Apparently The Blacklist has brought NBC its highest ratings for a freshman drama series since the turn of the century, and just ten episodes into its run it’s not only been given a full-season order it’s also been given a very early renewal for a second year as well. I’m surprised by this, not because the show isn’t any good (it’s one of the best of the Class of 2013 so far) but because it’s such early days and the show is still so clearly finding its feet by trying on a succession of different borrowed sets of attire as it seeks to find out what it wants to be when it grows up and becomes a proper TV show.
The high-concept premise is that notorious former high-level government agent turned elusive most-wanted fugitive called Raymond “Red” Reddington suddenly walks into the FBI building in Washington DC to calmly turn himself in. He offers to help them capture some of the most evil and dangerous criminal threats in the world – many so successful the FBI doesn’t even know about them – but on one condition: he will work only with rookie profiler Elizabeth Keen. A special task force is green-lit with the sort of alacrity only ever seen in time-starved television pilots desperate to lay out their format for the studio execs, and away we go: only it’s soon clear that not only is Red playing a very different game, he is also ten steps ahead of the plodding FBI staff at every turn to entirely his own unknown ends. Read the rest of this entry »
I approached the first episode of the new version of Sleepy Hollow with genuine interest and reasonable expectations: well-reviewed in the US and already renewed by Fox for a second season after just three episodes, I was intrigued to know just how they would be able to expand a short story by Washington Irving about one man facing off against a ghostly headless horseman in the 18th century into a sufficiently robust foundation for an ongoing weekly series that could last for up to seven years.
The answer to that one appears to be taking the aforementioned headless horseman as but one aspect of a bigger whole, the vanguard of the end of the world which also involves the Book of Revelations, the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, the Horn’d Beast himself, and two rival covens of witches – one good, one evil – fighting over the outcome. Into this mix is thrust Ichabod Crane (time travelled by witchcraft from 1776 to 2013) and his very modern cop cohort Abbie Mills, together with a raven embodying the soul of Crane’s long dead wife Katrina.
All of this we know from the pilot episode, which crams an extraordinary amount of plot exposition into the 40 minute running time. There’s enough story here for a two-and-a-half-hour movie but instead it’s crammed down our throats in an artless, incoherent gabble as fast as possible, presumably so that we don’t have time to stop and notice with a load of hackneyed, clichéd tripe it is, a collection of tropes from a dozen far better books and TV series all thrown together in the hope that something will spark and produce a new creative lifeform among the sludge and manure. Read the rest of this entry »