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Fall TV First Impression: NBC's The Blacklist

The broadcast networks have almost 30 shows debuting this fall, including a futuristic tale from the Fringe team, a new CW showcase for another Amell and Marvel-ous adventures for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.

Next up on our list….

THE SHOW | NBC’s The Blacklist (Mondays at 10/9c; premieres Sept. 23)

THE COMPETITION | ABC’s Castle, ESPN’s Monday Night Football, CBS’ Hostages

THE CAST | James Spader (Boston Legal), Megan Boone (Law & Order: LA), Diego Klattenhoff (Homeland), Harry Lennix (Dollhouse) and Ryan Eggold (90210).

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THE SET-UP | Spader is Raymond “Red” Reddington, a onetime government agent who is now one of the FBI’s Most Wanted fugitives. But then Red up and surrenders himself in the FBI lobby, offering his mad skills to hunt down and whittle down a “blacklist” of mobsters, spies and international terrorists. His one, mysterious demand: That the only agent he speaks to is Elizabeth Keen (Boone), an FBI profiler fresh out of Quantico. Lennix and Klattenhoff play Liz’s boss and colleague, respectively, Eggold her husband.

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THE FIRST IMPRESSION | Acknowledging that the S.H.I.E.L.D. and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland pilots have not yet been made available, The Blacklist thus far stands as the best new drama of the fall. Now, some may skim the trailer and dismiss Spader as being “hammy,” but he’s actually inhabiting a role tailor-made for the three-time Emmy winner, a man as enigmatic as he can be brilliant, at times charming but also abruptly (and entertainingly) prickly. He’s half Thomas Crown, half Hannibal Lecter. Also, the concept quickly pulls you in, as Red assists the FBI (though never in the most direct way possible, it seems), and the pilot closes with a decent-enough twist (and no, it’s not about why Liz is his “chosen one”).

Boone is a bit green as the female lead, going toe-to-toe with a room-filling personality such as Spader’s, but perhaps that helps sell her alter ego’s own noob status. That said, the show needs to be sure to convince us of Keen’s top-of-her-class smarts. But all told, this is one premiere that should be on your list.

RELATED | More Fall TV First Impressions: The CW’s Reign, ABC’s Trophy Wife, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, CBS’ HostagesNBC’s IronsideABC’s Super Fun NightThe CW’s The Tomorrow PeopleFox’s Almost HumanCBS’ The Crazy Ones

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | NBC’s Revolution (now airing on Wednesdays) had no trouble opening strongly in this time slot last fall, and that was against two vets — Rick Castle and Steve McGarrett. With Hawaii Five-0 now bounced to Friday, The Blacklist‘s fate in part lies in how well CBS’ Hostages — a solid, less-procedural thriller in its own right — premieres. Barring a dire debut, I have to imagine this will be one of the Peacock’s first full-season pick-ups.

Watch a video preview for The Blacklist, then vote in our poll below.


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