TV Report Card | 'The Blacklist' Season 1A Review

Overview: When one of America’s most wanted men turns himself in, Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) says he will only talk to freshly minted agent, Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). While, that might have been the setup, “The Blacklist” has quickly sprawled itself out from a procedural to a core mythos and delivered fall’s best new character, anti-villain, Red.

Storyline Direction: What has began as the bad guy, take-down of the week; has elevated itself each episode with shocking character revelations, sharp action sequences and dialogue that is wittily riveting. The central question that continues to be at the center of the series’ intrigue is what the true connection between Red and Elizabeth really is.

It feels inevitably clear that they are father and daughter. However, at the end of the mid-season finale, he denied it. Personally, there is no other reasonable explanation for Red’s character going to the lengths he’s gone for “Lizzie” if she weren’t his daughter. Hopefully they stick with it. No other reason would be worth revealing, because at this point it would be a blatant attempt at shock appeal.  

The show’s baddies of the week have all been engaging and their takedowns, well-executed. The only episode that fell short of the intelligent reasoning within the show was “Frederick Barnes”. Elizabeth shooting the villain, when he might have possessed the cure to his son’s fatal disease was a boldly cold move. His son paying the price of his father’s sins was an injustice that was out of character for her typical empathy.

The two-part mid-season finale was a display in expert television writing. Telling a complete narrative that played with the pace of a movie while, jump-starting another angle to the show’s overall mystery. Jon Bokenkamp has delivered TV’s best written new series of the television season, so far.

Production Caliber: The sets are sterile where they need to be and the high-tech prison cell that Red remained in for the first episode, later played a pivotally savvy role in the mid-season finale.  

Performance Quality: The relationship between Red and Elizabeth is where the heart of the show lies. James Spader and Megan Boone possess a rare chemistry that is fascinating to watch. Boone has to be commended for holding her own against Spader who is lapping up, every last bite of the delectably enigmatic Red.

Spader is in his element, in one of his career best roles. The part is tailor-made for the charismatic sophistication that Spader so eloquently brings to any role he’s a part of.

Megan Boone shines with sincerity and a tenacious spirit that has you rooting for her as the show’s lead hero. In a TV landscape that has struggled to find a kick-ass, feminine, female protagonist to anchor a series, Boone not only manages the task, she excels at it.

She brings a sense of strong femininity to the role, making the character of Keene, a truly strong woman. Accentuating what makes a woman, a woman, is a driving force to what has made this character and series, an invigorating venture. 

Adding to the show’s exuberant appeal is Ryan Eggold’s portrayal of the seemingly kindhearted Tom, Keen’s husband. As speculation on the show continues to swirl as to whether he really is a good guy, Eggold’s portrayal has more than blurred the lines of suspicion and it has become one of the most suspenseful angles on the series.

Harry Lennix, Diego Klattenhoff and Parminder Nagra are all rounding out the cast with ample capability. Lennix especially adds a compassionate edge to the show and his repartee with Spader is fun to watch. 

Musical Score: Edgy and suspenseful, the score is gripping.

Overall Grade: A+, as previously mentioned, "The Blacklist" is an exhilarating thrill ride that has been enthralling at every turn. Film screenwriter, Jon Bokenkamp, the mastermind behind “Taking Lives” and the recent release “The Call” delivers a show that matches the quality of an edgily intense cabler. Tuning in for the series’ second half in January 13, 2014 is a must. To read Eclectic Pop's TV Report Card for Season 1, click here

[Image by NBC]