September 29, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Pilot + 1 Review: “Blindspot”


BLINDSPOT:  Monday 10PM on NBC

A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at SHOWBUZZDAILY, we look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on BLINDSPOT:  A mysterious naked woman, her body covered in tattoos, is discovered in Times Square with a note saying to call the FBI.  She’s got amnesia, so they call her Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander), and when the name of FBI agent Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) is found in one of her tattoos, he’s designated as her case officer.  Her background remains a mystery, but she has the skills of a trained agent (possibly a Navy SEAL, although she doesn’t match anyone in government records).  Her many, many tattoos, it turns out, tie in to mysteries that will need to be solved.

Episode 2:  All of that premise is just an elaborate set-up to what’s essentially a procedural.  Tonight’s tattoo traced back to a drone pilot who had cracked after being put into an illegal domestic drone program, and who kidnapped the daughter of a programmer to get control of a drone, setting off bombs and exploding missiles to expose the program.  There was the usual breathless solving of clues by the team computer geek to leave our heroes a split second behind their target until the big finale.  None of it made much sense, and it didn’t really need to, just serving as an excuse to blow things up through the course of the hour.

Meanwhile, there was the suggestion that Jane Doe might be a girl Weller had known as a child, who had gone missing, resulting in Weller’s estranged (and now dying) father being accused of kidnapping and killing her.  It seems awfully unlikely that Blindspot would reveal its hand so early, but presumably a DNA test can solve that particular mystery pretty quickly.  Also meanwhile, Jane had another black and white flashback of her past, which turned out to be a fake-out where she initially thought she’d murdered a nun, but it was actually a man dressed in a nun’s habit.  A last-second cliffhanger had her attacked by someone she’d recognized from a flashback.

As written by series creator Martin Gero, none of this was terribly gripping.  The night’s procedural plot was skeletal, and after two hours, we haven’t seen anything in Jane Doe or Weller (or in Alexander or Stapleton’s performances) to make us care about their pasts, however mysterious or troubled.  Mark Pellington, who also directed the pilot, did a slick job with the hour, over-cutting every action sequence to give the illusion of more scale than was actually there, but none of it was enough to provide meaningful content to the boom-boom.

Despite all this, Blindspot looks like the first real hit of the fall, with a big premiere rating that held most of its The Voice lead-in.  NBC has already commissioned enough back-up scripts for a full 22-episode order, and unless the numbers drop steeply in the next week or two, the series could get its back 9 sometime in October.  NCIS: LA and Castle are far from strong competition, of course, and The Blacklist provides a stern lesson in not overestimating the appeal of a show that’s a hit in a specific time period.  For now, though, Blindspot is fairly sure to be deciphering tattoos at least into 2016.

PILOT:  If Nothing Else Is On…

PILOT + 1:  Paging James Spader

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."