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The Blacklist is on my blacklist

Updated on March 24, 2014
James Spader as Raymond Reddington
James Spader as Raymond Reddington | Source

“It's called 'The Blacklist'. That sounds exciting.” –Raymond Reddington

So I thought. And when my brothers pitched the show to me, and showed me the trailer, I agreed. The premise was interesting, the casting of James Spader was intriguing, and the pilot, I have to say, was indeed exciting. Fifteen episodes later, I find myself with almost no desire to continue down this list. But what drove me from A to Z?

Raymond Reddington (Spader) surrenders
Raymond Reddington (Spader) surrenders | Source

The Blacklist revolves around Raymond Reddington (Spader), a cunning, world-hopping criminal who happens to be one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives. When Reddington voluntarily surrenders to the FBI, he offers them a chance to cooperate by giving up the names he has compiled on a list of worldwide criminals, terrorists, assassins, and whatnot; the Blacklist. But as a requirement, Reddington asks for the involvement of rookie FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) in exchange for his cooperation.

So, as each episode focuses on the manhunt of a particular subject on the list, the show begins to build its web of intrigue. What is the connection between Reddington and Elizabeth? How will the bond they develop affect both? Is Elizabeth’s husband who he says he is? What are Reddington’s real motives? What is going on in the past of Agent Donald Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff), and so on and on.

The Blacklist main cast (Harry Lennix, Diego Klattenhoff, Megan Boone)
The Blacklist main cast (Harry Lennix, Diego Klattenhoff, Megan Boone) | Source

The thing is that, after a handful of solid episodes, the show starts meandering. Episodes begin to feel repetitive and tedious, and characters become either annoying or uninteresting. It doesn’t help that most of the performances are pretty bad, or that most of the events are ultimately so implausible or idiotic that they challenge or surpass the worse moments from 24. After 14 episodes, the show feels as useless and futile as the lead characters following Reddington’s lead. Going in circles.

The only saving grace in the show is James Spader’s performance as the enigmatic Reddington. His scenery chewing is often delicious to watch, his delivery of lines so wickedly disgusting, as he waltzes around like a peacock, dropping names of criminals he has worked with, jobs he has done, countries he has visited, while flipping his tongue around his mouth. I don’t know how much of Reddington’s persona comes from Spader, but he seems to be the only one to understand how to do things in the show.

Elizabeth (Boone) and Reddington (Spader)
Elizabeth (Boone) and Reddington (Spader) | Source

Unfortunately, he’s surrounded by mediocrity. Most notably, in lead actress Megan Boone (Elizabeth Keen). Boone's performance leaves a lot to be desired, and her character goes back and forth from bland to annoying, which makes me care less about what happens to her or how is she connected to Red, or whatever. Plus when characters suck, one becomes more susceptible to nitpicking what surrounds them. For example, the fact that this supposed rookie profiler behaves like the most bad-ass field agent of the agency makes no sense at all.

As for the other characters, the script tries to give some interesting layers to Agent Ressler, but Klattenhoff’s performance is also weak and unable to fully convey them. Elizabeth’s husband, Tom (Ryan Eggold), had some good moments, but seems to have fallen more on soap opera grounds than in a thriller. Finally, Elizabeth’s boss, Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) has the charisma of a brick. Probably the worst performance from the lot.

Tom (Ryan Eggold) and Liz
Tom (Ryan Eggold) and Liz | Source

I won’t deny the show had its moments, aside of Spader’s performance. Some of the criminals have been creative and creepy enough, and the episode with Elizabeth’s father (played by William Sadler) had some powerful and intriguing moments that barely instilled some life into the already deflating show. But then it got back to the same stuff. These moments seem to be so few and apart that it’s not enough to hold my interest.

As the show approaches the end of its first season, I’ve decided to stop counting and keep myself on the sidelines, thus making this show another entry on the short list of shows I've given up on. I might or might not return to it, just like I might or might not tune again when Season 2 starts. But as of now, I must respectfully decline what Raymond Reddington is offering. Grade: C

The Blacklist Official Trailer


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    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 2 years ago from Puerto Rico

      LOL, sorry to hear you got caught up in it. Fortunately, you're still in time to jump ship. I don't regret it at all. Thanks for the comments!

    • profile image

      NFS 2 years ago

      if the writers are going to repeat the first appearance of Spader with a stupid sarcastic I'm here to help scene every episode, can they at least have him call for nothing once or twice towards the end, that way in the next episode it'll at least make sense when he says he's going to be useful. How are 3 of 4 main characters not convinced he's in the show!?!?! That's it Spader, make the most out of that I can help you tone but throw in a sarcastic comment so you force a meeting like a pathetic ex-husband. Don't forget to hold back, again, in 2 more minutes for the "what's in it for me" demand. God forbid the other characters act like they've been around for the previous 6 episodes, or even watched 2 days in the valley.

