The Blacklist (TV Series 2013– )

TVSeries


The Blacklist (TV Series 2013– )

A highly articulate, erudite and intelligent businessman and mastermind, "Red" Reddington, has allegedly been on the "10 Most Wanted List" of various U.S. law enforcement agencies for over 20 years. The legend is that Red is as elusive as he is clever, controlling a labyrinth of creative enterprises, coupled with uncanny ability to gather and finesse information at the drop of a hat. On the first day at FBI for a new female profiler fresh out of Quantico, Red offers to bandy wits with the FBI. Red promises to deliver various criminals and plots previously unknown to any branch of law enforcement... and all Red requests in return is to choose his muse.
USA
IMDb   8.0 /10
Metacritic   74 %
TheMovieDb    7.5 /10
RottenTomatoes  91 %
FilmAffinity   6.4 /10
Creators
Creator Jon Bokenkamp
Information
Release Date2013-09-23
Runtime43mins
GenreCrime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Content RatingTV-14 (TV-14)
AwardsNominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 2 wins & 27 nominations.
CompanyDavis Entertainment, Universal Television, Sony Pictures Television
CountryUSA
LanguageEnglish
Raymond 'Red' Reddington / ... 166 episodes, 2013-2021
Elizabeth Keen 166 episodes, 2013-2021
Donald Ressler 166 episodes, 2013-2021
Harold Cooper 166 episodes, 2013-2021
Dembe Zuma 164 episodes, 2013-2021
Aram Mojtabai 162 episodes, 2013-2021
Samar Navabi 103 episodes, 2014-2019
Tom Keen 88 episodes, 2013-2018

The Blacklist (TV series)

The Blacklist is an American crime thriller television series that premiered on NBC on September 23, 2013. The show follows Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader), a former U.S. Navy officer turned high-profile criminal who voluntarily surrenders to the FBI after eluding capture for decades. He tells the FBI that he has a list of the most dangerous criminals in the world which he has compiled over the years, and he is willing to inform on their operations in exchange for immunity from prosecution. However, he insists on working exclusively with rookie FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone).

The series also stars Diego Klattenhoff, Ryan Eggold, and Harry Lennix. The pilot episode was written by Jon Bokenkamp and directed by Joe Carnahan. Executive producers for the series include Bokenkamp (for the first eight seasons), John Eisendrath, and John Davis for Sony Pictures Television, Universal Television, and Davis Entertainment.

Each season has received positive reviews, with many critics praising Spader's performance in particular. On February 20, 2020, NBC renewed the series for an eighth season, which premiered on November 13, 2020. On January 26, 2021, the series was renewed for a ninth season which is set to premiere on October 21, 2021.


Premise

Raymond "Red" Reddington, a former US Naval Intelligence officer who had disappeared twenty years earlier to become one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, surrenders himself to FBI Assistant Director Harold Cooper at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. Taken to an FBI "black site," Reddington claims he wishes to help the FBI track down and apprehend the criminals and terrorists he spent the last twenty years associating with: individuals that are so dangerous and devious that the United States government is unaware of their very existence.

He offers Cooper his knowledge and assistance on two conditions: immunity from prosecution, and that he wants to work exclusively with Elizabeth Keen, a rookie profiler newly assigned to Cooper. Keen and Cooper are suspicious of Reddington's interest in her, but he will only say that she is "very special." After Cooper tests Reddington's offer in locating and killing a terrorist in the first episode, Reddington reveals that this man was only the first on the "blacklist" of global criminals that he has compiled over his criminal career, and states that he and the FBI have a mutual interest in eliminating them. The mysteries of Reddington's and Liz's lives, and his interest in her, are gradually revealed as the series progresses. With a few exceptions, each episode features one of the global criminals, and Reddington assisting the team tracking and apprehending them. In every such episode, the rank and name or alias of the featured criminal on Red's blacklist is displayed at the close of the opening sequence.


