Monday, October 21, 2013


I tried to watch the new TV series "The Blacklist" the other night. I wanted to like it and tried hard to keep watching, but thought it had serious problems of logic and heavy handedness.

I like the main actor, James Spader, but he plays a cliche--a former top-gun American hero who went bad for no reason.

OK, I thought. I can live with one cliche.

Then Spader's character, Reddington, picks up a mysterious briefcase in a public park. Another cliche, this one from spy movies.

Reddington goes into a gov’t office bldg and reveals his identity. Red alert! Red alert! Everyone goes nuts. Soon a dozen guns are pointed at him. Yeah, right. We are supposed to believe he scares the crap out of the whole national security apparatus.
But why?
Isn't anyone well trained enough to keep their cool? I guess not.
Then Reddington will only talk to a pretty young woman FBI profiler, on her first day on the job. First day? How likely is that? And he knows intimate details about her life. Well, that is hard to swallow, but I kept watching.
We are supposed to be jacked up and think this guy is so dangerous he scares the poop out of everyone in Washington, D.C.
Then he tells her that a dangerous terrorist is going to kidnap a young girl, age 8 or 9, who is the daughter of a U.S. general. For some reason her bosses suddenly gain respect for her and let her run the rescue operation.
Sure. Of course. Just what you would do, right? I don't think so. The show gets more and more preposterous as it goes along.

But wait, the BS gets deeper and deeper.  

The FBI's secret black-ops division mounts a protective mission to save the little girl, but the terrorists know the exact route the convoy takes. They stage an elaborate attack where they block off a bridge and blow the hell out of everything in sight. It’s like a scene out of “Terminator 2.”

Say what? How did the bad guys know where they’d be? It makes no sense. It looks like Reddington may have set them up. If he hadn’t told them, there could have been no big attack. But how would he know where the kid would be? How would he know the route of the convoy? Makes no sense.

How would the terrorists know any of this? I didn't buy it.
And of course the pretty woman barely survives the preposterous attack and shoots one of the baddies. She feels bad about losing the kid, and we are supposed to feel bad for her.

The show is all razzle-dazzle with no logic. The purpose of every scene is to jack up the audience, not to reveal character or plumb the depths of the human condition.

So now the bad guys have the kid and you would think the FBI would suspect that Reddington set them up and tipped off the terrorists. That is what I thought.
But no. The FBI, including the cute profiler, now trust Reddington. What? It makes no sense. So then, they let him out of custody and set him up in his favorite 5-star hotel. WTF?

None of this makes any sense. Check your brain at the door.  

Now the attractive FBI profiler goes home and the terrorist is there, torturing her husband. What? How did the terrorist know where she lives?

The show is remarkable only for its use of magical knowledge and gratuitous violence.
I was going to record the series and watch each episode. Alas, I didn't make it through the pilot. That was enough hokum for me.

-- Roger

Copyright © 2013, Roger R. Angle