The Blacklist – Season 1 (DVD Review)

Blacklist ThumbOne of last year’s biggest new dramas for network television and sort of a show to help NBC in attempting to make a big comeback, was The Blacklist.  Its big selling point was that of actor James Spader, who has managed to turn himself into a television superstar in the last decade plus.  Not only was it met with ratings success, but critical acclaim came with it as well.  NBC has loved it so much it gave it both a second season and the coveted post-Superbowl time slot after the 2015 competition comes to a close.  I had never seen a second of the show aside from advertisements.  I’m usually hesitant about network TV dramas, but was intrigued by this one.  

Blacklist 3


Raymond Reddington is on the top 10 FBI most wanted list and he’s just surrendered himself.  Raymond used to be one of them until he disappeared one night and began selling trade secrets and the likes to criminals and governments.  He wants to only work with rookie and first day on the job profiler Elizabeth Keen.  “Red” as they call him, has a list of criminals across the globe that the government has no idea about and will give them the names off this list so long as he works with Keen and is given immunity.  Not only does Keen want to work with Red, but she feels he may have a connection with her and be able to shed light on some of the mysteries of her past and present life.

With most of my television watching nowadays being shows on HBO, AMC, F/X and Showtime I found an absolute comfort and relaxation digging into a show such as The Blacklist.  Ten years ago, this show would have been THE appointment viewing show.  Now, its sort of a relic of the past.  Its a procedural drama with the backdrop of a serialized mystery in the slow cooker.  This is the kind of show I kind of retired myself on years ago, but oddly found myself enjoying The Blacklist quite a bit.  The show is a bit simple with some predictability and makes some clumsy mistakes in its execution of some plot points, but I kind of like that about it.  Its not afraid to revert to TV logic at times.

James Spader is the centerpiece for this show and without him it may have just been a dull regular procedural drama.  Spader sits and chews up scenery like nobody’s business from the first moment he enters the frame to the very last moment of season 1.  But, while Spader has his fun in clowning around, at the flip of a switch he’s able to rock the hard drama and dig at the emotional center of the show.  He’s funny, he’s shocking, he’s dark, he’s twisted, he’s lovable…you both root for and against the guy as the series goes.  Its an interesting dynamic.  Spader also manages to make everyone around him better too.  Megan Boone and Diego Klattenhoff ranged from passable to sort of cringe-worthy at times early on in the season.  But, as it progress you get to see both of them learn and improve on their craft.  By the end of the season both performers are able to match wits with the likes of Spader and co-star Harry Lennix.

With this “blacklist” as the McGuffin the show’s weekly setup is based around, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  I expected a lot of maybe espionage criminals, swindlers and super spies week to week.  However, its sort of that but a little more complicated.  What I didn’t expect is the dark places and horrific turns it seemed to enjoy exploring.  There’s a lot of Hannibal-esque stuff going on in this series and it took me incredibly by surprise.  For example, in “The Stewmaker” we get Tom Noonan guesting as this guy who takes pleasure in disposing of bodies using acids and stuff.  And his role is almost an extension of his Dollarhyde character in Manhunter.  To describe how this show goes, its kind of a 90% Alias and 10% Hannibal.  And no, I’m not kidding.  Its not as graphic as Hannibal, but the ideas and twisted ways are still there.

Call me convinced, but I’m ready to have my DVR set for The Blacklist when Season 2 starts September 22.  There’s a relaxing quality to this show for me that is sort of rewarding with all the intense dramas I subject myself to on TV.  The show has its own twists and turns and they’re nothing shocking or whatnot but they’re fun and pulpy.  James Spader provides an incredibly juicy centerpiece to the show, giving the procedural its “edge” over many others in the genre.  Call me pleasantly surprised, but this show is great for a nice relaxed viewing.

