The Blacklist – First Season, Blu-ray (2013/14)Cast: James Spader, Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff Studio: Sony Pictures Home Ent. 43646 [8/12/14] Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 1080i HD color Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Subtitles: English, English SDH, French Extras: Commentary track by producer on pilot episode only, “The Insider: Behind the Scenes of Season 1,” “Inception: Making the Pilot,” Rogues’ Gallery: The Blacklisters, Character Dossiers on Raymond Reddington, Elizabeth Keen, Donald Ressler, Tom Keen, Harold Cooper, Meera Malik, Aram Mojtabai Total Length of Episodes: 939 minutes Rating: ****1/2
I think this is the best TV series running currently, and Season Two is now in full swing on Monday nights on NBC-TV. The main plus is of course it’s lead actor, James Spader, and I couldn’t help lifting the title of one of the Amazon reviews for my Summary line. His sophisticated, seemingly always calm criminal character carries the show. He is really wonderfully wicked.
Ther are 22 complete episodes on five Blu-rays here, without the commercials of course, and the picture and audio quality is way ahead of anything you might get on any of the streaming or download sites. The writing is superb, the settings and cinematography are first rate, looking just like a feature film. Yes, it is violent, but so are most of the other popular TV shows.
Most of the discs have four episodes on them, but I ran into a really frustrating programming problem: The same long list of episodes and the extras tied in with them comes up on the left side of the screen whenever you press the Episode list. But it fails to indicate on which disc each episode is found until you click on the specific episode. Then you find that it might be on a complete different disc than the one in your player, and you have to go thru all the loading and studio stuff, click on Episodes again to hopefully view the episode you want. Please, let’s go back to only the episodes on that particular disc appearing on the screen, and perhaps even a printed booklet indicating what episodes are on what discs.
The plot line, carried thru all the episodes with a different really bad person they are trying to locate and stop in each one, is as follows: Ex-government agent “Red” Reddington (James Spader) has long been one of the FBI’s most-wanted fugitives. He is known by some as “The Concierge of Crime.” Now he mysteriously surrenders to the FBI and will aid them in capturing the very worst international criminals, but only if he works only with new-at-the-job FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen. She constantly feels lied to by Red, and how does he know so much about her, but usually it turns out that he is correct. Later, perhaps in the first season (I admit I didn’t view them all) or the second it is revealed exactly why he only wants to work with her. (Odds are she is really his daughter – altho he has denied that, or the daughter of a man he killed in an earlier episode.)
Some of the episodes are quite ingenious, with the really bad man or woman getting completely rid of bodies, distributing a virus, or blowing up a “dirty bomb” to close down a port with radiation so that the business goes to another port owned by those paying for the deed. Another element early in the series is Elizabeth’s suspicions about her husband when she finds a hidden stash in their house with fake passports, money and a gun. Red is trying to prove to her that her husband is one of the baddies, but she resists the truth for some time. Her partner is a super-straight, hard-fighting FBI man who saves her life on more than one occasion, but is not a very good actor. There is also the likeable black director of the special branch, a computer whiz, and a hard-hitting woman from another agency who doesn’t even eschew torture to get the answers they need. Various well-known actors sometimes play the really bad individual in one episode; the leader of a supposed charitable group dealing with children played by Isabella Rossellini was a standout.