Television Show

            I recently watched the season finale episode of The Blacklist on NBC that aired on May 18th, 2017 at 8:00 pm EST. This show falls under a few genres: action, crime, drama and thriller. These genres stated before go hand in hand throughout this series, especially in the finale episode of season four, called “Mr. Kaplan”. During this episode, many cliff-hangers occurred that foreshadow a fifth season coming out in the future. For this episode, I want to focus on a few main actors, Mr. Kaplan, Agent Elizabeth “Liz” Keen, and Raymond “Red” Reddington. These three have an interesting triangle between them, and it isn’t until the end of the episode that we figure out how much their relationships intertwine. Elizabeth never knew her real parents, and was raised by a man who never told her where she really came from. This was for her own protection, but being an FBI Agent she got ahold of information about herself, and her real parents. She found out her mother was a Russian spy, and that Elizabeth’s real name was Masha Rostova. The man we thought was her father, Alexander Kirk, turned out not to be her father, leaving us wondering who was. In a nutshell, Liz wanted to know where she came from and who her family was. Then there’s Red, he was a huge figure in organized crime and turned himself into the FBI with the promises of giving them all the information and felons they want, but for that to happened he would only accept speaking to Liz. You can see how viewers would be curious as to why he was so intrigued by her, and many times throughout the first few seasons of him working with Liz and her team, I thought he may be her father. Raymond does anything and everything to protect Liz, so throughout the whole series the question has always been surrounding why he feels so connected to her when she didn’t have a clue who he was. Lastly, there’s Mr. Kaplan, a woman. She is Red’s “cleaner”, so basically, she cleans up the dead bodies after he kills his enemies, and then gets rid of them without a trace. Other than this relationship, we don’t find out more about Mr. Kaplan until after Red tries to kill her for betraying him, but she survives. Now that this little background is set up, the season finale will make more sense. We find out that Mr. Kaplan, whose real name is Kate, was Liz’s nanny in Russia before her mother disappeared and Liz was handed over to the man who ended up raising her. Kate survives her bullet wound, but Red doesn’t know this, and we soon find out she wants her revenge. Red originally hired Kate to be his cleaner when Liz was just a little girl, in the hopes that him and her could protect Liz from the bad world out there that her mother and other people they were affiliated with were involved in. This makes sense as to why Kate would want to help, since she practically raised Liz from infancy until her mother disappeared, but why would Red want to help is the question. Come to find out, Red didn’t just know Liz’s mother, they had an affair. During the season finale, Kate threatens Raymond that if he doesn’t admit to all the crimes he’s done, she will reveal his true secret. This secret ends up being that he was the one to kill Liz’s mother, and that Liz is in fact his child from the affair he had with her mother. All of this happened in the last episode, making viewers all wonder what ripple effect this will have on later seasons, and if/when Liz will find out the truth about what her own father did to her mother. This show is co-produced by Jon Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath, John Fox, and Michael Watkins. These producers are involved with many other similar genre series by NBC. The show is produced in New York City, but the storyline comes from one of the producers, Jon Bokenkamp. He wrote the first two episodes, and the rest is history. There’s been a few interesting articles written about The Blacklist. One of my favorites, as it is my favorite for any show, are the “goof” articles. These talk about the times in the show that were inaccurate, or incorrect. For example, they talk about how in season 4, episode 2, Liz picked up a paper that she thought she must have drawn, as it was signed “Masha”. If it was truly signed by her as a little Russian girl, it would have been signed in Cyrillic as “Маша”, not the English characters that are shown in the show. It’s the articles like this that I find funny, as shows don’t give you bloopers like they used to, so these are the closest thing to a blooper you can get now.
            The Blacklist is both filmed on set (while in the FBI secret location), and on location (the various outdoor and building scenes you’ll see). There isn’t much, if any, laughing or funny moments in the show, it is pretty much solely serious and sober. With that, the actors all where dark and neutral colors to fit the dark theme of the show. For me, this is appealing because I work with children all day at a daycare, where I’m constantly having to be happy and patient, so this show allows me to relax and zone out to the dark and serious theme it portrays. The show is very well filmed an edited. There is no scene that doesn’t show all the angles you’re looking for, which is probably since there are always at least three cameras rolling, sometimes even six going at a time. The show is edited using Avid Media Composer, a non-linear editing system (NLE), which is defined as a method of editing that allows you to access any frame in a video clip while editing the video. This makes it easy for the show to go from one scene to the next, showing all the great angles, all while it seems very seamless when watching. This isn’t unique to The Blacklist, several other shows, many of whom are through NBC, use this same filming and editing technique. For example, Chicago Fire, Shades of Blue, and This Is Us all use this form of editing software. Other series that aren’t affiliated with NBC that use this filming and editing technique are Pretty Little Liars, Jane the Virgen, and Suits. This is what makes these shows so catchy, where you don’t want to take your eyes off the screen or stop watching, even after you’ve seen five episodes in a row. The Blacklist show is like this, but it is also a unique show because it has a plot and story line that is unlike any show on the market. The most similar comparison are the shows like NCIS, Law and Order, and the other murder/mystery shows out there. With those being the closest comparison, this show really is unique because it takes those storylines, and does a spin off that entails a much bigger plot and action plan that portrays modern acts of terrorism and murder we’re facing today in our day to day lives all over the world.