Cast and characters

  • James Spader as Raymond "Red" Reddington: A master criminal turned confidential informant for the FBI, who is later apparently revealed to be Elizabeth Keen's biological father. However, it is revealed during the course of seasons 5 and 6 that he is an impostor who took the place of the real Reddington after he was killed, keeping his bones in a suitcase.
  • Megan Boone as Elizabeth "Liz" Keen: Born Masha Rostova, Keen is a special agent and profiler with the FBI on Harold Cooper's team (seasons 1–8).
  • Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler: A special agent with the FBI on Cooper's team, who also became the Acting Assistant Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division.
  • Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen: Born Christopher Hargrave, later taking the adoptive name Jacob Phelps, Keen works as a covert operative and is Liz's husband (seasons 1–5).
  • Parminder Nagra as Meera Malik: A field agent with the CIA who worked with Cooper's FBI team (season 1).
  • Harry Lennix as Harold Cooper: The Assistant Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division who uses Reddington to stop people on his Blacklist.
  • Amir Arison as Aram Mojtabai: A cyber expert with the FBI on Cooper's team (recurring season 1; main season 2–present).
  • Mozhan Marnò as Samar Navabi: A Mossad agent who works with Cooper's FBI team (seasons 2–6).
  • Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe Zuma: Reddington's bodyguard and confidant (recurring seasons 1–2; main, season 3–present).
  • Laura Sohn as Alina Park: An FBI field agent who previously worked in Anchorage (recurring season 7; main, season 8–present)

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankAverage viewers
(millions)
First airedLast aired
122September 23, 2013May 12, 2014614.95
222September 22, 2014May 14, 20151413.76
323October 1, 2015May 19, 20162211.19
422September 22, 2016May 18, 2017309.25
522September 27, 2017May 16, 2018428.41
622January 3, 2019May 17, 2019576.87
719October 4, 2019May 15, 2020506.88
822November 13, 2020June 23, 2021515.47
9TBAOctober 21, 2021TBATBATBA

Production

Development

On October 4, 2013, NBC ordered nine additional episodes, filling out the series' first season. On December 3, 2013, NBC renewed the series for a 22-episode second season. On May 11, 2014, owing to the series' breakout success, NBC decided to air an episode in the coveted post–Super Bowl timeslot in 2015. On December 5, 2015, the series was renewed for a fourth season, which premiered on September 22, 2016.

On May 11, 2017, the series was renewed for a fifth season, which premiered on September 27, 2017. The sixth season premiered on January 3, 2019. The seventh season premiered on October 4, 2019. In March 2020, the production for the show was shut down due to COVID-19.The seventh season finale aired on May 15, 2020. The eighth season premiered November 13, 2020.

On June 24, 2021, Jon Bokenkamp reported that he will not return for the series ninth season.

Conception

After showing a screening of the pilot at Comic-Con, producers revealed that their inspiration for The Blacklist came from the capture of Whitey Bulger. Recalling the experience in an interview with Collider, executive producer John Eisendrath stated:

So, the idea was, 'Well, what would happen if a man like Whitey Bulger turned himself in and said, "I am here. I have some rules that I want you to follow, but if you follow them I will give you the names of people that I have worked with, during the 20 years that I have been a fugitive."' So, there was a real world influence that affected the shaping of the show that was already being thought about. How can you put someone that you don't trust in the center of a show about trying to find criminals? And here was an example in the real world of just such a person. It was a fortuitous turn of events, where the idea for a show was being considered, and then here comes a real life story that helped give it some shape.

NBC bought the rights to The Blacklist from Sony Pictures Television in August 2012 and greenlighted the show in January 2013. During an NBC upfront presentation in May 2013, it was announced that The Blacklist was NBC's highest-testing drama in 10 years.

Casting

Eisendrath said that the casting process was difficult. In February 2013, NBC offered Kiefer Sutherland the lead role of Raymond Reddington. He and Bokenkamp called James Spader to see if he would be interested in the role of Reddington; they felt confident in his understanding of the character and cast him three days before filming began.

