Series blacklists the competition, sets bar for crime shows

Crime shows are on the rise. The show The Blacklist is NBC’s series about a brilliant criminal mastermind who for mysterious reasons begins to help the FBI apprehend serious criminals, is one of the big hits in 2016

The Blacklist is both utterly shameless and, in a way, genuinely sophisticated. The main character, Raymond “Red” Reddington played by James Spader manipulates, kills, flatters, scares, flirts, and jokes to get what he wants and earn the trust and affection of a young FBI agent, Elizabeth Keen played by Megan Boone. Keen plays an intriguing role in the show and helps set up Reddington’s role as a criminal. In the early episodes, writers heavily hint that Keen is Reddington’s biological daughter. Every conversation they have had about why he insists on working with her is carefully constructed so the dialogues will fit and when the audience finds out he is her father.

Keen’s mysterious past is forced down the audience throats. The show repeats references to her troubled childhood, absent criminal dad, and a burn mark she likes to rub when faced with difficult situations. Her seemingly idyllic home life appears to consist of her husband, who turns out to be a spy working for her “father”, repeating the word “family” to her as if teaching her how to pronounce it.

The show’s creator Jon Bokenkamp wrote the first two episodes for The Blacklist and is credited as an executive producer for the series. He is also known for his writings of the film The Call in 2013. Spader has always been an interesting actor, and does well in twisted shows. The ex-government agent, Reddington, who disappeared off the grid years earlier and peddles classified information to terrorists around the world. One day he appears out of the blue and turns himself into the FBI in hopes of Keen being the agent working his case. As Spader absorbs the script and steals every scene, loving the power he has, more than the FBI thinks he has, the audience isn’t sure what his motives are.

The Blacklist is an intriguing show. The audience can’t take their eyes off of Spader, and the writers have thrown in a couple of other interesting twists. It’s likely that The Blacklist will at least approach the crime-show-of-the-week that doesn’t kill many viewers brain cells too much. The show suggests there are other things to keep viewers interested along the way. Beyond just sitting there eating popcorn and relaxing in the delicious way that Spader takes on this role.