    • profile image

      NFS 2 years ago

      Found this after googling "Backlist Repetitive". Also feeling a bit let down here, but also by Spader. I think he's portraying his character extremely well, but whoever the hell wrote his character seems to have written him like the annoying guy who talks too much on a long plane ride. Could use a villain\genius\anti-hero wth you want to call him with either a good sense of humor (not just, Oh I've been to New Orleans, bah ha ha, what would you like to know?). For supposing to be so intelligent, his whit is half interrupting people to save time, the other half is saying something off-handed and irrelevant... Anyone else feel like no one is listening who says he's doing great? Sure he's striking, but listen, they've written him into about 5 different kinds of sentences, like the consistent babble of doubt, word play, and total lack of urgency learned at the FBI academy? (unless it's the boss arguing with the main character, but don't worry, 3 seconds later, you're right, I'm wrong, but be safe my star!). The only dialogue that doesn't seem straight out of a cookie tin labeled cliché, sarcasm, and filler is the relationship struggle banter. Somebody, please write a dialogue where I can't pause it and play a role with 80% accuracy. (not more random sarcasm, maybe something that adds to the plot and depth and realism of the character, before you dress David Spader in a Playboy robe!). On to episode 7 oh look, a friendly actor from an American classic dress in a nuanced 1930s fashion that says trust worthy talking to a surprisingly relatable youth. He kills her somehow, bomb? and there are 3 "ha"s in the 2 sentences that explains his motivation followed by a logical breakdown as complicated as first you pooped, then you wiped, then you flushed, washed your hands, and that's how this smell of soap is on my husbands hand, not his non-lover assassin!

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      moonlake, like I've said, Lizzy's character and performance are really the biggest drawback for me. I just find myself either not caring about her, or just annoyed. The fact that she can't act just worsens things. Thanks for your comment!

      IslandBites, you obviously are harsher with the show than me, hehehe. I would probably say the grade it's between a C or a C- but I still gotta give something for Spader's performance and whatever few solid moments have been in the show.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      So far we are still watching. My husband loves this show and we are very interested in Lizzy's husband and what's up with him. I get a little disgusted with a woman that has no time for husband and family but I guess that is her job.

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Great review! I agree with everything you said, except the grade. It's a D imo.

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      I'm glad you agree, and thanks for the comment!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      OH, Theif12! Good name... for you have stolen my heart .....and rescued my soul. I was so disappointed I ceased my viewing. As for this show....IMHO, the hype goes way too far.....the actual story/acting/excitement.....not nearly far enough.

      Thank you. I am comforted and not feeling alone. UP+++ Tweeted.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      The Following had me hooked. As you say, flawed but riveting characters.

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Sam, like I said, I might continue to watch later on. But right now, I'm not very interested and I'm more invested in other shows. I didn't remember those facts you brought up about Lizzie, but still, that doesn't make it more interesting or less annoying to me. We'll see. Thanks for the comment!

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Jodah, I can get behind a show with flaws like the ones The Blacklist has, if I could get behind the characters. For example, The Following is flawed like hell, and has a lot of silly moments; but the fact that the characters are fun to watch keeps me checking up every week. It's a shame this show couldn't hold my interest any longer.

      I haven't seen Revenge, but I've heard other people complaining about what you say. I did saw all of Lost, but that final season was a waste of time.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment!

    • profile image

      Sam 4 years ago

      I agree with a lot of what you said, but Spader is so darn interesting to watch that I will continue to watch the show. The other reason I will continue to watch is for those unexpected episodes that are just great. I thought both Anslo Garrick episodes, and the episode that followed them were really awesome. Since Tom has now been outed to the audience as evil I suspect at least one more great episode will show up.

      When it comes to Lizzie they really could off her, I would never miss her in the show. In fairness, the character does have at least a modicum of continuity due to some dialog from the pilot episode. When she was profiling herself she mentioned that her previous FBI colleagues in NY called her a bitch. Except for her badass moments we have not really seen this in her character. The other thing is she had been an FBI agent for four or five years prior to her becoming a profiler. As far as the actress goes...kill off the character or get someone else to play her.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Good hub thief12. The Blacklist got so much hype before it came to air, and the fact that James Spader was the main actor, convinced me it would be worth watching. However I agree with everything you say. I watched the first four episodes, but to me I couldn't get into it each epsode seemed similar and not really going anywhere. I admit Spader is good, but any series that drags on too long without coming up with new stuff loses me quickly. The same has happened with "Revenge", which I enjoyed at first but am now too bored with to watch. "lost" was another show that couldn't hold my attention past the first series. Voted up.