The Blacklist

Episode 1, season 1 and 20 minutes in I almost turned off. I have seen Silence of the Lambs. Twice. It's very good. Why on earth would I want to watch a TV show that tells the same story?

Fortunately, the quality of the performances by Megan Boone and especially James Spader made me stick with it for a little longer, and boy am I glad I did.

Forget Silence, this is not a simple takeoff. Yes, James Spader's character - Red - looked and sounded remarkeably like Hannibal at first, and the first meeting between agent Elizabeth Keen (Boone) and Red was an almost exact copy of the classic Jodie Foster / Hannibal Lecter scene. In fact I have seen some reviews that dismiss this programme as a simple copy, but those reviewers must have sropped watching 20 minutes in as I nearly did. Get past that and we have a deliciously wicked anti-hero who you want to watch and watch. All credit to Mr. Spader who is now one of my favourite actors.

The premise is straightforward if a little odd. Red is a 'most wanted' psychopath, but in exchange for his freedom he is helping the FBI catch their 100 most wanted. He is very well connected of course, knows where the bodies are buried (literally), and is able to give the FBI chapter and verse in tracking them down. At the same time Red is getting his own private revenge on those 100 for past sins against him.

Megan Boone's character is a rookie FBI agent, and it becomes clear early on that Red has a special reason for insisting he only deals with her. Over time we are introduced to her adoptive father, an old friend of Red's, and her husband Tom. Each episode sees the capture of one of the 100, interspersed with the developing relationships of Red, Elizabeth and Tom (is he really a high school teacher or something more?.

There are four other main characters. Keene's partner, their boss, and a couple of techies, all of whom who give excellent performances and seem dimmer only because of the brightness of the star that is James Spader. Together they make this a must see show. Like the first series of Heroes and the Newsroom this is an hour of sheer joy - long may it last.

Without James Spader this show would not work. We have to like and support a violent psychopath - and at times there are some very violent scenes - and I cannot think of a better man for the job. Even Anthony Hopkins did not manage to elicit our sympathy in S.O.T.L. but in Blacklist you are rooting for Red all the way, forgiving and explaining away his many, many transgressions.


James Spader as Raymond Reddington : Megan Boone as Elizabeth Keen : Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen : Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler

Harry Lennix as Harold Cooper : Parminder Nagra as Meera Malik : Amir Arison as Aram Mojtabai : Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe

James Spader Megan Boone Ryan Eggold Diego Klattenhoff Harry Lennix Parminder Nagra Amir Arison Hisham Tawfiq
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