Megan Boone took a week to prepare for her audition as FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen, and she was called back for multiple auditions. In March 2013, Deadline Hollywood reported that she accepted the role as the female lead in the series.

In June 2021, it was reported that Megan Boone would not be returning for the ninth season of the show.

Filming locations and technique

Despite being set in Washington, D.C., the series is mainly filmed in Montreal, Quebec and surrounding suburbs, and the same Manhattan studio where Law & Order was filmed for 20 years. Producer Richard Heus said they chose to film specific Washington, D.C., locations for the series, including the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the National Mall, because they were "iconic American locations."

The series is filmed in 4K using Sony PMW-F55 cameras that are adapted to use Panavision lenses. It is edited using Avid Media Composer, and editor Christopher Brookshire says the show has "a very distinctive look and pace." An average of three cameras are used at one time, but as many as six cameras are sometimes recording.


Broadcast

The series is broadcast simultaneously on Global in Canada. In New Zealand, the show premiered on TV3 on February 2, 2014. The second season premiered on September 23. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the show premiered on Sky Witness (formally Sky Living) on October 4, 2013. The second season premiered on October 3, 2014. But has since been moved to Sky One. Netflix has streaming rights to seasons 1–8 in the United States, Canada, Australia, Latin America, Finland, India, Pakistan, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, Sweden, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and Norway.


Reception

Critical response

The first season of The Blacklist received strong reviews from television critics. On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 74 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews." The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an 85% approval rating, based on 52 reviews, with an average score of 7.18/10. The consensus reads, "James Spader is riveting as a criminal-turned-informant, and his presence goes a long way toward making this twisty but occasionally implausible crime procedural compelling." The second season received a rating of 80%, based on 15 reviews, with an average score of 7.77/10. The consensus reads, "Though The Blacklist flirts with narrative overload, it's held together by James Spader's scenery-eating performance and wildly entertaining action." The third season received a rating of 93%, based on 14 reviews, with an average score of 7.41/10. The consensus reads, "The Blacklist is back in top form with fresh dangers that put Red on the ropes while giving James Spader room to shine." The fourth season received a rating of 88%, based on eight reviews, with an average score of 7/10. The fifth season received a rating of 100%, based on five reviews, with an average score of 8.5/10. The sixth season also received a rating of 100%, based on five reviews, but with an average score of 9.3/10. The seventh season has not received enough ratings to calculate a score.

David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle said about the pilot, "You think you know this situation and how it will turn out, but there are surprising, yet entirely credible, twists throughout Monday's episode." Robert Bianco of USA Today said, "The Blacklist is a solid weekly crime show built around a genuine TV star. That's the kind of series the networks have to be able to pull off to survive. And with Spader in command, odds are NBC will." Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter praised both Spader's performance and the procedural elements of the show, writing "there's an overarching element to the premise as well that makes it intriguing without making it overly complicated."

Ratings

Viewership and ratings per season of The Blacklist
SeasonTimeslot (ET)EpisodesFirst airedLast airedTV seasonViewership
rank
Avg. viewers
(millions)
DateViewers
(millions)
DateViewers
(millions)
1Monday 10:00 p.m.22September 23, 201312.58May 12, 201410.442013–14614.95
2Monday 10:00 p.m. (2014)
Thursday 9:00 p.m. (2015)
22September 22, 201412.34May 14, 20157.492014–151413.76
3Thursday 9:00 p.m.23October 1, 20157.76May 19, 20166.882015–162211.19
4Thursday 10:00 p.m.22September 22, 20166.40May 18, 20174.922016–17309.25
5Wednesday 8:00 p.m.22September 27, 20176.39May 16, 20185.182017–18428.41
6Friday 9:00 p.m. (1–19)
Friday 8:00 p.m. (20–22)
22January 3, 20194.15May 17, 20194.462018–19576.87
7Friday 8:00 p.m.19October 4, 20194.05May 15, 20204.132019–20506.88
822November 13, 20203.72June 23, 20212.242020–21515.47
  • Note: The last two episodes of the eighth season aired outside of their regular timeslot, at Wednesday 10 p.m. Additionally, the ninth episode of the second season, Luther Braxton, aired on a Sunday at 10:38 p.m, with Super Bowl XLIX as it's lead-in.