            There are many stereotypes in this show, some subtle, some not. One that is subtle is that one of the FBI Agents, Agent Aram Mojtabai, is a computer software specialist. This fits the stereotype that this is a male job, where they could have just as easily put a girl in to play this role, someone who would possibly fit the role better. Another stereotype is that all the people in organized crime that are caught throughout this show, are male. This fits the idea that males are the ones who rule crime, but that woman aren’t involved. For these couple stereotypes, there are many ways the producers avoided stereotypes as well. Liz plays a very strong, and independent FBI Agent, allowing her to show a more “masculine” role, to avoid a stereotype that could have happened if they had her role played by a male actor instead. This show has a target audience of people from 18 to middle aged adults, where the gender that is targeted is probably more male based, but I would say almost just as many females watch this show, because the main character is a female, even though the show has a lot of crime featured in it. As for targeting a certain income of people, the bottom line is that they have to be able to afford the NBC channel, and own either a laptop, smart phone, or TV to watch the show on. I would say that this means the show targets middle to upper class individuals. As I’ve said, this show has a lot of violence and action. If I was a visitor from a country outside the US, and watched this show, I would have a few assumptions of what the US is like. Since a big chunk of the members in organized crime that this show features are US citizens, I might think that this country is worse off that I originally thought. I would also think about whether this type of crime truly occurs, or if the show is all make believe.
            There are many strengths this show has, as mentioned before, but there are a few I haven’t mentioned. A good show is supposed to leave you with a cliff hanger after each episode in the hopes that you will be intrigued enough to want to wait and watch the next episode in a week. This show does that every single time, so even after four seasons of watching it, you’re still wanting to see more. Another strength of this show is that certain situations could be realistic. A felon with the kind of information Red has would be an extremely valuable asset to a team of FBI Agents in taking down mass amounts of groups of people involved with organized crime. This brings me to what is also a weakness of the show. There are many unbelievable groups that get caught and sent to jail. They’re unbelievable because of how extremely weird the work they do is. For example, a guy who gets arrested after Red gives him up is someone people hire to change their DNA so when caught by the police, they are a different person than who the authorities think. This isn’t possible, you can’t put another’s blood into someone while withdrawing their own. Another unrealistic example is how Red is always escaping death. He was poisoned and should have died, but miraculously in 24 hours they found the cure for the poison he was given. This wouldn’t have happened so quickly, and it just isn’t believable. Things like this are weaknesses of the show because they happen and you think twice about the validity, or realize how exaggerated situations are in the show. As stated before though, there are many things about the show I do love, making me go back to it, even though the show has the weaknesses stated before. I like how great of an actor Red is. He’s become one of my favorite actors of all time because his outfits, persona, and everything about him is what makes the show what it is. He has the right tone of voice, scariness, and knows when to be quiet, so you never know what he’s going to do next. Along with that, I really enjoyed seeing the relationship between him and Liz evolve throughout the first four seasons leading up to her finding out he truly is her father. This was another reason I kept coming back to the show as well. Some dislikes, aside from certain scenarios being unrealistic is the love-hate relationship between two of the FBI team members, Aram and Samar. It’s been four seasons of them liking each other and hating one another repeatedly, where we all know they’re in love, but neither of them admit to it. At this point their relationship going back and forth is just overkill, and the producers need to either put them together or not. Funny enough, the TV critics found the same “likes” in the show as I have. On Rotten Tomatoes, critics gave the TV show an 83%, compared to the viewers giving it a 90%. Most of them said that the show is great, and “just plain entertaining” due to the main character, Red. I’m with them on that one, but some of them had dislikes about the show as well. I didn’t trust the dislikes, as they were only after watching the first episode, but the critics didn’t watch any further episodes. They claimed the show was unrealistic and not entertaining enough to come back and watch more.
            Although the more recent season is done, I did watch it on a regular basis while it was showing. I’ve been a fan since the beginning, and my boyfriend and I have watched every episode, each week, since the show premiered on September 23rd, 2013 when we were still in high school. I even got my roommate to start watching it, as well as my aunt and uncle who love TV series. I’ve never followed The Blacklist page on social media, as I always have just tuned in on the night of a new episode, but my boyfriend follows the overall NBC page to see other shows that might peak out interest like this one has. After looking at the actual Instagram page for The Blacklist, I thought it was interesting what kind of posts they publish. Instead of strictly posting about the show, or the actors while on set, they post pictures when the actors are just hanging out together in between shoots. This was something I personally don’t like. It’s not bad, but when looking at the page and seeing them all hang out, even with the “bad guys” that I’ve seen in the shows, it made me remember that these are just normal people. I like to forget that the show isn’t real, so when seeing the actors all hanging out, I remember that the show is fake. I don’t think this is the same for everyone though because their social media page on Instagram has 230 thousand followers, and thousands of comments on pictures from people raving about the show, and loving the posts.
            I never realized how much goes into making and reviewing a show. There are so many websites regarding the critics of the show, and people who get paid for a living to pick a part every minute of the show’s episodes. That’s really interesting to me. I also found it funny how three of the four producers of the show are named John, I wonder what the odds of that are to happen. I also learned how much the actors really do like each other, as the social media they use is filled with them hanging out, laughing, and enjoying what they do. I found after examining the show further that the fifth season is said to come out on October 4th, 2017. I was also intrigued by the fact that a lot of the likes and dislikes I had were similar to the ones of critics and other people who watch the show. You would think if so many people have the same taste, the producers would cater more to what the viewers are wanting to see.

If you’re interested in watching the show, you can access it here.



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