The Blacklist - Season 1

Episode List

“The Pilot”

“The Freelancer”


“The Stewmaker”

“The Courier”

“Gina Zanatakos”

“Frederick Barnes”

“General Ludd”

“Anslo Garrick – Part 1”

“Anslo Garrick – Part 2”

“The Good Samaritan”

“The Alchemist”

“The Cyprus Agency”

“Madeline Pratt”

“The Judge”

“Mako Tanida”


“Milton Bobbit”

“The Pavlovich Brothers”

“The Kingmaker”


“Berlin: Conclusion”

Blacklist 5


Encoding: MPEG-2

Resolution: 480i

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  Well, for DVD standards I’d have to say this is pretty close to top notch, but there’s tons of room for the Blu-ray release of it to blow it out of the water.  Detail is average and its as sharp as a DVD could be.

Depth:  During some exterior park scenes and ones viewing over bridges look nice, but its more on the strict 2D flat side of things.

Black Levels:  Blacks are relatively inky.  They hold detail on dark clothing and hair in check.

Color Reproduction:  Not a really colorful show.  The show is made up of more blacks and whites than anything else.  Colors are tame and more at a lifelike level.

Flesh Tones:  Consistent, kinda cold.  An impressive amount of detail for a DVD in close up scenes that aren’t fast moving.

Noise/Artifacts:  Some light halo’ing present, but nothing that isn’t common on a DVD.

The Blacklist - Season 1


Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

Dynamics:  A solid track that gets the job done.  With this Dolby Digital track I’m not sure they needed a 5.1 as they could have gotten away with 2.0 quite easily.  Voice, score and sounds are all balanced and sound clear and concise.

Low Frequency Extension:  On the lighter end of usage.  Some explosions and score pieces get enhanced but not much else.

Surround Sound Presentation:  A few bits of ambiance and score consistent throughout.  A few episodes had some things stick out from the rear, but for the most part not much play.  Most of its work comes from right to left.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Loud and front heavy.  Clear as can be for DVD, but still sounds compressed and sort of muffled even at its best quality.

Blacklist 2


The extras are a pretty basic package that doesn’t include anything really extravagant.  And I believe all the Beyond The Blacklist segments could be found on the internet during the show’s run this past season.

Disc 1

Commentary – “The Pilot” with Jon Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath and Joe Carnahan.

Beyond The Blacklist – a series of short behind the scenes and retrospective discussion from cast and crew about each episode

  • Pilot (SD, 5:07)
  • The Freelancer (SD, 4:46)
  • Wujing (SD, 4:36)
  • The Stewmaker (SD, 5:04)
  • The Courier (SD, 4:46)

Disc 2

Commentary – “Anglo Garrick – Part 1” with Jon Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath and Joe Carnahan.

The Insider: Behind The Scenes Of Season 1 (SD, 14:01) – A nice little EPK friendly interview package about making the first season.

Beyond The Blacklist

  • Gina Zanatakos (SD, 3:53)
  • Frederick Barnes (SD, 4:46)
  • General Ludd (SD, 4:35)
  • Anslo Garrick – Part 1 (SD, 5:11)
  • Anslo Garrick – Part 2 (SD, 4:55)

Disc 3

Beyond The Blacklist 

  • The Good Samaritan (SD, 5:13)
  • The Alchemist (SD, 4:40)
  • The Cyprus Agency (SD, 4:14)
  • Madeline Pratt (SD, 4:08)

Disc 4

Beyond The Blacklist

  • The Judge (SD, 3:58)
  • Mako Tanida (SD, 4:46)
  • Ivan (SD, 3:45)
  • Milton Bobbit (SD, 4:45)

Disc 5

Commentary – “Berlin: Conclusion” with Jon Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath and Joe Carnahan.

Beyond The Blacklist

  • The Pavlovich Brothers (SD, 4:06)
  • The Kingmaker (SD, 4:55)
  • Berlin (SD, 3:49)
  • Berlin: Conclusion (SD, 4:59)

The Blacklist - Season 1


Sony’s DVD edition of The Blacklist offers the best presentation for the format as well as plenty of interviews and such.  Except, a majority of those interviews could be found online.  Without seeing the Blu-ray edition of this yet, I can still recommend it.  Unless you haven’t gone the Blu-ray route yet (but are reading articles on Why So BLU?), then this DVD should suffice for your needs in rewatching or introducing yourself to this neat little show.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

Comments are currently closed.