Today we are going to discuss two new television shows, one that’s excellent and another that’s not worth watching. The former is “The Blacklist” starring James Spader and Megan Boone, and we’ll begin with this one because it has been correctly touted as one of the season’s best newcomers.
In “The Blacklist” Spader portrays Raymond “Red” Reddington, one of the world’s most notorious and ruthless criminals who has a permanent place on the FBI’s most-wanted list. Shockingly, one day he walks into the FBI offices in Washington, D.C., and turns himself in to help stop a terrorist attack on the condition that he talks and works only with Special Agent Elizabeth Keen (Boone), who is a rookie profiler. Red also reveals he has a list of the world’s most feared criminals, and offers to help bring them to justice in exchange for immunity. But again he insists on working and communicating only with Liz. Thus is born the partnership at the heart of the show.
Each week Red and Liz combine forces to bring down the most heinous villains on the planet, and every show unfolds as a fast-paced action adventure. The various criminals are as intriguing as they are dangerous, and the program reminds me a bit of the old “Mission Impossible” TV series. The episodes are consistently tense and suspenseful, and both Spader and Keen are exceptional in their respective roles.
In a recent interview with the Huffington Post both stars discussed the show and their parts, and when Spader was asked what drew him to the role of Red, he said, “I might have been looking for him. I wanted someone who was irreverent, and, even at the most difficult times, saw the irony in the world around him. And he’s really not afraid of the unknown. I don’t think he’s afraid of much.”
And Boone explained why she really wanted to play Liz.
“I fought for that role It’s a good fit. She’s got a lion’s heart and feet made of clay. She’s kind of a loner. There’s something inside her that’s always hidden from everyone in her life. I have those elements in my personality.”
The main problem with a show like this is that it may become repetitious because it deals with virtually the same storyline each week, but the writers have added mysterious subplot involving Liz’s seemingly milquetoast husband, and that’s all I’ll say.
“The Blacklist,” which airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC, definitely deserves its rating as one of the fall’s best new shows and earns the final score of a solid eight.
Dracula has been scaring the hell out of people since 1897, when Bram Stoker published his famous novel of the same name, and the esteemed count has been the subject of at least 28 films. Although Dracula has been portrayed in the movies and on television by more actors than any other horror character in history, the one most often associated with him probably is Bela Lugosi, whose eyes alone were enough to make you dive under the bed.
In the new series the fanged bloodsucker is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and the show opens in 1881, when some grave robbers in Romania pry open Dracula’s coffin and set him free. We see him next at his spacious home in England, where he is posing as Alexander Grayson, a wealthy American whose main goal is to advance the development wireless power to enlighten the people of Victorian England. His ulterior motive, however, is gain revenge against an organization known as the Order of the Dragon, which had earned incurred his wrath centuries in the past.
The convoluted plot of the pilot often was confusing, and I couldn’t figure out whether or not Dracula was supposed to be a monster or a light bulb salesman. The show is totally devoid of any fright power, and the scenes that are supposed to be scary are completely laughable. Come on. This is Dracula were talking about here. He is one of the most terrifying figures in the history or horror, but the Dracula we encounter in this show isn’t as frightening as the puppet modeled after him on “Sesame Street.”
Perhaps the main problem with the series is that Rhys Meyers brings absolutely nothing to the title role. He imbues his character with all of the enthusiasm of a somnambulist, and he appears to be completely bored with everything. I’m sure Lugosi is doing slow revolutions in his coffin.
As disappointing as it is, however, the show does have one thing going for it. The sets, the costumes, and the props are magnificent. It’s a real shame the “monster” prowling through those gas lit cobblestone streets looks more like a diminutive Oliver Twist than the terrifyingly imposing count from Transylvania. Because of the sets, give “Dracula,” which airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on NBC, a bloody generous final score of five.