Is it any good? Heard the series premier was today.
Pilot was overstuffed and felt sloppily done to me. Everyone around James Spader is doing crap TV acting of the blandest kind or acting all too serious while he appears to be having fun and actually doing something with his character outside of hitting his marks and fitting into a nicely defined TV stereotype. The lead actress was impossibly dull, which will be a problem for the future of the show if she can’t reach the level of her costar.
The premise offers a lot of room to work in some cool stuff (for network TV, that is) but nothing in the pilot makes me think the writers will be doing that. They’re working hard to build a little mystery around him and why he will only talk to her and if they fumble that the show will become utterly unwatchable. As always, pilots are notoriously bad so we’ll see what next week has to offer.
I liked it , and totally agree that Spader is on the spot perfect for this part. Hope they give him even more room to be himself.
One of the best pilot episodes I’ve ever seen. They told us exactly what was going to happen right up front, yet still managed to keep us guessing as to the whys. There was some great imagery too, like the shots in her place with the balloons in the background. The biggest problem with the pilot is that the FBI agents were flat-out inept. Hopefully they get that cleaned up.
I DVR’ed it but haven’t watched yet… they shot parts of the pilot here in Pleasantville, NY. Including my daughter’s dance school I believe.
How can they not be inept? That’s the basic premise of these shows. The mastermind endlessly stringing the cops/FBI etc along like a bunch of puppets as the “game” goes along. Spader is doing his best in that type of role that we have seen a bunch of times but I doubt they can keep it interesting for a whole season especially the elongated ones network TV does.
Spader was good, no one else was.
So far, I can’t take the female lead seriously. She’s not quite Denise Richards pretending to be a scientist bad, but she’s just not projecting the sort of hard-edged intellect that we’re supposed to believe she has from all the exposition. Since the writing really doesn’t leave room for anyone but the two leads to develop a character, that’s going to be a problem.
Well, the way I looked at it, she’s fresh out of training. Still green. And he was supposed to have the upper hand from the start. I admit, it is going to be hard to balance Spader out the way he was chewing the scenery, but hopefully that will even out in a way that makes sense.
I went in with somewhat low expectations, and was pleasantly surprised. Could be that watching ‘Moms’ right beforehand set the bar so low that literally a static pattern on the screen would have been better, but who knows. Lead female character seems interesting enough to develop, if she can shed her Clarice cocoon.
I thought this was a fun pilot, nice to see Joe Carnahan doing a little action on TV (I found the kidnapping scene to be rather well-done for a TV action scene). Had some twists, Spader did his thing, my wife dug it… so on the DVR it goes. Blacklist and (especially) Hannibal have renewed some of my faith in NBC hour dramas after hating Revolution and whatever the murder mystery one last year that lasted about 2 episodes.
This could develop into something interesting. It wants to be Alias, but isn’t quite there in the mix of action, cool confidence, and mystery. But there is room to get better (WTF with the neck-stab? That did not enhance the characterization). They need to show the female lead being competent at something, soon, not just reacting or over-reacting.
But what the hell is it with the damn soundtrack? Ever since Grey’s Anatomy, it seems like the parent company’s most recent pop catalog has to be blaring out during at least one scene per episode. Better to set the mood than chase hypothetical iTunes sales.
For better or worse, I thought the neck-stab did enhance characterization. I can’t think of a clearer way to cut through someone’s bullshit than to give them about a minute to live.
The problem with the neck-stab is it killed a lot of the episode for me. Not because she did it, but because the FBI would immediately fire her, and even if they kept her around as a consultant because he wanted to talk to her, they would not under any circumstances let her alone with him again. It’s waaaay over the line, and would demonstrate anger and impulse control issues as far as the FBI was concerned. Instead, they act like nothing at all happened out of the ordinary.
Also, I had a problem with the kidnapping scene. Why in the world would she hand the kid up to them? They wanted the kid alive. The brief thing with the gas mask is one thing, but she should have kept the kid there and continued to shoot at anyone who appeared. Whether the gas was making that difficult or not. There really wasn’t anything to be gained by giving the kid up peacefully, as they demonstrated when they were about to shoot her as soon as the kid was out of the car.
