The Blacklist Returns

Has it really been a month since we last watched James Spader’s Red Reddington pump those shots into Diane Fowler? Yes, time flies when you have True Detective, House of Cards, and the 2014 Winter Olympics on your television as more than intriguing and definitely capable fare to watch.

HOC has run dry for me. Not that it is or was arid as a TV show – merely that I’ve watched every episode, exhausting the mother lode. True Detective has been parceled out, an episode a week, with just two episodes remaining. We still aren’t sure who killed Dora Lang, but we all have expectations of a resolution of all the crimes and misdemeanors previously committed.

Finally, the splendors of Sochi and environs are history which means that it’s high time for The Blacklist.

Tonight, you're not a cop...

Tonight, you’re not a cop…

Yes, I watched The Blacklist, and I hate to say it. But I wasn’t impressed, rather I was depressed. The Blacklist has become Mission Impossible, only with Spader in the tux instead of Tom Cruise. Early on we learned that the key part of the episode would be set in the Syrian Consulate, in short the equivalent of being in a foreign country, with Harry Lennix as Harold Cooper intoning the words that MI used to attribute to the Secretary. Instead of disavowing, Cooper said, You’ll be on foreign soil. We won’t be able to help you.

... you're a criminal

… you’re a criminal

After the heist, Lizzie was left in the deep end of the pool, requiring a save by Red. Then Spader/Reddington arranged a fake kidnapping, a taser snatch and grab, in broad daylight, on a NY city sidewalk, followed by  the incarceration of himself and the target Madeline Pratt played by Jennifer Ehle.

As they recovered from the tasering, supposedly in a lock-up somewhere, in adjoining cells, with a clear window of opportunity as well as being a literal window that they could communicate through. I also thought that suspects, victims, and those about to be interrogated were always kept apart. But hey, that’s just me. Anyway, given the opportunity, Red spun a tale that had Pratt all aquiver. My reaction was to nearly nod off. Yup, it was numbing. And boring too.

Any way Pratt/Ehle couldn’t stand the thought of Reddington being further tortured, so she willingly told the interrogators all that they wanted to know and needed to hear. She no sooner had handed over the info, when she found out that the whole thing was an Mission Impossible-like charade arranged by Reddington himself. Curses – foiled again.

Some time apart might be the best thing for us

Some time apart might be the best thing for us

As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, the effigy was a standard MacGuffin, Lizzie Keen’s husband disappointed her twice in this episode.

Diego Klattenhoff was as wooden as ever, and out of nowhere, Lizzie became an adept pickpocket. Will wonders never cease?

Agent Donald Woody Ressler takes flight

Agent Donald Woody Ressler takes flight

Then there was the full daylight shootout with the Russian buyers of the Effigy’s secrets. Ressler, once again was called on to chase down a fleeing perp. Am I wrong, but wasn’t that the worst staged TV fight you’ve ever seen?

Oh yes, one more thing. With Diane Fowler’s remains not even discovered yet, a new face joined the fray. An agent from the DC Field Office showed up to tell Cooper to shut down any investigation of looking for Fowler, and that he’d have to turn over all files.

Harold Cooper with Agent Meera Malik once known as The Mole but apparently now is back in good graces

The DC Field Office? Are they kidding? To his credit, Cooper looked as if he had no faith in this agent. I mean really, shouldn’t something like that come from HQ, if not the FBI Director himself? I guess that means that we shall soon see more of Alan Alda.

To me, the month off, heightened my expectations that a very good show would return. Sadly, these expectations were not met. This was easily an episode that failed to ignite, instead it was simply bad television.

5 thoughts on “The Blacklist Returns

  1. I wonder if The Blacklist episode felt as tired for younger folks who may never have seen the original Mission Impossible show. As we age, we often forget that the audience is continually refreshed with viewers who are less likely to have “been there, done that .” That said, Blacklist is no longer living up to the premise that made it a hit. As the storylines turn more predictable, Reddington’s overconfidence is grating. And the rest of the cast continues to be underused. This falling off in quality is mirrored in the similar-toned CBS hit, Person of Interest. It’s remarkable that nowadays a network series becomes a hit or a miss on the basis of only the pilot and a couple of early episodes. And so, we feel cheated when the quality, inevitably, goes south. More reason people are turning increasingly to mini-season shows on HBO, AMC, and Netflix.

    • I was referring to the Tom Cruise Mission Impossible films. “The Secretary will disavow” was indeed a throwback to the historical TV show – but my intention/comparison was the film series – and with a major event at the Syrian Consulate as the episode’s main event. was really a lift from the first film with Cruise and was set in Prague.

      That said – your reference to going south/falling off in quality for this show as well as Person Of Interest is spot on. Particularly the way Liz Keane’s husband is shown on a revolving basis of being good then bad, good then bad.. And Red’s over confidence is indeed grating.

      I wonder when the broadcast networks will catch on that longer seasons is not better.

      In Japan, TV is king, and the norm is 8 to 12 episodes. A 15 episode series or a 22 episode series just doesn’t happen.

      I think the broadcast TV model for series depends on ratings and commentaries to provide enough data to enable tweaks and changes. Whereas the Netflix model means they deliver a complete season upfront.

      And that means, the quality shall be much higher, or is expected to be much higher simply because changes cannot be made.

      Then we have the True Detective model – one writer and one director. For example Netflix House of Cards had different directors.

      I for one hope to see shorter series going forward across the board on both Broadcast and subscription mediums.

  2. I think ratings for broadcast network programs should be reevaluated every three months. If a show does poorly for two consecutive quarters, it should be yanked. This would force the networks to create shorter series or maintain the quality for traditional multi-episode shows. And it would also enable promising shows to last long enough to build an audience. Dropping a new show after 1-3 episodes is just as bad as running it too long to maintain freshness and quality. I think there’s a sweet spot somewhere between six and twelve episodes — and if the ratings remain strong, the show returns the following year.

  3. When it first began, I was quite excited to see The Blacklist. It felt like the perfect show to cure my post-Burn Notice blues. However, as the show has progressed, it has become clear the overall story arc is being made up as they go along, rather than having a clear plan. Worse, they set up Tom to be a villain, only to yank him back, then to reveal that he’s the villian. It’s hackney at best.

    At this point, the only reason I still find myself even remotely interested in The Blacklist is thanks to James Spader. There isn’t a scene he can’t chew through to entertain the audience. It’s a shame that a show with a lot of promise has fallen so quickly to the ranks of being almost a chore to watch.

    • Thanks Skye for the comments.

      I am thinking after last night’s show (March 3rd) that The Blacklist continues to sink. Diane Wiest, and before her Jane Alexander, and before her Isabella Rossellini – aren’t there any younger women.

      Yes Rachel Brosnahan is now in play along with Reed Birney – both of whom were in House of Cards. So she;s in play and now we are told that Tom is really a villain in husband’s clothing. Maybe they will switch that again.

      I’m also tired of Ressler being utilized in a physical sense. Lizzie is less interesting now than ever before.

      While I agree that Spader’s Reddington is the mint that refreshes whenever he is on screen – is he never wrong.

      And true to form – NBC jiggles the schedule again. Maybe they thought we needed a break from all the tension and stress of watching a show like The Blacklist. Hah.

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