Fall TV First Impression: NBC's The Blacklist

The Blacklist PreviewThe broadcast networks have almost 30 shows debuting this fall, including a futuristic tale from the Fringe team, a new CW showcase for another Amell and Marvel-ous adventures for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.

Next up on our list….

THE SHOW | NBC’s The Blacklist (Mondays at 10/9c; premieres Sept. 23)

THE COMPETITION | ABC’s Castle, ESPN’s Monday Night Football, CBS’ Hostages

THE CAST | James Spader (Boston Legal), Megan Boone (Law & Order: LA), Diego Klattenhoff (Homeland), Harry Lennix (Dollhouse) and Ryan Eggold (90210).

RELATED | Fall Preview: TVLine’s Grid Showing What’s On When and Versus What!

THE SET-UP | Spader is Raymond “Red” Reddington, a onetime government agent who is now one of the FBI’s Most Wanted fugitives. But then Red up and surrenders himself in the FBI lobby, offering his mad skills to hunt down and whittle down a “blacklist” of mobsters, spies and international terrorists. His one, mysterious demand: That the only agent he speaks to is Elizabeth Keen (Boone), an FBI profiler fresh out of Quantico. Lennix and Klattenhoff play Liz’s boss and colleague, respectively, Eggold her husband.

RELATED | Fall TV Preview: TVLine’s Snapshot Guide to All the New Shows

THE FIRST IMPRESSION | Acknowledging that the S.H.I.E.L.D. and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland pilots have not yet been made available, The Blacklist thus far stands as the best new drama of the fall. Now, some may skim the trailer and dismiss Spader as being “hammy,” but he’s actually inhabiting a role tailor-made The Blacklist - Season Pilotfor the three-time Emmy winner, a man as enigmatic as he can be brilliant, at times charming but also abruptly (and entertainingly) prickly. He’s half Thomas Crown, half Hannibal Lecter. Also, the concept quickly pulls you in, as Red assists the FBI (though never in the most direct way possible, it seems), and the pilot closes with a decent-enough twist (and no, it’s not about why Liz is his “chosen one”).

Boone is a bit green as the female lead, going toe-to-toe with a room-filling personality such as Spader’s, but perhaps that helps sell her alter ego’s own noob status. That said, the show needs to be sure to convince us of Keen’s top-of-her-class smarts. But all told, this is one premiere that should be on your list.

RELATED | More Fall TV First Impressions: The CW’s Reign, ABC’s Trophy Wife, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, CBS’ HostagesNBC’s IronsideABC’s Super Fun NightThe CW’s The Tomorrow PeopleFox’s Almost HumanCBS’ The Crazy Ones

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | NBC’s Revolution (now airing on Wednesdays) had no trouble opening strongly in this time slot last fall, and that was against two vets — Rick Castle and Steve McGarrett. With Hawaii Five-0 now bounced to Friday, The Blacklist‘s fate in part lies in how well CBS’ Hostages — a solid, less-procedural thriller in its own right — premieres. Barring a dire debut, I have to imagine this will be one of the Peacock’s first full-season pick-ups.

Watch a video preview for The Blacklist, then vote in our poll below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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34 Comments
  1. kelsey says:

    I’m glad this got a good review; it is at the top of my list for new dramas. James Spader seems made for this role. Even when he’s doing comedy, he seems a little creepy to me. lol

  2. Dan says:

    I’m not the biggest fan of Spader but the promo did look good and it seems like the kinda show I’d watch so I definitely plan on watching the first few episodes before making any final judgement.

    My only issue right now is that 4+ minute (or so) trailer they released seemed to be a condensed version of the Pilot episode so I feel like I know what’ll happen but I’ll check it out anyway.

  3. Bella says:

    I’ll probably DVR it because of Castle, but I’m in. I love Spader and it sounds like an interesting series.

  4. Mare says:

    This and Almost Human are the shows I am most excited for! Can’t wait!

  5. One of the best new dramas if not one of the best new shows of the Fall TV season and James Spader may have award show consideration. The Blacklist is the only new show I’m looking forward to and I can’t wait to tune in on September 23rd. BTW, I saw the trailer like hundred times on YouTube.

  6. TV Gord says:

    I’ve been reviewing fall pilots for years, and this is the best one I’ve seen yet! I wasn’t expecting a lot (based on the trailer, as you suggest), but the actual show was so compelling, I can’t wait for the series to begin this fall!

  7. Dav says:

    Of all the shows you have reviewed so far, this is the only one I care about. I will definately be watching.

    • mirvin365 says:

      Ditto that…this is the only new show other than S.H.I.E.L.D. that I plan to check out.

    • Emgee says:

      Same here. All of the rest of the new crop so far this year just looks so…blah, but this one looks like it has true potential.

  8. Daisy says:

    Trailer looked awesome, I’m really looking forward to this one. I hope it does well, concidering it’s on NBC. But it has the best possible timeslot (after The Voice).

  9. Teag says:

    Blacklist, Hostages and SHIELD.

  10. Ram510 says:

    You had me at James Spader, I’m all in!

  11. mia says:

    once I saw the trailer I was SOLD. It looks excellent; lots of single-episode plots, but some long season-arching ones as well. And also, James Spader….who is just, y’know, awesome in everything.
    .
    And I’m also pretty sure the young FBI agent is his daughter, just no one knows it.

