Cast: James Spader, Megan Boone, Ryan Eggold, Harry Lennix, Diego Klattenhoff, Parminder Nagra
Writer: Jon Bokencamp
Director: Joe Carnahan
Network: Airs on NBC, Mondays @ 10 p.m.
Original Telecast: Sept. 23, 2013

James Spader as Raymond Reddington in THE BLACKLIST | (c) 2013 NBC/ Patrick Ecclesine

James Spader as Raymond Reddington in THE BLACKLIST | (c) 2013 NBC/ Patrick Ecclesine

THE BLACKLIST’s premiere episode was surprisingly brutal. That’s a refreshing comment given all the milquetoast police dramas and detective shows that have come and gone over the years.

There is a lot of meat here. The premise alone is wildly entertaining – one of the world’s most sought after criminals gives himself up in order to aid the FBI in capturing other high value targets that he has been watching and collecting information about for the past 20 years. But add to this the fact that Raymond Reddington (James Spader) will only interact and give his valuable information to one person, new FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone).

On the surface, Keen appears to be an ordinary married woman that has worked her way through the bureau in order to reach a point where she can make a difference in combating terrorism in and outside of the country. But on further examination – with help from Reddington who knows a creepy amount of information about her – Keen has a troubled past where some abuse might have taken place and where she has had to find internal strength in order to get past some of the things that have impacted her life.

And while it appears her husband is a caring and loving individual, she finds under some loose boards what appears to be a man that is leading a double life with multiple passports for multiple countries, a host of disposable cash and a weapon. That bit of information is obviously going to be addressed at another time or will be a continuing plotline (previews to this season seem to point to Keen not bringing up this revelation to her husband at least initially).

The episode centered on Keen, the FBI and Reddington looking for a Bosnian terrorist that kidnapped a military general’s daughter out of revenge and was planning to use the little girl to detonate a chemical weapon at a zoo. This plot was more of a backdrop to setting the stage for the series by introducing us to Reddington and Keen, their relationship and Reddington’s motives for giving the helping the FBI with the Blacklist.

Spader is pretty good in this role. He fits the character perfectly in terms of being smarmy and untrustworthy while at the same time having some semblance of honor no matter how ambiguous it might be. Boone seems also good but it seems any number of actresses could be in this role, however, that might change in future episodes we’ll just have to see.

Overall, THE BLACKLIST seems like it will be a fun, different series and in the face of so many like-minded shows on network television, that’s a welcome thing. Hopefully in future episodes it won’t drop the ball and become formulaic (which could happen if it is a terrorist of the week scenario).

Related: Exclusive Interview with actor Harry Lennix on THE BLACKLIST


Related: Exclusive Interview with actor Harry Lennix on MR. SOPHISTICATION and MAN OF STEEL


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Article: TV Review: THE BLACKLIST – SEASON 1 – “Pilot” – Series Premiere

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  1. Blacklist sure got my attention!I loved the show.It was almost like being in a theatre and watching a movie.I can’t wait to see the next show.Hope it stays on a long time.Love James Spader in this role.

  2. The first episode was riveting but almost too much to take in at one time. A capture, an escape, a kidnapping, torture, and an attempted bombing sets the bar kind of high for episode 2.

    I agree that Spader was very good, but there’s an energy about his performances that makes roles like this perfect for him.

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you to NBC for coming up with a prime time show that runs circles around the other stations!! More kudos to NBC for getting the only actor on earth who could pull this role off so flawlessly. I have enjoyed watching James Spader ever since he was in the movie “Less Than Zero” and now every time when I see him on my own big screen he still captivates me just as much and has me glued to the seat waiting to hear his next line. This man should be working on the silver screen, but in a selfish way I am so very glad that he is not. He single handedly made prime time TV worth watching again! I’m sure he is a safe bet on getting a best actor award. Thanks again to NBC & James for proving that there are still some great actors out there and shows worth watching.


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