The Black List TV Series

The Blacklist TV Series

The Blacklist TV Series

The concierge of crime is coming this way so look out!

One of my favorite films of all time is The Silence of the Lambs.  Anthony Hopkins is fantastic as Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lector.  He steals every scene he’s in and even when he isn’t there, you are thinking about him because of his reputation.  One of the coolest things about the movie is that Lector is being used by the good guys to track down another bad guy.  Lector is a killer, a rabid, sociopathic killer that has finally been captured and put away.

So because of his vast knowledge of psychopaths and their modus operandi, Lector is employed by the FBI in order to help them solve the Buffalo Bill case, where a madman has been kidnapping girls, skinning them and then dumping their bodies.  I have to thin the creators of The Blacklist had at least seen this film before coming up with the plot of this new show.

In The Blacklist, James Spader stars as Raymond “Red” Reddington, the self professed Concierge of Crime and America’s Most Wanted criminal.  For some unknown reason he surrenders at the FBI headquarters and tells them they both have a vested interested in getting certain criminals off the street and this will presumably help him as well in his life.

He tells them these particular crime bosses, part of The Blacklist, are very dangerous people that they know nothing about and only he can help the FBI track them down and put them away behind bars.  One catch, though, is that Red will only work one on one with a particular FBI profiler, a rookie named Elizabeth Keen and soon she and the Concierge of Crime begin their manhunt for the scum of the earth.

Secrets abound on this show.  Why the interest in Keen, a rookie with little experience in tracking down criminals?  Why the sudden desire to turn himself in and do this, thus helping the people who are trying to capture him?  It is a very interesting premise and the show, because there are only ten episodes for the first season, does not have time to waste on trivialities.   The pacing is quick, the writing sharp, and the acting topnotch.  They have done a very good job on setting things up and it will be exciting to watch how things develop in later seasons.

There is a lot of potential here, as The Blacklist itself is long and distinguished.  It is really a show built for longevity and in this day and age where shows are built for initial success and sure fire ratings, that is a welcome relief.  There is a solid aspect to how this show is set up, in that there is some mystery left over from the initial premise and the viewer can look forward to what might come in store in the future.

No show is guaranteed to have a season beyond the first and it is nice to see them prepping things for down the line, if and when it happens.  I also like that James Spader is the only really well known member of the cast.  You can watch it and really invest in the characters and who they are on screen, rather than thinking, “oh yeah, that’s so and so from wherever.”  Each character is that character, rather than an uber famous person playing a character on screen.

The characters are very interesting and well written, each with their own skills and agendas.  Well drawn, distinctive characters are important for any show, but when you only have ten episodes with which to tell a coherent story, you better have even better characters. 

It starts with Spader as the main lead, the “bad guy” but is he really that bad?  I mean, doesn’t it help all of humanity if he gets the FBI to lock these even worse people up behind bars?  Or, is it some kind of insidious ploy on his part?  A criminal isn’t exactly the most trustworthy person in the world and he is about as big a criminal as there is.  You know he has some hidden agenda, just waiting to be revealed and this is part of what keeps you glued to the screen, coming back week after week.

The cadre of FBI is interesting as well, starting with his handler, the rookie Elizabeth Keen.  Special Agent Keen has no idea why he chose her to work with but she knows it has something to do with her missing father.  That is enough for anyone to let bygones be bygones and allows her to work with him, against her better judgment.

Everyone has secrets on this show, including Keen’s husband Ryan Eggold, who appears to be involved with not only a murder but an entire group of terrorists.  Egad, what has she gotten herself involved with here?!  She works with a criminal and may be married to one.

There are also other FBI people, including Special Agent Ressler, a stickler for the rules and someone who is understandably wary of Reddington but acknowledges the man has his uses.  Another FBI Agent, Harold Cooper, is a higher up and the Assistant Director in charge of the FBI Counterterrorism Division.  He probably knows Red better than any of them and is willing to help because this could lead to more information about the man.

There are surprising twists and turns with this show, it keeps you guessing and adds layers to each character as it goes on.  It seems like an unusual show for a prime time network like NBC to produce.  They are likely to go with this particular format, only ten episodes, a somewhat unproven cast (let’s be honest, Spader is not exactly an A-lister) and a darker, more crime riddled plot.

CBS is usually the network where crime procedurals or cop shows these day happen so it is nice to see someone else take a solid stab at it.

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