TV Reviews

Did You Watch that Awful 'The Blacklist' Pilot Episode?

Best described as lazy, terrible and cheap

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.

blacklist-featTo 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.

blacklist-donovanSIDE 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.

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  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/navaneethks/ navaneethks

    Hey Brad, have you watched Person of Interest? That's a really good show!

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/RonOnealFresh/ Ron Oneal Fresh

    The series trailer looked 'cool' but the criminal getting caught on purpose thing is old and now a cliche. Along with the title cards of how 'critics' are raving about it. Kept me away from watching it. I can't think of any great show that has done that.

    I guess that's just what network TV have always done and can't do otherwise.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Adu/ Adu

    You know, I just didn't bother because it looked sloppy & cheap from the trailers.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/RonOnealFresh/ Ron Oneal Fresh

    Last time you talked about television you haven't seen Breaking Bad. It probably annoying hearing about it constantly, but I'm 98% sure the hype won't leave you disappointed.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/HelloKitty/ Hello Kitty

    What do you expect from a network tv show? If that wasn't enough to keep you away, the premier trailer should have.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

    I only heard of this show today when I was flicking through Deadline's coverage of new season debuts.

    The main new shows I'm waiting on coming over are Almost Human and Marvel's Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D (which actually starts Friday night in the UK, doing a really quick turnaround from the US Premiere).

  • Good Grief

    I was going to watch it On Demand this evening. Think I'll give it a miss now. I don't understand how shows like this and the insanely over-hyped "Person of Interest" get an audience. It's lazy, formulaic bullshit. Still, it had to be better than the finale of "Dexter." Oof.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/lalecture/ lalecture

    I like Spader in most of his roles. I didn't watch this but the fact that the pilot is a free download on iTunes is telling. Besides, most network tv sucks!

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mikey/ Mikey

    I watched a screener of this back in July and quite enjoyed it. Don't know if it's been changed since then or if it was just comparably better than The Michael J. Fox Show which I watched right before and really couldn't stand... I'll probably watch Blacklist again tonight to see if I stick by my original opinion.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Roger/ Roger Judd

    Interesting as buzz for this show has been really good. This is the first truly negative review I've seen.

  • kane kruger

    I had absolutely no interest in it watched Monday Night Raw!!!!!!!

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Roger/ Roger Judd

      YES! YES! YES!

  • BradyD

    I DVRed it because Spader held my interest. I'll only watch it now just because of how bad you said it was.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ryguy815/ Ryguy815

    I saw some of it last night and will probably watch the rest sometime this week becuase I actually liked what I saw.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

    "Spader factor that blinded us"

    Nope. I thought it was awful ever since I saw that first trailer. It looked like one of the most boring shows I could ever imagine. And I know everyone has different taste, but I personally didn't understand how anyone could have enjoyed that trailer.

    I thought Spader made the trailer even worse than it could have been. Put Hugh Laurie in the same role, and it would have been at least mediocre.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Torryz/ Torryz

    I agree with Brad but I do like Spader and I thought he was good. I'm gonna watch next week and if it is the same as the pilot I'll probably give up on it.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/lawhs89/ lawhs89

    It's was fine. You can only be allowed to do so much on network TV. A 3.8 in the adult demo for NBC is fantastic (with "The Voice" lead in) so it might be on awhile.

  • jessied44

    I watched it because of Spader. First half was sort of sloppy but it was sort of interesting by the end. I'll give it another couple of looks to see if it tightens and if the characters become a little more interesting.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Corbin/ Corbin

    I saw it last night, and I liked it. Spader was great.

  • http://lifein70mm.wordpress.com ViralVora

    I got blinded by the Spader factor too- it was just plain lazy and the reliance on coincidences was beyond annoying. this looked like such a cheaply made pilot and considering that they are looking to get backers based on this it can only go down hill from here ! i will stick with it for maybe one more week for spader and the lead actress reminds me a little bit of rose byrne ( who i love) - but otherwise I wouldnt be upset if it is canceled.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Roger/ Roger Judd

    Wow am I the only one who thought this was a great first episode? What was so wrong with this? It had some nice twists, it was intense until the end and sets up the series for what we can expect.

    I think you guys are in the minority here, the reviews have been fairly positive.

    Spader was fantastic.

  • Nid Collins

    Full season. It will still get canceled. It is the worst new show on TV, followed by Agents Of Shield. Watch Person Of Interest instead.

  • Micha

    What makes no sense to me in the pilot is that by going to get the little girl, how could the Ukranians have elaborated a full plan of kidnapping without knowing that the FBI would go and get her???

  • justchaz

    Brad, your thoughts mirror mine so exactly that I think I could comfortably follow your discerning verdict when looking for shows to watch. Good heavens, how terrible was that pilot? I barely made it back to the cage scene, post abduction, before I had to shut it down from nausea. You listed all the incredulous head scratching offerings above just as they piled up to make my nose wrinkle into a permanent ghastly look. This writer is ridiculously unbelievable. He butchered every neuron in my head that tried to seek some coherence with the logic I have cultivated.