ⓘ The Blacklist (TV series)
The Blacklist is an American crime thriller television series that premiered on NBC on September 23, 2013. The show follows Raymond "Red" Reddington, a former U.S. Navy officer turned high-profile criminal, who voluntarily surrenders to the FBI after eluding capture for decades. He tells the FBI that he has a list of the most dangerous criminals in the world that he has compiled over the years and is willing to inform on their operations in exchange for immunity from prosecution. However, he insists on working exclusively with a rookie FBI profiler by the name of Elizabeth Keen.
The series also stars Diego Klattenhoff, Ryan Eggold and Harry Lennix. The pilot episode was written by Jon Bokenkamp and directed by Joe Carnahan. Executive producers for the series include Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath and John Davis for Sony Pictures Television, Universal Television and Davis Entertainment.
Each season has received positive reviews, with many critics praising Spaders performance in particular. On March 11, 2019, NBC renewed the series for a seventh season, which premiered on October 4, 2019. On February 20, 2020, NBC renewed the series for an eighth season.
Raymond "Red" Reddington, a former US Naval Intelligence officer who had disappeared twenty years earlier to become one of the FBIs Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, surrenders himself to FBI Assistant Director Harold Cooper at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. Taken to an FBI "black site", Reddington claims he wishes to help the FBI track down and apprehend the criminals and terrorists he spent the last twenty years associating with; individuals that are so dangerous and devious that the United States government is unaware of their very existence.
He offers Cooper his knowledge and assistance on two conditions: immunity from prosecution, and that he wants to work exclusively with Elizabeth Keen, a rookie profiler newly assigned to Cooper. Keen and Cooper are suspicious of Reddingtons interest in her, but he will only say that she is "very special". After Cooper tests Reddingtons offer in locating and killing a terrorist in the first episode, Reddington reveals that this man was only the first on his "blacklist" of global criminals, which he has compiled over his criminal career, and states that he and the FBI have a mutual interest in eliminating them. The mysteries of Reddingtons and Lizs lives, and his interest in her, are gradually revealed as the series progresses. Each episode features one of the global criminals, and Reddington assisting the team tracking and apprehending them. The rank and name or alias of the featured criminal on the list is displayed at the start of every episode, with a few exceptions.
2. Cast and characters
- Amir Arison as Aram Mojtabai: A cyber expert with the FBI on Coopers team.
- Mozhan Marno as Samar Navabi: A Mossad agent who works with Coopers FBI team seasons 2–6.
- Harry Lennix as Harold Cooper: The Assistant Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division who uses Reddington to stop people on his Blacklist.
- Laura Sohn as Alina Park: A field agent with the FBI who previously worked in Anchorage season 7 - present.
- Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler: A special agent with the FBI on Coopers team, who also became the Acting Assistant Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division.
- Megan Boone as Elizabeth "Liz" Keen: Born Masha Rostova, Keen is a special agent and profiler with the FBI on Harold Coopers team.
- Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen: Born Christopher Hargrave, later taking the adoptive name Jacob Phelps, Keen works as a covert operative and is Lizs husband seasons 1–5.
- Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe Zuma: Reddingtons bodyguard and confidante.
- James Spader as Raymond "Red" Reddington: A master criminal turned confidential informant for the FBI, later revealed to be Elizabeth Keens biological father. However, it is revealed during the course of seasons 5 and 6 that he is an impostor who had the real Reddington killed and kept his bones in a suitcase.
- Parminder Nagra as Meera Malik: A field agent with the CIA who worked with Coopers FBI team season 1.
3.1. Production Development
On October 4, 2013, NBC ordered nine additional episodes, filling out the series first season. On December 3, 2013, NBC renewed the series for a 22-episode second season. On May 11, 2014, owing to the series breakout success, NBC decided to air an episode in the coveted post–Super Bowl timeslot in 2015. On December 5, 2015, the series was renewed for a fourth season, which premiered on September 22, 2016. A spin-off series, The Blacklist: Redemption, premiered on February 23, 2017. On May 11, 2017, the series was renewed for a fifth season, while the spin-off was canceled the following day. The fifth season premiered on September 27, 2017.
3.2. Production Conception
After showing a screening of the pilot at Comic-Con, producers revealed that their inspiration for The Blacklist came from the capture of Whitey Bulger. Recalling the experience in an interview with Collider, executive producer John Eisendrath stated:
NBC bought the rights to The Blacklist from Sony Pictures Television in August 2012 and greenlighted the show in January 2013. During an NBC upfront presentation in May 2013, it was announced that The Blacklist was NBCs highest-testing drama in 10 years.
