FBI Most Wanted list look like child’s play so the stakes are high each week and the criminals are deemed dangerous whether through intelligence, insanity, or physical force.
I love being an intelligent badass, I made Alan Shore on Boston Legal iconic.
If the ratings aren’t deceiving me, the show is in the Top 20. Which is the first drama from NBC to crack that list since Law & Order closed its doors. It’s averaging 11-14 million viewers a week and with a huge DVR rating as well.
Like 24 and Person of Interest, The Blacklist has the intrigue, the balance of action and plot, a great supporting cast and an excellent cat-and-mouse chemistry with the leads including Spader’s scene-chewing performance that may be nominated for Emmy gold (like he hasn’t been there before). I can’t believe I’m saying this, but NBC is starting its way to rising out of the TV network cellar. Finally.