According to Nielsen overnight numbers, NBC’s “The Blacklist” premiered to 12.62 million viewers on Monday night, getting an assist from the network’s reality singing competition series, “The Voice,” which aired right before.
ABC’s “Castle” (11.48 million viewers) rounded out the night’s programs that attracted more than 10 million viewers.
As a young actor, Spader annoyed and agitated more than entertained in the roles that he took. “Less Than Zero,” “Pretty In Pink,” and “Wall Street” are a few examples.
Spader nowadays is more tolerable as 53-year-old actor playing more seasoned and less-annoying characters, though his role as Robert California on NBC’s “The Office” came close to equaling his younger roles on the annoyance scale.
In “The Blacklist,” Spader plays former government agent turned criminal – and FBI Most Wanted list member – Raymond “Red” Reddington, who walks into a government building in the opening scene to surrender himself to the onsite authorities.
We soon learn that Reddington is putting into motion a plan that only he knows all the details about.
First on his to-do list is to ruffle a few feathers with some of his former colleagues within the FBI while in chains, shackles and in maximum-security confinement.
There’s got to be an interesting back-story there that will make for compelling viewing down the line.
With the air of someone who knows much more than he’s letting on – a character custom-made for Spader – Reddington quickly makes it clear that he will only deal with a particular agent, Elizabeth Keen.
Thing is, Keen hasn’t even officially reported for her first day on the job yet, but that doesn’t mean Reddington hasn’t done his homework on who she is, when her first day on the job is, and why she is a key figure in his master plan.
Keen, who’s running late for her first day on the job, gets an unexpected escort when her new co-workers show up in force to take her to work from her home as her seemingly average husband looks on in shock.
What develops after this is dramatic, intense, intelligent, and – above all – entertaining.
The writing for “The Blacklist” is smart and employs several twists and turns that keep viewers engaged in the story, which unfolds very quickly at times.
Megan Boone’s portrayal of Keen is a bit awkward, but not enough to detract from the overall quality of the program.
By the end of the premiere episode, it becomes clear that Reddington is partly toying with the FBI and partly genuine in his desire to help catch the bad guys on his “blacklist.”
The beauty of “The Blacklist” is that it has solid overall acting, led by Spader, and a strong plot that can foreseeably sustain a long-running series.
Its premise is similar to J.J. Abrams’ failed “Alcatraz,” but lacks the supernatural vehicle that tried to drive that show.
With the fall TV season just hatched, “The Blacklist” is off to a promising start and is worthwhile viewing. Let’s hope it doesn’t drop the ball like so many of its predecessors have done.
“The Blacklist” airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. on KSL 5 in Provo.