    • majamababe says:

      My thought also. Even though Hostages looks interesting, I will probably watch this. Hopefully, I will be able to watch Hostages online.

  12. James D says:

    at first I was not convinced i would watch this based on the trailer, but after reading this I will definitely give it a try, so thanks Matt and TVline. Out of loyalty i’ll be watching Castle live so this will be DVR’d along with Hostages unless their so amazing i must watch it live then they’ll be bumped to live viewing, (something tells me they won’t be though)

  13. meatwad says:

    i’m so excited for this show, I think Spader is gonna kill it

  14. Joey says:

    The trailer for the show looks good. I’m looking forward to watching it this fall.

  15. broncfanwa says:

    Spader. nuff said.
    Castle who?

  16. Important feedback. says:

    Glad you mentioned the trailer wasn’t properly representative of the show, because it was truly terrible. I’m much more likely to check the show out since you said that.

  17. Ty says:

    This, Intelligence & Almost Human are my top three on the new fall line up. The fact that OUTW and SHIELD pilots haven’t been made available concerns me; like movie critics not seeing bad movies before the premiere. Hopefully this isn’t the case though.

  18. johnhelvete says:

    Have huge reservations about Megan Boone, but I am looking forward to watching the pilot.

  19. Sheldon W. says:

    The pilot is all kinds of fun. I’m in!

  20. Fan of None says:

    James Spader….one dimensional boring actor. Big pass on this. Castle live, and football DVR’d to avoid commercials

  21. Sam says:

    Spader is such a fun and interesting actor to watch I’m definitely in for The Blacklist!

  22. mia says:

    Premise sounds like season 2 of alias.. Irina walks in to help take down SD-6 and as first will only speak with Sydney..

  23. wubitnose says:

    I will DVR it because “Castle” is my favorite show on Mondays at 10:00pm, I liked the young Spader more than the old one, but he is a good actor, I hope that The Blacklist won’t be a threat to Castle, It is a twist from “Hannibal Lecter” without the cannibalizing but we all know what happen to “Hannibal” TV series last season. Hopeful “The Blacklist” & “Hostages” will cancel each other and Castle will end up as always number one.

  24. Paul says:

    Spader is a World Class actor that compels me to watch everything he appears in.

  25. Lynn says:

    saw the show last night ALL I CAN SAY ”FANTASTIC” spent the rest of the night thinking about it and I think I have it figured it out…….why he picked her and his “protective” nature towards this agent …….listen to the cues of her past and her recent discoveries “husband” and let me know what you thing……..

  26. Hugh 'Bunnyman' says:

    The BlackList has just been canceled……………………………….ok, now that I got you BL fans attention. Last nights premier was excellent. Simply Red was perfect for the role and Liz played the newbie detective role to a ‘T’. The only thing I did not like about the first show was how easy it was to kidnap the little girl from Liz’s hands inside the over turned car. Since Liz is pregnant by her double crossing two timing husband/double agent, she should have had a heighten mother reaction to the girl being taken away under her ‘watch’.

    In regards to Red, something tells me he is related to Liz, either he is the biological father or related as a blood uncle. Red just knew way too much about Lizzy’s past as well as her scar on the hand. I really liked Lizzy’s resume in that she is more then eye candy, she actually is extremely intelligent and does a good job of profiling criminals, or at least her attempt. She still needs decades more experience to get into the mind of a criminal, after all, how could her husband have kept it a secret right under her nose that he was a double agent, she’s sleeping with him and having his baby, she should have at least had a clue.

    BL2 will be very interesting in that the past will play a big part in her future. Red will be even more close to Liz even though she nearly speared a pen through her neck and Tom will be in major hot water once Liz reveals she knows his past life regarding his espionage. Will Liz have the baby? Will Red reveal his secret regarding being the father/uncle? Will Tom go to jail or will Liz not have the heart to turn him in? And the money found? Where did it come from and who sent it and why? Hopefully BL2 will answer these questions.

    I give this show a 10+, finally a show with brains, action, eye candy, love story, twists and turns to captivate the mind as opposed to being shoved senseless programs of repeated stories over and over and over again with characters who look like ken and Barbie. Can’t wait for next week’s episode!

    TheBunnyMan

    • Asashii says:

      yeah she is not pregnant, its an adoption agency, because she kept saying we are accepted and got approved, they had a interview and meeting, thats where the husband went and she could NOT make the appointment Remember are did we not watch the same show!!

  27. Asashii says:

    A little too network television-E for me, like most commercial break filled television, alot watered down, but somehow Hannibal runs as if it were on cable, they need to do the same for this, there are so many pg-13 tv shows that are suppose to be rated R on network teleision i can handle, cancelled after one season my predictions are!

  28. IF SPADER IS IN IT, I AM WATCHING….BLACKLIST WAS GREAT…….

  29. bobbyC says:

    Spader–awesome as ever. he’ll educate you in so many ways.. Masada, the black sea, the slimy world he enters and exits with champagne in hand. I’ll take a seat in his private jets and buckle in for a multi seasonal ride of an emmy filled show.

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