Did you watch last night’s pilot episode of “The Blacklist“? Did you like it? Personally I found it to be a sloppy, cheaply made mess and was astonished to learn Joe Carnahan (Narc, The Grey) not only produced it, but directed it on what I can only assume was a shoestring budget based on how plastic and low-rent each set piece and location felt.
To begin, what was with the plastic box James Spader‘s Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington was being kept in and what was with the 30-second opening of the box? Watch the clip above and just as the extra walks across the screen around the 20-second mark as the box begins sliding just a bit quicker as if someone on the production was yelling, “Move faster! This is taking forever!”
Reddington had just surrendered (to an army of men pointing guns and rifles for some reason) and while he has traded secrets with the enemy, to my knowledge he has never actually killed anyone so why he is considered such a threat once captured is beyond me. Yet, put him in a large plastic box, turn on the flashing lights and truck reverse beeping and you have your big reveal. But later in the show, leave him alone in a hospital bed so he can escape, because that’s good writing.
Based on what we’ve seen, I can only imagine Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) is Reddington’s daughter, her husband is working with Reddington or a terrorist himself (it doesn’t really matter) and every single episode is going to unravel some bullshit mystery that will likely surprise us in the end because it’s so dumb. In fact, I imagine the writers are laughing right now because Elizabeth probably won’t end up being Reddington’s daughter, but perhaps his granddaughter or maybe they aren’t related at all and that’s the big reveal. Whoopty-woo.
Additionally, is it so hard to write for women that we have to make them look stupid from the very beginning? Keen wakes up late for her first day as an FBI profiler and (after running out of bed in her panties, because, obviously) yet, all while saying how late she is, takes the time to toast bread and joke around with her husband? Then, when she begins working with Reddington, he needs to teach her how to do her job? Not only that she wonders how this guy, who apparently knows a little something about everything, knows a few personal details about her? Did she actually receive any training?
Even better, FBI Assistant Director Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) is rightfully wondering why Reddington specifically requested Keen, especially since it is her first day on the job, which throws up a lot of red flags. He questions her and in an obvious attempt to give us some background on her character, asks her to “profile herself”, after which I’m not sure we, or he, knows her any better. Yet, it makes sense he would let her question him, but I was astonished they would allow her to not only have a cell phone, but allow her to run out of the room after initially talking to him and get on that cell phone privately and remain on it, telling her husband how she is working on some classified case and won’t be able to make their adoption appointment. Yes, they are adopting. Ain’t that sweet?
Then there’s the matter of the Ukrainian bomb expert whose expertise seems to be guessing which wires to cut and then just running off with a chemical weapon. Oh, and how about the terrorist we all thought was dead that ends up being shot by an agent (Diego Klattenhoff) and falling off of the roof of a high rise, presumably splattering all over the street.
SIDE NOTE: Does anyone else think the character played by Klattenhoff should have been played by Tate Donovan. As I watched (and laughed) at this pilot I just kept calling him Tate Donovan. In fact, maybe Tate Donovan should have played him as Tate Donovan making a career change. That would have made just about as much sense as the rest of this show.
The pilot was written by Jon Bokenkamp who most recently penned the lackluster Halle Berry thriller The Call and before that the Ethan Hawke and Angelina Jolie thriller Taking Lives and even came up with the story for the awful Perfect Stranger, which also starred Berry alongside Bruce Willis. The signs were there that this would be bad, but I think it was the Spader factor that blinded us, it was perfect casting and a solid concept, but if the next episode is anything like this first one you can count me out of this show for good.
If you didn’t see the pilot episode you can watch the four minute trailer, which actually recaps the entire episode and is a better use of your time, directly below, or watch the entire episode below that.