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Fall First Impressions: NBC’s “The Blacklist”

By on July 1, 2013
Pictured: James Spader as "Red" Raymond Reddington -- (Photo by: David Giesbrecht/NBC)

Pictured: James Spader as "Red" Raymond Reddington -- (Photo by: David Giesbrecht/NBC)

If you can believe the hype, The Blacklist is shaping up to be one of Fall’s most hotly anticipated dramas this year.

The series comes to NBC on Monday, September 23 at 10 p.m., and stars James Spader as Raymond “Red” Reddington, a criminal mastermind who has made it to the top of the FBI’s most wanted list, not only by evading capture for a very long time but by facilitating a collection of the world’s most serious terrorists and criminals.

As the pilot starts, Red inexplicably turns himself in, mysteriously offering to give up every serious criminal in his ‘Black List’ on one condition. He will only work with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). Of course the catch is that Keen is a newly minted agent who has yet to start her first day of work at the FBI. She has no idea who Reddington is, or why he wants to work with her, and she’s heavily preoccupied by events in her personal life – including the imminent adoption of a baby girl.

Why has Red turned on his fellow fugitives, and what is his fascination with the young and inexperienced Keen? Having screened the pilot this week, we can tell you that although the answers are not immediately forthcoming, the episode doesn’t suffer for it. The pilot does an admirable job at exploring and expanding on its basic premise, while intriguing us with some unexpected character developments (We won’t spoil you on that front) and confident storytelling.

Overall, you can expect a fast-paced, punchy and occasionally gritty thrill ride with excellent performances from both Boone and Spader. Spader in particular is charming and chilling in equal measure as an apparent sociopath who favors teaching his young protege to see ‘the bigger picture’ over feeling the cost of human suffering along the way. We’re not sure if it’s the chains and the isolated cell, but Spader is rocking a serious Hannibal Lector vibe that will no doubt be a talking point for TV critics this Fall.

From Jon Bokenkamp (The Call), John Eisendrath (Alias), John Davis (Predator), The Blacklist is set to air in the Network’s most coveted timeslot on Mondays following The Voice, indicating that this is surely the crown in the jewel of NBC’s Fall schedule.

The Blacklist is definitely a case of we can’t wait to see where this one goes.