Brain Dump: New Amsterdam, The Gifted, Manifest

The fall TV season started this week and it’s time for a few short pot shots at new and returning shows. Comments will include New Amsterdam, The Gifted, and Manifest. A couple of really short comments about this and that may get tacked on, too. Continue reading “Brain Dump: New Amsterdam, The Gifted, Manifest”

Review: The Blacklist

In the last week or so I watched season 1 of The Blacklist. I got hooked on it and just kept watching. After episode 1, I wasn’t sure I was committed, so I tried episode 2. Before long I decided to watch the whole season.

James Spader in The Blacklist
James Spader in The Blacklist

James Spader stars as Raymond “Red” Reddington, a criminal mastermind who inexplicably turns himself in to the FBI, but only on the condition that he works exclusively with FBI agent Lizzie Keen (Megan Boone). Spader’s performance is outstanding. He has Red Reddington down from the first seconds of episode 1 and plays him with sophisticated grace and depth.

Red’s thing, his deal, is that he has this list of bad guys that he will help the FBI get. He gets immunity for his information, but he only offers information about bad guys that he himself has a reason to want to catch or put out of commission. He calls the shots for a team of federal agents and they run around catching bad guys based on what he tells them. There’s the question of the connection between Red and Lizzie running through every episode.

The Blacklist is an odd combination of the completely obvious plot and the completely surprising and unexpected plot. The characters are never quite what they seem, people’s motives are always questionable, and the action is tense.

Megan Boone in The Blacklist
Megan Boone in The Blacklist

It took me a long time to get attached to the female lead. There are two reasons why this might be. Either Megan Boone plays her character as a stoic personality in control of her own display of emotions, or, Megan Boone is not a particularly nuanced actor. The expression on her face remains the same whether she’s shooting at a bad guy, talking to Red, making love to her husband, or crying over her dying father.

Even though James Spader is the big name, the star, his character is shadowy and mysterious. It’s really Lizzie’s story, her life both inside and outside her work, her marriage, and her early childhood memories. Megan Boone’s lack of affect in this part both put me off and – in later episodes of the season – made me appreciate the internal workings of her investigative mind.

Parminder Nagra is another FBI agent. She is a favorite of mine and I was glad she was in the cast. Gave me a female character that I liked instantly. Her part wasn’t big enough.

Other agents on the team with Lizzie Keen were Donald Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff), and Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix). I can never see Harry Lennix without thinking of Dollhouse. His part in this series is very similar to his part in Dollhouse, which contributed to my frequent recollections of the older show.

Megan Boone and Ryan Eggold in The Blacklist
Megan Boone and Ryan Eggold in The Blacklist

Lizzie Keen’s husband is played by Ryan Eggold. A good part of the personal drama for Lizzie involves Red warning her about her husband but her steadfastly believing in her man. Mostly. Maybe he’s a loving husband and fourth grade teacher. Or maybe not.

Interesting recurring characters included Alan Alda as a Senator, Jane Alexander as an FBI higher up, and Rachel Brosnahan as the mysterious Jolene who tries to seduce Lizzie’s husband.

One of the things I like about the show are the sets or locations. I’m not sure how real everything was but there were locations seemingly all over the world. The sets used for the task force and for where the criminals were caught were excellent. I liked the places where Red hung out, I liked Lizzie’s apartment. Outdoor scenes were plentiful and set in interesting places. The action scenes were very well done, too. There were all the requisite gun battles, car crashes, plane crashes, fist fights, knife fights – everything you could want in the way of excitement and action.

Season 2 of The Blacklist begins next week. I’m sure I’ll be watching to see what intricate plots involving criminals get brought into the story, and if Lizzie ever figures out the obvious in relation to who Red is.

Photos by NBC – © 2014 NBC Universal Media

Watch This: Trailer for Lucky Them

Lucky Them stars Toni Collette as a rock journalist in danger of losing her job. To hang on to it, she’s forced to go after a story involving an old boyfriend.

The film, directed by Megan Griffiths, is due out beginning May 30.

Toni Collette in Lucky Them
Toni Collette in Lucky Them

This is really a film about accepting change. Changes in Collette’s character Ellie Klug, changes in the music business, changes in the publishing business. Oliver Platt stars as Ellie Klug’s boss.

Oliver Platt in Lucky Them
Oliver Platt in Lucky Them

Thomas Haden Church stars as a documentary filmmaker who follows Klug around as she attempts to learn what happened to a long disappeared rock star. A rock star Klug had a relationship with and hasn’t let go of yet.

Thomas Haden Church in Lucky Them
Thomas Haden Church in Lucky Them

Ryan Eggold is Klug’s current love interest, as you see in the following preview.

Toni Collette is remarkable; I’d be happy to watch her act in anything. This film looks like an interesting examination of a woman’s life – a woman of a certain age – who hasn’t come to terms with her own story yet.

The script was co-written by Emily Wachtel, Caroline Sherman, and Huck Botko.