Spader is lone bright spot in NBC’s ‘The Blacklist’

James Spader’s latest role is starring in an edgy crime drama, “The Blacklist.” The show’s plot, at first, seemed exhausted and overwrought.

Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington (Spader), a one-time FBI agent turned rogue, surrenders to the FBI headquarters in D.C. and it appears that he has given himself up for a what he calls “common interest” with the FBI. The title of the show comes from Reddington’s declaration that through his long career as a fugitive, he has kept a headcount of top terrorists wanted by the agency. He’ll hand this list over to the FBI under one condition: his partnering with Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) is guaranteed.

Here lies the structure of the show: Every Monday at 10 p.m. the plot will revolve around the FBI’s arrest of one super-villain. This satisfies the need for a weekly climax, sure, but one worries about the show’s eagerness to create so many conflicts that potentially might go unanswered. Already, we have a charismatic genius who so clearly is manipulating the feds, a surrogate father-daughter relationship between Keen and the puller of the strings, Spader; and a fast-paced who-done-it element that each week you can bet will continuously try and outdo itself.

Although Spader’s performance as a mastermind is intriguing, the show seems more like the network’s answer to the terrorist motif that “Homeland” has made popular. It is no coincidence that CBS premiered “Hostages” on the same night. It’s hard to take this sort of show seriously when regular cable has given up trying to do things differently. Plus, the limitations placed on cable, paired with a cliff-hanger every commercial break, can strain any viewer’s eyes.

With that being said, the pi- lot pulled 12.6 million viewers on Sept. 23, and the premise allows the show to move in a number of directions. There is plenty of room for growth, but only time will tell. Thus far, Spader’s performance alone is worth the 43 minutes. It remains to be seen whether his performance can carry a show that seems set against itself.

Benjamin Rader can be reached at benjamin.rader@

Author: Staff Writer

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