There are actors who can captivate you even if they’ve lost their hair or gained a few pounds. There are actors who have talent which transcends screenplay. I believe James Spader is one of those actors. (I mean, look at that face!!!)
The Blacklist follows Raymond Reddington (James Spader) who is a former government agent gone rogue. One day he decides to come back and help the government catch criminals from his list – criminals nobody knows exist. There is a problem with the plot, because for some reason he has a thing for a self-righteous Elizabeth Keen, a character which induces an immense amount of irritation.
The basis of the series is simple: each episode has a plot of its own, but there is a bigger picture which asks of us to be interested in why Reddington has a thing for Keen. Of course, we’re more interested in the next scene in which Spader will pop up, ever so marvelously.
Having watched five episodes, I can really say that this show has been saved by Spader. And I am glad, because if Spader was not in it, I would not have even considered watching The Blacklist. Even though The Blacklist is vaguely reminiscent of a whole range of series and movies, Spader’s character gives it a certain kick, necessary to jump-start and keep interest. I particularly like the fact that, despite all the deja vu, the screenwriters do not consider that the audience consists of a bunch of idiots.
The biggest problem of The Blacklist is Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), a character so familiar and so inexplicably self-righteous. I don’t mind characters with ideals and a messiah complex. I just don’t see any need to mould that character into an asshole who considers everyone else is beneath them because they don’t share their morality and (black-and-white) view of the world .
Then there’s Diego Klattenhoff (from Homeland) as Donald Ressler, a character who has a dark and brooding story it would seem, and is unreasonably suspicious of our dear Ms Keen. Diego is kind on the eyes, so as long as his prefect haircut and brooding demeanour continue, he can function as a resident eye-candy of The Blacklist. He’s at his best whilst keeping his mouth shut, looking pretty and/or beating the crap out of some bad-guy, working up a sweat.
On the whole, I think that James Spader is reason enough to watch The Blacklist, but even if you’re not a big fan, I think that the show is reasonably interesting and engaging. Spader’s character, regardless of your feelings for the actor, has been decently written and is immensely amusing. If you can look past Elizabeth Keen and her moralising, I think there’s a big chance you might enjoy the show.