Film and TV

Fall TV Pilot Review: The Blacklist

Title: The Blacklist

Network - Day - Time: NBC - Monday - 9 PM

Brief Plot Synopsis: Raymond Reddington (James Spader), one of America's most wanted, turns himself in to the FBI and offers to give up the scoundrels and rapscallions (actually, terrorists and criminal masterminds) he formerly aided as "The Concierge of Crime" (ugh). The catch? He'll only work with Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), a profiler on her first day of the job.

Is She His Daughter? She's His Daughter, Right? She's totes his daughter. Or maybe not.

New Idea or Retread? It's not so much that it's a retread, it's that it's *so many* retreads: Silence of the Lambs (FBI agent working with master criminal), White Collar (master criminal given posh digs in exchange for working for the good guys), every police procedural ever made. And it's bloody enough for current network standards, so that helps.

Additionally, the pilot was directed by Joe Carnahan (Smoking Aces, The Grey) and certainly boasted some of his signature touches. I'll leave it to you to decide whether that bodes well or ill for the rest of the show's run.

Who's The Audience? Folks who enjoyed Spader's scenery devouring on Boston Legal, people who appreciate leggy federal agents, and Americans eager to revel in the vast surveillance powers of our government.

Will You Watch It Again? I dunno. Spader is great, as always (if miles removed from Steff), and the premise -- Reddington has a looong list of dangerous and heretofore unknown criminals he's willing to give up -- seems self-sustaining and workable within the framework of some sinister Big Bad pulling the strings. At the same time, some of what we saw in the pilot was patently ridiculous: the bad guys kidnap the daughter of a general and hop off a bridge into waiting Zodiacs on the Potomac, to go ... where, exactly? A nice, leisurely, 50 mile cruise out to sea? Agent Keen is just getting on board with the FBI *and* wants to start a family?

And of course her husband is Not What He Seems. That subplot has the potential to be interesting, if only to further emphasize how terrible the FBI's background checks really are.

Odds Of Lasting the Season: 90 percent. Spader is solid, and NBC doesn't have many shows in this vein.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar