The Blacklist S1x01 “Pilot”

I write a review of the first episode of NBC’s brand new crime drama, The Blacklist, starring James Spader and Megan Boone. Spoilers Within.

THE BLACKLIST

2013 is definitely the year of watching new TV shows for me. My viewing range has expanded from shows that were pretty much Doctor Who and Sherlock to a list of around 26 in the course of this year – including shows as old as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but The Blacklist is probably the most recent addition to that list. And it could quite well end up being as  one of my favourite shows – certainly, based on this pilot episode The Blacklist is damn impressive – ranking right up there with the likes of Orphan Black, Sleepy Hollow, The Escape Artist and Peaky Blinders as my favourite new shows of 2013 and I can certainly see myself catching up on this show.

One of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives, Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) surrenders himself at the FBI HQ in Washington DC, claiming that he and the FBI’s interests in dispatching certain terrorists are aligned. However, the condition is that Reddington will only work with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), who’s just started her job as a FBI profiler. She’s also looking into the possibility of adoption – with her husband, Tom (Ryan Eggold). And what follows is probably one of the best pilot episodes of 2013 that I’ve seen – as the show moves from strength to strength delivering some awesome moments that help make it a show that I’m going to aim to catch up on as soon as I can – because this Pilot is a really impressive start.

The first thing that you should be aware of is that even though I’ve posted the trailer below, it’s essentially a synopsis of the first episode. That’s happened before with other TV shows, including the short-lived Zero Hour as one notable example – but The Blacklist does this and it’s quite annoying. It’s so obvious that it’s just a synopsis of the first episode that It’s one of the reasons why I held off watching it for longer than I would have done otherwise – I’ve seen what’s viewed as the best bits of the episode, so why should I bother tuning in? However, I’m glad I did – as despite the fact that this was a bit more predictable then it would have otherwise been, The Blacklist remains a fun, high-stakes thriller that should certainly be checked out if you have the time, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes in future episodes.

The best thing about The Blacklist though is James Spader. Playing Ultron in the upcoming sequel to Avengers Assemble, he plays a pretty impressive criminal and really steals the show. He gets the best moments and will no doubt be great to watch in future episodes – especially if his portrayal here is anything to go by. Megan Boone also proves to be more than capable as Elizabeth Keen, delivering a strong female protagonist that provides some nice chemistry with Spader’s Reddington. It’s certainly an interesting partnership that further strengthens the watchability of this show – providing some pretty damn entertaining 45-ish minutes.

There was one problem that I had with this episode it would have to be the fact that one of the mysteries presented could end up being a little too obvious to the viewer, and that’s the potential of Reddington being the father of Keen. I hope this isn’t the case as it would feel far too overwhelming and very predictable indeed – as so far it’s practically been screaming that Spader’s character is the father. However – this is something that I’ll keep an eye out for sure to watch out how it develops – with another interesting factor being the fact revealed at the end of the episode that Tom Keen isn’t all as normal as he appears – he’s got hidden secrets that have the potential to be part of something larger.

And yes, this isn’t exactly the most original drama either. There’s cliches galore, but whilst this lacks in originality,  it more than makes up for in entertainment. This is certainly one of the most fun new debuts that I’ve seen so far – pretty solid and engaging. There are a lot of fun scenes on display here and the episode itself is pretty solid with room for improvement as the series goes on.

Overall then, despite a few minor niggles, the pilot episode of The Blacklist is certainly a damn fine one as this show gets off to a killer start. It’s easy to see why people have been praising this so highly – it’s certainly a damn fine show. Count me in for more!

VERDICT: 4/5

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