Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Late to the Party


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  I don’t really like the Olympics.  First, I don’t care for them because I’m not really all that much of a sports fan, so just to watch hour after hour of various sporting events is never going to make my to-do list.  Perhaps more important, though, I don’t like the way they take over the entire network broadcast time slots.  Of course, you’ve got full-on coverage on NBC, which I could live with if I had other viewing options.  But the other networks don’t like to risk their ratings competing against all that bottled up patriotism, so they show nothing but reruns for a fortnight.  It’s truly annoying.  (I will say FOX may be trying to break that cycle.  Of their programming, I only watch Almost Human, but Brian watches The Following, and both had new episodes yesterday.  Good for them.)

Anyway, because I firmly believe there is only so long you can watch people find new ways to slide along ice, I opted for DVR viewing this weekend, and finally got around to watching a new show that’s been waiting for me since September: The Blacklist

In a nutshell, it was worth the wait.  Their commercials say it’s “the number one new drama”, and I can see why, because it’s, well, dramatic.  It’s got an interesting foundation, interesting weekly criminals, and an absolutely riveting main character.  I’ll admit, even though it caught my attention from it’s very earliest ads, and even though I immediately put the DVR on series record, I was just a little bit worried it was going to be all Hannibal and Clarice, and I really didn’t want that.  I’m glad to say that Raymond Reddington is not quite as creepy as Hannibal Lecter, though he seems to be just as dangerous.  He’s brought to life by James Spader, whom I’ve adored since his days on The Practice, which then morphed so beautifully into Boston Legal.  He was also my favorite character in Stargate, but it was really Alan Shore that endeared him to me. 

On the other hand, I’m not sure that Elizabeth Keen is quite as strong a character as Clarice Starling, but she’s gaining some legs.  Agent Keen is portrayed by Megan Boone, who’s done a few things, according to her IMDB page, but I don’t know her.  Like I said, I think her character is a bit weak, but getting stronger.  But I do really like her relationship with Reddington, and that’s critical, since it’s the very premise of the program.

Basically, the show goes like this:  Reddington has been on the FBI Most Wanted list for a couple of decades, ever since he suddenly stopped being an American hero and started being a traitor.  But one day, he walked into the Bureau headquarters and turned himself in.  He had information he was willing to share to help bring in another wanted fugitive, but he had a condition:  he would talk to one person and one person only.  Enter Agent Keen, running late for duty on her very first day of work as an FBI profiler.  No one, including Keen, knows why Reddington chose her, but she’s whisked away to the heavily guarded “black site” where he’s being held, and a partnership begins.  By the end of the hour, they’ve caught one terrorist and struck a deal to go after a whole lot more—as long as Keen stays in the picture.

As things roll along, you find out very quickly that not only did Reddington abandon his family—including a young daughter—to go off on his traitorous spree, but Keen lost her father as a young girl, in as yet unnamed circumstances, though we know he had a criminal past.  So is Red her dad, showing up now to help her make a good name in her new career?  Who knows.  That’s clearly the implication, but things are not always what they seem.  My first thought was that he was not old enough to be her father, but, if you can go by the actors’ ages, I suppose he actually is.  Still, I’m waiting to see how it all plays out.

There’s more intrigue, too, with a shady character named Fitch, who’s maybe a politician of some sort, or maybe just a power mogul.  Whatever he is, he’s played by Alan Alda, and seeing him on screen is always a plus.  I will admit, though, that shows often lose me when they get too mired in their own mythology and backstory, wanting everything to be shadowy and open to interpretation.  When you’re left guessing too long, it can get really annoying, so I hope they don’t go that way.

But, for right now, I am definitely hooked.  And I’m obviously not the only one, since NBC gave it a renewal after only a few months on the air.  It will be back after the Olympics conclude to finish out season one, and there are twenty-two more episodes planned for season two.  The show’s definitely got a lot of promise, and I’m ready to see how well it lives up to its potential.  I’m only sorry I waited four months to watch.