The Blacklist is an American crime drama television series that premiered on NBC on September 23, 2013. Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), a former U.S Navy officer turned high-profile criminal, who had eluded capture for decades, voluntarily surrenders to the FBI, offering to cooperate on capturing a list of criminals who are virtually impossible to catch. He insists on working with a rookie profiler by the name of Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). The show also stars Diego Klattenhoff, Ryan Eggold and Harry Lennix. The pilot episode was written by Jon Bokenkamp and directed by Joe Carnahan. Executive producers for the series include Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath, and John Davis for Sony Pictures Television, Universal Television, and Davis Entertainment.

On October 4, 2013, NBC gave a back nine order, filling out the series’ first season. On December 3, 2013, NBC renewed the show for a 22-episode second season. On May 11, 2014, owing to the show’s breakout success, NBC announced the show will air an episode in the coveted post–Super Bowl timeslot in 2015.

The show received critical acclaim, with many critics praising Spader’s performance in particular.

Raymond “Red” Reddington, a former officer of the United States Navy who disappeared twenty years ago and became one of the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, surrenders himself to Assistant Director Harold Cooper at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Taken to an FBI “black site”, Reddington claims to share the FBI’s interest in getting rid of criminals and terrorists he has associated with, that are so dangerous and devious that Cooper is unaware even of their existence. He offers Cooper his knowledge and assistance on two conditions: immunity from prosecution, and working exclusively with Elizabeth Keen, a rookie profiler newly assigned to Cooper. Keen and Cooper are suspicious of Reddington’s interest in her, but he will only say that she is “very special”. After Cooper tests Reddington’s offer in locating and killing a terrorist in the first episode, Reddington reveals that this man was only the first on his “blacklist” of global criminals, which he has compiled over his criminal career and wants to eliminate.

As the series progresses, the mysteries of Reddington’s and Liz’s lives, and his interest in her, are revealed slowly. Twists are introduced involving other characters.

The first season of The Blacklist received strong reviews from television critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the show has a rating of 82%, based on 45 reviews, with an average rating of 7/10. The site’s consensus reads, “James Spader is riveting as a criminal-turned-informant, and his presence goes a long way toward making this twisty but occasionally implausible crime procedural compelling”. On Metacritic, the series has a score of 74 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”.

David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle said about the pilot, “You think you know this situation and how it will turn out, but there are surprising, yet entirely credible, twists throughout Monday’s episode”. Robert Bianco of USA Today said, “The Blacklist is a solid weekly crime show built around a genuine TV star. That’s the kind of series the networks have to be able to pull off to survive. And with Spader in command, odds are NBC will”. Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter praised both Spader’s performance and the procedural elements of the show, writing “there’s an over-arching element to the premise as well that makes it intriguing without making it overly complicated.”

The series has proven so successful that Netflix has bought timed exclusive rights for $2 million per episode.



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