TV: 'The Blacklist' Returns, 'Blood & Oil' Churns

The TV Rundown is back for fall! Find out about
the series premiere of ABC’s “Blood & Oil” and the third season premiere of NBC’s “The Blacklist”...

Blood & Oil

 The premiere of ABC’s oily new sudser kicked off in the usual way, introducing viewers to the lead characters, scoping out their prospective enemies, and setting the stage for the drama to come. Pilots can go one of two ways. They are either the weakest episode the series will ever hav, or it will knock the doors off its intended mission to hook its prey from the opening gate. Sadly for “Blood & Oil,” the latter scenario turned out not to be the case.

The number one issue is that the series was falsely advertised as a posh affair, a and the only decadent thing that happened in the opener took place in a blink, and you missed it gathering. Another thing that didn’t go as advertised: Don Johnson. Highly promoted as his return to television, Johnson barely figured into the pilot. Chase Crawford and Rebecca Rittenhouse’s characters more than dominated the hour with Johnson’s Hap being haplessly sprinkled throughout. Not the best way to reintroduce an entertainment veteran who has more than earned the right to carry his own series.

The twenty-somethings storyline had its moments, even as the audience was hit with one melodramatic wave after another. First, they endure a nasty car crash they miraculously walk away from physically unscathed, and then they lose their livelihood as the $30,000+ Laundromat equipment they were going to use to start their dream business is destroyed.

Do not worry because before you knew it these two crazy kids were bouncing back after a serendipitous run-in, resulting in them buying a crucial piece of land that puts them in business with Hap Briggs. It is important to note that the last development did not occur until after Billy (Crawford) got into yet another car accident and rallied past a field of cows to seal the deal. Either “Blood & Oil” is appropriately bringing to the public’s attention the dangers of driving down a two-lane road, or Billy is the worst driver in television history. Hmmm, it’s definitely the latter.

The good news is that despite a rough start, the series did show potential. The plotline has fertile ground on which to build a respectable nighttime soap, and though there are areas that need tweaking, the show seemed self-aware of them, even as the pilot was taking shape. The bad news is that given the setting of a boom town, the series calls to mind a modern-day “White Fang” or “Iron Will” minus the adorable canines. 

The dilapidation depicted in the community was more reminiscent of an apocalyptic event than a seismic windfall. The second episode will be more telling of where all of the board pieces will fall. Hopefully, the following installment will include more material for Don Johnson and Delroy Lindo’s Sheriff and smoother writing for Wick.

The Blacklist
The first minutes of the once phenomenal NBC series’ third season showed tremendous promise. Red cleverly engineered Liz’s escape as the two evaded the authorities in an enthralling opening sequence and then they cut to a commercial break, where all of the momentum fizzled. The first sign of trouble was when Red allowed the sister of his minion to remain above deck without any supervision. Then it all went downhill faster than mud on a slide. 

Where is Red from season one? Remember the brilliant strategist who was always 5 steps ahead of the bureau and still had time to share an odd vignette from his past with heady insight? He has been MIA since the third episode of season two, only to return briefly in its 19th episode “(Leonard Caul (No. 62)” before disappearing again for the remainder of the season. As it stands now, he shows no signs of returning. Everything he masterminded in the season opener was foiled by Ressler or undermined by his own lack of foresight. How could he not know that concentrating all of the sightings at one location would send the feds searching for him in the exact opposite direction? After tonight’s episode, it is unclear how this same guy could’ve evaded the authorities for as long as he had been attributed to have done, in the pilot.

This brings us to the next issue. Where in the world was Tom Keen? Wouldn’t he be trying to find Liz? It’s hard to believe he’d still be setting sail knowing she was being hunted. At the end of the episode, when Liz spouted out a random address, hope rose that she was going to catch up with the only other person capable of protecting her, her husband. It certainly helped the theory when Red seemed so annoyed by the suggestion of her alternate plan. Then, just like a lot of other hopes throughout the premiere, they were dashed.

Speaking of underutilized characters, Dembe was nowhere to be seen in Liz and Red’s New York escape attempt, and that was because he was trying to save his granddaughter. Yes, folks. Dembe is not only a father but a grandfather. With his secret life now exposed, this opens up another huge plot hole for the series. Why would Dembe continue working for Red, knowing his family could be used as leverage by bad guys? He seems way too protective for that.

What did you think about the premieres of “Blood & Oil” and “The Blacklist”? Will you be staying tuned to ABC’s new Sunday night soap? Is “The Blacklist” still in the red? Sound off in the comment section below...
Photo: “Blood & Oil”/ABC