Few shows have been as agonizingly schizophrenic this season and NBC’s The Blacklist, which is unmissable whenever James Spader is on screen as Raymond “Red” Reddington, and unwatchable whenever he is offscreen. As I wrote at The Daily Beast, the producers have done a superb job at dialing back on Red’s camp from the pilot:
Rather than going over-the-top, Spader has chosen a markedly more intriguing route. While he’s always the only one on screen having fun, he’ll frequently pull back the curtain to reveal the heartache and torment lurking underneath, especially in a rapt monologue about the torment of discovering his wife and child’s murdered corpses, or a recent conversation with Keen about how one comes to terms with taking a person’s life. More heart than ham, Red has become an intriguingly complex character, a 10-course-meal the likes of which broadcast television rarely concocts these days, and Spader has dug into each new dish with relish.
The rest of the show, however, is a mess, and I propose some radical changes that would help fix the series — and make Red even more compelling.