I don’t disagree, but I feel like the neck stab did say some things about her character in a few different ways but you’re right… there should have been scenes of her getting fired, going home to clean some blood, and then inevitably getting called back in when Spader cuts them off and threatens to let the girl die.
As for the kidnapping, and I don’t quite disagree about the details. I feel like the agent realized she was kind of beat at that moment when the tear gas was coming. Maybe you put the mask on the kid, drop the gas, have the kidnapper just grab the girl, and go from there. But I can’t see the FBI agent emptying clips while blind and puking.
I agree that it helped the character a bit, it’s just that it was so jarring that there were no repercussions, not a one, not even a slap on the wrist.
As for firing blind and puking, I would. When giving up means death, and it definitely did in this situation, giving up doesn’t make sense - no matter how hopeless is looks. My thoughts would be: put mask on kid. Keep the opening covered. When the grenade comes in, toss it back with the off hand. It’s not a frag grenade, there’s nothing keeping you from throwing it back, it’s right there in front of you, and the gas effects aren’t instantaneous. The main danger is splitting your attention between the grenade and the opening.
Enjoyed it more than I expected. I’ll be tuning in from now on.
Watched this last night. I really felt like this was trying a bit too hard, but I’m also not really a big fan of “pure” action shows (see: 24). Most of the twists were pretty clear from a mile away, and there’s some stuff that’s clearly borrowed from Silence of the Lambs. Spader was ridiculously good though, and played his part perfectly. The main FBI agent (Keen)…I just can’t really get into her character. Not sure if it’s because they’re planting so many “seeds” of storyline/drama (the daddy issues, conflict between job and family, husband not being who he says he is) that she just feels contrived, or if the chemistry between her and Spader isn’t quite there.
Oh, and is it just some unwritten rule that there has to be one FBI agent that has to be the “I think I’m better than everyone at my job but really I’m a fool so the main character looks that much more talented”? You almost feel bad for people like Ressler(?).
Anyway, wife liked this one a lot so we’ll be in for a few more episodes at least.
There’s no question they’re borrowing from the Silence of the Lambs, but the problem is the female lead isn’t comparable to Jody Foster. Oh, sure, that’s a bit unfair, but Spader’s doing pretty well. Not half as creepy as Anthony Hopkins, but he has presence.
Is this really intended to be “pure” action? They’re trying for the psychological angle, though it’s not working so well thus far.
What would be an example of a good “pure” action show? 24’s main problem wasn’t that it was a thriller, it’s that the writers never plotted anything ahead of time, so they constantly ended up with inconsistencies, dropped threads, and ridiculous last minute contrivances. Well, that and being all pro-torture. “My son is innocent but might know some people who might be terrorists, but doesn’t realize it? TORTURE HIM FOR THE INFORMATION.”
I suspect it’s a bit easier to be creepy when the character you’re playing is a cannibalistic serial killer, which I don’t think is the angle they’re going for with Spader’s character.
Calling it a pure action show probably wasn’t the best description of what I was trying to convey. I was mainly trying to distance it from shows like Agents of SHIELD that mainly mix the action with technology sequences and a bit of humor. Thriller might be the better term as you suggest. Shows like Blacklist try to keep you on the edge of your seat with the twists and turns, mystery plot elements, and action scenes. Those types of shows don’t generally resonate well with me, so I was trying to provide some context to my comments.
And I certainly wouldn’t try to draw some one-to-one relationships between Blacklist and Silence of the Lambs (e.g. Spader = Hopkins). The general roles are there (Spader only talks to Keen, Keen pumps Spader for info, Spader provides mainly clues to the puzzle, etc.), but the details are mostly different. It would be a nice homage if one time Spader replied to Keen’s request for info with a “Quid pro quo, Lizzie. Quid pro quo.”