We’re sporadically tackling new TV pilots throughout premiere season. Fresh on the docket: NBC’s Blindspot.
Let’s bitch it out…
What’s it about? An amnesiac woman covered in tattoos, nicknamed Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) – for obvious reasons – is discovered stuffed into a duffel bag in Times Square. After FBI agent Kurt Weller’s (Sullivan Stapleton) name is discovered on her back, the pair and a special task force work to uncover her history while solving crimes associated with the tattoos adorning her body.
Who’s it for? This one comes from wonder producer Greg Berlanti (responsible for the adaptation of every successful DC comics TV show, including Arrow, The Flash and CBS’ upcoming Supergirl). It’s likeliest target market are people who are fans of fellow NBC series, The Blacklist, from whom this series could literally be photocopied.
What’s good? As a fairly straightforward slice of procedural TV with a solid hook, The Blindspot is quite effective. Clearly the series has ambitious plans to slowly unravel the mystery behind Jane’s origins, but with only cursory backstory in the pilot and plenty of tattoos to investigate, there are lots of cases for future episodes. Plus: if you’re a fan of Alexander, you get to see quite a lot of nudity throughout the pilot (it’s as though the series was given notes by NBC executives that they should show off her body as frequently as possible). Sullivan, on the other hand, is much more dour than his Strike Back character, coming off more as proficient than memorable.
What’s not so good? Aside from being able to predict nearly every development long before it occurs, Blindspot’s number one weakness is its familiarity (especially to The Blacklist). If you remember the pilot for the latter show, then you’ve already seen the Blindspot pilot – they’re that similar. FBI agent called in to work an unusual case that they seemingly have no connection to? Check. Forced to work with an unlikely ally? Check. All of the cases are tied together by some kind of malleable plot device (list, tattoo, etc)? Check. Mixed group of supporting characters who fail to make any kind of impression and have no discernible backstory? Check.
If anything it’s that last piece that makes me most apprehensive. The Blacklist built its entire house of cards around the Liz/Red relationship at the expense of every other cast member and while the two leads in Blindspot have better chemistry (and hair!), there’s still the concern that this is a two-lead show, not an ensemble. Aside from the fantastic Marie Jean-Baptiste, stuck barking orders as the team lead with a secret, no one else but Stapleton and Alexander make an impression.
Final Verdict: We’ve said it a million times: pilots are required to do far too much, so it’s hardly fair to make a season-long verdict off of 44 minutes. As a procedural with compelling leads and a slow burning mythology (included as B/W flashbacks featuring Johnny Whitworth), you can do far worse than Blindspot. If you’re looking for anything remotely innovative from your new series, however, this is likely too familiar and formulaic to satisfy.
Blindspot airs Mondays at 10pm EST on NBC