3.3. Production Casting
Eisendrath said the casting process was difficult. In February 2013, NBC offered Kiefer Sutherland the lead role of Raymond Reddington. After considering other actors for the role, Eisendrath and Bokenkamp called James Spader to see if he would be interested in it. Feeling confident in Spaders understanding of the character, they cast him three days before filming began.
Megan Boone took a week to prepare for her audition as FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen. Feeling like her initial audition was one of the better auditions of her career, Boone later was called back for multiple auditions. In March 2013, Deadline Hollywood reported that Boone accepted the role as the female lead in the series.
3.4. Production Filming locations and technique
Despite being set in Washington, D.C., the series is mainly filmed in the same Manhattan studio where Law & Order was filmed for 20 years. Producer Richard Heus said they chose to film specific Washington, D.C. locations for the series, including the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the National Mall, because they were "iconic American locations".
The series is filmed in 4K using Sony PMW-F55 cameras that are adapted to use Panavision lenses. It is edited using Avid Media Composer, and editor Christopher Brookshire says the show has "a very distinctive look and pace". An average of three cameras are used at one time, but as many as six cameras are sometimes recording.
The series is broadcast simultaneously on Global in Canada. In New Zealand, the show premiered on TV3 on February 2, 2014. The second season premiered on September 23. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the show premiered on Sky Living on October 4, 2013. The second season premiered on October 3, 2014. Netflix has streaming rights to seasons 1–6 in the United States, Canada, Australia, Latin America, Finland, India, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, New Zealand.
5.1. Reception Critical response
The first season of The Blacklist received strong reviews from television critics. On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 74 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an 85% approval rating, based on 52 reviews, with an average score of 7.18/10. The consensus reads, "James Spader is riveting as a criminal-turned-informant, and his presence goes a long way toward making this twisty but occasionally implausible crime procedural compelling". The second season received a rating of 80%, based on 15 reviews, with an average score of 7.77/10. The consensus reads, "Though The Blacklist flirts with narrative overload, its held together by James Spaders scenery-eating performance and wildly entertaining action." The third season received a rating of 93%, based on 14 reviews, with an average score of 7.41/10. The consensus reads, The Blacklist is back in top form with fresh dangers that put Red on the ropes while giving James Spader room to shine." The fourth season received a rating of 88%, based on eight reviews, with an average score of 7/10. The fifth season received a rating of 100%, based on five reviews, with an average score of 8.5/10.
David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle said about the pilot, "You think you know this situation and how it will turn out, but there are surprising, yet entirely credible, twists throughout Mondays episode". Robert Bianco of USA Today said, The Blacklist is a solid weekly crime show built around a genuine TV star. Thats the kind of series the networks have to be able to pull off to survive. And with Spader in command, odds are NBC will". Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter praised both Spaders performance and the procedural elements of the show, writing "theres an overarching element to the premise as well that makes it intriguing without making it overly complicated."
6.1. Other media Comics
Titan Books released an official comic book series based on the series, written by Nicole Phillips and drawn by Beni Lobel. The series crew is working in the project as well.
Editor David Leach told The Hollywood Reporter that the comic is "a true extension of the television series" giving "new dimensions of the characters that have captured the audiences worldwide". The series will open with a six-issue story arc, which will be "a journey deep into the dark world of international espionage, conspiracies and intrigue on a global scale".
Issue #1 was launched July 22, 2015, in both comic book and digital stores.
6.2. Other media Games
A mobile game by Gameloft based on the series, The Blacklist: Conspiracy, was released on June 23, 2016, for Android, iOS and Windows devices. The game consists of the player as a member of the task force. Players can interact with Reddington and Cooper, other members of the task force, as well as interrogate potential suspects and witnesses. The game mainly consists of searching for missing items in different environments, as well as mini games to further the investigations. Players can also make decisions that alter the route of the story.
6.3. Other media Spin-off
In March 2016, NBC began developing a spin-off series created by Bokenkamp and Eisendrath, who would also serve as executive producers with Davis and Fox. The project was set to star Famke Janssen as Susan "Scottie" Hargrave formerly Halsted and Eggold, in his role as Tom Keen, as well as Edi Gathegi reprising his role as Matias Solomon. Tawny Cypress was cast as Nez Rowan, a character already recurring during the third season. Hargrave first appeared on The Blacklist episode "Susan Hargrave", with "Alexander Kirk" serving as a backdoor pilot for the potential series. That episode was written by Bokenkamp and Eisendrath and directed by Michael Dinner. On May 14, 2016, a pilot for the series, The Blacklist: Redemption, was ordered. The series was canceled after one season. Eggold continued his role on The Blacklist.