Accolades

YearAssociationCategoryNomineeResult
2014Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor – Television Series DramaJames SpaderNominated
People's Choice AwardsFavorite New Television DramaThe BlacklistNominated
Entertainment Weekly
Season Finale Awards
Best Non-Romantic Cliffhanger"Berlin (No. 8) Conclusion"Nominated
Funniest Moment in a DramaNominated
Weakest/Most Divisive TwistNominated
Best Final ShotNominated
Most Likely to Earn Someone an Emmy NominationNominated
Biggest Regret That I Didn't See It, I Just Heard or Read About ItNominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy AwardsOutstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Miniseries, or MovieThe BlacklistWon
ASCAP Film and Television Music AwardsTop TV SeriesThe Blacklist (Dave Porter)Won
Saturn AwardBest Network Television Series ReleaseThe BlacklistNominated
Best Actor in a Television SeriesJames SpaderNominated
2015Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor -Television Series DramaJames SpaderNominated
Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesAlan AldaNominated
2016Primetime Creative Arts Emmy AwardsOutstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series or MovieThe BlacklistNominated
Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television SeriesStunt Castnote 2Nominated
2017People's Choice AwardsFavorite TV Crime DramaThe BlacklistNominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy AwardsOutstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series or MovieNominated
2018Primetime Creative Arts Emmy AwardsOutstanding Stunt Coordination For A Drama Series, Limited Series Or MovieThe BlacklistNominated
2019Primetime Creative Arts Emmy AwardsOutstanding Stunt Coordination For A Drama Series, Limited Series Or MovieThe BlacklistNominated
2020Primetime Creative Arts Emmy AwardsOutstanding Stunt Coordination For A Drama Series, Limited Series Or MovieThe BlacklistNominated

Other media

Comics

Titan Books released an official comic book series based on the series, written by Nicole Phillips and drawn by Beni Lobel. The series' crew is working in the project as well.

Editor David Leach told The Hollywood Reporter that the comic is "a true extension of the television series" giving "new dimensions of the characters that have captured the audiences worldwide". The series will open with a six-issue story arc, which will be "a journey deep into the dark world of international espionage, conspiracies and intrigue on a global scale".

Issue #1 was launched July 22, 2015, in both comic book and digital stores.

Games

The mobile game The Blacklist: Conspiracy was released on June 23, 2016, by Gameloft for Android, iOS, and Windows devices. As a member of the task force, the player can interact with Reddington, Cooper and other members, and interrogate potential suspects and witnesses. The game mainly consists of searching for missing items in different environments, as well as mini games to further the investigations. Players can also make decisions that alter the route of the story.

Spin-off

In March 2016, NBC began developing a spin-off series created by Bokenkamp and Eisendrath, who would also serve as executive producers with Davis and Fox. The project was set to star Famke Janssen as Susan "Scottie" Hargrave (formerly Halsted) and Eggold, in his role as Tom Keen, as well as Edi Gathegi reprising his role as Matias Solomon. Tawny Cypress was cast as Nez Rowan, a character already recurring during the third season. Hargrave first appeared on The Blacklist episode "Susan Hargrave", with "Alexander Kirk" serving as a backdoor pilot for the potential series. That episode was written by Bokenkamp and Eisendrath and directed by Michael Dinner. On May 14, 2016, a pilot for the series, The Blacklist: Redemption, was ordered. The series was canceled after one season. Eggold continued his role on The Blacklist.